I am visiting an idyllic writers’ retreat far from Canary Wharf, physically and metaphorically.
Instead of a skyline of spiky glass towers, the horizon is full of tree-laden cliffs stretching up to kiss the endless sky.
Instead of the shriek of office workers, I have bird song. Instead of 24 hour lit offices, I have sparkling stars. Instead of a sea of commuters, I have the actual sea.
Instead of the Jubilee line I have my own two feet. Instead of Apple products, I have wild strawberries.
Instead of 4G I have no signal. For miles. Believe me – I’ve looked. I have the blisters to prove it. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
I’m no longer in E14 money land, I’m in Hartland, Devon. As close as you can get to paradise without wi-fi.
I jest, of course I can be happy without an internet connection. Probably. Maybe. When the owners of the water mill I’m staying in first moved in the building had no electricity.
None of the properties in this valley, occupied by artists, writers, potters and the odd farming family that had lived here for generations, came with electricity.
And people coped. Better than that, they flourished.
For a woman who has to deep breathe when my phone battery charge drops below 50% this is unimaginable. As the kids say these days – mind-blown.
Chatting to a painter who spent his 20s ensconced in a hut with no power I caught myself saying not "How did you cope without electricity", but "How did you cope without the internet?"
Not a Freudian slip, but a Freudian chip. It just doesn’t compute. You can take the writer out of the Wharf, but you can’t take the Wharf out of the writer. Here’s hoping Elysium comes with wireless.
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