Why the Island should become Virgin territory

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, October 12, 2012

 

THE VIEW FROM HERE AT last, some thrilling news for the Island. Sandown town councillor Chris Dupre has come up with an absolutely brilliant idea, which will surely solve all our problems and send us dancing into the streets.

Cllr Dupre says we must ask Richard Branson to buy Wightlink ferries. So, with other town and parish authorities, Sandown Town Council is to send a letter to the Virgin boss telling him of this fantastic opportunity to add to his empire. I hope they’ll splash out on a first-class stamp. You can’t dilly-dally around with billionaires, you know.

Let us look at all the happy reasons why Richard Branson should buy Wightlink. Forget the company denying it’s up for sale. The merest glimpse of a man with a beard and jolly teeth and an enormous cheque book and it’ll be up for sale, yes sirree.

Right, now we’ve got that established, on to our new ferry owner. First of all, he’s squillions-rich. He has an estimated net worth of around £3 billion. I tried to put that in a figure with noughts in it but it was a very difficult sum and, anyway, I ran out of space. Just write down 'three’ and then add noughts for the rest of the day and that’s about how rich he is.

He can therefore easily afford to buy a few old ferries and, most importantly, has plenty of money (there will probably be enough in his back pocket alone) to make them the luxurious vessels we deserve. Embroidered cushions and uniformed stewards bringing us cocktails and tasty little snacks, just like a first-class Virgin flight.

Oh yes, and perhaps some fluffy socks to wear on the crossing and one of those nice eye masks to soothe our brows. Of course, our brows will be much less furrowed after the takeover, because Wightlink’s new owner can subsidise the fares from his stash of money and we’ll pay hardly anything at all for our lovely trip across The Solent.

What else? Well, Richard Branson is much in the news at the moment, having slain the Department for Transport over the West Coast franchise bid and shown them to be a load of incompetent ninnies. Can you think of any public body on the Island which might be similarly sorted out by this astute magnate?

He can certainly sort out the Island’s transport. Apart from the ferries, he can open up our railways again, because he likes trains, and he might as well pay for the road resurfacing with the money in his other back pocket. Then we can just forget about that tiresome PFI malarkey. Hurrah!

It gets better and better. Another big advantage is that he’s a sir, which is just the kind of thing we like on the Island, and will add tremendous kudos to all the coffee mornings and charity fetes he’ll be attending as our latest celebrity.

And, obviously, he’ll be nominated for IW High Sheriff, which will be even swankier than Alan Titchmarsh, and he’ll be in hundreds of CP photographs looking just dinky in a lacy shirt and velvet breeches.

Finally, Sir Richard has friends. Tons of them. Kate Winslet, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Prince William, oh, just everybody.

They’ll all be travelling to the Island on Wightlink, because no doubt Sandown Town Council will explain to the Virgin boss he must also buy a house here, with lots of guest rooms. The CP will have to publish a special supplement to fit in all the lace and velvet and visiting celebs.

But will he rise to the challenge? Of course he will. Whatever glories Sir Richard may have accumulated during his career, nothing can surpass a letter from Sandown Town Council. He’ll be unable to resist.

Let’s get a sense of perspective in emotion

I AM much enjoying Stiff Upper Lip, Ian Hislop’s three-part TV series on Britain’s emotional history.

A stiff upper lip isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stoicism certainly does not, as many people mistakenly believe, denote a lack of feelings or humane compassion. Just because you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve doesn’t mean you haven’t got one.

I don’t know what conclusion Ian Hislop will come to but it seems to me Britain is emotionally dysfunctional. We sob hysterically about the death of somebody we’ve never met but ignore those human needs closest to us.

When Shanklin motorcyclist Kieran Richardson lay injured in the road after coming off his bike, around 25 cars went by.

"Most people slowed down to see what had happened but not one stopped to see if I was OK," he said.

It’s a shocking story but perhaps unsurprising. When emotions are in free fall, a sense of perspective about the things that actually matter may be in short supply.

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