Save the fine sentiment, it’s the ideas we’re after

By Keith Newbery

Published on Friday, September 21, 2012 - 11:15


THIS ISLAND LIFE WE must wish David Thornton well. He’s the man lumbered with (I mean appointed to) the role of Island tourist supremo.

It will now fall to him to round up the disparate factions which comprise our holiday industry and form them into an effective, cohesive, working unit capable of restoring our collective fortunes.

When his appointment was announced on the County Press website, it attracted a few encouraging comments from the usual suspects — one of whom advised him to get the Freemasons onside.

David politely responded by leaving a message of his own.

It included the words: "Whether you own an Island website, an attraction, an activity product (what’s one of those when it’s at home?), an accommodation business, a publication company, a cafe or a shop …

"Whether you are a musician, artist, banker, tourism professional, wildlife ranger or historic house guardian, we need to work together to be greater than the sum of our parts and to secure the future this island so richly deserves."

He ended by saying he was looking forward to serving us.

I realise communication is at the heart of such a role but the trouble with hastily compiled lists is that you immediately run the risk of alienating those you fail to include.

While the Island’s wildlife rangers (?) are happily baiting their bear-traps, rounding up the gerbils on Coleman’s Farm and spitting into the embers as they gather round the campfire after a hard day on the prairie, our longshoremen, boat-menders and purveyors of ice-cream are probably spitting blood at being ignored in favour of bankers.

And what about us Island-born hacks? Though I am undoubtedly greater than the sum of my parts (it happens to most men when they reach my age) I do not appear to be included in any of David’s carefully compiled categories.

Unless, of course, this column can be regarded as an 'activity product’.

But I am nothing if not magnanimous and emerged from my sulk in time to learn a little more about our new sun tsar.

He updated his LinkedIn profile a bit sharpish and now refers to himself as 'one of the White Knights: champion of the greatest holiday island on earth.’

Is this another secret society? Will they be involved in hand-to-hand combat with the Freemasons in the grounds of Carisbrooke Castle over a bank holiday weekend?

Will it be pinnies at dawn? Now that’s what you call a unique holiday attraction.

But a word of warning, David, if I may be so bold. Well, two words actually — Joe Duckworth.

Jazzy Joe was one of several vastly overpaid chief executives the Island council has employed in recent years and he led us to believe the Island was a hallowed and glorious corner of England on which he was honoured to serve and from which a thousand Lipizzaner stallions could not possibly drag him. Then (to a community-wide sigh of relief) he pushed off to Newham the minute they offered to make him the best-paid council boss in the country.

Anyway David, Joe seemed to spend a lot of his working day jogging along the information superhighway, where he fondly believed he was winning over staff and residents with his jaunty blog.

It tended to create more problems than it solved, however, especially when people began to tire of his committee-room jargon and relentless professional cheeriness.

Imagine Bruce Forsyth flogging life insurance to 90 year olds by shouting 'you know it makes sense my darlings’, and you have it exactly.

So don’t bother preaching to the converted. We who are privileged to live here already know the Island (always remember to deploy a capital I when using the definite article) is a wonderful place, etc, so you can save that sort of gubbins for the press releases and publicity material.

We’re more interested in your strategies and ideas. Rather a lot appears to depend on them.

Word that sticks its neck out to be noticed

ONE of my favourite e-mails of the year came from Colin Hales, of Ventnor, who introduced me (and, I suspect, a fair few readers) to the word 'onomableva.’

It means, if you recall, a word which looks like its meaning, as opposed to an onomatopoeia, which is a word which sounds like its meaning (sploosh, hiss, etc).

Colin provided 'awkward’ and 'bed’ as ideal onomablevas and has now sent me a few more.

Zig-zag, is perfect of course, as are Brobdingnagian, wobble and goggles.

Colin reckons all words pertaining to matters serpentine also possess onomablevic properties, such as snake, slither, slimy and sinuous.

But my absolute favourite (which I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years) is 'giraffes’ — with the stately double f rising high above the surrounding Masai Mara of lesser letters.

While we’re on the subject of the language and its anomalies, I have another conundrum which was being debated at a recent cricket match and requires explanation.

Why, when an area is overgrown, is it said to be covered with undergrowth and not overgrowth?

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