Well, this isn’t how I expected things to be when, last Christmas, Colette asked if anyone fancied taking over at The Whistler. I thought I’d be holding court in the garden of the Duke of Wellington, meeting people, writers, contributors. We’d share a chat and a drink as the wonders of West Hill revealed themselves. I didn’t expect to be locked in and locked down, spending time doing pub quizzes on my laptop, dancing in the kitchen and doing this strange social distance sideways skip on the pavement every time I ventured out. But then, I don’t suppose anyone expected that.
A strange couple of months? You could say that. But it’s been an interesting time, too. Despite spending all our time Zooming, it’s been a time to slow down, to consider and reflect. What does life look like? How does it work? Maybe there’ll be some changes – we’ll see. But amidst all the isolation and distancing, there’s been a lovely coming together. So often you see people on the streets standing apart yet together, sharing a chat and a laugh in a way we wouldn’t normally see. The community pulls together.
Vinod and Meena, the absolute cornerstones of West Hill, took it on – no surprises there – keeping the shop going, keeping the smiles going, making deliveries. The oil keeping the engine of community running.
They were awarded the Mayor’s Gold Certificate – “in recognition of your dedication, passion and hard work in supporting the community”. Quite right, too.
“The people in the community don’t need to be told” I replied.
And talking of keeping the community going, a word of thanks to Colette who has steered the good ship Whistler for so long. What an absolute star. Unsurprisingly, she’s been fantastically supportive and helpful since handing over, probably thinking “Was this a good idea?” more than once. But if she thinks that’s the end of her Advice Hotline… Not a chance.
Like most other things right now, we’re only online this edition. Next time round, who knows? But we’re here, we’ll always be here. And in a few weeks – or months – time, if you find yourself in a pub garden and you see a bloke in a linen suit and straw hat, nursing a vodka and tonic… come up and say Hello.
If you’ve got something to say, drop me a line. If you want to write something, drop me a line. If you want to draw, photograph, contribute in any way… drop me a line.