Bertie: “You OK, Bobby?”
Bobby: “Not really Bertie. Bit fed up.”
Bertie: “It’s all that bleedin’ Social Media you know, Bobby!”
Bobby: “It’s all media, Bertie. Started to get on my nerves. And it’s all my own fault.”
Bertie: “Tell you what, Bobby. It’s a beautiful morning. Instead of doing all that media stuff, why don’t you go over to Abinger Roughs and sit on Diddley’s Bench? Don’t take me – and turn your phone off!”
When he came back later I asked him: “Did five hours out in the fresh air help, Bobby?”
Bobby: “Certainly did Bertie!”
Bertie: “What did you do?”
Bobby: “Nuffin. Nuffin at all. But then, some people’s nuffin is another’s passport to Heaven. I sat on Diddley’s bench for a while. Only used the phone for photographs and then turned it off. Just sitting on benches at Abinger Roughs listening to the birds. And watching them. A Brimstone Butterfly flew by. The Celandine looked beautiful and the Bluebells are just a month a way.
One or two dog walkers stopped for a chat and noted how peaceful and serene I appeared to be. A Red Kite flew over. I heard Ravens. Saw a big flock of Rooks wheeling high above Crossways Farm, where there is a big Rookery. Close by, a Wren broke into song. It’s amazing how such a tiny bird has such a loud distinctive song.
A Robin sang above my head. And so then I walked right round the perimeter of the glorious Roughs, sitting down on a succession of benches. For five hours. Didn’t feel like cooking tea, so it was off to Kingfisher Watercress Farm Shop nearby. Watercress and Tomato sandwiches for tea. Looking forward to seeing Kate Humble walk the Cleveland way to Whitby at 2100. Knowing I will know virtually every blade of grass along the way. Done that walk many times and it is on my ‘One Day To Do Again List’.”
Bertie: “So, Bobby. Did the Social Media really matter?”
Bobby: “I realised that none of it was so important that it couldn’t wait. People can always contact me by phone if they are desperate (not if you’ve switched it off, they can’t! – Ed). But they won’t be. It’s my problem. An obsession with a mobile phone that needs to stop. Feeling I have to do everything straight away instead of switching off.”
So he did and switched his phone off.
Lighting a Candle for Diddley
Over the years we have lit many candles on Diddley’s Bench. This one in 2018 from the story “A Year in the Life of a Bench”