I live in a semi-rural village in Essex. By semi-rural, I mean it was once rural, and is now tacked on to the edge of a major town. Life has changed immensely. Only 30 years ago it still had a very much village feel. Hedgerows and nature was dominant, housing was well spread out and there were many open spaces. What's more, it was friendly, safe. All is changing.
The village now is plagued with hoodie wearing teenagers and young men, dealing drugs, taking drugs and causing trouble. Theft is rife, burglaries have increased, cars are stolen, workers tools take from vans, purses get snatched and there have been assaults.
This is all a far cry from the halcyon days of my youth (OK, it wasn't all good, in fact, it was pretty grim at times!). Whereas I would happily walk to the local pubs at night along the unlit pathways that run through the village, today I rarely venture out after dark. And never along the unlit paths, where even the birds seem afraid to sing. I am not alone in this respect - nobody ventures out in the dark now. More neighbours are installing CCTV, motion sensor lighting, and more secure doors. Fear of crime is rising and isolating communities.
When I do go out I am usually careful to avoid rush hour, aka the school run. I remember when the local school was first built, to replace the old church hall that had been used for a century or more previously. It was an exciting change at the time, but now marks a point in which village life changed. The school attracted a large catchment, and whereas people used to walk to the local school, now many drive in. The roads are not wide enough to park, to parents pull up on the pavement, block driveways, blocking access for mobility scooters and wheelchairs, and cause total mayhem for 30 minutes, twice a day. Then they all vanish and the roads, and pavements, are desolate again.
We should all be grateful for the bustle, it's apparently good for the local businesses and shops. But, as I said, old people are targeting by pickpockets, vulnerable people are intimidated by those who do not work but manage to make a good living just by riding their bikes around all day, and all night.
There is still some good in the village, and the local community groups do work hard with the police to try to raise awareness of, and reduce, crime, but, well, it certainly ain't like the good old days. The changes I see around me every day are a constant reminder of the changes within. Time is marching on and we are being left behind. The only consolation is knowing that every generation experiences the same thing. 20 years ago, I'd embrace change. But when change is a drug dealer with a knife, blocked pavements, closed shops, closed banks, long GP waiting times, rising energy bills - well, I don't like it much nowadays. I don't want change, I want peace.Recommend0 recommendations