last Friday (31 January) I made a quick trip to Armidale for a meeting of the New England Writers' Centre Board (A fleeting visit to Armidale). It was the first time I had flown for some time. Normally I go by car; flying is just so damn expensive!
I was struck by just how quiet Armidale's main street was. "Business is pretty bad", a local shop keeper told me. I could see what he meant. It was like a ghost town!
The pub on the right of the photo, the New England, has gone into receivership. It's shut. Who would have believed it? This is the pub where Peter Allen sang professionally for the first time.
In my writing, I am trying to make New Englanders see themselves as a whole. From Newcastle to Lismore, from Moree to the coast, so long as they seem themselves in strictly local terms they don't count.
Say people in Armidale were to say we would really support Glen Innes's Celtic festival. Say the Armidale Express ran a campaign demanding that Armidale people go to Glen. Then Glen would support Armidale. Ditto for Newcastle.
We don't have our own government to link us. We should. Hopefully, we will. For the moment, it is up to us as individuals to campaign for cooperation. To link our interests together so that we get the best result.
Can we do that? I would like to think that we could.