THIS ISLAND LIFE
ONE of the many things I adore about watching cricket in the company of friends is the eclectic conversation which threads its way through the day, rambling off in all directions and rarely returning to the point.
Malc Lawrence, Roy Winter and I have regularly been joined at Steephill and Newclose this wretched summer by Jim and Kath Pidgeon (the undisputed queen of rock cakes), Graham Cotton and Laurie and Heather Calloway.
Where else would I have learned about the mystery red lights in the sky, which appeared between The Needles and the mainland during the 70s, and appear to have been witnessed only by Heather (Bridges as was) and her sister, Helen?
"We saw them on several different occasions," Heather told us, "and I was under the impression a lot of other people had as well.
"But when I went to a do in the West Wight the other week and mentioned it, people looked at me as if I was daft."
Other witnesses to this odd event are now sought.
On several occasions, Mr Lawrence saw red of a different kind while attempting, unsuccessfully, to control his rage as an increasing number of young bowlers with illicit actions arrived from the mainland.
"Well bowled Chuck!" and "Who’s your dad, Percy Thrower?" were among the more repeatable exclamations to be muttered from the boundary’s edge.
During one match, the subject of the othagon came up. Some will recall this was a word discovered by Brian Greening in a 1911 coronation programme produced by the villagers of Chillerton.
Neither he nor I had heard of the word and the only clue to its meaning came from the fact it was an event held as part of a commemorative sports day in the village — and the winner received a spade.
In the absence of a definitive explanation, Mr Lawrence and I have helpfully come up with our own. We reckon one of the local farmers in Chillerton at the time had a lisp — and was infuriated to discover his favourite horse had escaped from its paddock. He went to the village pub that evening and announced: "’Ere! My oth’ave gone! A new spade to the first moosh who finds ’un!"
Every year thereafter, it became a village tradition for the farmer to release one of his horses and the first villager to round up the beast was presented with a shiny new gardening implement after an event which eventually became known as the othagon.
We further pontificated that, in the interests of fairness, the farmer may also have released one of his geese for the village women to chase and this pursuit became known as the goothagon.
Clearly a wise verdict by the IW planners
I HAVE nothing against the Bestival or the annual steam rally at Havenstreet — both are established and popular fixtures in the Island’s timetable of attractions.
However, as I passed through Havenstreet during the bank holiday weekend, it crossed my mind there must have been hundreds (possibly thousands) of cars manoeuvring their way in around the railway centre over the four days.
Then, as I drove over the downs a few days later and looked back over the fields towards the village, I was struck by the unavoidable ugliness of the preparations for the Bestival. There were tons of railings and barriers, with temporary buildings and what looked like a road had been laid across nearby farmland to improve access.
Then my mind drifted back a few years to Havenstreet Cricket Club’s attempts to get planning permission for a new ground in the field immediately opposite the steam railway car park. It was turned down on the grounds of danger from increased traffic flow and despoiling an area of outstanding natural beauty.
And I realised, once again, how wise the planning officers and committee members had been in their deliberations …
It’s obvious a small pavilion, deliberately designed to resemble a railway platform at the edge of a well-tended field which overlooks a railway line, would be an unacceptable blot on the landscape.
And a few cars turning up for matches during the summer weekends would certainly have increased the traffic flow to potentially lethal levels …
Then it’s a matter of hey, Mr Tambourine Man
MY thanks to Nigel Foster for sending me a photograph of this sign, which stands outside the Waterfront Inn, on Shanklin Esplanade.
A lot of effort has gone into producing this eye-catching piece of work, which makes it all the more puzzling that someone who has taken the trouble to spell 'tambourine’ correctly should get confused between 'then’ and 'than’.