PLEASE DON’T LICK MY FACE
I’m a Londoner by rights so I’m not sure how I ended up on a deserted Somerset canal path, scared shitless of the gangly youth with the ‘Ain’t-no-virus-gunna hold ME-down’ look in his eye who was steaming towards me with the intensity of a Kubrick villain.
I tried to reason with him telepathically. “Please don’t be a certified psychopath and lick my face. I may look genteel but in 1985 I wrestled a Columbian drug dealer to the ground and I do boxercise on a Thursday”
If I was still in London, I’d be in a hazmat suit by now, running the gauntlet from my tiny flat in Ladbroke Grove to Costcutters, dodging the tramp piss and dog shit cassoulet that marked the route from Providence Cars all the way to Chicken Cottage.
But I’m not. I’m here, alone in my civvies, taking my single daily exercise allowance with 2 meters between me, infected death and the idiocy that I allow to run my head. “Should we buy a gun?” “Could we eat the dog?”
“How long can I eke out my Clarins tinted moisturizer?”
I think I grew out of London. Of getting wasted in gay clubs and being dared a tenner to walk through Regents Park wearing nothing but a traffic cone. And I couldn’t hack being a jobbing actress. Signing on and living on Cupasoup for months on end before landing a TV ad that made me famous in Zagreb, then back to Cupasoup for 6 months. I’d never have lasted the distance. I like scented candles and frangipani hand cream too much.
So here I am. 20 years later, with husband, garden, two teens and a Ladbrador, living out the karma of my Bourgeois programming.
The first few years I avoided gardening because it felt like digging my own grave. Occasionally I’d challenge myself and scrutinise my garden searching for whatever it is that people find so replenishing about their gardens. Plants have never done it for me so I studied the birds. At least they’ve got a point of view – especially chaffinches – but their chatter sounded like football rattles which only made me pine for Chelsea matches.
Before this sodding pandemic I sought out the company of strangers but was eventually put off by what I call ‘dog talk’. I quickly learnt that in the country you can’t just stride up to someone and say “Hey! You look fun! Wanna hang out?” This isn’t Santa Monica Vegan Farmers Market. This is Somerset and if you want friendship you must go through a dog. And say things like: “A Bedoodle! And so shiny! Which conditioner do you use?” or “Ho! She’s a feisty one! It’s always the little dogs, isn’t it?” which is nuts especially since I only have a dog because two christmasses ago my 15 year old daughter put a gun to my head.
Country folk are nice and everything but I do miss the Variety Pack of London. Shivering Hipsters. Bangladeshi women in sarees. Japanese teenagers in brothel creepers. Iranian taxi drivers who remember the Shah. Yardies who smell of Paco Rabanne and Saudi princes in Knightsbridge sporting ceremonial daggers.
Look, I’m not a prisoner. In normal circumstances I can get to London whenever I want from the station in my village where you could easily imagine Jenny Agutter in soft focus running up the platform calling out “Daddy, my Daddy!” Sometimes, when I’m alone, I re-enact that scene, and it always makes me cry. Here is the scene so you can enjoy a good cry too.
Go on. It’s a pandemic. You’re allowed.
Rose Wadham X © 2021