I was asked the other day why there seems to be fewer people out and about than there used to be even a few years ago.
And right enough, our towns and villages do appear to be a lot quieter. Go out in the evening during the week and you’ll quite often find yourself the only guy in the village or the sole customer in the pub.
Even at weekends, now that the tourists have gone home, Alnwick itself can resemble a ghost town, devoid of human life or activity.
I don’t think this area is alone in experiencing a downturn in footfall – it is a general trend across the country.
And I believe there are several factors to blame for us becoming a lazy race.
Of course, the current economic malaise, which we have endured for far too long now, is not helping matters.
The Gazette is still carrying stories of job losses, particularly at establishments we once thought were immune from such bad news – the prison at Acklington and Hardy and Greys at Alnwick spring to mind.
Financial confidence will take a long time to restore and until it does people will obviously be reluctant to spend money.
But there are other factors more worrying in terms of a long-term recovery of our town centres.
The internet, computers and mobile phones have a lot to answer for.
It is particularly worrying that the younger generation seem to be completely swallowed up by a cyber-world.
They have no reason to venture outside of their bedrooms. They can converse with their friends at the touch of a button – no reason to even speak to each other. Thank heavens for schools to get youngsters up in the morning.
How long will it be before home-schooling via the internet and email becomes the norm to save on expensive buildings?
Many jobs can now be done from home, again saving companies on offices, heating and repair bills, etc.
An increasing number of people go ‘virtual shopping’ now, taking a trip round their local shops in the internet from the comfort of their own living rooms.
There are too many excuses for folk to stay on their back-sides and take the easy option.Something is going to have to change if we are not to turn into a nation of couch potatoes, our towns lost forever.