I’m still rejoicing, a month after moving our home to a village where we have always wanted to live. Every day, it seems, discloses some interesting alley or tucked-away square, offers new social opportunities, brings a new friend. People hail me in the street, by name. Well met! Soon the invitations will start to come and we shall be further in this, our chosen community; heimat, terraine, bel posto; our extended home.
But of course there are obligations to think of in return. Like all villages of its type, Hanslope insists on being acknowledged. As this is done repeatedly, it can be thought of as a kind of tax or tribute, payable every morning when you go to the village shop, for instance, and can’t get away without swapping gossip, mentioning the weather or enquiring after everybody’s health. My bad memory for names compels me to repeat them sotto voce over and over until they stick. But it is a small price to pay for the privilege of being acknowledged oneself, being greeted, being included in the life of the village, and I will gladly pay neighbourly tribute for that.