One of the reasons my wife and I were happy to emigrate to the UK nine-and-a-half years ago was to enter into a different way of living. We love Canada, but some things about it rub at us, and one of those is the car culture. Investment in public transit is lower than here, and roads proliferate like replicating aliens from a cheesy horror movie. Big, fat ones, too, that force people into large, noisy metal boxes and then devour them. The scale is just wrong. I remember driving down the West Coast after high school from Nanaimo all the way to Ashland, Oregon with a friend. Our return journey coincided with Seattle’s rush hour, and we were jammed on the I-5 when we noticed that the bus and carpool lane was open for vehicles with two more more occupants.
I need to separate that to emphasise it: that’s how low the bar was. So we two, at the back end of a camping and theatre jolly, sped our merry way, passing all these legitimate commuters in their one-apiece cars, driving out from work to their impossible personal footprints.
I was happy enough to sell my car when we moved over here, and for nine years, we haven’t needed it. Correction: for nine-and-a-half years, we haven’t needed one. Gotten on fine with buses and trains, of course bikes, and hiring a car wen we have a longer trip to take.
But when we visited old neighbours now moved to the north of Italy this summer, part of the deal was to buy their old people-mover and drive it back here. At that point, we’d either keep it or sell it. For the time being, we’ve kept it: it proved useful for getting visiting grannies around, and it did give me some spontaneity and flexibility when seeking a new guitar.
Something else it has done is allowed me to return to a very helpful practice that has actually been an important part of my life for a few years, now. Continue reading