Even if it had been possible to drink a barrel of red wine every night at home, we still could not escape reality or ourselves, yet there is always the element of addiction that can creep up on you like the most sinister stalker. We tried to confine our drinking to the weekend period only and not in ridiculous quantities, which ought to give the body time to recuperate – from Monday to Thursday.
I do worry about people who will not even have the occasional glass of alcohol, and their lives have almost a religious fervour surrounding them. I suppose there is some kind of balance to be found between excess and abstinence, but it is not an easy place to find.
Living in the flat near the river in York, not far from Jess’s original place, the only unwelcome caller we can regularly expect is flood water, particularly, though not exclusively, during the winter months. This last winter has been exceptionally dry, apart from some brief interludes of snowy weather, which would probably bring a smug smile to the face of Al Gore and other climate change activists, but are humans really more powerful than nature itself ? They should try living by the River Ouse when the brown water is almost up to the road deck on Skeldergate Bridge !
Our water companies are pushing for all older properties to have meters (matching new-builds), yet in many parts of the United Kingdom there is an abundance of water; if they are experiencing problems in the densely-populated London area and wider Southeast, then it must of course be the same everywhere. Our utilities have become too dominated by the profit motive, and a distorted picture is sometimes presented using global warming arguments.
When the floods do come in historic York, Wales, Carlisle, Gloucestershire or wherever - if all that water was harnessed, rather than left to cause misery then dissipate, we’d have plenty for all to enjoy, using a better network of reservoirs and long-distance pipes. Jess always tells me to get off my bloody soapbox when I start to get into another argument with myself on the subject of weather, transport or health.
It’s a joy to have a window looking over the river, and not to have a property on the ground floor ! Jess loves to throw open these barriers of thin glass and let the fresh air replace any damp and staleness that has accumulated over the winter months. This is our own moment of renewal after all the months of darkness; to see her face glowing, and more radiant than all the golden daffodils on the city walls.
‘I’m glad we chose this place’ she would say.
‘It’s good, and cheap.’
‘Always counting the pennies.’
‘What else would you expect from a true Yorkshireman ?’
This would be my cue to embrace her, like gathering-up a large bouquet of spring flowers from the wilderness meadows near Wheldrake Ings, as the roaming Derwent finally finds its way to the Ouse, Humber, and the sea.