On a town’s poverty

On returning to a town…

The signs read as follows:
Closed, Changed, Under new management, redesigned, updated, and I guess for some ‘left behind’ would also be appropriate.

The old stone walls of a familiar building bid a welcome retreat from the rain. The welcome is short lived. A silent inquisition at the rerodos leaves a strange feeling of someone not quite together, perhaps also seeking refuge, but from what? There is an unease here, but not one limited to these walls.

More familiar walls, yet an altogether different proposition. Gone are the softly upholstered bar stools. Gone the gentle patter of lunchtime conversation. Closed. Empty. Full of ghosts from the past who slumber on.

The image from without is prosperous. And I suppose that is true if you are an economist looking at the bottom line. There is activity that much is certainly sure. Smart inviting shop fronts. Crisp advertising hoardings promising good clean living. Even building sites look tidy, organised and efficient. Promising new opportunities and the growth of a new business, trade, facility or public building. Yes on the face of it the town is up-and coming on the cusp of being the smartest, brightest and best where all can live and work in harmony. Then there are the quiet back streets, the softly seated houses of the early 20th. C. Offering a retreat from the fast movement of life outside. Leafy suburbs of a prosperous centre. That’s the story the eye tells. The ear hears beyond the façade. Spoken worries of an uncertain future for the young generation. Concerns over the care of elderly families. Cost of living amongst the bright lights when the world seems to have moved on. Where is there a place for those who don’t quite fit the image? So look again beyond the smart suit and designer shoes to the lost who wander back and forth in the hope that somewhere they will belong. To those whose living comes from that which others throw away or give in charity. You have to look really hard to see them, but they are here. Perhaps the architects of the bright lights and smart fascias have designed them in a way so that those who don’t belong can melt into the background. There is a saying – the lights are on, but no-one home. It’s probably not fair, but when one belongs to those who no longer fit in, fair does not come into it. Fair is only a word that can be used by those who can afford it or by those who can choose a different path if they so wish. I choose the other path and bid a hasty retreat!!