Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Driving after the god called Education

I am invited to feel guilty. About many things probably, but especially how I am burning up the planet via the Gritmobile.

No. I won't feel guilty. Not for our access to this coastline in this snippet of time; the moment I can snatch before I lose this country again.

Anyway, guilt is a feeling I do not do a lot of. Neither guilt, nor regret - the real hard-core wounding, chew-my own-lips-off regret. Not much of that, either.

Not necessarily because I have sailed through life making choices which are fantastically blameless and am now an all round twoshoes-goodsome type, no.

Probably because I am a battered old crone. I am old enough to have made mistakes enough. They have forced certain reconciliations with myself. I come to a quiet forgiving truce with my bright and dark parts; a settlement which allows me to venture out to explore the world everyday, feeling more or less intact.

I avoid being paralysed by guilt and regret. I take opportunities as and when they arise. I do not beat myself up. I balance imperatives, priorities and desires. I make shifty compromises. I stay sane. And sometimes it all leads to the Gritmobile teetering precariously on an eroding cliff edge.

I console myself. If things go really badly, the Gritmobile plunges over the cliff, and the world goes up in a puff of smoke, I can always rely on being English. For most disasters, I have a script: I know how to bumble on, make the best of things, say nevermind couldbeworse putthekettleon.

Now, having unwisely blurted out my failings and inadequacies, here's today's drive-fest along the south coast, burning up your planet.

(And if there was a frequent and reliable shuttle bus, picking up and dropping down we happy tourists strung out along this remarkable coastline, I'd probably take it: driving is quite tiring and I cannot stop for a refreshing beer, half-way through.)

First stop: the RSPB Reserve at Weymouth.
I'm sorry, Weymouth, I never want to come here again, ever.
Your town is horrible. I couldn't wait to get out.

(The Weymouth Tourist Board is of course welcome to put us up in five-star accommodation
and show me a good time, if only to prove me wrong.)

Third stop: English Heritage, Portland Castle.
Brilliant, as all English Heritage is.

See? The EH audio guides are fantastic.

You're wondering what happened to the Second stop aren't you?
Weymouth was so horrible, I had to pull into a layby for a cry.

Fourth stop: Chesil beach.

This place is not on Planet Earth.

You must turn left at Zelta-Minor and avoid the asteroid.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger found Earth rubbish on it though.
They politely endured the boring pointless lecture on Portland Limestone
(which forms an admirable curve at the end of Chesil beach)
then set to, building ships to sail across the Atlantic.

Fifth stop: Lulworth Cove.
Exhibition centre, ice cream shop and geology, all rolled into one.

I think someone will ride a Geography GCSE.
Then I can drive about the countryside looking at landscape while I burn up your planet.
And I can shift some of the blame to the educational enterprises supported by government.

Sixth stop: Durdle Door. Unavoidable limestone arch.
You cannot look at Lulworth Cove, then not go over the hill for this.

Now, let's drive back to the site for a nicecupoftea (while the planet dies a little bit more).