When I first moved down from London to Tunbridge Wells, one of the real unexpected pleasures used to be the drive into the town centre along the Pembury Road. As a main artery into the town, it always used to look beautifully looked after, with its lush green verges and quaint old lamp posts.
Yesterday, driving along that same road I was struck by the difference; many of the original lamp columns have been “decapitated” – cut off to around eight feet high, some of them with bags stuffed in their tops to prevent rainwater getting onto the wiring.
The “lush green verges” have are gouged and rutted by heavy lorries whose callous drivers – not prepared to wait for traffic to turn in front of them – simply mount the kerb and drive around the waiting traffic, even crushing the few remaining daffodils which have managed to spring up in the midst of this carnage.
Developers of new housing in roads off the Pembury Road have dug out the ground again and again for gas, electricity and phone cabling, and the little paving that remains is broking and sunken.
How did we let the gateway to our fine town get into this state? It seems to me we just stopped caring about the little things. We stopped calling the companies whose lorries mounted the kerbs; we stopped writing to the local press about the bodger contractors; we stopped complaining about the mess made by our utility services.
As a result, Tunbridge Wells is just a little shabbier. And the world moves on.