Those of us who live in or around Rye are extremely fortunate, and we should not forget this. We have the sea and wonderful beaches on one side, fantastic country on the other and we live in or near a town that is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the Sussex crown. There are many who would love to live where we do.
When I moved into Rye, some years ago, it was everything I had expected – friendly, welcoming, with clubs, pubs and restaurants and an immediate and active social life.
This being the real world, though, there are, as with any location however apparently perfect, some downsides. Yes, there is a lot of traffic on the A259, yes, it would be nice to have a bypass, yes, the bikers are often noisy (and seem even noisier after the silence of total lockdown), and yes, the town is full of tourists for six months every year, shoving one off the narrow pavements, leaving fish and chip wrappers scattered over Strand Quay and pointing cameras through the windows of private houses in the citadel.
But this is simply the price we pay for living in a historic town close to beautiful countryside and great beaches.
Recently a number of readers’ comments to some of our articles have shown a degree of antagonism and anger – often, perhaps, driven by fear – that we have not seen to this extent before. Partly this may be a reaction to the government’s successful “Stay Home, Save Lives” message. Many are now reluctant to go out, even though allowed to do so, and regard every outsider as a potential carrier of the virus, and every motorbike passing through our newly-quiet streets an unwelcome bringer of suddenly-noticeable excessive noise. A visitor reading the comments might well think that we were a place not worth coming to and definitely not somewhere they might want to live.
We know, of course, that the very opposite is in fact the case.
However, after over two months of lockdown and isolation it is perhaps not surprising that we should start to become more inward-looking, tempers fray and patience becomes sorely tried. Perhaps this helps to explain, if not excuse, the attitudes of some of us.
But things are starting to change – we are allowed out more, we can meet, albeit under controlled conditions, family and friends, and we are told by the government’s advisors that the chances of catching Covid-19 from someone we pass in the street closer than 2 metres, is negligible.
There is much to look forward to, and although it might be a while yet before we go for a pint in our local or have an evening out at the Kino or a restaurant, the world is just beginning to come out of the enforced hibernation. Some businesses can re-start, as can some sports clubs, some visitors are starting to return (and, no, we are most unlikely to catch the virus off them) and with the expected continuation of relaxing of lockdown rules, life and the economy of our town, will slowly return.
So let’s unbolt those front doors, breathe fresh air, appreciate how fortunate we are, smile more and complain less.
Many years ago, at school, we were taught the prayer of (I think) St Richard, which went along these lines, “Help me to change the things I can change, to suffer the things I cannot change and grant me the wisdom to appreciate the difference”.
There are, indeed, some areas where our Town Council (which is not as toothless as it is sometimes projected), District Council and County Council, working together, can influence change – speed limits, traffic noise, parking as examples – and some, such as the attraction of Rye and Camber to visitors, that will not change.
Let’s be positive about changing one and learning to live with and welcome, the other.
Image Credits: Nick Forman , John Minter .