Shoppers and Walkers

DENIS Norden says the world is divided into two kinds of people – those who think the world is divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. I do. I think there are shoppers and walkers. And this morning, as I walked in the winter sunshine by the River Ure with Ian and the dogs, a sprinkling of fine snow on the tops, and the water a tumbling, sparkling blue, I thought there may be hope for me. One day I might, just might, become a walker.  

To my shame, it had been weeks since I’d been out, either with Ian or the local walking group which I keep promising myself I’ll join. A bad hip, cold weather, a sore arm (arm?), letters to write, too much work in the house – any excuse not to stride out through this most spectacular landscape which people dream about from their dreary city offices, and actually pay good money to visit. It’s here, on my doorstep, and I love it: or rather, I love looking at it, preferably through a car or kitchen window.

It’s a terrible admission, I know, but  I’d returned from a weekend in Newcastle – Fenwick’s, John Lewis, Marks and Sparks, a world of colour and choice, taxis and regular buses, lattes and blueberry muffins, restaurants and cinemas – feeling a bit low. Missing family was part of it (two daughters and a granddaughter and sharing her birthday fun) but there was another side to it which I didn’t want to admit. I LOVE shops and I love cities: I could mount a singlehanded rescue of the world economy. I love struggling onto the bus (actually having a use for my bus pass!) with shopping bags full of goodies that are going to transform me instantly from a country bumpkin into Madonna. The feeling that a box-office hit is just a taxi or car ride away, not something you have to wait six months to see on a small screen in the living-room, on a dvd rented from Amazon. And Sainsbury’s – bliss! I love the fact that, uniquely in Sainsbury’s, the check-out staff are always up for a chat (Leyburn Co-op take note). 

Then, all of a sudden, this morning I got a grip, and joined Ian on his daily walk.  I told him I’d been feeling guilty for weeks, letting him walk the dogs every day on his own while I stayed in keeping warm and comfortable, and that I knew I had no excuse to feel even slightly low, given the privileged lifestyle I enjoy (builders or no b***** builders). Felt guilty, too, about allowing myself to be so lazy and inactive, to the undoubted detriment of my health and well-being. No more the whinging townie, I was going to start appreciating what I’d got, and was looking forward to becoming his regular companion on the daily walks with Harry and Maud. 

“So” I asked in this new spirit of openness and repentance  “is there anything you’d like to share. Anything you’re feeling a bit guilty about, and might like to get off your chest?”

“Yes,” came the instant reply. “How much I enjoy my own company and the silence. I feel quite bad about that, really.”

Don’t worry, I say, I’m off to London on Friday. Can’t wait!

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