THE VIEW FROM HEREHAMPSHIRE chief takes charge of IW children. What a dreadful shock for our readers to be greeted by this front-page headline in last weeks’ CP, a story arguably scarier than the Grimm Courier’s report of "Hansel and Gretel in clutches of wicked witch in gingerbread house".
Hampshire chief taking charge of our children? What horror can this portend?
Who is this alien person who has seized control of the Island babes? Does he live in a gingerbread house, or is he perhaps of German descent, a cousin of the Pied Piper?
For some Islanders, the threat from Hampshire has to be closely and constantly monitored. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
They’ve already got the police, now they’ve got our children and the next thing we know, they’ll put up a bridge and call us South Hampshire.
Worst of all, they’ll foist a mainland MP on us. Oh God, we’d rather have a monkey to represent us.
Don’t scoff. Some Islanders probably would vote for a monkey, so long as it came from the IW Zoo, rather than anybody from Portsmouth. Oh yes, it’s doom, I tell you, doom all the way.
How did we manage to get in this pickle? We had enough warning last year, when Hampshire looked set to muscle in on our fire services.
That danger was averted, with Cllr David Williams memorably declaring in a full council meeting: "I hope Hampshire will never be knocking on our door again."
Knocking on our door? They haven’t even bothered to knock this time. They’ve just barged in and snatched our children.
Except, of course, no such thing has happened. So let’s stop the hysterics and just calm down. Deep breaths, everyone.
First, Hampshire is not the enemy. It is a perfectly civilised county, part of the UK, as is the IW. Nor is it "knocking on our door".
I can’t imagine why it should, when the only response it gets is to be greeted as if it were some jackbooted invader.
I contacted Cllr Williams to ask what he thought of Hampshire’s intrusion upon our children’s services. I thought he might be busy building an air raid shelter, in light of his previous comments, but he’s actually very relaxed about it all.
"I’m not too worried," he said. "The government is quite happy for us to share with other authorities."
Well, that’s nice, if slightly surprising. Of course it’s just as well to show solidarity when elections are in the offing and we wouldn’t want any dissent in the Tory ranks, would we?
Nonetheless, he’s right not to be worried. If our children’s services are put under the wing of Hampshire County Council, this will not herald the complete seizure of our autonomy as a local authority.
We will still have our own council, our own MP, a High Sheriff, a Lord Lieutenant, everything that adds to the gaiety of the Island Utopia in which we imagine ourselves whenever we get a whiff of Hampshire knocking on our door.
But actually, we are not Utopia. Very few places are these days.
Certainly the children who were failed by the Island’s services can’t have thought they were living in Happyland.
So if, by co-operating with Hampshire, we can restore those children’s faith in adults, there surely should not be one murmur of dissent.
"We’re all in this together."
Patently, that is not true. "Us and them" attitudes abound and the Island is no exception, all too often to its own detriment.
But, for the sake of the children, could everybody refrain from swaggering around like Capt Mainwaring when help comes our way?
The IW will remain the IW. And that, paradoxically, is both its triumph and its tragedy.
A reality show is worth the price
HAVE you noticed how Island-themed reality shows are like buses? You wait ages and then two turn up together.
A couple of weeks back, we had Bembridge’s Pilot Boat Inn swanking around on Four in a Bed and last week saw funeral director David Holmes, who lives at Totland, being given an overhaul by Alex Polizzi in BBC 2’s The Fixer.
It went extremely well, I thought. They made David look a genial idiot at the beginning, Alex was rude about his lovely display of coffins, the BBC spent about £20,000 on giving his parlour a rebrand and, at the end of the hour, David and his sons had been transformed into the kind of chaps you could trust with any corpse.
But I’m not sure Alex was the real fixer. Being required to appear as an imbecile at the start of this entertaining but indubitably contrived programme was a small price to pay for an hour’s worth of primetime publicity and a complimentary makeover.
You don’t fool us, Mr Holmes. When it comes to fixing things, it’s dead easy when you know how, isn’t it?