There’s a walk from our house that goes up above the start of the village to the tiny hilltop hamlet where our neighbour grew up. Long ago, everyone from this hamlet (I say ‘everyone’ – we’re talking about six houses) moved down into the village and the place is now abandoned. A few villagers still use their old plots as allotments, but no one lives there. It’s strange seeing a beautifully maintained plum orchard between tumbledown houses.
Before she died, our neighbour told us how she and her sisters used to have to trek down the hill and up through the village (which itself is a couple of kilometres long) to go to school each day. Then they’d come back down through the village at the end of the day, up the big hill, and around to the hamlet, to their tiny two-roomed house. Rain, shine or snow. Big walk for a little girl.
I like walking up to the hamlet because it reminds me of her. But also, on a more selfish level, I want to turn the hamlet into a commune. No, really. There are three houses in particular, with a lovely plot of land between them, that would be perfect for communal living. It’s a wonderful spot: close enough to the village so it’s not completely cut off, yet it’s totally peaceful and private. The views are outstanding.
(By ‘commune’, I obviously mean cult, where everyone has to do what I say and I’m essentially their queen. La, la, la, peace and love and stuff. But mostly, obedience.)
I don’t even know why I want a commune (cult) so much. I used to think of myself as a ‘people person’, but, as I get older, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that most people just piss me off. Also, I hate mess, so it would have to be a freakishly neat commune (cult), populated by people who were as anally retentive as me.
But there’s just something enduringly appealing about the idea of building a community (cult) with a bunch of lovely, like-minded (anally retentive) people. Everyone mucking in together. Sharing tools and vehicles and recipes and cooking and gardening. Rob actually just uttered the words ‘Claire doesn’t share’, but he’s exaggerating. (Is it too much to ask, Robert, that if you borrow my favourite trowel, you put it back in its proper fucking place? I don’t think so.)
Besides, with me as the overlord, and everyone doing exactly what I say (putting everything back exactly where it belongs, Robert), I’m sure it would be fine. Great even. We certainly wouldn’t go mad and murder each other with trowels in the fields. It would be calm and lovely and beautiful. La, la, la. Obey me.