Cirencester Scene December 2016

His Study Window – by J R Moeller


Anyone who lives in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, basks in the harmony of nature and man ever since the Romans colonised the area. Every silver lining, however, has a cloud.

His study window, out of which anyone should be able to contemplate gentle hills and valleys, overlooks instead the car park attached to the town centre Tesco. In the spirit of politesse which pervades this area, it is known as the Brewery Car Park, although you would be hard pressed to find a watering hole near it. Nor are there manicured lawns, or twee, honey-stoned cottages or bevies of tourists snapping digital cameras at the sights that Aunt Madge or Cousin Koko will exclaim over back in Topeka or Tokyo. The only concessions to the usual Cotswolds’ scenes are several trees and one or two sick blobs of turf, which gallantly fight the exhaust fumes.

It used to be that by eight a.m. only a few cars had struggled to bag a place. By nine it is filling up so that, at times, there is a queue to enter this non-sylvan glade. The next five hours hosts a confluence of cars until the afternoon. At two p.m. the flow reverses and the spaces begin to empty. By four or five, it is deserted until a rush in the evening on the nights the local nightclub opens.

That has changed. There are few spaces to park for no charge in the town, a state that local traders say affects their ability to earn a living and pay the rates. In response to this anguished cry, the council decided to allow free parking after three p.m. in two of the car parks. Now, there is a spate of cars piling into the spaces, polluting, no doubt, the residents, but it is good to see the car park busy and all those businesses raking in the pounds.

The vista is further enhanced by a view of the recycling bins. There are two for paper, three for various sorts of bottles, tin cans and foil. Every so often there is the sound of a Tesco trolley carrying bottles and tins for reprocessing. While not musical, the accompanying notes would spruce up many a modern composition. Fugue for Tesco trolley is complemented by push chairs and arguing couples:

“What’s the point of going shopping if we don’t stick to the list?”

“Why do we need to buy a present for Aunt Hermione? I’ve never liked her.”

“You mean you didn’t buy any wrapping paper?”

“I said a turkey for six people, not six turkeys!”

There ought to be a warning sign at each end of the alleyway that runs beneath the study window.

“Please note: your conversations can be overheard.”

It is unlikely that a notice would make any difference. Indignity is a bubble that encloses the most sensitive of persons. It would be sad to lose the verbal sparring which takes place outside the window.

Few would call the scene picturesque, but it has the virtue of being ignored by the hordes of visitors en route to Bibury. And so it is with the local landscape in which automobiles intrude into what should be a graceful scene. It is not all that different from the chocolate box pictures that are best viewed from the passenger seat of the dreaded petrol engines that infiltrate most landscapes in the world, but most of all outside his study window.