THIS ISLAND LIFEMany centuries ago, a fanciful fellow from Thrace (which sounds pleasingly like the start of a saucy limerick) used to wander the Greek countryside telling all manner of tall tales.
So good was he that Aesop’s Fables have survived down the centuries as classic examples of stories which induce fascination, amusement and disbelief.
I’m delighted to report the spirit of the old boy lives on in the IW.
The last pop festival had its own ESOP (Event Safety and Operational Plan), the existence of which is still in some doubt and is rapidly acquiring fabled status.
After expending much time, money and space on reporting the pop festival shambles, which resulted in gridlock, mass inconvenience and much piddling at the roadside, the County Press naturally thought its readers might be interested in seeing the content of the action plan which was said to be in place to deal with such a calamitous turn of events.
So a Freedom of Information request was submitted to County Hall for the details of this particular ESOP fable to be put before the people who had suffered most — you, the council tax-payers on the Island.
The request was refused after consultation with John Giddings, on the grounds that the need to preserve the 'commercially sensitive information’ it contained outweighed any public interest in its disclosure.
Indeed, so important and sensitive was this information it later transpired no highly remunerated council director had even bothered to sign off the ESOP blueprint, despite a requirement for one of them to do so.
It was an 'oversight’, apparently, as was the failure to notice rain of biblical proportions had been descending on the Island and a further deluge had been forecast for the week of the event.
We Islanders are a suspicious lot and the council’s unconvincing reasons for refusing to make public even redacted details of its contingency plan, has led to some even doubting its existence.
It is with some relief, therefore, I am able to reveal that a copy of ESOP has been leaked to me and I am in a position to offer a summary of the key details.
It goes something like this:
Q: What will happen if it rains heavily?
A: Leading council officials and guests will be provided with umbrellas.
Q: No, I meant what will we do about parking?
A: Well, it won’t rain will it? It hasn’t yet, so stop worrying.
Q: But if vehicles can’t get into the fields we are describing as 'car parks’, traffic will be backed up for miles.
A: Fortunately, that’s a problem for the police.
Q: But if traffic’s not moving, people will be stranded on car ferries.
A: Fortunately, that’s a problem for Wightlink.
Q: What if people who have paid for tickets in advance get fed up with the chaos, decide to go home and want their money back.
Q: What about Islanders who have no interest in attending the festival but whose lives and businesses will be badly disrupted if such chaos ensues?
A: We say sorry, go on an affection offensive, blather about how great the festival has been for the Island and promise to appoint an operations manager for next year.
Q: Won’t they wonder why we haven’t already got one? And what if they want to see details of our contingency plan?
A: No problem. We fob them off by saying it contains commercially sensitive information. Now, are there any more questions because it’s pouring with rain and I want to get home?
Searching for a shaver point in the Wild West
As soon as you mention the trivial delights of films, people immediately get in touch with little gems of their own.
Western fans will remember Roy Rogers and Trigger, his 'four-legged friend’ who was 'honest and faithful right up to the end’.
But if you want to see the mighty steed’s big-screen debut, watch The Adventures of Robin Hood the next time it’s on the telly and you will see Olivia de Havilland prancing through Sherwood Forest on a beautiful horse.
It was called Golden Cloud and Roy Rogers was so taken by the creature he immediately bought him and changed his name to Trigger.
The stallion went on to live another 27 years and became one of the most famous animal stars in Hollywood history.
Roger Mazillius reminded me of how one of the most famous scenes in The Searchers was inadvertently sabotaged.
It was the location shot where Harry Carey Jr is convinced he has seen his girlfriend in the distance and a bitter John Wayne has to tell him it was a Comanche brave wearing her clothes.
It contained some intense and brutal dialogue and the first take was perfect.
Except Ward Bond had unplugged a vital piece of equipment to power up his electric shaver — and the whole scene had to be re-shot.