THEY SAID by Nicola Taylor
They said I wouldn't like it.
They said it always rains up there and how are you going to survive without shops. I said better than you survive without fresh air.
And now the shops come to my door and the rain falls clean and fresh and the air's like champagne.
They said you'll be so isolated. I said yes, it'll be great, won't it?

I phoned and said come and see me.
But you're so far from anywhere, they said. It'll take days and we've got shopping to do.
I said if you want shops, you can go to Inverness.
How far's that? they said.
Eighty miles I said.
Eighty miles?? You're mad they said. I couldn't live like that. So uncivilised. It took forty minutes to drive to work yesterday, can you believe it? Forty minutes to go ten miles. Those roadworks. You can just taste the traffic fumes they said.
It takes me an hour and a half to drive to Inverness I said. I watch deer and eagles, see
the sunrise over the lochs, the snow on the mountains and occasionally I pass another
car and we wave to each other. So uncivilised I said.
I phoned and said are you coming?
It's such a long way to drive they said.
Come by train, come by plane I said.
But the cost they said. Much easier for you to come down here
Downhill is it? I said.

Don't be smart they said. You know what we mean. You can go to the city. You'll be missing the night life.

Plenty of night life here I said. Bats and owls and foxes and stars. When did you last see the stars through the sodium haze? In December it's so dark you could imagine you were in The Planetarium. In June it doesn't go dark at all. The pale moon shines in a pink and blue sky scattering silver bars in the loch outside my window.
Ah, but what about the midges? they said. You don't get them down here.
No, they'd suffocate I said.

They phoned and said we flew to Crete in June. They've spoiled it. Hotels and drunk holiday-makers. And it rained and we were
plagued by mosquitoes.
Good I said. It's only the locals that get drunk round here. And the sun's shining.
They said what do you find to do up there? I said we walk and we fish, we sail and play golf, there are bars to drink in, clubs to join, people to talk to, places to see.
Much like anywhere.
But what about the children. How do you keep them occupied? they said.
They walk and they fish, they sail and play golf... They play football and rugby, badminton, swimming, they go to the youth club - shall I go on?
They've closed our youth club down they said. Anyway you don't like to let the kids out of your sight they said.
You hear such things...
So are you coming down here? they said.
No I said.
You always were a funny bugger they said.

The above is reproduced with the kind permission of Nicola Taylor whose copyright it is. You can buy framed or laminated copies from her website.

Thank you Nicki.

Pine Marten
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