Well, I’d like to say that my month has been dominated by bold Black History Month happenings, great nights at Goodsheds, and that warm fuzzy feeling of ‘living my best life’ in the town I totally love.
But, I’m not going to lie to you, I can’t. The infamous brazen Barry vibe is now being totally taken over by this lingering Lockdown life we find ourselves fighting through on the daily. A way of living that, in my view, is now seeing our solidarity fraying at its fragile seams until it’s ripped to shreds.
In my view, it’s the strange series of political policies and non-democratic decisions that have taken its toll on the town, pitting us against each other, and seeing our social media blow up with polarising local posts, and resident’s rift-creating comments.
Truth be told, it’s almost a moot point whatever side of the fence you find yourself on, or whatever political colours you wear, it’s the fierce friction caused that sees us split, not any decent debate.
For me, the first flicker of the community cracking came with the infamous ‘rule of six’ and the almost glee at encouraging us to grass up the family we spent the Summer clapping the NHS with. Not so much love thy neighbour but take to telling tales on them if Auntie Anna pops by quickly with a Birthday card.
Then came the Test, Trace, and Protect palaver. Once again Barry battled over whether this was for the greater good, or whether we were sneakily being spied on by dark, ‘Big Brother’ forces. Ironic really, as you give more pertinent personal information when you purchase a pair of jeans online than was ever asked for by a contact system that now seems to have sunk without a trace – pun intended.
And then just when we were getting used to a much-reduced rudimentary social life, local Lockdowns leapt up and hit us where it hurts. Half of us were happy to hunker down at home whilst the rest of us thought it rather ridiculous that our life was now limited to just our local authority line.
I adore our town, it’s beautiful beaches, and all the other delights, but if I had to work, rest and play only within the Barrybados boundaries, I’d be crazier than I am already.
And then just when we almost all talking to each again, came the fast and furious Firebreak.
Cue residents rapidly scurrying to stock up on large amounts of loo roll, serious amounts of soap, and shed loads of sanitisers, leaving our several supermarket shelves bare. Community memo missed there then, you selfish sods.
I was also further flabbergasted by the fury fuelled over the failure to then be unable to buy an impromptu pair of supermarket undies, a crucial kettle, or a two for one trashy paperback treat.
Seems to me that no sooner had Welsh Government stated their non-essential shop selling stoppage that our community kicked off – and that was before the plastic wrapping was wound around the electricals.
So where has it all gone wrong my lovely, little Gavin and Stacey synonymous town.
In my view, I think it’s time we took a long hard look, and then had a very strict word with ourselves. Surely, this time of adversity is exactly when true community spirit should kick in, isn’t it.
Surely we can revive the solidarity we saw at the start of the pandemic when our rallying residents pulled together to help our town’s most vulnerable. Remember, how we showed, real random acts of community kindness, and solid support for those fighting on the Covid-19 frontline.
Let’s speak to our neighbours instead of the police, help those fearful of Track and Trace, pick up just the shopping we need, for us, plus maybe a vulnerable friend or family member too. Let’s look after the lonely in whatever Lockdown law comes next. And lend anything we have to support those who can’t get the items they need for now.
Please keep on keeping on, behind the scenes or on the streets, to get us through this paralysing pandemic together, and to fight for all that our terrific town needs, and deeply deserves.
COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable – whether we like it or not. So, let’s not crack as a community, let’s come together in a show of strength rather than crumble in the chaos of conflict.
You know it makes sense.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.