方禮倫:Country living in River Country 生活於劍橋河鄉

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We live in Cambridgeshire. This is river country.(註 1)The Great Ouse and it’s tributaries, including the Cam and the Little Ouse, crisscrosses the county, before emptying in the Wash near Kings Lynn in Norfolk.

We are blessed with beautiful waterways and meadows, and sleepy little riverside towns and villages. Timber and thatch are common in many older properties, and some newer ones too. As with many parts of the British countryside, there is a calm and dignified tranquility about our countryside.(註 2)

It is a setting that has inspired many artists. Painters have for hundreds of years sought to capture the magic of the river around the town of St Ives. Lucy Boston, the author of the Green Knowe series of children stories, lived on the river at Hemingford Grey.(註 3)The old Manor house, her old home, remains in the family. We pass the house and it’s beautiful gardens on our regular walks. It dates back almost a thousand years. The setting could not be more magical.

In spring the meadows fill with flowers— daisies, buttercups and cornflowers. Elsewhere flocks of sheep lazily graze on new shoots, as farmers shepherd ewes and their new born lambs into separate enclosures where they can be more easily cared for. Farming here is not industrial. Despite being close to the Fens, the breadbasket of England, most operations continue to be small scale and family affairs.

Our bedroom window looks down on a nearby brook. Late in the long summer days we see deer, weasels and other similarly shy creatures come to water. The horses in the field barely seem to notice.

As summer approaches the river comes to life. Life spawns in the shadow of waterlilies — frogs, eels and river fish, especially roach. Above the water skit dragon flies. Ducks, geese and swans, ever present along the waterways, are now joined by ducklings, goslings and cygnets. And then there are people, on the water and on the banks, in boats and canoes, and on paddle boards, and having picnics, reading or just taking in the sun with friends and family.

People who live in villages and hamlets around us tend to be reasonably well-to-do.(註 4)Many are retired. Jobs are a few, and good jobs almost non-existent. But there is not the extremes of the city. People are comfortable.

It is a great place to raise a family. There is space, and time seems to pass at a more gentle pace. Around us is nature, and each day is a lesson. In nature we experience birth, growth and renewal, but also decline and death.(註 5)

This year I have watched young bluetits and rabbits grow. But I have also seen life cut short. Only last week I cradled a young rabbit I had found calling for help by a garden fence. Its back was broken. It died in my hands.

We learn not to moralise but to accept nature as it is. It is a place where children can be innocent, and where people have the time to be considerate and caring.

I want a life where in summer we can picnic by the river and swim in its waters, and where in winter I can ride a toboggan down from our hill towards the now frozen brook. I want each spring to cut new flowers to bring colour into our home, and each autumn to collect fruit and berries with which to make jams and chutneys.

I also want my children to be raised to appreciate the local economy, to know the farmers whose produce we eat. I want them to be able to work in the village shop, and understand that communal ownership does and can work better when communities are built on trust. I want them to sing in the choir and try ringing the church bells without feeling the need to be Christian; and to embrace their culture without politics, and to celebrate what is good about their country without nationalism. I want to provide for my children an environment that might be a sanctuary and roots in a caring community.(註 6)

Coming from Hong Kong, and as a Hong Kong family, we did not know what to expect when we moved to the UK. Moving to the countryside was an even bigger step into the dark. Yet we wanted a quieter life, away from the crowds of big cities. London is an exciting city, but it can be stressful.

We wanted somewhere we would feel safe as well as welcome, and where the stresses of modern living would not be so acutely felt. We have found this living in the country.

