Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Jurassic Coast: scratching the underbelly of this rural idyll

A friend of mine has run into a spot of bother.

He's been quoted in a national newspaper article highlighting the negatives of living in rural and coastal areas like this one.

Anyone would think he was the Antichrist, the way his comments have been received.

But, in broad brush terms, I think he's right.

This corner of England, this land, is the closest things to heaven in the world.
We have amazing cliffs and coastline, rolling hills and hinterland, and we're continually featured in the media for this wonderful landscape and the feel-good vibe. 
It's what I missed when I was away from it for a year in Corfu. It's what hundreds and thousands of people come to visit each year.
It's a rural idyll.

But is it? Is it really? Beneath the veneer there is something else. Something you will find in similar places up and down the country. There are drugs, there is poverty, there is heartbreak. There is domestic violence, child abuse and alcoholism. There is a lack of affordable housing.

I tend to focus on the bucolic beauty of this place and I make no apologies for that. This landscape lends itself to poetry and lyricism.

But while we celebrate its breathtaking charms, it's also possible to acknowledge and, where possible, tackle some serious problems. The two things aren't mutually exclusive. I've alluded to that, in my description on this blog of Lush Places, and in the opening of a chapter in my novel, A Town Like This, a farce in which local people take on the London influx.

So, whilst some people might not be very happy of the picture painted of the area by the Observer article and the comments attributed to my friend Sean, it's certainly opened up debate and discussion.

And that has to be healthy.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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