Into the Trees by Robert Williams
This is a one of the library lottery books I got out a few weeks ago. I barely look at library books, in supermarket trolley-dash style I grab anything that has a nice or hilariously hideous cover/good review/has been put in a special display, and this was one I’m glad I took a chance on.
Thomas and Ann have a baby girl that screams non-stop and pushes them past the edge of sanity, until they discover while driving her around at night that she shuts up in the woods. So, as Thomas is a bank manager (this story would not have worked with a skint person) they build a house in the woods for a perma-quiet baby and a remote, isolated life. Meanwhile, Raymond is a farm worker living in a caravan in the woods, his wages reducing each year, but loving his three seasons in the woods and hating his winter spent in his damp house in the town. And there’s a dodgy geezer who ties them together, and a few page-turning chapters of peril among the marriage strains of living in dark, dense woodland and the job fears of Raymond, but without any spoilers, I wasn’t unhappy with the ending. The characters are so well drawn, nobody is glossed over, it’s well-peopled, alive book.
This book nicely echoed a lot the feelings I’m having right now. The insecurity we live with, like poor Raymond, grows each year. Countries like Denmark may have a 50% tax rate, but with generous unemployment benefits and free life-long education access, there’s not the risk of the dominoes of doom that take place for many when a lost job equals a lost home and family turmoil that we have in this country. Working at the temporary accommodation unit I’ve been seeing so many people who fell off the edge within a matter of weeks once the money stopped. Redundancy, or a landlord that wants to sell up, and boom, sharing a kitchen with a bunch of other people and having curfews to abide by. However, that’s better than the shop doorway alternative.
In other news, I got the job I went for! It’s the last permanent contract HR are authorising for a while, so any poor soul after me will be on a six-month contract. It’s not as many hours as I need, but 27.5 guaranteed hours a lot better than I had before, and there will still be sickness to cover (as long as other people continue to ring in sick, fingers crossed! 😉 ). The other good thing is a it’s not a fixed location and many of the schemes I’ll have to get to are in villages on the old railway network, which runs through some lovely countryside. That means I can cycle, and be mostly off the roads.
In not a railway enthusiast but I do love seeing the old stations and huts.
In my thinner days I used to do a lot of road biking, and do have a super-light road bike, but that’s no good for bumpy tracks and when you want to wear normal shoes without cleats, so I’ve got my old commuting hybrid out. I’m gonna get a new bell and a new basket to celebrate. Ding-ding!