When did we become a town of fun sponges, wonders Hattie from Tunbridge Wells.
As I write this, I am aware that I am probably alone in my frustration, but, bear with me. I am lucky enough to live right in the heart of Tunbridge Wells – it’s buzzy, lively and I can be out of my front door and enjoying a flat white at a coffee shop within around two minutes. I bought my house because of its location – I moved from London and have always enjoyed living somewhere with a bit of atmosphere, so I’ll be the first to admit I was never looking for a quaint idyllic country affair when I moved to Tunbridge Wells.
So, it does somewhat surprise me that others in this town seem to hold this perception – that the area is some sort of peaceful secluded retreat. We have shops and buses and theatres – it’s hardly The Good Life. Usually I ignore my neighbours, who moan when they can hear children playing in the Calverley Grounds, or my friends when they whinge about not being able to park on their streets. However, there comes a point where something has to be said, and I feel now is that time.
As many of you are probably aware, every winter there is an ice rink in Calverley Grounds. This in itself brings out the usual throng of moaners; the lights are too bright, the ice is too cold, there’s music from Disney films being played above two decibels… but this year the ‘disgusted’s’ of Tunbridge Wells have really thrown their toys out of the pram. Plans were in place to add to the ice rink a ferris wheel and bumper cars, for a full, fun fairground experience. I was fully in support of this idea – I love coming down to the rink at Christmas and looked forward to some more things to do.
Imagine my surprise then, (note the sarcasm) when I saw splashed across the front of the local newspaper ‘Christmas funfair cancelled after public protest.’ At the word protest I imagined the Tunbridge Wellians had been out in their thousands wielding pitch forks in order to get the plans scrapped, but no – only 50 people complained. Hundreds object to housing developments and road widening and the council don’t bat an eyelid, but 50 people in a town of almost 120,000 sniff at the idea of fun and the whole thing gets shut down. Ridiculous.
Yes, I’m annoyed that the few locals who complained got their way, but I’m more annoyed that all sense of entertainment seems to have been sucked out of the town – we’ve become fun sponges. The slightest mention of anything that doesn’t involve brunch or cashmere and we’re on our high horses demanding it be written off before we’ve even given it a chance. Why should we have to fly to Germany to enjoy a Christmas celebration when we could’ve walked 500 metres for the same experience?
Yes, I can see that the bright lights and loud music could become a mild irritation over time, but no more irritating than your next door neighbours shouting during their boozy Christmas gathering with friends, or the roar of the engines as people crawl in traffic outside our houses. We’ve chosen to live in a town, not a hamlet – I feel we should be embracing the festive season and supporting our community rather than sticking our noses in the air and refusing to enjoy any whiff of fun that might come our way.
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