• Knowing your place 11 August 2016 | View comments

  • 11th August 2016 | By David Jolley

    ‘A poor ghetto that suffers from inbreeding’ - Blighted by ‘a mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment’ and underperforming schools.

    This is how David Hoare has caricatured the Isle of Wight! Responses from hurt locals have led to his apologising – but as far as I can see he does not retract his view. Indeed his perception is in keeping with Uswitch’s rating of the island as 124th best place (out of 138) to live in England in 2015 https://www.uswitch.com/place-to-live/isle-of-wight/ Mind you the list has some unexpected rankings – Darlington is in the top ten ( maybe showing my prejudices) – but North of Greater Manchester better than the South of Greater Manchester? No doubt my prejudice again.

    Other perceptions place the Island as the most desired residence by older people http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-2286021/Top-10-retirement-havens-revealed-Isle-Wight-popular.html at least of the present generation.

    We are collecting donations for a car-boot sale to raise funds for Friends of John Leigh Park on August Bank Holiday. People are generous and we enjoy these sale days for the people we meet as customers and as co-stallholders. You learn a lot about people from the donations – books which have been bought and read, clothes which have been loved and now passed on, gadgets which may not have fulfilled promise, crockery and ornaments – often from previous generations. This week’s collection has yielded a fabulous map of Cheshire 1833 – engraved by ‘Sidy’ Hall of Chapman and Hall – 186 The Strand. We discover that ‘Sidy’ is Sidney and he was originally from Staffordshire. (Wolverhampton was in Staffordshire when I was growing up there – Staffordshire knots were well known to us scouts). The frame has broken and we will need to have the map properly reframed to be shown to the best effect – but an old map tells you so much about a place – the basic co-ordinates of where we were and now have grown to become.

    I am an endlessly enthusiastic supporter of Alan Godfrey’s maps: http://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/ I would always encourage people to purchase copies of their localities when moving in from elsewhere – or simply to explore places we know, have lived in or passed by for holidays. His maps give you the geography of the time – but they also tell you something about local industries – and about the people. He offers maps from the Isle of Wight 1907 and 1901.

    This is me, I guess, perseverating on Postcodes and Village People

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