Our Country Friends

How many of us who live amidst an urban sprawl would rather be living in the countryside? I suspect it’s a conversation that keeps the wine bars of large parts of London alive. The quest for a quieter, simpler life is something many people search for. Indeed, it is something I have thought of many times. Move all my worldly goods to the South West and see what happens. Well, in truth, at this moment in my life I don’t actually want to do it. Sometimes, however, I wish I could lose the congestion and stresses of inner-city (or, in my case, suburban) living.

And why am I asking myself these questions? Well, last Sunday was the day The Countryside Alliance marched through London. I avoided the centre of town for most of the day but I did enjoy a lunch at Wandsworth Common. Seated at most of the tables surrounding us where groups of people who, quite evidently, had been on some part of the march. What intrigued me was why so many of them had taken a train out of central London to Wandsworth Common.

Of course PY, who seems to have a greater understanding of many of these things than I, claimed that many of those people sat there on Sunday afternoon were in fact local residents but they had been marching for the countryside cause – “Liberty and Livelihood”. Upon reflection, I think he was right. Many of them may have other houses in the country, perhaps even own large amounts of land. But what struck me most was a simple economics. If all the money they spent in the restaurants of Wandsworth Common each Sunday was spent in the countryside then rural communities would be booming. Not only that, but if they all went and lived outside the city and enjoyed the life they were marching to protect on a daily basis (rather than at weekends), then they would free up a great deal of housing stock in urban areas. Thus, the countryside benefits (it’s full of people spending money and supporting the “lifestyle”) and those of us wishing to remain (for the time being) city dwellers would also benefit from less ridiculous housing costs. Doesn’t everybody win? (Well, I know there is the matter of jobs, schools and other infrastructure etc. but you have to admit it’s starting point, if not wholly thought through. And more importantly it’s plainly hypocritical to march for something you don’t actively – economically – support).

For a more interesting read on tweed in the town, see here.