I will not go on about the really obvious like a parking space with no time limit, youth or missed chances, for those are things you can never have again.
So, I hear you say, what else is there to miss in Rye?Well for a start, the clock that used to hang in the window of the post office. At times I still look to see the time at that blank window only to realise it went twenty years ago. The two way traffic system into Rye up Kings Street (Landgate) from Rye Hill. A hospital that catered for the silly little cuts and scratches mothers worry over, and the broken legs and arms they diagnosed and set.
The shops in the town. Grocers, butchers, bakers, greengrocers and fresh fish shops. The toy shops and a working police station with real live men inside, not a silly little yellow thing connected to some distant part of my England that could be anywhere but alongside you in an instant. Then the police were like your shadow in the night, ‘not now’.
The milkman, early each morning, with his rattling crates of glass bottles. The people; where do they live? Not in the town houses, that’s for sure. The other week day the Yellow Pages were dumped on each person’s doorstep wrapped in a plastic bag. There the majority remained for a few days, until Friday evening when the visitors came to live in their holiday home for the weekend.
I miss the vibrant throngs in the many pubs of the town as fewer go out in the evening to have a pint. Once a man finished work and had a couple of halves before going home from work to his wife, then venturing out again later to play shove halfpenny, darts or cards or just gossip maybe even a public bar lawyer. Now the wife is out at work and the beer is in the fridge. One of the causes for the lack of people is that they can no longer afford to live in Rye. The price of property is too high. The outsiders buy them for weekend houses and contribute little to the area. Also the big shops that supply everything cheaper than the little man can buy it for. The three main superstores in Hastings gross more than fifteen million pounds a week in turnover, with this cash flow they buy big and sell cheap, a lot comes from abroad not helping with employment here. The profits are shared out among shareholders and stashed in offshore banks. Nothing much is ploughed back into the catchment area from where it came.
The same goes for Rye. The car parking fees all go to Bexhill and little is returned to us.
Once the streets of Rye rang to the noise of people every evening of the week. Now the town closes at five-thirty and sleeps. The fair still comes but the circus is gone, outdated as cruel. You have to switch the telly on to see tigers and elephants.
Sports days have vanished, the Carnival too. People have more fun on their own driving out to other expensive attractions. The old men selling shrimps around the pubs are long gone. Who would buy their catch today? They much prefer frozen peeled ones from the freezer bought at some super market. An awful lot of nice folk have houses in Rye to stay the odd times but they contribute little to all the meetings and running of such things that are part of a living commune that put on concerts, plays and film shows in the Community Hall at Conduit Hill for the amusement of the locals and tourists alike. Long live Rye Royal!