THE VIEW FROM HERE SOME interesting observations from David Thornton, chief executive of Visit IW, when interviewed in last week’s CP.
Mr Thornton is clearly passionate about the Island and is going about his new job with the enthusiasm of Pooh Bear digging into a pot of honey.
Good for him. We need somebody who thinks we’re a pot of honey rather than a complete turkey. And Mr Thornton does seem a more promising salesman for the Island than some of the deadbeats we’ve endured over the years.
But while he appears to have few qualms about the Island itself, he’s a bit concerned about the way it can be perceived.
"I still think it has the slight image of a blue rinse, old people’s destination but that’s absolute nonsense," he says.
Tricky one here, David. First of all, how on earth did you slip into that cliche of "a blue rinse"?
When did you last see a blue rinse? Nobody under 40 would know what you’re talking about. You’re more likely to find one on a punk-tressed hipster at the IW Festival.
No, as our thrusting new marketing man, you really shouldn’t know about blue rinses on old people. Next thing we know, you’ll be jeering at bath chairs in your eagerness to prove the IW’s yoof credentials.
Secondly, you should be careful about dismissing an "old people’s destination" as absolute nonsense.
Have you never heard of the silver pound? Those baby boomers of the post-war years are now pension-rich and they’re certainly not blue-rinsed.
Do keep up, Mr Thornton. 65 is the new 30 and your average pensioner is whizzing about all over the place, cycling, walking and, oh yes, having sex.
Don’t think blue rinse, think Mick Jagger.
Did you see him at the Stones’ recent concert? Erotic or what? He’ll be 70 next year. Pull your finger out, David, and invite him to a birthday bash on the Island.
Let’s welcome all ages and, just as important, let’s welcome all budgets.
The Island has made huge efforts in recent years to show off its posh side and attract a swankier type of tourist.
That makes sense. Statistics show (oh, what a surprise) the upper and middle classes are still taking holidays while the lower orders are having to cut back.
Well, let’s buck the trend. By all means retain the five-star quality. But why shouldn’t we also offer quality at a cheaper price and enable the cash-strapped to visit the Island and get something worthwhile?
God knows, we’ve been hawking rubbishy tat for long enough. Why not replace it with something that’s affordable but not kitsch or tawdry?
If our visitors can only afford a cheese sandwich rather than fine dining, let’s ditch the plastic horrors on offer and treat them to a really delicious snack.
As Mr Thornton is discovering, the Island definitely suffers from identity confusion.
Are we cheap or are we posh? Do we cater for the old or for the young?
It’s time to stop the confusion and welcome all sorts, all budgets, but giving value and quality to everybody.
Well, almost everybody. There are limits, you know. When I said we should welcome the older visitor, I didn’t mean Bruce Forsyth.
Let’s have a protest over celebrities
WHILE drawing the line at Bruce Forsyth, I am constantly aware of the need for the Island to maintain its stock of celebrities available to open things, sign autographs and get us excited.
I hope Mr Thornton appreciates the importance we attach to celebs and will quickly restore us to the glorious status we enjoyed during Alan Titchmarsh’s tenure as High Sheriff.
The Island’s cache of celebrities is not at its best right now, though I hear there’s a couple in the West Wight whose daughter reads the news on ITV, which might be a possibility. However, if Mr Thornton could shift Fiona Bruce’s relations down here, that would be even better.
Or we could take a tip from Hastings in Sussex, where residents were promised a "mystery celebrity" to open their Christmas market.
After the tremendous build-up, there was a near riot when the "celebrity" was revealed to be Chesney Hawkes (no, I have absolutely no idea, though he might be on Wikipedia if you’re really interested) with unimpressed residents organising a "Go Away Chesney" campaign. (How can you say this about the 'One and Only’ Chesney — Ed!)
However, the consequent publicity has put Hasting so much to the fore that tons of people are visiting the town to see somebody they’ve never heard of.
So if we can’t get Fiona Bruce or the woman from ITV, let’s just ask any old has-been and then organise a media-savvy protest. Any suggestions? Who’s that? Shaw Taylor? From Police 5?
How dare you! Living in West Wight and now pushing 90, he’s reckoned as one of the Island’s most treasured celebs. Knocks spots off Chesney Hawkes, anyway.