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Heart of Darkness

So I managed to take a couple of days off to swing by the south east and give poor old grandparents (who for various reasons have been unable to thus far) a taste of The Boy. Jolly pleasant it was too, he sat and cooed and gurgled obligingly thus cheering grandparents up no end. Familial duties discharged it was warm glows all round.

However, with no disrespect intended to the relloes (who it was, as ever, a pleasure to see) it was with no small relief that I headed back north. There's something about the home counties which never fails to get on my nerves. Note, this is not intended as a swipe at the south east in general, I'm reliably informed some parts are quite nice, but never do I ever feel as though I'm intruding on Hallmark card as when ploughing through darkest Bucks.

It took me a while to realise why. Normally I'm a sucker for the picture perfect, glorious villages of old england, village greens, bell-towers, all that jazz. Show me a thatched roof and I'll coo and gurgle in a manner not entirely dissimilar to my son in paragraph one. But as we tootled past one best kept village sign after another it dawned on me. No shops.

No shops. No schools. No bus-stops. No (shudder) pubs. Village after village of the damned. Houses for sleeping in and nothing else, no community, no life, not the faintest hint of soul. Millions of pounds worth of property used solely as a hyper-expensive dormitory. An entire area enslaved by cars, no public transport to speak of. An area where it makes sense to shop once a week so it's no problem travelling. Driveway after driveway of four by fours which have never seen a speck of mud in their existence, show-room shiny. Everything neat. Everything tidy. It's easy to be neat and tidy when you don't live there. Scary shit.

So thank fuck for Ormskirk, when I saw the spray paint on the town's sign I nearly cried with relief.

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