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  • Writer's picturechris walsh

The difference between small town life UK and France

In the small town ( pop 6300) in the French hills where we currently live all is thriving. There are regular food festivals ( mushrooms, soup, honey and so on) attended by 50-100 stall holder and attracting over 1000 visitors each time. There is one regular food market, plus in Summer different public music events (pop, rock, classical, traditional french, jazz and R&B) happen at least twice a week ) plus artisanal fairs with pottery, art, bio and co-op food producers. This means that the small local shops are, despite COVID, thriving and co- exist with the suprt markets which are limited in what they can provide, and the public facilities include the town hall, testing and vaccination centre, a medical centre, a hospital and 2 old people's homes, a choice of dentists, a primary and secondary school, at least 10 restaurants plus more bars and even an english style micro brewery pub. Even when everyone has spent the night eating, drinking and listening to music there is practically no violence even aggressive shouting.

While many are on minimum wage ( French rates, more generous than UK) and there are a few dozen people who que up at the food bank it feels like a prosperous and certainly happy town.

Back in the UK in the small town where we lived ( pop 20,000) life is much harder, with many on now on benefits, plus a lot of people in work but struggling. The shops are half franchises from global businesses ( Tescos etc), some places ae closing and there is limited heath facilities, one health centre and one dentist but a lot of people with disabilities and pensioners. The atmosphere is quite toxic with the majority of Brexiteers and Tory voters appearing very angry over masks, vaccines, Brexit, immigration, and often arguments and threats thrown about. It is not a happy place.

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