The Queen may call it an ‘Annus Horriblis,’ which roughly translates to a shit year.
Outstanding contributors to this 12 month misery fest have been Donald Trump, Putin, Assad , dogs of war, Nigel Farage , Brexit and a slew of celebrity deaths.
My quote of the year is ‘Let us not become strangers to each other.’ these words were spoken by Imran Durrani at the remembrance service for local musician Steve Parfitt.
Steve’s passing was sudden , unexpected and for a small fragile community like Rugby especially tragic.
I am aware much of my writing here is about decline and degradation but these are the times we live in.
Other localities have enjoyed some regeneration but small towns like Rugby have become afflicted by the mercenary action of property developers, land bankers and apathetic councillors and the worst aspect is a normalisation of this situation.
One morning I went into to town, on my way I thought I would check out a building which is currently the subject of a public campaign to prevent it’s demolition.
Behind the building was a scene of advanced degradation, a pile of sodden sleeping bags, empty beer cans and evidence of drug use, it was appalling.
The building was covered with warning signs, this really pissed me off, there was a box which looked like a door bell on the front door, I had an idea to punch the fuck out of it.
Each time I punched it the box lit up and beeped. Soon a town ranger turned up.
I have very little knowledge about the town rangers , I apologise for my ignorance, I have been seeing them about for sometime but never really got up close to one before.
I knew they served a function but what I am still unsure of apart from offering protection to dilapidated buildings owned by bent business men.
Anyway the bell on the front of the building was beginning to win as I had blood seeping from my knuckles, the town ranger homed in on me.
I was surprised at the speed of the response and the amount of stuff attached to him including a very indiscreet video camera.
I explained to him the situation and that I was protesting at having to live everyday with this pile of crap. I told him it was unacceptable and he better get used to my behaviour, he then threatened me with arrest.
‘What, you think you are going to get me arrested, watch this.’ I then slammed my fist on the box and made a few obscene gestures at the cctv camera’s. He then called for back up and a big Copper turned up.
Things could have turned ugly but an elderly lady arrived in a car.
The Lady wound down her window and the first thing she said was ‘It is really terrible you know that they are going to pull it down.’
The Ranger and the Copper were actually decent guy’s just doing their job, in fact the Ranger is my new mate, what was not ok was the normalisation effect and that nobody was prepared to clean up the shit.
The building is owned by someone, but nobody knows who, a current approved planning application guarantees another five years of further degradation.
Memorable moment, when my Mormon friend said a prayer for me, usually I would have said ‘Get the fuck out of here,’ but on that day, in the warmth of the sun I found the experience strangely affecting , thank you Elder Borelli.
By the way I am not a candidate for conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I just have sympathy for these nice kids who have to do their time in places like Rugby.
There is no reason to sugar coat it or to assume a position of denial ,in my environment we seem to be walking backwards to a place of creeping desolation [thank you Wolfy for this very apt phrase.]
Not only do people disappear buildings, trees, advertising boards , anything is up for removal, Charity shops close down, pub’s and cafes close even the homeless man on heroin has fucked off to a better pitch, 2016 was the year I finally realised Rugby is a no longer Rugby, it has morphed into a grubby , shabby souless zone.
You gotta have some hope right? well perhaps there is a residue of hope left inside of me so fuck it I’m having a good year and I hope you will too.
Happy New Year.