The Anxiety of Small Villages

by ericavanhorn

25 April Tuesday

Christy announced that Anxiety is Not A New Thing. He was giving out about the way that Anxiety is receiving a lot of attention in the media these days. He said that you cannot turn on the radio without hearing a discussion about Anxiety. He told me that he spent his youth feeling anxious and that he is nearly 80 now. He said that what he felt then was The Anxiety of Small Villages. He said that the pressure was terrible and huge and that everyone felt it. He said, “You had to pair up and you had to find that someone soon, before everyone was taken.”

26 April Wednesday

It has been a complicated week and it is only Wednesday. We have been without water for several days. Every single thing is more difficult when there is no running water. For a short time, we had water from the hot water tank, but then that ran out. We had rainwater from the water butts and we purchased some drinking water. Every job took considerably longer than usual. We planned what to eat in order to reduce the washing up. We feared it was an electrical problem with the old pump that brings our water up from the well. We called the firm that takes care of these things. John said he would stop by this evening after he finished a job in Skeheenarinky. He arrived with another man and said that yes the pump had just packed in, due to age. Together they replaced it. The new pump does not look like much, but it cost a lot.

27 April Thursday

We got the phone call to tell us that the car had finally been repaired, so we drove to Dungarvan to collect it.  It has taken a month to locate the tiny missing part.  Unfortunately the man who tracked down the part somewhere in Europe was not there when we arrived so we do not know in which country the part was found.

29 April Saturday

The very sticky Robin-run-up-the-hedge is rampant. It is clumped onto every hedge and stone wall. It is everywhere in thick vertical mats. I rip it off in huge handfuls as I walk. There are new blossoms every day. Frothy cow parsley is lining the roads and paths. There are  lilacs, flowering chestnut, vetch, cranesbill, and even early elderflower along with masses of stitchwort and forget-me-nots.

30 April Sunday

A Tractor Run is planned. There is always a Tractor Run planned as a way to raise money for a worthy cause. The farmers who own vintage tractors enjoy an afternoon driving out in a slow parade along back roads from one starting place to a specified destination.  And those with brand new shiny tractors like to join in and show them off too. It is up to all of us to sponsor the tractors to make the money for the cause.

1 May Monday

Nellie announced that her cousin is in a tizzy about the upcoming coronation of the King in England. She said it is lucky that her cousin lives over there because there are not many people who give a fig about it over here. She said that her cousin will never be able to return to live in Ireland because she is completely obsessed by the British monarchy. Nellie said that this cousin moves frequently because nowhere is ever good enough for her, but no matter how desperate she is she will only ever move to a street with a royal something in the name. She said that her cousin is not the only one. She knows for a fact that there are a whole crowd of people in England who aspire to this kind of vicarious connection to the Royal Family. She said her address book is filled with scratched out royal-sounding addresses, all belonging to the same cousin at one time or another. She listed off a few from the top of her head: Princess Anne Lane. King Street. Castle Acre. Prince of Wales Crescent. The Queen’s Gate. Duchess Mews. Royal Rise.

2 May Tuesday

It is normal for me to see cows daily, but each spring I am both surprised and delighted by the appearance of the new born lambs. The fields are full of them running about.

3 May Wednesday

One older woman at the Gentle Gym wears noisy charm bracelets. I have always hated charm bracelets. This woman wears two of them on the same wrist. They make varying degrees of clatter as she uses different machines. If anyone comments on the bracelets or the clatter, she stops what she is doing and explains them, one charm at a time. There is one charm for each of her grandchildren and from what I can see, she has a enormous number of grandchildren.

4 May Thursday

I have been walking with Walker while Fiona and PJ are away. Today we walked up into Tom Cooney’s fields. Walker is terrible about chasing large vehicles and tractors when we are on the road but once we are in the fields, I take him off the lead. I left my red extendable lead by a tank with a green ladder at the bottom of the fields. It is not unusual to find jackets or hats hanging on a gate or on a wall. We all start off on a walk with things that we end up not wanting. It is easy to leave the thing somewhere and to collect it on the return trip.

5 May Friday

Lashing, cold and miserable rain all day. Desperate.

I saw John in the shop. Tommie had asked last week if I had seen John lately because he lives up near us.  I said I had not seen him for many months but I reported that during Covid, John had grown a long beard and he had never cut it off. Tommie was surprised by this news. So when I saw John in the shop today, I told him about my conversation with Tommie and told him too that Tommie had been taken off the road and that as a result he feels he is a prisoner in his own house. John is walking with a stick because he has terrible back pain. Some of his discs are pressing on each other and there is nothing to be done for it. He just has to live with the pain. I asked him if I could take a photograph of him and his beard to show to Tommie and he said yes.

I found Tommie sitting in his dark red upright chair with no lights on and no fire in the grate. The room was dark and gloomy and quiet. Neither the radio nor the television were playing. The only sound was that of the beating rain. He was reclining in an awkward way in his chair. His hips were sort of hanging off the front of the seat. It looked like he was trying to lie down but the chair was so rigidly upright there was no give to accommodate his attempted position. This is the chair that was designed to be plugged in so that it could serve as a recliner. This is the chair given to him by the Health Service. He refuses to plug his chair into the electrical wall socket. I do not know if he does not trust sitting in a chair that is plugged in or if he has never had a chair that plugs in, so he feels there is no reason to begin now.

He marveled at John’s beard in the photograph. We wondered together how John might wash the beard. I thought it would be done in the shower, but he felt sure that John would not be a man for the shower. He would have to wash it in the bath. I told him that I had suggested to John that he come over to visit with Tommie in his house, but he spoke with authority when he said that John would not come to visit him. He said that John is not a man to go into houses.

6 May Saturday

One man comes to the Farmers Market every Saturday, but he never carries a bag nor a basket.  He buys a few things, like four potatoes and then he walks to his car with two in each hand and he places them in the boot. Then he returns and buys something else. Maybe a bunch of rhubarb and he returns to his car with that.  He makes many trips back and forth to his motorcar. Yesterday I saw into the open boot of the car as he placed a handful of leeks inside.  All of his purchases were lined up in a a tidy row.

8 May Monday

Mary the Black Cat has been coming down to eat but so has another larger cat. The larger cat is black with white markings.  Tonight I saw two more farm cats, neither of whom I had seen down here before. This is too many farm cats hanging around the kitchen door. Things have gotten out of control. I must stop feeding Mary because I can no longer be certain that it is Mary who I am feeding. I know that all the cats get milk at the farm and that their job is to be catching rodents to fill their empty stomachs.  I am sending them all back to the job of feeding themselves.