Nelson, British Columbia
Thursday, 3rd July 2008
The lady lived a few streets up from the town centre. Terraces of plain, neat houses lined either side. Two up, two down, with a scullery at the back and the toilet in the yard, the lady’s house was like that of countless others. It was unlike many of them in being completely spotless, even the fireplace shone. Her daily routine changed little; she rose at six each morning, cleaned out the fire and set the one for that day (it would not be lit until later, coal was too expensive). Once the fire was set, she would set about giving the house its daily clean with brush, mop and dustpan.
Breakfast followed the cleaning. Apart from mealtimes, the rest of the day would be spent reading her Bible saying her prayers and thinking. Once a week she went down the street for her shopping, otherwise she saw no-one. She had no television, no radio, saw no newspapers, and, apart from her Bible, read no books.
The lady came to mind driving through a valley on the way south towards Nelson this afternoon. Picking up her hire car last Friday at Vancouver Airport, we had turned the radio on only twice, to listen to CBC news bulletins. At three this afternoon, I turned on the radio to find nothing but static on the CBC AM frequencies, switching bands I discovered the radio had something called ‘XM’. Whatever XM stood for, it meant that there were dozens of satellite radio stations available. Clicking through, I found Fox News, the CNN, and then the BBC.
I wish I hadn’t. The news report on the World Service seemed little different from a week previously, the world had not become a better place.
I often wondered in the past what it was like to live in very rural parts of Canada, did it not feel isolated? Was there not a sense of being cut off from the world?
This afternoon it seemed, that in a world where one could do little to change things, hearing no news and living one’s own life might not be such bad choice. Whether it’s in a back street of an Ulster mill town or deep in a Canadian valley, your own world might be a safe world.