I'll tell you this, but you have to promise that it will get no further. Not long after we moved here we had the people next door round for dinner and - I swear this is true - they drove.
I wasastounded (I recall asking them jokingly if they used a light aircraft to get to the supermarket, which simply drew blank looks and the mental scratching of my name from all future invitation lists), butI have since come to realize that there was nothing especially odd in their driving less than a couple of hundred feet to visit us. Nobody walks anywhere in America nowadays.
A researcher at theUniversity of California at Berkeley recently made a study of the nation's walking habits and concluded that 85 per cent of people in the United States are "essentially" sedentary and 35 per cent are"totally" sedentary. The average American walks less than 75 miles a year - about 1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day. I'm no stranger to sloth myself, but that's appallingly little. [...]
One ofthe things we wanted when we moved to America was to live in a town within walking distance of shops. Hanover, where we settled, is a small, typical New England college town, pleasant, sedate andcompact. It has a broad green, an old-fashioned Main Street, nice college buildings with big lawns, and leafy residential streets. It is, in short, an agreeable, easy place to stroll . Nearly everyone intown is within a five-minute walk of the shops, and yet as far as I can tell virtually no one does.
I walk to town nearly every day when I am at home. I go to the post office or library or the localbookshop, and sometimes, if I am feeling particularly debonair, I stop at Rosey Jekes Café for a cappuccino. Every few weeks or so I call in at the barbershop and let one of the guys there do somethingwith my hair. All this is a big part of my life and I wouldn't dream of doing it other than on foot. People have got used to this curious and eccentric behaviour now, but several times in the early...
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