It is inevitable that a news outlet such as this one will find itself broadcasting faults and problems within a community and sometimes to the exclusion of the good news. Why? Well partly, it must be admitted, because there is a good story there, but also because, as humans, we tend to focus so often on the negative rather than the positive.
In recent weeks we have carried articles about the poor performance of utility companies, the railway, the district council’s apparent inability to manage refuse collections and general maintenance around the town. Added to that there is the parking and traffic problems and lack of a proper police presence. And let’s not forget the rapidly-deteriorating Landgate. The list goes on.
But does this make our town a bad place to live, work or visit?
Our columnist, Simon Kershaw, says elsewhere in this issue that he came, saw and fell in love. He is certainly not the first. Artists, writers, actors and many others have, for years found that Rye has exercised the same magic over them. Even this poor scribe, who first came across the place as a young person through the books of that wonderful children’s author, Malcolm Saville, couldn’t wait to move here when, some years ago, the opportunity arose, and now would not wish to live anywhere else.
So what is it that makes it so special? Is it perfect? Clearly not, but then few places are and those who go seeking the perfect Avalon so rarely find it. But perhaps that is the secret – it is the imperfections that make it so attractive. It is not a museum piece with the Citadel area and its cobbled streets preserved in aspic, it is a thriving bustling town – particularly in the tourist season – with all of both the benefits and problems that that brings.
It is difficult to deny that parking, especially in the summer, is an absolute nightmare, that getting to the beach on a sunny summer weekend is an even bigger nightmare, that the lack of interest and general dereliction of their duty shown by our absentee district council sometimes appears little short of criminal. But never mind any of this.
On the credit side we have a beautiful town whose old streets are a delight to wander through, with a church and houses (or, at least, their cellars) that have seen history being made since Norman times. We have clubs and groups representing widely differing interests from boxing to chess, football to bridge, antiques to philosophy. You name it, we probably have it.
And then there are the festivals which have something for everyone – jazz (starting in a couple of weeks), the Arts Festival with music, literature and drama, Festival of the Sea, Bonfire night, Scallop week, Christmas in Rye, and more. The list comprises more and better events than anywhere else in this part of the country and, dare one say, possibly the whole country.
But perhaps out greatest attribute is that we care, we really do. That is why you complain and we write the articles that we do. It is called, being a community and that is not something that every town, small or large, can boast of.
It was one of the saints (I forget which, but doubtless someone will tell me) who prayed: “Give the strength to change those things that I can, the ability to accept those things that I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
So let’s keep complaining about things that we can put right, but let’s never forget all that we have and just how lucky we are to live in lovely, ancient Rye.
Photos: Rye News library