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Had I been on this bench outside the Crown, enjoying the August sun and a golden-brown pint of Harvey’s 20 years ago, then I would have been sitting in a very different place indeed.
There, across the village green, I can see a queue outside the butcher. In the window above it, women are having their hair dressed, while through the frontage of the wine shop I see a couple of chaps tasting some claret.
Teenage - Boy - Road - Post - Office
A teenage boy runs down the road towards the post office, clutching a parcel. He hurtles past a garage, where I see a mechanic giving a car owner what is clearly some bad news about his creaky old Renault.
Out of sight, up the street to my right, I know there to be another shop, and it is from that direction that I am startled to see a red-and-white milk float emerge, carrying elderly women to a coffee morning. This, I will learn, is the quirky local taxi service.
Vision - Village - Vicar - Bobby - Conversation
And, just to complete the vision of the perfect British village, I see the vicar and the local bobby having a jocular conversation.
What I am seeing of course, is ghosts. For today, like so many other villages and towns, Horsted Keynes no longer has almost any of those things. The butcher, the garage, the hairdresser, the wine shop, the post office, the priest, the policeman, the doctor, the taxi – all have gone.
Shop - Basics
All that remains is a single shop that sells the basics.
If anybody wants anything more interesting on their plate, then they will need to go to a supermarket several miles away, and for that they will need a car, as the bus is slow and infrequent, and doesn’t run on Sundays.
Shop - Village - Today - Couple - Pubs
Apart from the shop, all that the village can boast today is a couple of pubs, and...
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