Those voices in my head.
I can’t remember a time when they weren’t there living their lives in the background of my own life.
They’ve been around longer than me. I wasn’t there to hear them the first time they materialised into people’s kitchens and living rooms. I wasn’t there for the fire or those early years. But I’ve been around for a lot of it listening to their ethereal voices whispering about tragedy and success, talking over plans and fears, muttering threats and kissing cheeks.
They come from a world of ghostly mooing cows, phantom twittering robins, and a world where the creak of a farm gate moving on its rusting hinges or a tractor ploughing a muddy field can be heard but never seen. I can recognise each their disembodied voices and I know what each of them looks like even though I’ve never glimpsed them, even as shadow, out of the corner of my eye.
You might say that I'm tuned in to them.
Despite this though, I can’t always remember their names. Well, there are so many of them – Jack, Peggy, Walter, Nelson, Eddie, Shula, David, Phil, Dorothy, Polly, Jazza, Susan, Mike, John, Rory, and the hundreds of others I’ve heard on the fringes of my conscious mind over the years. I seem to know them as well as I know my own family, perhaps better than I know my family - after all I know everything about them. I hear their bedroom conversations, their private grieving, their lies, their curses. I know about their adulteries, misdeeds, opinions. I know how their crops and cattle and sausages are doing.
Their world isn’t like mine. Oh, bad things happen – deaths, fights, mental illness, even an awful rape – but generally, all in all, things turn out well, most problems are solved. The money is found, a home turns up, the addiction is overcome, the cows get better, businesses thrive, and Jennifer even forgives Brian.
It’s a quiet place in general, has been for the last sixty years.
A quiet place... Ambridge - how I would love to live there. Happy birthday. I hope that tonight's special episode isn't too alarming.