Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's been more than a week since I left full-time employment and I'm having withdrawal symptoms. With no wire service, no 24-hour TV, no news schedules to stare at every waking moment, I'm reading everything that comes through my door.

I live in a village and, once a month, The Voice of the Village is delivered. Last month's had a carnival picture on it and I threw it in the bin with the Indian menu and neighbourhood watch stuff. This month's had a picture of cricketers on the green opposite and I read it cover-to-cover.

It's citizen's journalism in print. Seventy-two pages of A4 folded in half, full of snippets, profiles of local people, listings, what feels like a 200gsm glossy cover - and all printed by a bloke down the road.

It covers what local papers call parish pump: Ofsted praising a local school, plans for a phone mast, the usual yellow-lines controversy and even an appeal for neighb ours to be considerate when lighting barbeques.

But what makes it worth reading is when it tries its hand at traditional reporting. A two-page spread on PC's (sic) winning bravery awards carried a hiilarious account of a potentially serious incident in which local bobbies "attended the scene", tried to "locate the offender" while "maintaining a position at the front of the premises". On another page, they report that a local "male" is being held in custody on driving charges.

It's full of companies vacating premises, people working in commercial units and living at residential addesses and littered with minor mistakes. But it's absolutely packed to the rafters with ads from estate agents, glazing firms, pubs, restaurants, garages, builders and hairdressers.

I can see the bloke down the road vacating the village soon for the sun.

4 comments:

Mark said...

The people that live in villages but work in the City are often "Surprised" by the reality of living in a village!

I know I've been there.

I now live in a small hamlet (7 houses) in Somerset and for years used to live in Hampshire with a daily drive/commute to central London. I always swore I knew what was going on locally, because I could work from home and look out of the window to see people walking by.

Now, I don't go to London. I do go to the county town occassionally and I really do know what my village/hamlet is about. I really do go out of my way to be part of the community and help people around me - not those less fortunate, but those that are around me. We all have different experiences and different ways of living, but we are a part of the community.

The fact is that it's one thing to say you live in a village. It is quite another to be part of that village life! And, when you are part of village life those "pamphlets" are important because they are how you keep village life alive and how you help your local community

mbites said...

They won;t be so packed with ads when those business realise they are getting naff all return and start investing in a proper web presence... (Mike, mbites.com)

mbites said...
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Richard Burton said...

Mark's dead right. These pamphlets do provide a service, as do local freesheets and those papers the local police and every political party shove through your door. Problem is, I'm a serial pedant and I edit everything from signs outside shops to blurb on cereal packets. Used to drive my family mad.

In my defence, I do give talks locally and some, such as the WI, will ask me to comment on newsletters/judge their creative writing etc. I also help run writer's weeks for a local school although that probably only means they'll be churning out pedantic young farts like me.