Why Lyme will always be special to me
“SO you’ve abandoned us for your posh papers in London,” was how I was greeted at an event I attended in Lyme last week.
Well, not really but I am spending much of my time out of town for the forseeable future.
Although I am still responsible for managing the View From series, I cover very few events in Lyme and my contribution to the editorial columns of this newspaper is confined to this column.
Having spent a chunk of my long career in London, my new role editing local newspapers in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham provides a challenge I relish. It will probably be my last hurrah before retirement.
Of course, we are never short of a good story as such in London and, with Geoff Baker on the payroll, we have had some crackers in recent weeks. “Met needs more Muslim mums with guns” is not the sort of headline that is ever likely to appear in the View From Lyme Regis.
As someone who has always been fascinated by local government – some would say, with some justification, obsessed – it is interesting to be so close to the workings of local government in the capital and to see at first hand the challenges of running the London boroughs.
Take the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as an example. South Ken is one of the most affluent areas in the country with its proliferation of mansions and Russian émigrés; North Ken has some of London’s most deprived areas.
The council is as blue as they come, as you can imagine, with some very political big hitters among their ranks, but the ruling Tories are challenged by a lively Labour opposition and don’t get it all their own way. All this makes good copy, of course.
One thing that has struck me these past few months whilst launching four new titles in London is to what lengths local authorities go to make city life as interesting and stimulating as possible for their multi-national communities. They really do go that extra mile.
Not that all the residents are happy with the services they receive, as you would expect.
Geoff Baker and I recently attended a swanky event in the Mayor’s Parlour in Kensington Town Hall. Very plush.
The mayor’s limousine was parked outside and just as we were entering the building we witnessed a very dissatisfied customer who ran out of the offices and on his way ripped the official Kensington Crest of the top of the mayoral vehicle with two burley security guards in hot pursuit. No one else seemed to take too much notice as though it was an every day occurrence.
Geoff looked at me and muttered: “Good story!”
Things, of course, are very different in this part of the world. The politics of local government is not so intent and whilst our councils at all levels strive to provide essential services and life-enhancing initiatives, the demand is nowhere near so great. And living in such a beautiful part of the world has many compensations.
Having been born and raised in Lyme, I must admit I did not really appreciate how lucky we are to live in Lyme until I moved to London in my early 30s.
Now longer in the tooth, the change of pace worries me less, although there are times when I’m catching the 6.30am out of Axminster, I ask myself: “Why am I doing this?” And when my wife picks me up late at night I always ask her to drive through Lyme – “to see who’s about”.
So to answer that question about me abandoning my hometown. Never. Lyme will always be special to me.