Sunday, 29 November 2009
I've been away for several weeks. I've been away and it's rained every day without exception.
This is Lancashire where the high and lonely moors soak up the rain like sponges and where the loud and swollen streams run fast into the rivers Ribble and Hodder.
Mr. Price and myself have rented the tiniest, cosiest cottage after that one on the little bridge at Ambleside. It's (and I'm being polite) 'up the back-end of nowhere' above the market town of Clitheroe. I'm still convinced it's in a heavenly spot, if only the weather would improve. We're here to do Christmas window paintings in as many of the shops as will have them; each morning we leave in the rain and the gloom and each evening we get back in the rain and the dark.
In town, folk are still cheerful. I'm painting a restaurant window with a jolly scene of a stagecoach in the snow and I meet two very old ladies who've come on a bus from Burnley for the day. They cast off their rain-bonnets and order soup then the roast beef dinner. "Such a shame our friend isn't with us today to see your work," one says, "She usually comes along with her camera and she's ninety-seven!".
Elsewhere- and we paint twenty-six windows in all- there's always a cup of tea on the go, sometimes with cake or mince pies.
I'm in an empty shop, brightening up the dull facade with a vision of happy snowmen decorating their Christmas tree when the thoughtful owner of the Health Food shop across the road spies me and runs over with a drink.. this is kindness itself!
How different from Brittany. I've kept fairly quiet about this, but generally the ratio of drinks to hours worked is nil to limitless. It's a rare event here when liquid refreshment's offered to the toiling window-painter. Typically, this week Mr. Price worked for five hours in a hairdressers, where the clients were furnished with fluids, and where he was given none.
However, it's heartening to know, n'est-pas, that the locals don't neglect their livestocks' basic needs and that pig-rearing and milk production continues to thrive.
Ah yes, we've been away and it rained every day. But what brightened the dullest of days was the respect and the goodwill of the folk we met and worked for.
The milk of human kindness.. and the tea and coffee!