Friday, 28 June 2013

Country Boy

"They called him "a country boy" at school despite his white face and slight, nervous appearance. The Fulham kids named him so because his speech gave him away. Swede and turnip speech. But, the newcomer found it impossible to explain, he came from a hilly, green and lovely certainly, yet coal-mining part of England, on the border of Wales. The Forest, the land on its own. Not just the country." - Dennis Potter.


There’s no clean way to uproot a young boy from the countryside, and transplant him in an urban environment. Oh he’ll survive, but only because nature has a way of forcing adaptation. And the chemical changes, the cooler climate, unexpected levels of acidity, all play their part in temporarily stunting his growth. It may be several seasons before he shows any significant signs of blooming.

Contending with his new growing ground is one thing, but having the colour of his expression repeatedly trampled on is quite another.

In the nurturing confines of his classroom, this country boy was tended by a tired individual. Her once green fingers now glowed pink from all the poking and prodding of sub-standard specimens. She was enduring her own private drought. Stale, and wrapped in tweed, she sought to stimulate the country boy with liberal doses of ridicule. Her potted prize-winners spread out from where his feet were forced to the seat of a chair. The uniformity and cultivation of those about him, sealed his fate.

Like Potter, I found it impossible to explain, I came from a green, wooded, wonderful part of England. A place that was the land on its own. Not just the country.

8 comments:

  1. Ah, this reminds me of my own life. Uprooted at age 12 from the farm and a town of 1700 people and plopped into big city life in an elite area of southern California where even the Nuns laughed at me for being a farm girl....

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  2. I was teaching Edwin Muir's poem 'Horses' to someone recently. He was uprooted from his country upbringing as a teenager and moved to Glasgow. He felt exactly like this.

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  3. That tired individual has a lot to answer for!

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  4. A beautiful piece of writing, Martin which almost transcends the subject, however interesting that might be in its own right.

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  5. I was transplanted, too. You describe that experience so beautifully. This is so brimming with rich metaphorical layers, and I want to take a bite from each one.

    That green, wooded English part of me is surrounded by mountains now, but she still lives and is grateful.

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  6. Beautiful, and sad. Why do people have so much intolerance for difference? (I would like to think I'm not like that, but...?)

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  7. I grew up in a new town surrounded by countryside almost 5 minutes walk in any direction (or so it seemed). There were also plenty spacious green fields within the town which lent a 'country' feel to the place. Sadly, that's all changed - but whenever I think of my childhood days, I think of the vast areas of green that were clearly visible all around me.

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  8. I do believe even the city folks often find it hard to bloom at times! For me, I am both torn between the country and the city,(I grew up with both) and they will forever both inspire me in so many different ways.

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