THIS ISLAND LIFE WHEN I was grafting among mainlanders on the local evening newspaper in Portsmouth, the phrase 'it could only happen on the Island’ cropped up at regular intervals.
It usually concerned quirky articles which arrived on our desks (remember that far-off world of paper and pen?), often featuring the antics of some strange local or a sighting of exotic wildlife.
Escaped wallabies and big cats roaming Afton Down spring to mind, or the Island’s peculiar ability to associate itself in some way with news stories happening on the other side of the world.
If an earthquake destroyed a town in a remote area of Paraguay, for example, you could bet your life an Islander’s cousin would just happen to be working in the vicinity as an assistant pharmacist or something.
My erstwhile colleagues would have delighted in this tale of the gardener, the banker and the case of mistaken identity. Those who grew up with Messrs H. J. Winter — garden and tree experts of this parish — were familiar with the difference between the two. Mr Winter senior was known to all as Jim, and his son was Jimmy.
Why neither man sought to avoid any possible confusion by using their first name of Harold when they went into business together remains a mystery.
Their partnership came to an end with Jim’s death earlier this year, and Jimmy had to sort out their business affairs by informing the bank of his father’s passing.
However, he began to fear the worst when he received a reply from them a few days later, sympathising with him on his own sad death.
There then followed the inevitable irritations when a bank makes a cock-up of this kind, with direct debits not being paid and the wrong accounts being closed and/or frozen etc.
But Jimmy is one of the most ineffably agreeable fellows you could ever wish to meet and he approached these setbacks as he approaches most things in life, with a shrug and a smile.
While most businessmen would have been aiming kicks at the family pet, ranting down the phone and threatening all manner of dire consequences, he just said, 'these things happen,’ informed the bank he was not dead and waited for everything to sort itself out.
A week later there came a moment which fell full-square into the category known in Pompey as 'it could only happen on the IW’.
Jimmy was playing cricket for Godshill in a match against Freshwater — and there on the opposing side was Tom Henderson, the bank manager responsible for his considerable commercial inconvenience.
Greetings were exchanged, hands were shaken and apologies were offered and accepted.
Later that afternoon, Tom was batting, he flicked the ball off his hips and who should take the catch just behind square? Why, Jimmy of course.
It was a moment his son and team-mate, David, was determined should not pass without appropriate comment.
"Not so dead now, is he?" was the helpful remark, as the doleful bank boss trudged off the field.
Lost in translation
REMEMBER those weird hieroglyphs which appeared on the pavement outside our house and have remained there undisturbed for six months?
Well, Pat Holland has been in touch to report similar strange markings in Brading High Street — where they appear to take the form of white crosses.
She suspects ritualistic or paranormal involvement and thinks further investigation is required.
Meanwhile, friends have come forward with new theories about our symbols, with more than one suggesting they resemble masonic insignia.
But I have my own theory. I reckon, when translated from the Egyptian, they read, 'Let PFI deal with it.’.
Stalker will be surprised at meeting
MALC Lawrence paused while daintily nibbling his cricket scone a couple of weeks ago. "Do you realise," he said, "we don’t appear to have heard from our stalker lately?"
He was referring to 'D. Wilson, of Newport,’ occasional County Press correspondent, who, about twice a year, enhances the letters’ page with his latest complaint about the fact Mr L and I actually exist.
"Do you think he’s unwell or just sulking?"
He was wrong on both counts, because 'D’ popped up on cue last week, displaying such an intimate knowledge of the contents of this column that I delight in the fact he must read every word.
But he eventually reaches a stage where his spleen becomes so full he simply has to vent it — and the catalyst this time was my observations a couple of weeks ago about the Island’s new tourism boss, David Thornton.
D got so indignant on the gentleman’s behalf about the perceived slights, that I hardly know how to break this news to him.
A couple of days after the article appeared, David Thornton got in touch to suggest we get together to have a chat about Island tourism — and that meeting is scheduled to take place next Tuesday.
I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if D wanted to join us and act as his personal bodyguard.