Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The lie of the land

How does a Cardi swim? The punchline is a gesture of reverse breast stroke to denote the collection of wealth. The people of Ceredigion have a reputation for fondness of money, yet their protection of what little they have is no more nor less than many other rural communities.

I've been shocked to find Cardigan decimated by the recession - a soon to be nine hundred year old capital, with empty shops around the Market Hall, charity and factory shops dominating the high street. Competition for the lowest of the low is fierce, when outskirting supermarkets preempt a trip into town. A handful of independents make the most of the seasonal trade, but work is scarce - jobs go to family, old or close friends.

For those who have displaced my contemporaries, times are harder. The investments in which they strove to live have plummeted whilst food and fuel costs soar. Add five or six pence to every litre sold in an urban area and the isolation of exclusivity comes at a cost. The Cambrian Hills are littered with For Sale signs.

Should we decry the farmer or fisherman who connives some exploitation? I'm not so sure. If your child, a firefighter, nurse or postal worker could not afford to live in homes your forebears built, what would you do? When I can count on one hand school friends who still live locally, even I am angry, though content and settled elsewhere. 

Last week's weather was variable. I've seen campers come and go at the first drop of rain and old jokes about Welsh summers abound. For me the calm which comes after the storm gives hope. There is nothing so beautiful as this morning, its sunny breeze our reward for last night's battering.

My experience of this place, which I still call home, is that here you must give to receive. Leave fallow fields to recover and they will bear fruit. The antithesis to buy now pay later, the lie of the land does not change and to wish otherwise is naïve.

Posted @ 09:07:13 on 04 August 2009
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