Sunday, 8 December 2013

So many possibilities, so little creative thinking

Someone pointed me towards , posing the question “How long before we see something like this on the Isle of Man?”
Strictly speaking, of course, we already do. For a start there's every Manx schoolchild’s nightmare “field trip” to the God World theme park (or as Manx Heritage insists on calling it, Rushen Abbey). There impressionable children are chased round a muddy field by the strange folk from Scripture Union, who want them to consider how much fun it would be to be a mediaeval monk. As any kid who watches Horrible Histories knows already, the answer to that is 'Absolutely none'.
Apparently SUMT get paid for this, which I've always found odd. It seems to me if little children are keeping care-in-the-community candidates off the streets it's the kids who should get paid for performing a public service, not SUMT. An over-literal interpretation of the Bible might well be an early sign of psychotic illness, but it doesn't excuse a failure to look for a proper job.
Then there are some of the Tourist Department's odd niche holiday breaks.
A couple of years back, I'm told, they were offering discreet discounts to off-island churches to organise Celtic Christian tours of the island. I suspect they got the idea from a wily cleric who used to strike deals with local travel agents for tours to various Christian pilgrimage sites, both UK and much further abroad. In return for rounding up a bus-load of punters, said cleric and Mrs Cleric got more annual free holidays than he already racked up as fact-finding missions to sunny climes for various government bodies on which he......well, not so much served as turned up and collected benefits.
But as there aren't actually any functioning island churches which date back more than three centuries, and towns have changed so much since even the 19th century that these are in semi-abandoned villages, the Celtic Christian trail is a bit thin. The presumed sites of any worship prior to that are windswept places in the middle of nowhere, so in practice the tours consisted of dragging pious elderly types up moors, through bogs and down slippy cliffs on wet days during Force 9 gales. I'd have thought the insurance alone would have made the price too high for all but the most determined masochist.
And talking of masochism....maybe we could clean up on another Manx fetish - birching. I'm sure the UK S&M scene is over-run by wealthy ex-public schoolies who would pay through the nose (possibly even other orifices) for a spot of corporal punishment. At last, a useful and valid economic role for all those sensibly shod ladies, built like battleships, who marry diminutive Old Barrovian heirs to Manx businesses then spend decades angrily polishing churches to within an inch of their lives.
Or again, for those who remember the chimp's tea parties that used to be a feature at UK zoos, how about putting up public seating behind a splatter-proof screen at the side of the dining area in large Manx hotels which specialise in corporate affairs and political receptions? Surely foreign visitors would pay to watch what happens when one of our more excitable Rotarians or MHKs hears a polysyllable uttered by a fellow free-loader?
So many possibilities, so little creative thinking from the so-called experts.
Is it any wonder Manx tourism is dying?

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