Living Roots Festival
When I was slightly younger and only just moved to London, I would often head back to Kent to see family and friends at weekends, returning on Sunday evening ready for another week of work. So I can all too easily appreciate the heart-sinking feeling that comes when faced with what our narrator experiences in this short audio story, playing as part of the Living Roots Festival: “When looking at the train timetable, you never want to read the words ‘Replacement bus service’.” It’s easy to feel his clear frustration at how much longer his journey home will now take, the bus stopping at every little station along the route, often with no one actually getting on or off.
Of course, that is not really what Hugs, Tears & Replacement Bus Services is actually about. Rather, it is an analogy of how our lives have suddenly changed because of Covid; how in the past year we have been forced to slow down, change direction, seek out alternative ways to get somewhere, whilst managing what the narrator describes as “an unavoidable bump in the road”. That cancelled train is really the lives that have been placed on hold. It’s a path that has, unsurprisingly, turned out for many to be a much slower one, often just meandering along at a crawl, and totally alien to many of us compared to the hectic nature of our lives pre-pandemic.
As analogies go, it is a rather lovely way to represent what we’ve done (or more accurately, not done) this past year or so. And listening with that in mind opens up a whole host of questions as to what certain aspects of the journey might really mean. Obviously, the chance to notice and appreciate the little things in life is there: in this case there’s the way raindrops form and move on the windowpane. But other examples aren’t so clear cut; for instance, what is the hidden significance in how all the passengers have musical instruments? Maybe something about hearing the music in everyday life? Even without catching all the meanings, the enjoyment here is in letting your mind drift along, appreciating the wordplay and the pictures the play paints in your mind.
Whilst predominantly an audio presentation, there is a visual element that for some will assist with the flow; words appear on screen, as well as images representing elements of the story. The overall effect is highly relaxing, the soft voice, background music and sound effects all working together to create a soundscape that just makes you want to lay back, close your eyes and ease into a calming sleep.
Hugs, Tears & Replacement Bus Services is something that perhaps everyone should listen to. Its call to “Just sit, look out the window, take in the scene and be peaceful” is advice that makes perfect sense, because we all know that next weekend the trains will be running again; that our journey will be at the normal speed once more, so maybe we won’t have the same chance to appreciate the little things around us. And that is a shame, as we often rush through life all too quickly, letting the small things pass us by unnoticed. We really should appreciate them more.
Sound design, written and performed by: Eden Harbud
Produced by: Nod At the Fox
Hugs, Tears & Replacement Bus Services is available as part of LivinG roots Festival until 17 April via the below link.