Free as a Bird?

The view was stunning. The golden light of the setting sun, glittered off the sighing waves, as blades of grass danced playfully on the cliff-edge. This park-up was a gift. Until dusk, when the peace was broken, by a rude ratt-a-tat-tat on the van door…

Did we know we weren’t allowed to park there? Did we know that the land was privately owned? Did we know that the village had seen us arriving, earlier (net curtains twitching)? Travellers were invading. People of the open road. Uncivilized folk.

The Guardian of the Car-Park was slightly nervy, loud-speaking and unwelcoming. He was un-interested in our story of watching the sunset, and having a peaceful meal, on a piece of our beloved home-soil. This land was private, and we were not allowed to park here over night. His manner was hostile and accusitory, which lead Pete to interject, in our defense, which only seemed to rile him up even more. In his hand, he held a scrumpled piece of paper, with the local Copper’s number on it. “He”, we were told, “Is good friends with the Lady who owns the carpark,” and we wouldn’t want him coming down and asking us to leave, would we?

With this threat, and some musings about n’er-do-wells taking over the carpark, he left, expecting a speedy exit on our part, suggesting instead a local lay-by (with toilets).

We were aware of the fear that hid, behind his words. What if we refused to ever leave? Played loud music into the night? What if we were drug addicts? Or thieves? (apparently, a window on the visitors centre had been tampered with) What if we defecated in the hedgerows? (Yes, this was a voiced concern).

What ensued was a deep discussion between Pete and I. Legally, there is no law against such things. To move us, they would in fact have to present an eviction notice, and contrary to his threats, this is in fact, a civil matter, not for the concern the local constabulary. Besides this, we have the fundamental question of who ever really “owns” land, and what does that mean? What gives this particular Lord or Lady the dominion over a section of our cost-line. After all, how did it become theirs in the first place? I start to think back to the Norman Invasion, the Enclosure Acts, but that’s another story…

Nonetheless, we had to give consideration to his fears: A small village, with a beautiful stretch of coast-line is potentially a vulnerable space. We understand that there has to be some regulation of the space; They want to protect their territory, preserve it’s magic. But does this mean a generic brush that tars every person who lives on the road with a set of prejudices and assumptions? This is really where I take issue: it’s with the inability or unwillingness for people to acknowledge the human aspect in a given situation. This is a civil matter, therefore, let’s treat it as such. Let’s be “civil”, and speak as two individuals,  and let’s see where it leads us.

When he returned, with a witness, “in case there was any aggression”, I invited The Guardian of The Cwell, fromarpark to a conversation. I shook his hand, introduced myself, and Pete, then explained why we hadn’t left. Explained that Pete and I had had a long discussion about whether or not to leave. I explained that we weren’t in fact, breaking any law, and that we were peaceful, land-loving people; that he had nothing to fear, we were just passing through. I assured him that we were toilet trained… He admitted that the policeman on the piece of paper had said that he couldn’t get involved, confirming tht it was a civil matter – “Just as long as there’s no aggresion…” Wel, from our side, there was none, at least. Meanwhile, his witness skulked, redundant, in the darkness behind him. He began to soften. He became human.  A small crack appeared, and we slipped through it. He agreed to turn a blind eye, just this once. ON the condition, that we never come back. Of course, we made no promises, and bid him goodnight. And so, we got back to our books, and our cups of tea, and snuggled down for the night, by candlelight. The sea breathing sympathy sighs, as we slipped into sleep. How very, uncivilized…

Source: Uncivilized

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