Summer sojourn, after

Saturday 3rd September 2011

HOME is where the heart is. Google, on the other hand, is an electronic search engine offering short cuts that sometimes lead, via twisting, pot-holed avenues, to Bog Down or Mistake End.

A number of internet sites attribute the above quotation about the heart to Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist. None of these sites enlighten us with the original Latin version. Meanwhile, the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs points us to J J McLoskey’s play Across the Continent, published in the 1870s.

It concerns me that it’s possible for an off-the-cuff remark by a bloke in a pub to find its way on to an online forum and thence to the higher ground known as Common Knowledge. Fama was the Roman goddess of rumour, from which comes the English word fame.

That short holiday in Yorkshire set me thinking: here or there? stay or go? dale or coast? cottage or flat? sites of specific self-interest: Swaledale, Staithes or Scarborough? My feet were feeling a little itchy.

Solitude and privacy mean a lot to me nowadays. I shun parties and tend to go out in the evening only when working. Retire completely, live frugally. And it’s cheaper up north. Could I, would I?

Then again, I wouldn’t know anybody at all. Long way to travel to see children and grandchildren. Even though the gulls shriek with a Yorkshire accent, they still shriek. And it’s colder.

Choices, choices. I’ll sleep on it.

And did, on and off, for several months.

In 79 AD, incidentally, Pliny the Elder was appointed to the office of praefectus classis, stationed with the Roman fleet at Misenum, fewer than twenty miles, as the ash flies, from Mount Vesuvius. He died near Pompeii, attempting to rescue survivors.

Had history been kinder, the Emperor Titus would no doubt have sent the trustworthy Pliny overseas, maybe as praefectus fabrum, perhaps to oversee construction work at the small but thriving town of Corinium, where I have now been resident for eleven years… and intend to stay, all being well, for the rest of my days.

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