Island Oscars

Saturday was Oscar night at Casati, the Isle of Wight’s most welcoming drawing room. What an elegant  parade of  gowns, sparkles, and vertiginous heels teetered across the  (minuscule) red carpet on West Street.  It’s such a treat to see a house full of people who’ve really made an effort, sartorially speaking. Not the usual case of glamourous girls buffing up for a night out, accompanied by who-can-be-bothered partners. No, the males of the species were veritable peacocks, resplendent in tuxes, bow-ties, pocket handkerchiefs. Bated breath, of course, for the  awards themselves.  Nothing so prosaic as Best Actor/Actress/Motion Picture – instead we had Oscars for Fabulosity,  Disco Divinity,   Text-Dexterity and Blingbombast – altogether more festive qualities. Joseph, as ever, was the quintessential host, twinkling with bonhomie towards  new faces and familiar friends alike. Thank you, Casati.


The power of Windmills

What to do on a dismal day on the island? Wet and wind-swept, why let’s visit the Bembridge Windmill. And what a good decision that turned out to be. The guidebook says… it’s the Isle of Wight’s only surviving windmill, dating back to the 1740s. We say…it’s a gorgeous building which assaults all your senses. First, the smell: yeasty, floury, wholesome as bread. Next the warmth of wood: great hefts of wooden machinery in every direction, so seductively solid, you just have to stroke it and press it, and aim surreptitious kicks too, if you’re a nine year old boy. Then the peering into dimness: forcing eyes to adjust and squint and scrutinize  – so that’s what the vertical wheel is about, and oh look – there’s where it attaches to the wind sails. Lots of oohs and ahs and figuring out. We left all wanting to live in a windmill.


Fish n chips n networking

The New Inn, at Shalfleet is one of the Isle of Wight’s delectable fishy treats – a nice old pub, with great grub too. It made the perfect venue for a fish-and-chips supper hosted by the Chamber of Commerce as an informal networking event . I met some unexpected people – Maggie, the people magician (aka confidence coach); Alan the business/marriage saviour (aka insolvency expert), and Gillian (writer, journalist, cook-up-your-dreams course leader). My role was to get the networking going . And here’s how I did it – with a short speech on soundbites – why everyone needs a soundbite to describe themselves – whether at presentations, sales meetings or networking events. With the help of liquid refreshment, we brainstormed in small groups and came up with some wonderful tags, like the ones above for Maggie, Alan and Gillian. First prize, though goes, to Jeff, who runs a quarry. He had us all in stitches with his soundbite: Hello Jeff, what do you? “I dig up the island and make it smaller.”


All Saints’ Messiah

Handel’s glorious Messiah swelled through All Saints church in Ryde, courtesy of the Rowland Singers. Such a treat to enjoy Handel’s masterpiece in the right setting, with the gem-like nave of All Saints resplendent above the choir.  Musically the biggest surprise was tenor Neil Turner’s exquisitely pure voice, soaring into the vaulted space above us, and contralto Gillian Jackson’s moving performance was a lesson in quiet control.  Dramatically, though the surprise of the night was Helen Emery, who started the evening conducting her fellow musicians, and then swept round to peform as soprano. Astonishingly she convinced in both roles, conductor and soprano, and commanded both choir and audience, who tumbled into the spring night humming with satisfaction.


International Women’s Day

March 8th, International Women’s Day and the Indian capital, Delhi was in a state of high excitement over affirmative action. Was this the day history would be made with a positive vote in parliament to reserve a third of all seats for women? In the event, it took a bit longer than a day of frantic debate, but before the week was out, history was indeed made. Will great strides for Indian women follow? Well on the subject of reservations, here’s a small reservation – India already has: a female president, a female leader of the ruling party, a female leader of the opposition, a female head of Doordarshan tv, and a female Information & Broadcasting Minister, and yet… (more…)