February 25, 2023

The Last Hurrah?

Do we know where we are going?

The Last Hurrah?
Photo by Rommel Davila / Unsplash

Another one bites the dust...

Often in the English language, the phrase ‘the last hurrah’ is used to mark a hiatus at the end of someone's career, or the end of something? I have observed the changing of the town from something under threat to something critically endangered. Harsh? let's explore?

Indeed, a few days ago a group of people marked the end of an era, the passing of a local watering hole, and I somehow mourn its passing too, but the passing of the pub was something endemic. A symptom of modern England.

Okay, nothing remains the same, and Salcombe is, not in stasis, it has evolved, and that is the nature of things. The thing is, I remember the town with great fondness. I never believed that I would ever live here as long as I have. Twenty-six years. Some murderers do not serve as long a sentence. But it has been a time not of perdition, but of joy. I got to know some joyful people and others that I would avoid. Again, nothing unusual there, but there is a sense of change in the air, one that could be baneful.

A strong word to use and to be honest, I am uncertain if it is the right word to use, but I sense a feeling of danger? I often joke about the diggers digging ever deeper into the precious ground, opening a chasm to Hades itself. The danger is something that I see as a flâneur, an observer of life, one that we have seen, but prefer not to acknowledge? The problem is, can our beautiful town continue to function as a town? Already businesses have had to provide accommodation for their seasonal staff, and sometimes employment opportunities have not been taken up, such is the nature of the economy. Not a macroeconomy like here in Salcombe, but generally. We are in uncertain times, and I think that our economy is in flux. People want to have a harmonious life, and Salcombe is typically seen as a safe haven, and it is, but knock the gilding off the shell then it bares itself to more critical inspection?

The thing is, those who know me know that I do not drink, so the passing of a local landmark, like the pub, does not entirely bother me. I have spent many hours propping up the bar having a yarn with anyone who cares to listen. But it is not exactly disability friendly, often I had to be propelled into the bar by fellow patrons. Somewhat risky, but good for a laugh. The thing is that over the last twenty-six years I have seen many rather monumental changes to the town. Perhaps the demise of the ‘local’ is a sign of the times, a change like the loss of a local post office, or the closure of a bank branch. Things are changing. We are not immune to change, even if we have a view to die for?

If you ever get the chance to go out onto the ria, look at the town perching on the hill, sprawling, getting bigger by the year. You see a view that at a cursory glance looks the same, but again, look closer, and you see the change; it is becoming more anodyne and no different to any other seaside town. Are we becoming the Sandbanks of Devon? No, and I apologise to the residents of Sandbanks, I am sure it gets too much negative flack. The essence of Salcombe, of being a sleepy place where it seems so slow and beguiling, is a myth, a creation of marketing and spin. In reality, it has moments of brutality not akin to an Agatha Christie novel. Don’t go down to the woods, you may get a surprise. Salcombe has its fair share of gore and melodrama?

My place of birth has exploded, and I know that I would find it difficult to envision such development in my lifetime. Some streets are recognisable, but some streets have been overwhelmed, subsumed into something more brash and big. Peter Gabriel’s song Big Time springs to mind, and maybe that is the ‘anthem’ of our town. So much larger than life. Some are indeed making it, and they have to show it. Shame.