Updated: Oct 2, 2019
"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
For nearly 200 years the village of Melling has been proud to have an institute to call its own. Alas without notice this proud historical building was no more; it still stands proud, it is still in use but it has been vandalised, stripped of the name it has held for centuries. It has had the humiliation of being anointed the moniker of a ‘village hall’. Large letters blazoned across the side showcasing the fact; the shame it must feel. A cheap ‘VILLAGE HALL FOR HIRE’ sign sits outside like a promoter handing out fliers for events at a different venue.
Why is this important? Well it’s not really, not for most people but I shall try to persuade you that it is. Firstly where is the pride? We are proud of the things that make us British: talking at length about the weather, wearing summer clothing at the first sight of the sun, apologising when we have done nothing wrong, making a cup of tea in response to a crisis, forming a queue for pretty much anything and Brexit; to name just a few.
What's the relevance? Well the rest of the world has village halls and good for them. In Britain and only in Britain are there village institutes. Why can't it be both? You can now drive a hybrid car, identify as a different gender but if you name your dog ‘Cat’ it will still be a dog.
On the front of the building etched in stone like the 10 commandments given to Moses (allegedly) are the words ‘Melling Institute 1922’. Maybe the building has after many years come out as a Drag Queen. Maybe it's an attempt to avoid confusion? I don't know the reason for the admittedly very nice sign, perhaps it's because people don't know what an institute is? However just down the road in Hornby sits a busy successful institute, which they’re proud to call an institute and they don’t feel the need to denigrate it by calling it a hall. They easily could do there is no property in Hornby called Hornby Hall, that is not the case in Melling, we now have Melling Hall and Melling Village Hall. Perhaps we could give the Melling Chronicle the more adapt title of the Melling Advertiser or the Village Green the Village Verdant.
It is an upsetting juxtaposition that as we approach the institute’s centenary year 2022, we shall instead be celebrating the two-year anniversary of the Village Hall. Melling Village Institute has its own esteemed committee, the ironically titled ‘Melling Institute Committee’. Maybe they should put big signs outside their own homes.