This is the latest letter from the author’s alter ego, Fiona Mitchell, a woman whose pen is mightier than anybody’s sword
May I begin by offering my congratulations on your recent election, along with my best wishes for many successful and, hopefully, productive years at Town Hall.
I very much enjoyed your acceptance speech. The section on civic duty and citizen participation was particularly inspiring and, with this in mind, I would like to offer my own suggestions as to how we can all chip in and help improve lives and livelihoods in our beloved town.
Firstly, as you very well know, the roads surrounding the market square are often clogged on a Friday night, primarily due to the high number of ‘weekenders’ that descend upon the area at this time. (Guilty as charged!) To give an example, last week, the stretch from the roundabout by the motorway junction to the large Waitrose (a five minute walk for the average person) took me twenty minutes by car. When we finally reached the parking area, my family and I had already spent two hours on the roads, and you can imagine the perils of such a journey when one’s passengers are three highly functioning children who need constant stimulation.
Never one to complain, I’ve lived with the Friday evening congestion for years, but recently I’ve noticed equal levels of traffic on Saturday mornings – I assume due to the population growth spurred on by the new development by the cricket ground, of which the less said the better. But you’ll be pleased to hear that, as the children and I drove through an empty town centre before sunrise last Monday on our way back to London, I had an epiphany. It struck me that there is an obvious solution to this overcrowding: If locals were to finalise their shopping before the weekend, say 6pm on a Friday evening, the path to Waitrose and the delicatessen would be smooth for us townies, and hence life would be easier for everyone. (I realise one can’t make this a firm rule, but a gentle nudge in the newsletter should do the job. It’s hard to argue against logic.)
Furthermore, I note to my unease, an increase in the number of ‘nail bars’ in and around the high street. Aside from the fact that their owners take a lax attitude to opening hours, I fear that the presence of exotic floral arrangements and towel displays in shop windows may serve to give the wrong impression as to the nature of the transactions that occur in these establishments. It is perhaps time that the council considers a more restrictive approach to licensing.
Finally, allow me to turn to the increasing number of protests relating to various political issues that our town has experienced in recent tumultuous years. Enduring such spectacles in London on a regular basis, I am saddened to see that they are spreading to the idyllic countryside. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am the first to defend anybody’s right to free speech and protest. These are cornerstones of any democracy and must be protected at all times. But, am I alone in thinking that we could be more pragmatic in our approach, particularly when it comes to marches, which seem to attract larger and more aggressive crowds? Isn’t it time to move such events out of the town centre? Rather than disturbing everybody and contributing to loss of innocence in our beautiful high street – if you ask me, one of the last bastions of civilisation in this country – let’s seek out more suitable quarters. For instance, why not consider the green by the scout cabin on the other side of the out-of-town Lidl? It would be a win-win for all parties. The protesters could run riot without being bothered by traffic and have access to suitable shopping post-escapades. The rest of us could then go about enjoying the tranquil countryside-life to which we’ve become accustomed.
PS: On a personal note, I hope you will extend my congratulations to your wife now that, following your appointment, she has secured a role anchoring the local news. This achievement speaks volumes for the progress women have made in recent decades, cementing the fact that we are no longer awarded media posts merely on the basis of our appearance. A big leap for ‘wo’mankind indeed.
A former television producer, the author now works as a ghost writer on biographies. Rebecca Taylor is the pseudonym she uses when writing for Funny Pearls. You can find previous letters from Fiona here.