Let’s worry about the buildings before ferries

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, January 31, 2014

 

Let’s worry about the buildings before ferries

Holy Trinity Church, Ryde, is already looking sad.

THE VIEW FROM HERE HOLY Trinity Church, Ryde, held its final service last Sunday. After a protracted fight for survival, its congregation was finally forced to accept its closure and the church now stands as something of a sad cenotaph, a mere building and no longer a place of worship.

Its congregation will disperse elsewhere and the people who live within the area of its parish will be allotted through the jurisdiction of the Church of England to another church.

The vast majority of Holy Trinity’s former parishioners are not, in fact, churchgoers and won’t even be aware of being in a new parish. Yet many will feel a pang of sadness at Holy Trinity’s closure, albeit having visited it only for the occasional wedding, funeral or baptism.

The building, that familiar landmark on Ryde’s silhouette, has stood there since 1845, dispensing a feeling of steadfastness even to the unrighteous. Everyone, even if they have no faith, likes to think the church is there — just in case.

So what now? The congregation will have to work things out for themselves but what about the building?

One thing’s for sure. Nothing will be done in a hurry. The Church of England is notorious for dragging its feet, flaffing about with synods and ecclesiastical folderols and quite incapable of making a quick decision.

Holy Trinity’s fate was obvious years ago but the death throes, in true CofE style, lingered on with painful indecision and lack of swift and firm management by the authorities.

The building is already in a dilapidated state. Major decisions must be made about its future use, with planning procedures not even possible before it’s been deconsecrated — and goodness knows how long that will take. It certainly won’t be sorted in two shakes of a thurible.

And so this church will join the ever increasing list of crumbling and neglected buildings on the Island. The Royal York Hotel, Ryde Theatre, Northwood House, Frank James Hospital, the convalescent wing at Osborne House (admittedly not crumbling but costing a fortune to keep maintained for no purpose whatsoever), most of Sandown — need I go on?

Of course, these things are not easily solved. The cost of restoring buildings is phenomenal, even supposing you can find someone willing to invest the money in a new project.

But surely the Island can recognise this has become something of an emergency? Like rotten apples, these otiose buildings are seeping neglect throughout our communities.

If we don’t do something, Visit Isle of Wight may have a job on its hands to persuade people the Island is actually a place worth visiting.

But there are still people around with money to invest and supporters of the community interest company proposed by the Better Ferry Campaign must surely be anticipating quite a dollop of cash. Why bother otherwise?

Apart from the cash, another asset of this anti-Wightlink campaign (which, in effect, this is) comes in the form of guaranteed popularity. The Island’s pet sport is bashing Wightlink, so if you want to be popular, just make sure you’re at the head of the queue.

Even though we need all the visitors we can get and, as the CEO of Visit Isle of Wight has pointed out, it’s perhaps not terribly helpful to keep telling them travelling to the Island is absolute hell, the campaign has raised a huge cheer in many quarters.

Yet those with cash to invest might usefully consider their priorities. There’s terrific populist kudos to be gained from taking on Wightlink but ferry services may not be our primary concern if the Island’s buildings give an ever louder message that we’re going down the tubes.

If this community interest company does get its hands on Wightlink but can’t attract enough visitors to use its services, its stakeholders may wish they’d invested in bricks and mortar instead.

Take a deep breath at the surgery

SHOCK news from the world of medicine. The stethoscope is set to be replaced by pocket-size ultrasound probes, which means doctors will be indistinguishable from anybody else with some bit of technology unattractively bulging out of their trousers.

Whose stupid idea was this? It’s how we know doctors are qualified, for heaven’s sake.

When we go to see the doctor, we need to see a stethoscope dangling round their neck. That means they have been properly trained to say "Breathe in, please … and out …" and tell us what’s wrong.

You can tell a nurse from a doctor because, although nurses sometimes try to confuse you by putting stethoscopes round their own necks, we jolly well know they’re not real doctors because they also have fob watches bouncing up and down on their chests.

And who knows what a "pocket-sized ultrasonic probe" looks like? Horrid men will pretend they’re doctors and plunge down women’s blouses with their mobile phones, saying "breath in … breathe out …" and the courts will be overrun with these fiends.

Apparently stethoscopes can get quite mucky but who cares? They can’t be half as mucky as those who will take advantage of their demise.

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