I am sitting in the rather agreeable bar of the George Hotel in Rye. I haven’t been here for 15 years at least. In fact the last recollection I have of this place was coming here with my father, so that must be over 15 years ago.
Needless to say its changed quite a bit since then. Not least in its selection of beers; hello lovely Leffe !
It sure has changed a lot since the last time I was here. The world has changed a lot; I have changed a lot. It’s strange coming back to a town that holds so many bad memories. Even though the faces and the scenery might have changed, this is still a place I associate with the worst period in my life. There are ghosts here that no stylish makeovers can ever truly exorcise and no matter how tasteful or up-market places like the George become, there will always be a grey pall of gloom hanging over this town as far as I’m concerned.
I will forever associate Rye with failure; once upon a time, your humble scribe had a proper job working for a proper company, with all the benefits that entailed: Big house, expensive car, high disposable income etc. Life was stressful, and sometimes difficult, but generally good. For a while. Then it all started to unravel. First, a messy and very destructive divorce. Next, within 12 months, my company went bust. And, after struggling to find work for many months, so did I. I lost everything. I ended up here in Rye. Washed out and with my self-esteem in total tatters. For a while, I lost the plot here – something that’s very easy to do in a town that consists almost entirely of alcoholic losers. I existed here a few months before my instincts for self-preservation kicked-in and I realised I had to get out and start rebuilding a life again. The rest, as they say, is history. But even though life now is good – in every respect far better than before the “crash” – I can’t come back here without feeling tainted and depressed by the bitter curse of those dark few months. Regret for the bad decisions I made; Hatred for the losers and wasters that beguiled me into wasting so much precious time and resources following the wrong path. It’s not Rye’s fault, of course. The blame lies entirely at my feet. I should have been stronger. But Rye rubs my face in my own failure every time I come here and I still have a hard time dealing with my own fragility in this regard.
15 years ago, The George Hotel was once quite the den of iniquity for the local lushes, all of whom were banished when the walls were knocked down and the designers bought in to create the George as it exists today. Maybe I should do likewise with my soul: take the time to properly demolish and refurbish the dark corners that still lurk in my psyche from those black days. Perhaps with the right lighting, those dark corners will turn out to have been not so dark and dingy after all.