How would you describe the place you live? I have stumbled across a few quotes recently that described Somerset and specifically Yeovil. The first one evokes the mood of Somerset so beautifully and makes me think of how connected I have always felt to the countryside specifically here.
1. The prolific American writer John Steinbeck said “Time loses all it’s meaning. The peace I have dreamed about is here; a real thing thick as stone and feelable and something for your hands”. (Quoted in Maurice Fell’s Little Book of Somerset).
This next quote made me smile: A description of Yeovil.
2. “A very filthy, a very dirty and a very stinking place”.
Soooo… let me put this in context. This is a quote from 1849, by Dr William Tomkins a Town Commissioner. He was giving evidence at an enquiry which lead to vast improvements in Yeovil which at that time still had some open sewers and many wells sunk adjacent to privy shafts, as I learnt in Yeovil: The Hidden History.
The reason this quote made me smile is because mud sticks in terms of Yeovil’s reputation. As a teenager I couldn’t wait to leave and some of my friends who also escaped would never come back to this small town, instead opting for city life.
I also moved away and saw a bit of the world but at some point I clicked my red heels together (I actually do own some red heels) and settled back here.
Being back in the place I longed for has made me realise how beautiful and underrated it is here. There are 400 acres of Country Park at Ham Hill which is one of the largest iron age hill forts in Britian, a few miles from Yeovil. In the heart of Yeovil is Yeovil Country Park, 127 acres of meandering paths and scenery including a wildlife lake and Victorian water features, how many other towns have something like this? Yes, the town itself has it’s rough areas (which town doesn’t?) and the council knocked down too many of the historic buildings in the 1960s. But if you look up when you wander round (post lockdown) you’ll still see some historic architecture. The shopping centre is known as the Quedam and it scrubs up pretty well.
Onto my final quote…
3. I’ve been doing a bit of research on a guy known as Kek W, who is a comic book writer. On comicsahoy.com it describes him as living and working in Yeovil “deep in the dark, witch haunted heart of the UK’s rural West Country.” I like that description. I’ve also read an interview online where he states “Yeovil has consistently produced more weirdos and freaks per head than anywhere else I can think of”. I also think this is true and somehow makes me proud. It reminds me of Radiohead’s “Creep” an anthem of my youth. He also talks about people forming bands and making their own entertainment and that spirit of creativity I think is very true of this small market town.