Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saving for the nation - or depriving it?

This attempt by Manx Nasty Heretics (see ) to grab a £1.2M legacy left to the community by a well meaning local made me laugh.
It is not just the pathetic attempt to pretend the general public will have a say. It is not even the way a hick judge can be trusted to pass somebody else’s entire life work over to the biggest drain on national and natural resources.
What made me laugh is remembering that some years ago I saw the will of a local collector who knows and despises this racket even more than I do. And, to be fair, he had good reason.
Three times, to my knowledge, their pettiness, ignorance and incestuous protection rackets deprived him or his family of an income, and in the process deprived the island of one of its most important historical buildings and the two finest monthly records of true cultural life it has ever had. As none of the national treasures in question actually passed to either Manx National Heritage or a competent party, all three are simply gone for ever.
Knowing this, and also knowing that the heritage mafia have ways of persuading people to hand over their property, with recourse to quite thuggish legal action if necessary, he set out to make an absolutely bullet-proof will. This ensures that when he finally pops his clogs the island’s least competent guardians of antiquities cannot get their grubby mitts on a substantial hoard of Manx archive material which has been freely offered to genuine researchers, but never has, and never will be, available to heavily government subsidised vandals who would probably flog it for a few crates of Special Brew (or whatever Manx culture-sepulchral throwbacks drink).
Some of the island’s finest legal minds (and there are not many) worked on a document which ensures that valuable treasures are only ever passed down to trustworthy genuine local historians and groups, and that before receiving them they sign binding legal documentation which ensures that should they ever work or accept assistance from MNH (or any individual who, in turn, does so) then the trustees seize back the goods and pass them on to a more deserving recipient.
As well as being legally watertight, it is also quite a funny and scathing document, and even the rumours of it set other local historians and collectors to thinking about similar action. In the process valuable, totally irreplaceable items of Manx cultural heritage (including books, audio tapes and film of the last Manx language speakers, artworks, original manuscripts by Victorian and Edwardian folk archivists and many other fine things) have been preserved for the Manx people, by ensuring that they can never – ever – pass to the government’s appointed trustees. In many cases the keepers of such treasures will never even let MNH or the Manx government know that they exist – at least until such time as the island is run by saner folk who would know what to do with them.

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