陶傑點評

華人移民外國,多喜歡住大城市。鄉村生活雖有陶淵明和蘇東坡的田園之趣,以及士大夫「天人合一」的生活境界,但今日的人,包括中產階級,都習慣了上下班,與大自然的距離非常遙遠。

作者是中英混血兒,香港出生,移居倫敦,一到就是劍橋的鄉間。中國人許多讀過徐志摩的「再別康橋」,知道康橋有一條「康河」:「尋夢?撐一支長篙,向青草更青處漫溯,滿載一船星輝,在星輝斑爛裡放歌。」

作者告訴我們,劍橋郡是河道交錯的地方。本文由水邊講起,層層推進,由淺入深,以景入情,然後拉回香港,充滿人生哲理、思鄉之情。

1.

  • 英文近年處處有演進。「劍橋是一個水道縱橫的地方」(This is a river country),Country 不一定是國家,這是許多中國人學英文的盲點。
  • 「我是一個城市人」,英文可以說成 “I am a city person”。

2.

  • 介紹了水域的地理,作者把讀者的眼光引回陸地。英國鄉間的房屋,用橡木為樑構,用乾草桿(thatch)搭屋頂。前英國首相戴卓爾夫人(Mrs Thatcher)從夫姓,她丈夫的祖先就是「修築禾稈屋頂的工匠」。作者發現,英國鄉間的那種寧靜,有一種「尊嚴感」(dignified)。這個字有「遺世獨立」的意思,也有超凡脫俗的高度,不一定是「尊嚴」。

3.

  • 「綠丘記」(Green Knowe)是女作家露茜波士頓(Lucy Boston)寫的一套兒童故事叢書,50 年代出版。在小說世界裡,一個綠色的小山丘中有一間古屋,一個叫做托斯蘭(Toseland)的小孩,在古屋探究幾百年間在此住過的屋主和房客的故事。書中有飛馬、巨人,有一個叫做「阿平」(Ping)的中國小孩,還有一隻黑猩猩。書中的幻想世界早於「哈利波特」,是一代英國兒童的恩物。

4.

  • 由劍橋郡的水道,描述到陸地的風景。風景畫豈能無人?作者介紹他住的地方,遠近的鄰居為典型的中產階級,許多是退休人士。

5.

  • 「我們的周圍都是大自然,每一天都是人生的一課。在大自然中,我們感悟生命的誕生、成長、更生,還有衰亡。」文藻至此,層次提高。

6.

  • 作者正值盛年,與香港妻子搬來這裡。他告別了香港的前半生,遙眺在英國的下半世。他想到了將來在這裡養育子女:「我希望他們加入合唱團,不必成為基督徒,也能敲響教堂的聖鐘。不必顧慮政治,可以擁抱自己的文化。不必相奉民族主義,也能慶賀關於英國一切的美好。」以含蓄手法,表達了作者的世界觀。

陶傑英文遊花園

香港和台灣,面臨世紀的變局。海外華人居住西方國家,也數目龐大。如何提升英文程度,克服文化隔閡,加強英文能力,在亂世中至關重要。

許多華人都有合理的職業或專業的英文程度,但如何在原有的中學文法訓練基礎之上,探討高層次的英語文化和表達方式,以備融入英語世界主流社會?

本欄介紹評析欣賞英文的寫作細節,分享經驗,歡迎提出不同的評析角度和心得。

※ 此欄文章為作者觀點,不代表本網立場。 ※

方禮倫(Evan Fowler ) ,本地出生成長、中英交界的香港人,在劍橋和倫敦大學政經學院畢業。現居英國。 英文怎樣能表達得更好?香港的英文教育,著重文法正確、詞彙廣泛。但除了這兩樣,說好的英文、寫好的英文,還要有某種英語的理性與感性思維。 好的英文必清晰、婉約而有教養,與中文寫作文化略有不同。有時借用英文的文化特色,用於中文,可以別具一格。但若有一日移居英語國家,與以英語為母語的當地人溝通,融入主流社會,摸通英文表達藝術的深層結構,會很有用。 方禮倫的英文筆觸細膩,每週五他會以英文與我們見一次面,講述香港和海外華人關心的事情。除了獨特的觀點,其文筆可供英文寫作學習參考。