We had one of our regular “Wally lunches” today. Wally is an old school friend who has MS and is wheelchair bound. We have lunch in a cafe near his care home so that he can be brought over to have a bit of company.
Boy, it was crowded, loud and cold. It was a sunny day, but icy cold and the eating area is outside under a big patio. They have gas heaters but they switched them off around 3pm as the crowd thinned out, so we had to suffer. It’s school holidays and the place was packed with mums and kids. Ugh.
Anyway, here’s the group – this is the OSMO camera, by the way. Right at the end you can see the viewfinder (my phone) shaking at the bottom, yet the pics are steady:
We’re all the same age, 69 going on 70, we went to the same high school 1960-64. It’s great that we’re all still together 52 years after our final year.
One of the things we talked about was how country towns are dying in WA. So many of the big ones used to be centres of government offices or the offices and workshops of government instrumentalities – water, electricity, agriculture, railways, but all these government offices have been pulled back to Perth and “rationalised”, i.e. cut to the bone of staff.
That’s reduced the town populations, which reduces shop trade, so shops close down, and the big supermarkets drive the smaller shops out of business, all of them losing staff as a result. These people move out of the town, further reducing the need for shops and services. It snowballs. Our country towns are shrivelling. Northam’s population has fallen dramatically. The boys’ and girls’ hostels have closed down; presumably the kids now board privately. When they finish school, they go to Perth to get jobs because there are no good jobs in the towns any more.
The context was that we talked about a “Round the Houses” motor race in the town last year, and one of our group said there seemed to be no interest from the town people. On a Saturday, with cars racing through the main street, there seemed to be no crowds. It was depressing.