It is my usual practice at this time of year to ramble on at length about what has gone before, and to look to a better future. But despite the fact that I would rather spend Christmas in a positive frame of mind, I have found that difficult this time because there are so many negative things going on in the world, in the United Kingdom and locally.
Our financial systems and our national and international politicians in particular have failed us dismally, many would say criminally, in recent years, and the return of “Victorian values” in the parlance of the powers that be seems only to herald the return of the spirit of Scrooge’s England (“Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?”) and seemingly unchecked mass unemployment, rioting, ill-considered government cuts, urban poverty, homelessness and greed on the part of those who have.
And class war, many would say, is a reality once more, if it ever truly went away; union-bashing by politicians who should know better and by the gutter press is the norm again. There has even been a flurry of a ‘winter of discontent’ to bring back fond memories of the 70s and 80s, and many have been made dependent on food parcels and other charitable assistance. We the people are watched over at every street corner by systems allegedly designed to protect us, and officials have their beady eyes on our internet traffic 24/7 – but who watches the watchmen, and are they ever really held accountable? Small wonder then that the world-wide modern symbol of revolution is now no longer the hammer and sickle, the red flag or Che Guevara, but a mask of Guy Fawkes…
With employment uncertain, government incompetence guaranteed and finances failing all around in the coming year, then, what is there that could possibly be positive to look forward to?
Well, there is still good in the world, and what it comes down to, in my experience, is this. If we have anything at all to look forward to in this once-great nation, it is that the spirit of home, of place, of charity and of community is not dead, and that, especially in Bloxwich, but also in many other villages and towns across the borough and the nation, we are surrounded by people of goodwill who are ready to get off their sofas, turn off their tellies, go out into the cold and do good works, whether they be for charity, for community, for vulnerable neighbours or for friends and family.
Despite the fact that we have been continually told ever since the last war that “the good old days are gone” and “there’s no more community spirit”, that’s not really true if you take the time to look around you, find out what’s going on and, dare I say it, join in yourself. Even though voluntary and community work has been in real danger of being tainted by the hypocritical spoutings of politicians espousing the so-called ‘big society’ while swinging the machete at those least able to defend themselves, the fact is that many thousands of people are out there, as they have always been, putting others before themselves, and long may it continue.
Since 2006 The Bloxwich Telegraph and its predecessor The Bloxidge Tallygraph, have tried to highlight some of the wonderful work that is going on in our own community. Lord knows we have only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg in Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Leamore, Blakenall Heath and Birchills, but it never ceases to amaze me how much good is being done out there, and I know there is more to be revealed, as 2012 will surely show.
I have had the privilege of meeting and doing what little I can to help raise the profile of some fine groups such as the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, Bloxwich Carnival Committee, Benton’s Sons of Rest, Bloxwich Scouts, Bloxwich Business Partnership, Friends of Bloxwich Parks, St Giles Walsall Hospice and others. As well as other important community organisations such as All Saints Church, St John’s Church, St Peter’s Church, Bloxwich Community Partnership, Blakenall Community Centre, the Royal British Legion and the Stan Ball Centre, to name but a few.
Our local libraries and their staff, who do so much for the community in their quietly enthusiastic and highly professional way, also deserve a mention, especially Bloxwich Library and Theatre, which has become a fine cultural centre for the village and for the borough once again since the refurbishment. Indeed, my friends and colleagues volunteering on Bloxwich Library Forum have also made a substantial contribution to this great revival.
Of course I cannot fail to mention some of our fine local schools such as Bloxwich CE Primary School (The National!) and Elmore Green Primary School, as well as Lower Farm, Leamore, St Peter’s and Little Bloxwich Primary Schools plus Walsall (or should it be Bloxwich?) Academy. I hope to have more to do with these and other local schools in the new year.
All of the above have been very welcoming and, not to put too fine a point on it, inspiring to me and to the work of The Bloxwich Telegraph.
Last but certainly not least, the good-hearted and hard-working individuals of which there have been many, too numerous to list here, but including not just community-minded members of the public and Walsall Council officers (you know who you are!) but local councillors of both main parties, and several Mayors and Mayoresses of Walsall, all of whom have enthusiastically made themselves a part of life in Bloxwich and district, giving of their time and energy without stint, and they have been made very welcome by Bloxwich and district folk in return.
So while I look forward to 2012 with some trepidation, especially for the future of this country, I have to feel positive about its people and the good that they do, whether they be religious or not, and of whichever political persuasion they may be, at the local level. You see I’ve gotten to know so many of them, and respect them for what they do, not for what others just talk about.
If nothing else, surely that at least must bode well for the future, and the spirit of Christmas.
May I take this opportunity to wish all our readers and friends a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I hope you will continue to follow The Bloxwich Telegraph in 2012. After all, we live in interesting times…
Editor & Publisher
The Bloxwich Telegraph