Well, I’m not off to Sweden just yet. So, today I’m going to take you to Bishop’s Lydeard, which is a few miles away. It was the day of the village fete and flower show; so, despite a lowering sky, I went off to have a look.
Coming only two weeks after the school fair, it felt a bit flat. Perhaps Bishop’s Lydeard needed a bit of a rest from fairs and fetes. Or perhaps it was the weather, which threatened rain all afternoon. But I felt a bit sorry for the people who had planned the events and were gamely manning the stalls in the brisk wind. However, and there’s always a ‘however’, I still managed to buy two secondhand books and two verbena seedlings, all for the princely sum of £2. So, I went home happy and I suspect many others did, too.
Bishop’s Lydeard, built mainly of local red limestone, with a few beautiful thatched buildings and an old mill, is the home of an excellent Co-Op (our closest shop), three pubs (two of which are for sale), a corner shop (recently closed), a garage, an ironmongers, a fantastic butcher’s, a bistro (defunct), a couple of newsagents, a primary school, a marvellous church and a library (threatened with closure). In other words, it is just the same as any other high street – struggling to keep its identity and services, as the forces of out-of-town shopping draw the locals away with the lure of more.
Bishop’s Lydeard is quite a big village, big enough to sustain a primary school obviously, but two failing pubs? All three pubs are well-established, so must have been around since before the population grew to the size it is today.
Yet, now that the village is bigger than ever, they are closing. We know from NHS statistics that people aren’t drinking less, particularly women; supermarkets, with their cheap alcohol, are being blamed, as people are stay at home to drink. Which is sad, as pub closures isolate sections of the community into the little boxes that they call their homes and that can’t be good thing. Any more than the library and shop closures are.
I just wonder where it will all end and whether there is a way back. Maybe when we run out of fuel for transport and services, and facilities have to become local again.