On my mind
I HAVE always enjoyed reading Simon Jenkins, the author and columnist, but I was surprised to hear him claim recently that the answer to saving our high streets lies in the church.
Now his father was a theologian and he did write a book – England’s Thousand Best Churches – but this was an intriguing claim.
Certainly someone who boasts of having the answer to the dying high streets of our towns and cities needs to be listened to, especially if that person can resuscitate Llanelli and resurrect the high street stores.
After all, in the last decade sales have plummeted, major stores have closed and profits have plunged while online sales have never been higher.
What Simon Jenkins had noticed was that the high street economic apocalypse was accompanied by the abandonment of a community experience, and that the closed store and the rundown church were both symbols of a lost social cohesion.
So why not use the one to compensate for the other? Interesting idea, I thought!
Certainly closed churches or those with a handful of people could become vibrant community hubs and dig up what they used to do really well – educate, care for and provide a community experience for people.
Of course when the centre of a community is sucked out people get centrifugally flung to its edges and end up talking to themselves, their dog, their budgie or, in this post-digital age, Siri, Alexa and Cortana.
Technically genderless but with a female voice, these disembodied artificially humanised monstrosities symbolise all that is sad about society – the illusion that to be connected is to be in conversation, to be plugged in is to be in a relationship. Hopefully the death of the high street does not mark the end of dialogue, relationship and community.