Darren Cool, event manager of the CP spring garden show, cancelled because of bad weather.
THE VIEW FROM HEREWHAT is civilisation? Has the evolution of the western world resulted in its behavioural superiority over societies where they still cling to tribal practices and do not know how to use a knife and fork properly?
There is much evidence to the contrary. What sort of people communicate with people they have never met by means of inane twittering via a soulless screen and then claim they have hundreds of "friends" in this horrible cyber world?
They would be thought very backward by, say, the Yali tribe of West Papua, who live in nice sociable compounds constructed of tree bark or palm leaves and live off the land by means of well-structured co-operation.
The Yali word for "hello" is "wah". It also mean "thank you", "welcome" and "goodbye".
Do not mock. At least they’re saying something, not tapping out ridiculous messages which are no less primitive in their construction than the grunts of cavemen.
"ROFL, HAK!!" (It means "rolling on floor laughing, hug and kiss!!" and has been posted by Hayley, who has 763 "friends" and wouldn’t know one end of a hoe from the other, let alone be able to construct a family home from palm leaves.)
"Nisinga" is a charming Yali word. It means "Say hello to the old women". When did Hayley last say hello to the old women? Or, as she would tell her friends, "OMG! DEGT!!" ("Oh my God! Don’t even go there!!")
We have few lessons to teach the so-called "primitive" peoples of the less developed world. If development means evolving into a society that is fixated with celebrities, materialism, and Hayley’s daily witterings, you’re better off with the Yali.
Plus, they’ve given up cannibalism, while Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodles, certainly no less repulsive or politically incorrect than a deliciously juicy missionary, are still on sale over here.
There are, however, a few areas of common ground. Wherever we live, the weather is important. The Yali tribe are dependent on it for their vegetables and Hayley needs to know if she should take a pashmina to Lianne’s hen night ("Bcos mt b cld wht U thnk Li?")
The history of performing rituals to affect the weather is well documented, with rain dances found in many cultures. Some tribes like to wear feathers and turquoise during the dance, symbolising wind and rain.
In this country, we have different practices but they are similarly steeped in mysticism.
In 1976, after the driest summer for more than 200 years, a man called Denis Howell was created Minister for Drought. Nobody knows to this day what incantations and spells he uttered but he was quite brilliant.
Three days after his appointment, the heavens opened.
Denis Howell has, alas, gone to his spiritual home among the rain clouds but we are still adept at summoning up a downpour when required. And the Island stands supreme in this department, as recent events will testify.
This is how we manage it. First of all, at the first sign of warm weather, we get out our shorts and T-shirts, the IW equivalent of feathers and turquoise, pack away our woollies and sit on the beach, worshipping the sun god. This makes the rain god jealous, but not jealous enough.
The next stage is the ritual of the hosepipe ban. At the first hint of this evil spirit, the Island works itself into a frenzy, lest its dreadful spell is cast beyond the mainland.
The CP leads its front page with dire warnings, our gardening correspondent Richard Wright tells us how to protect ourselves from the hosepipe banshee and I burble on about Southern Water.
But in order to bring the full might of the rain god down upon us, there is one final ritual. The CP must sponsor a spring garden show.
Its event manager must be called Mr Cool. This will cause torrents of rain and chilly temperatures. The garden show will be cancelled. And we will all have to get our woollies out again.
It’s the Island version of Denis Howell.
How IW humour helped win war
Further to my recommendation of Dimbola Lodge, another IW tourist attraction which deserves more recognition is Shanklin Chine. Its indefatigable owner, Anne Springman, has engineered another splendid exhibition for this Jubilee year, featuring superb reproductions of Turner’s IW landscapes, with the work of other artists who visited the Island.
The eclectic nature of the Chine also embraces a permanent PLUTO exhibition, telling the story of the pipeline which carried petrol to the Allied troops in Normandy. I particularly liked the illustration of the Hais Cable Coupling, showing "the method of coupling the cable by cable ends by means of the split muff".
Wars were never won without a sense of humour. Hitler had none. I like to think the startling notion of a split muff made our chaps smile and helped spur us on to victory.