Well, it seems that my little nephew is waiting until I am safely back in Cornwall before he puts in an appearance. This being the case, I find my mind wandering to other matters.
On another wearisome train journey up from the Westcountry, I found myself watching a film called An Education, starring Carey Mulligan who can go on to do whatever she wants in Hollywood but to me she will always be the girl who first encountered the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who.
Anyway, An Education is about a schoolgirl in the early 60s seduced by an older man, who shows her a world away from her Latin homework and dreams of studying at Oxford by taking her to classical music concerts, trendy bars, Paris and greyhound racing.
Now I suppose most parents to girls – and dads in particular – might watch this and think ‘ooh I don’t want that to happen to my little princess’ and ‘I certainly won’t let her get up to such things.’ And before getting too caught up in the nightmare that is the passing of time and one’s diminishing ability to protect your child from the big wide world, you just try and turn your attention to something else in the film such as is that really what Walthamstow Stadium looked like in 1961.
But I didn’t. If anything I found myself worrying about the complete opposite. Having relocated our young family to deepest Cornwall – in a place which one of the girls in the London office where I am working was most surprised to learn is a half hour drive from the nearest train station – I started thinking well what if my little girl doesn’t grow up and get introduced to all these cultural things that Carey Mulligan came to appreciate in the film. That I did.
Now I know I run the risk of offending everyone who lives west of the Tamar, but it doesn’t hurt to play the odd game of Town Mouse vs Country Mouse from time to time. In fact it’s probably healthy.
So here goes. Classical music concerts. Cornwall does have a few venues for this, but not on a Royal Albert Hall scale obviously. In London, you can pick up an entertainment guide and be faced with dozens of concerts taking place that evening in any given genre. In Cornwall, you generally have to fix the date in your diary three months ahead. And the only half decent big pop act to have come west of the Tamar in the past few months is Shakin’ Stevens. We have the Eden Sessions in the summer but in the winter time our cultural hearts are expected to pine that little bit more. It’s the limitation of choice that bothers me here.
Trendy bars. Well, Cornwall has no shortage of trendy bars. I mean, not by London’s standards by any stretch. But they’re there. If you look. Accessibility is the main problem and being realistic, when my kids reach an age where they want to go for a night out with their mates, chances are it will be in a local pub. Yes, these are lovely places on the whole and they’re cheaper and safer than most establishments in the capital. But they don’t really offer the chance to properly mix with a educational cross section of society and really open a teenager’s eyes to just what is out there. Believe it or not, as I watched An Education, this troubled me a little.
Paris? Well again accessibility is the issue, but not really a problem, just more of an expense. We’ll skip Paris.
And greyhound racing. You don’t get that in Cornwall. A downside, I grant you, but not the end of the world. It does, however, represent one of many many random activities on offer to Londoners, if they so wish. Sure, Cornwall has beach upon beautiful beach and they are wonderful and we are lucky to be near so much exquiste coastline. But a beach is a beach. And I suspect that Cornwall is full of teenagers who must be absolutely bored of the beach. As a teenager in London I was, in theory, a mere tube or bus journey away from practically anything I wanted to do or see. Funnily enough, I don’t remember one of them involving the sea.
On the one hand, you must think me bonkers for even having thoughts like these. But ,on the other, I can’t help questioning the future that I have made for my children in the long term by moving them to Cornwall so young.
And then just as it was beginning to bug me, I read about Wandsworth council in London deciding to charge children £2.50 each to go in their popular adventure playground. It really beggars belief and there’s no justification for this at all. If they had to charge a nominal fee, then why couldn’t it be 50p. It is blatant profiteering.
And suddenly An Education fades from my mind and I realise that I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself. The Country Mouse lets out a squeak and reminds me that I have probably done the right thing after all.