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… Um… Four… Six… Seven. Huh? Oh. Whatisit then?
Oh – now there’s a queue behind me and they’re all thinking the cashpoint refused my card. How embarrassing.
Oh yeah… that’s the number for my other card. Flippin’ numbers.
Right. Balance.
How much?!
Oh great… Rent, groceries, train ticket and it’s all gone. Still can’t afford new shoes. I’ve been wearing the same pair all month. They must think I’m the poorest girl in the world at work!
Oh god. Now they’re all looking at me. I’ve got money you know. I have money! Was just checking my balance! (I don’t have money)
Oh, I can’t believe – at my age, my parents still expect me to drop everything to spend the weekend with my grandparents. I don’t have time – I look bloody ridiculous and need to get my fake tan re-done before my interview on Monday. Oh great – now it’s raining. Why is it always bloody raining?! Oh man! Look at my reflection! Look at that massive spot on my chin. It’s so red – it matches my coat. Everyone will see my spot and stare at me and think I eat crisps and chocolate all day. Life’s so unfair!

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Down below on the Streets of Bristol, a young man is begging for change around the corner from a cashpoint machine. Further along the street a middle-aged man is holding a green plastic charity collection box. A smart young woman in a red coat walks by. She doesn’t appear to notice either of them. She’s twenty-two-years old and has £30 pounds in her pocket for a drink with friends later tonight. She looks like a successful, confident, healthy woman. She’s striding through the Bristol streets on her way home. Her thick, shiny, bronze-brown hair is flying out behind her. She walks past a double-fronted second-hand shop. She looks at herself in the first window. There is a blue and green enamelled vase in the window that her grandmother would love but she doesn’t even look in. There are some nearly new designer shoes in the second window that are exactly her size but she doesn’t buy second-hand. She has a job and a flat and her parents live nearby on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Bath. She often goes to their house for a big roast Sunday lunch. But this weekend is Granny’s seventieth birthday and she has to go to Wales. Her grandparent’s neighbours are pig farmers and it stinks there. She doesn’t like her job. She’s always tired and thinks she doesn’t get paid enough. She feels as if everyone around her has more money, a better place to live, can afford to get their nails done and has more money to spend on clothes and shoes and holidays.

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From Bristol, in the West of England, it’s easy to escape to the coast, at the weekend, where it’s cool and fresh in a heatwave. The beautiful, lush, fertile countryside of Somerset, Dorset and Devon are not far away either. Or within no time at all, one can be in the Welsh valleys. Her grandparents live not far from Mount Snowdon and the family have enjoyed many summers in Snowdonia National Park, climbing mountains, or picnicking by a river. She thinks she’d rather live somewhere more cosmopolitan across the Atlantic Ocean like New York or warmer like California, though, and she’d like to have a modern kitchen and nice shoes. Not live in wellies in an old farmhouse. She thinks her family are poor and tatty. She prefers the smart look of the people who work in the cities.

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The British Isles is made up of two big green Islands known as Britain and Ireland. The landscape is varied, the climate is varied, but it is rarely far too hot, far too cold, far too wet or far too dry. There are no poisonous snakes or spiders, no deserts and no predators. The soil is mostly good for farming. The Romans liked Britain. From the air the Islands of Britain look like an old lady in a hat, leaning over her knitting. The coastline stretches, bends, zigzags, curves in and juts out. Waves hurl themselves onto wet black rocks or creep sleepily onto soft golden sands. In Britain you are never more than a few hours from the coast, you are never more than a few hours from the countryside, you are never far from civilisation, you are never far from help. (Zoom in again temporarily. Ironically, though, some of the poorest people in Britain live in the richest, busiest cities. They are nearest to sources and organisations of help and least able to ask for it.)

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The British Isles is surrounded by oceans. The oceans cover seventy percent of a round, blue and green planet with patches of red and yellow desert. The planet is home to over six billion people. They don’t all have a red coat and a job, a flat and roast dinners on a Sunday. They don’t all have enough money to pay their rent, buy food and visit their grandmother on her birthday. In many countries people don’t expect to live until their seventieth birthday. In many areas the climate is far too cold or far too wet or far too dry or far too hot and the soil is not good for farming.

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The planet turns as it orbits the sun. It creates day and night. Seasons and weather. Cycles of life. The moon orbits our earth. It brings high tides and low tides. A full moon brings light enough to see at night. Before electricity people adapted their lives to the phases of the moon.

Now some cannot even see across the street or through a pane of glass. Some people do not even know where they are.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love the concept of this, but what strikes me is how personal you always make your voice seem – i have no idea if it faithfully follows the truth of your personal experience or not, but the authorial voice always convinces me of an emotional truth that has felt these things deeply and that is a real coup to pull off time after time after time.


  2. Brilliant! Really puts things in perspective and makes you think about the bigger picture. At least that’s how I took it anyway 🙂


  3. Like the microcosm – tends to put things in to reality. You wrote a piece above which I enjoyed about the joy of writing. For me its the fact that you get to escape the expected PC minutia which so gets it the way, plus it allows you to relatavize your own twisted existence as being the correct way up.
    Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.


  4. Thanks for leading me here, I’ve really enjoyed this.


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