David Morris, Byron Bay
This town breeds festivals like maggots in a dead dog. I noted, in a previous Echo, a recent Byron Shire Seniors festival where the activities offered, ‘aim to foster a sense of community and belonging; to empower older people and bring joy to their lives.’ There is even a ‘mayor’s morning tea’.
Now I have no wish to denigrate or disparage the energies and activity of well-meaning people. But I do wonder about this ‘empowering’ business. Not to mention bringing ‘joy to their lives’. And as for ‘a sense of community’ – well…
I am reminded of the old recitation, ‘It was Christmas day in the workhouse’, where one old fellow gets up to tell his benefactors where they can stick their Christmas pudding. Were I to attend the mayor’s morning tea (unlikely) I should be sorely tempted!
In the thirty-odd years I have inhabited the place, I have seen any sense of community disintegrate. Anyone who believes this town is a uniquely pleasant place to live any longer does not live in town; or chooses to ignore what is going on.
It is a place focused mainly on hedonism and self-enrichment; I don’t see the elderly receiving much consideration. Nothing has been done about the reckless skateboarders and cyclists. The noise from venues is loud and intrusive and goes late into the night.
When I consider the inappropriate developments foisted upon the place, and more to come, I despair.
The disgrace of the so-called bypass development is another monstrosity and is soon to destroy the bush at the south end of Butler Street.
I cast around for comparisons for the horrors of what has been, and is being, inflicted upon Byron Bay. My latest, that I try to disseminate as a sort of anti-tourism effort) is the Torremolinos of the South Pacific.
In my fantasy, I should like to be ‘empowered’ like Eastwood’s Korean veteran in Gran Torino (though that hardly ends well for him!).
I suppose the reality is closer to Chekhov: ‘Poor Uncle Vanya, there’s no joy in your life’. The reality of ageing for many that few want to countenance?