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Village Life

A fresh breeze swept in from the sea. The view that never bored in sixty years. Its  shapes and colours responsive to every shift in the weather and the time of day. Change was fast.

Vivienne, designer of the village tea towel (adjectives in royal blue, skipping around a crisp white background, describing an idyllic summer), watched. She leaned, at the point where the street narrowed slightly. The high flint wall on one side, framing the scene, elongated by the cottages running towards Wells. The stretch of road changing every day from soggy grey water to sticky mud and back again, the expanse of luscious grass stretching to the distant green of elderly oaks on the hill behind the farm.

The main street was crowded for months on end. Loud visitors flocked in with their feral children and their ‘out of control’ Cockapoos in matching diamante collars and leads.  Walkers arrived in herds on winter weekends, clad in walking boots and North Face insulated jackets, as they scurried in from the coastal path to get hot chocolate, heads down to avoid the drizzle blowing off the marsh.  Often, Vivienne had to jump back as she left her front gate, not to avoid the walkers, but the giant four by four vehicles, which hammered the narrow coastal road like a Monte Carlo race track.  Change was fast.

The visitors usually came in fours, with a quartet of designer children attached. They rushed in, like seagulls, squawking and gobbling before departing for the next stop, heads down as they scanned their mobile phones. They never paused to enjoy the views, the pink footed geese in daily flight, the migrating swallows dancing high about the roof tops in varying formations or the tiny crystal droplets forming clouds to bring life giving rain to the crops.

The unassuming flint, cockle gatherers’ cottages gave the village its character, along with the constantly shifting blend of marsh, creek, mud and sand. Sadly no one noticed any more, no one noticed anything. Change was fast and then there was Gwen.

Gwen, of the church teas fame. Gwen, secretary of the W.I. Gwen, the quiz team leader. Gwen, staunch supporter and founder member of the Book Club. Gwen, volunteer at the local history group. Gwen, from the village hall committee, Gwen, found to be propping up the bar every Friday evening in the village pub.  Gwen, the “I’m a sort of nurse” care assistant. Gwen, first on the scene when the curly haired boy was flung out of the stolen MX5 roadster on the sharp bend by the stony village green.

“Move out of the way” she bellowed as others came running when the raucous car horn, blaring in the ‘on’ position, drew them from their tiny cottages.

“I said move”. She was more than forceful as she elbowed the elderly man aside.

He sighed gently. “I think it’s you who needs to move. I’m a Doctor”.

Vivienne looked back. Only a local would notice the detail. Gwen, in her luminous yellow coat. Gwen giving safety advice to the small crowd. Gwen, calling for an ambulance and taking responsibility for finding the young lad. Gwen, waiting to be interviewed by the local press. Gwen, who had only lived in the village for two years. The Doctor, still kneeling beside the boy, laid a jacket over his head. Change was fast.

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