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EDITOR'S COMMENT

PUBLISHED: 13:34 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 25 August 2010

FUNNY how the constant barrage of grisly news about the economic situation is making more and more of us increase our interest in truly great escapes from it all...

FUNNY how the constant barrage of grisly news about the economic situation is making more and more of us increase our interest in truly great escapes from it all.

Even Gordon Brown is abroad when he tells British savers via satellite 'not to worry' and they will be 'protected'. He delivered this hearty assurance from sunny Chile pre his G20 summit talks with world leaders about the global financial turmoil.

But what's going on here at home? I am hearing stories every day of many decent, caring professional people throwing up hard won careers, albeit low paid, to emigrate to Oz, or run fish and chip vans in deepest Devon, or others swapping the computer screen for the world of market gardening.

I've heard some are even opting for more extreme adventures to spirit themselves away from bleak old Britain and its relentless and crushing demands on our mental health.

None of the people I mention are or ever were bankers, however. Those financiers who received a hefty payoff as a reward for greed and failure won't, like most of us, be sussing out the price of carrot seeds and pig wire fencing and honing in on survival instincts to boost flagging morales.

As a getaway from it all though I suppose the French Foreign Legion is potentially attractive - traditional too.

Nobody asks any questions, nobody has got time to discuss credit card interest rates, and there's very little English spoken in the fort just regular and lively sessions where everyone compares tattoos before bed.

But before skipping off and declaring myself as null and void to earn tuppence a week shoveling sand trenches to learn an even greater meaning to life there's fresh hope arrived this week in our fight to survive the recession. Yep, hope with a big capital 'H' I'm told in the form of a big green shoot sprouting up in our locale.

London and Continental Railways (LCR) chiefs have announced the new bullet train, to be launched in December, will bring more than £17.6billion to Kent and south east London.

This means property prices will allegedly soar with homes around Ebbsfleet set for an increase of £30,000. Journey times from Ebbsfleet to St Pancras will be 17 minutes, instead of the current 50 and various MPs are hailing the new service as 'vital' to the Kent economy with High Speed 1 (HS1) playing a huge part in regenerating us all.

But while we unpack our bags with a whoop of joy and contact the Foreign Legion's secret desert headquarters to confess we won't be joining up after all 'cos we're feeling . . .er, regenerated . . . there is the small matter of time to consider and most of us, unless we are Virginia Woolf's Orlando, only have one life. LCR reckon the £17.6billion injection will be spread over SIXTY years. Oh..

At least it will be going ahead this December though. So while progress is small at least it has begun and it is possible to start thinking about how small towns like Dartford can potentially start surviving again especially after its two recent bouts of sad news - the closure of the historic Arjo Wiggins paper mill last week, and Glaxo Smith Kline's eventual departure from the borough in 2012. This, as reported in the Times, will lead to up to a thousand job losses over coming months.

But, before I start packing again for the simple life picking grapes on a southern French vineyard where laughter is free and the sun shines away the bitterness of Britain, the LCR says its new train service will create many more jobs, plus it will mean an extra 7,500 commuters can get into better paid jobs in the capital.

Still intent on quitting our old country? Can't be bothered to wait for the explosion of good times in....2069? Then nil desperandum as the LCR is already part of Eurostar which, of course, is already in high speed action across the county via Ashford and Ebbsfleet and straight on to either Brussels or Paris.

This is a definite fact and there's no waiting until December for this baby to spirit us away from things that go politically crunch in the night.

It's hardly surprising the people are getting restless.

melody.foreman@archant.co.uk

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