Lately, I’ve become quite good at sitting.
Every day, I take my place behind the steering wheel to drive the forty miles to work; travelling along winding country lanes; down the soulless straight lines of the M25 and through the streets of a town that’s still trying to remember it’s a city. I raise and lower my foot and every so often turn my head or the steering wheel, but for every second of the journey, I sit.
For most of the day I'm stationary at a desk, occasionally getting up to move to a meeting room, where I’ll sit down to speak to my colleagues. If I find the time to step outside, it will often be a quick dash to grab a sandwich and take it back to my desk.
When I get home, I sink far too quickly into my end of the sofa; where everything I want is just within reach. My half-read book lies open on the armrest, a notebook and pen are tucked down the side of the cushion, my latest knitting project lies crumpled in the corner, yarns trailing, twining round the wires of the laptop that hides just beneath my feet.
On a Sunday morning, it’s a real treat to sit in bed; my hands curled around a cup of tea, as I gaze out the window at the tops of the trees, and beyond them to all the options of the day ahead. From where I sit, the possibilities are as endless as the day, but as I dream and doze, Philip says, in that irrepressibly insistent tone he sometimes has, “so… do you fancy a quick early walk round the fields?”
To be honest, there are so many things I fancy more. Like adjusting the pillow behind my back and staying exactly where I am, or persuading him to re-fill the tea-cup I’ve just emptied, but when I look at him he’s got that “come on, you know I always know what’s good for you” gleam in his eyes and I find myself not even hesitating as I say “yes, that would be lovely.”
In no time at all, our feet are crunching on the stubble of recently cut wheat, the early morning dew is dampening my trousers, and I’m waving my arms above my head as I try to avoid the nettles that grow with such enthusiasm either side of the footpath.
We cross a barren-looking field littered with flint-stones and I think for just a moment of cave-men and flint-tipped arrows. Then we pass a pile of timber, huge chunks of tree, roughly cut and slung in a heap. Suddenly I’m my childhood self, working out how to build a den amongst the logs, knowing instinctively which ones I could shift to make a secret hide-out, which would make the best table or chair. I imagine building a fire, watching the twigs sparkle and burn while I munch through the blackberries I’ve gathered from the hedges all around. My mind begins to invent the story of a lonely child, slipping away from home on a big adventure, hiding here for days, making friends of the wood-lice and the spiders.
We move on and round a corner, passing under a railway bridge. I marvel at the roundness of its arch, at the hundreds and thousands of bricks so carefully placed one upon another. I’ll never know why such effort went into building this tunnel in the middle of nowhere, I wonder if the path we’re treading today led somewhere more important once. I try to imagine who might have passed here, on foot or horseback, in days gone by.
Ahead of us, the hills are green and the trees are still in full leaf, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is gradually warming us through on this unexpectedly lovely September day. We walk on and on, until the call of breakfast is too strong to resist, then we turn towards home.
A short while later I’m sitting again, my hands curled round another cup of tea as I gaze out into the garden. In front of me lie all the options of the day ahead, but I smile as I think instead of the world of possibilities just a short walk away.