Monday, 23 April 2012

A river runs through it

In many places a border is marked by armed guards, in some it’s marked by sea, often you don’t see a border at all.
I grew up on a border marked by a river.
Our border was the most invisible border you will ever see. Flanked by two villages coming together to make one community. You did your business in both. Bought your groceries on one side and went to the doctors on the other. Went to church in either, depending on your preference, and to the pub in both.  (8 in total).
Yet the presence of the border carried great significance in the minds of the people who lived there. It was a place to meet and a place to stop and go no further. “Only go as far as the bridge” mum would say, so we’d cross it. “Don’t go near the River”, so we’d swim in it.
As teenage girls we couldn’t meet boys from the other side of the bridge, the boys from our side wouldn’t allow it. So we did it anyway, under the cover of darkness, sneaking out of bedroom windows in the middle of the night.
We’d hide under the bridge, like trolls, waiting for the cars to pass so we could run across, unseen.
Yet they were close, these communities, and still are. We all knew each other and although we went to very different schools, when it came down to it we got along. The villages needed each other, the people relied on each other, it was a happy place to be.
I grew up in Wales and on the other side of the river was England. We were poor, they were posh – at least that’s what we thought. Being Welsh we were second class citizens, yet we were full of pride – despite our English accents.
I loved growing up on the border.
Two villages together, miles from anywhere and split right down the middle. Two countries but one community, with a river running through it.