I live in a quiet rural area. A place that used to have a wonderful sense of community about it.
That is, before they closed the local post office. A place where local folk met most days for a chat. It doubled as a store, stocking only the basic provisions but it was a valuable asset to our community. Especially as it was over 5 miles to the nearest similar store. If you didn’t have access to a car, if weren’t fit enough to cycle the hilly roads to the next village, your best hope was to catch the school bus, wait for half the day, to catch one of only two buses back home again.
As if the loss of the store was not enough to break the spirits of the local folk, who now had to catch a bus and ride for an hour into the main village for their groceries. They provided a minibus once a week for the elderly folk but it hasn’t replaced the camaraderie so prevalent the local store provided. There is no longer any sharing of old tales or the imparting of valuable ancient knowledge to the younger generation. No one goes out any more. No point. They sit inside glued to their television sets or computers.
Rarely is anyone seen walking along the roads. There is no longer anywhere to walk ‘to’. Yes, you could go for just a walk but it has always been much more of an incentive to walk ‘to’ something, and then back again. That’s why people like to go out for a paper, or a pint of milk. It is a reason to go out, a focus, a purpose, a reason to be.
And now, the final nail in the coffin. The only event in the year that united everyone in the whole area and from miles around. Our Annual Agricultural Show. So dedicated were the folk who diligently planned it. Arduously toiled for hours to set it up and clear away afterwards. Now even that has gone. Gone forever? Probably. These things are very difficult to resurrect. It was the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak over 10 years ago that put paid to that. The new stringent rules meant that small communities could no longer afford the costs incurred in running such events.
I am not a sceptic. If I were the implications would be mind boggling. I believe in change but I am struggling to see a positive outcome on the horizon.