“I lived there for a while, and I couldn’t stand it,” said our van driver cheerily as we entered Honiton’s red-brick estate area where, strangely, our hotel was to be found.
“The people were a bit all the same.”
“You don’t mean they’re kind of inbred?”
He did. It’s unkind to even think it, because there simply are two kinds of communities, cosmopolitan and diverse, or not.
Suspend judgement, I tell myself.
The depths of Honiton feel distinctly urban, although the town, population 17,000, is prettily placed in the Devonshire countryside. And it feels jaded. I sense it was left behind by Maggie Thatcher’s 1980s’ “rising tide lifts all boats” and the several recessions since.
“Oh, Honiton,” my aunt had said, and not another word on the matter, her tone suggesting all of the above.
We walk the couple of kilometres into the town, all closed up for the night, except for the pubs. The thatched cottages fail to charm me in the dimming light. The men have ruddy, red faces; few people are out and about.
There’s nothing for it but to walk back to the hotel, where I squabble with one of my sisters about the size of my room. I am over 60...