Philip Evans: My Isolation Diary – Day 56 (Wednesday, May 13 2020)
YESTERDAY the second home owners of Lyme Regis hit back.
In a sustained – and in cases venomous – attack on social media, they were warned with veiled threats not to venture into Lyme Regis with another Bank Holiday approaching and lockdown travelling relaxed.
Some who have be visiting Lyme for many years took to social media sites and messaged LymeOnline to say how much they loved the town, had no intention of visiting whilst the coronavirus was still raging and pointing out that when they are in town they spend a considerable amount of money.
They referred to the friendship with local people they had established over many years.
Following the government’s decision to allow people to travel to parks and beaches for exercise and sunbathing as from today, the Twittersphere and Facebook exploded with predictions that, with fine weather expected, Lyme would be inundated with unwanted visitors.
Here’s what one regular visitor to the town said after reading my diary entry yesterday in which I argued that, whilst we must not lower our guard in encouraging day-trippers and second homers to stay away until the virus is beaten, we have to appreciate that the economic future of Lyme depends on the holiday trade and we should not be driving them away for good.
We have decided not to name this person or to reveal the location of their second home for obvious reasons.
“Appreciate your latter point in this article, Philip. We are second home-owners in Lyme, since 1999. Our children ‘grew up’ in Lyme, consider it their summer home and now, at 20 and 22, visit with their friends, introducing even more people to this magical spot.
“Sadly, we have been unable to visit since early February. Clearly we are in the fortunate position to own a second home but are not quite in the Getty/Rothschild category, our property barely reaching six figures 21 years ago.
“We have since spent a good deal of money expanding it, and improving it for future owners, always with local tradesmen. Indeed, we are currently decorating the house using a local scaffolder and a local decorator.
“We pay full council tax, including on our beach hut, employ someone a couple of streets away to look after the place when we are not there, pay the local providers for gas, water and electricity and have never let it out – we did not buy it to make money.
“Whenever we visit we are effectively on holiday, thus eat out twice per day, most days, at Lyme-based pubs and restaurants. We spend money in local shops and support local events.
“We have always found the people in Lyme, whether they come from Lyme or not (how would we know, why would we care?) to be friendly and open and, being totally honest, have never wondered what these good people thought of us (again, why would we?). Until now.
“Seemingly people wish to scratch our cars, let down our tyres, throw paint at our front door and, apparently, firebomb us. All of which is a little shocking.
“This terrible virus is impacting all of us in different ways, but it is impacting all of us nonetheless. My observation is that the pandemic is not really changing us but it is, perhaps, amplifying our existing character and personality.
“Those of us who are sensitive and caring are simply more so, ditto those who might be unhappy, angry and generally unpleasant.
“Twenty years ago none of this would have mattered or been noticed. Now we have the power and anonymity of social media. We are not going to sell up, nor are we going to stop coming to Lyme.
“We will, however, never view the people of Lyme in quite the same way.”
I don’t think I can add anything to that to underline my argument. Just read that last sentence again – “we will never view the people of Lyme in quite the same way”. How very, very sad.
It was good to see that Dorset Council decided yesterday not to reopen car parks and toilets following the easing of travelling restrictions and I hope Lyme Regis Town Council follow suit.
I think most people, me included, would have wished for the full lockdown to have remained in place until the end of this month or at least until after the next Bank Holiday. We would have slept a little easier had this been the case.
On my daily exercise walk yesterday I did notice an increased number of people enjoying the sunshine, not masses by any means. I am leaving today’s walk to later in the day to see how many more people will be taking advantage of another lovely day in Lyme with the new relaxed rules becoming effective.
From now on we are allowed to enter the great outdoors for exercise and meeting up with one person from another household as often as we like so there will be more walks for me into the countryside surrounding Lyme and not just a stroll down to the seafront.
My wife said to me this morning: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just walk down to the front and just have a cup of coffee?”
Such a simple activity which we clearly took for granted. I wonder how long it will be before that is possible?
Here’s a quote that may have some bearing in these difficult days, especially for those who re unhappy with the government’s performance. It comes from by respected American journalist Michael Specter: who once wrote: “Be sceptical, ask questions, demand proof. Demand evidence. Don’t take anything for granted. But here’s the thing: When you get proof, you need to accept the proof. And we’re not that good at doing that.”