Sunday, 9 March 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: We Built this City

What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in? What do you like the least about it? If you were mayor, what would be the most important problem you’d tackle? How would you tackle it? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CIVILIZATION.


Not the view of a cute Swiss town where snow clad alps are to be seen or cow herds walking the streets. There is also no bank in sight: they are in the business part of the town. This is the modern part. My doctor is in the tall building. There are many doctors in this building as well as a special shoe shop for hiking shoes on the ground floor. Next to the shoe shop is a chemists.

I was definitely the egg that the cuckoo decided to drop in the wrong nest. There I was waiting for country air, trees filled with birds: a place where the fox and hare say good night to each other and what happened. The cuckoo dropped the egg as it was flying over the most dismal part of London, where only the pigeons blessed the houses with their recycling process and now and again a stray cat would have a battle with its fellow cats. Or there were herds of rats populating the cellar tombs of the remains of the factories destroyed by a few straying bombs in the second world war, the rebuilding having to wait for many years: the late James Herbert, the writer whose origins were in the East End of London, wrote a trilogy of books about The Rats, so we do not have to guess where the idea originated.

We had good family friends living “in the country” and each time I paid a visit, I had an inside feeling that this was what I want need. My emigration ideas began to form in my teenage years, and after my educational process was finished, my plans were laid. Get out while the going is good, go somewhere, see something else, but above all no London lookalikes.

I applied for work abroad and had success. I arrived in the town of Zürich. The nice things about Swiss towns are that within a tram or train ride you are in the middle of the country. I was now where the cuckoo should have dropped me, in a country that breathed, although like everywhere, not everything is gold that glitters, but in London the gold was so encrusted with the grime of the industrial age and traffic, that the gold would have been a prehistoric discovery.

I would have gone anywhere actually. Over the passing years, when on holiday in another country or town, my first though was always “how would it be to live here” and I would imagine moving into a farmhouse at the edge of a forest, or perhaps on the shore of a Swiss Lake. My city was eventually a place called Solothurn.  I live a couple of kilometres along the road in a village (the place where the cuckoo should have dropped me?). Why Solothurn you may ask? Why not? It was the area with Mr. Swiss origins and it is one of the oldest settlements in Switzerland. The Romans visited around 15-25 AD and decided to stay awhile. They did not actually “build this city”, but it suited their purpose to camp on their way to Augusta Raurica (now known as Augst) and some even stayed. If they had not stayed, Solothurn would not have been built and it would still be a mud flat on the banks of the River Aar. If they had not stayed they would not have found some remains of an old Roman villa and would not have problems when something new was being built, it being put under monument protection due to discovering something worth being preserved. The Latin population would say “hanc urben condidit” (latin translation of We build this City, taken from Internet as I do not speak Latin).

If I were mayor the most important problem would be to belong to the most stable political party, build a nice house in one of the better places and always say the right thing at the right time, as well as putting your gold bars in the right bank. What could possibly go wrong?

Look who is coming.

“Hello fox, busy.?

“I am on my way to visit the hare. It is spring and I heard some nice juicy rabbit babies have arrived. My fox brood are hungry.”

And so it goes in the country where everything takes the course of nature. The big eat the small, even if they do say good night to each other.

The fresh country smell of cow dung is not yet in the air, the cows are still in the barn waiting for their first (and perhaps last) outing in the grassy fields. As I said the big eat the small, that’s life.

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  1. I've never regretted moving away from the big city (in my case Birmingham) and moving to this area of west Wales. Less than 25 metres from my door is a field of sheep and lambs, I often hear owls calling to each other at night. Less than 25 minutes drive I can be at the coast (either a small seaside town or spectacular coastal cliffs), a variety of formal gardens and several castles. I love it.

    1. I can no longer imagine living in a large town. I suppose I was lucky to grow up in the middle of London, but I was too closed in. I love country life. We don't have many sheep, they are more in the highlands, but the cows outpopulate the locals. We have all sorts of birds and wildlife.