On Sunday at the Pells Street Party the fantastic community aspect of Lewes was in its full glory. The carefree car-free street, the bunting, the kids chalking the pavement, the water-balloon-catching and paper-aeroplane-flying competitions, the bring-along-a-salad barbeque, the tug of war, the music, dancing and non-stop exchange of friendly words. It was heaven: everyone seemed so happy in the sunshine.

This sort of thing never happened in London, where neighbourliness was an awkward ‘hello’ when you happened to arrive at the front door at the same time.

Afterwards, I wondered what the price was for such community spirit. The benefits of community living are immense but there are, of course, drawbacks. When you start feeling strangled by the claustrophobic, gossipy, busybody nature of community life, then remember this: you elected to live here. When you moved out of the big city or traded in your rural idyll, or never left at all, then you ticked the box which cost you your anonymity. Your only option is to get into the experience or get out.

I’m staying put, whatever the cost. I’m now preparing myself to fully embrace community spirit and make all details of my personal life public. If you want to know where I have been, with whom and wearing which brand of fake tan then pop in for a coffee any day. Believe me, there’s plenty of skeletons in my cupboard. My front door is open and my Cath Kidston apron is on. Watch this space. JW


Out with the bunting at the Pells: but community spirit comes at a price