Top positive review
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I've got a ticket to Ryde, and I DO care!
on 23 July 2013
I'm a very great fan of the Isle of Wight and have been spending increasing amounts of time there during the past year and a half. Some people (allegedly friends) seem to think that's because, with a relatively 'mature' population down there, I have finally found a way to make myself look younger, but I don't think that's the main reason I love it so much. I can't deny, it's a handy little fringe benefit alright, but there's much more to the Island than that.
Jan Toms, I am reliably informed by the blurb on this book's dust jacket, is descended from a long line of Islanders. She knows her stuff, that is the obvious implication and you really do get a sense of both her knowledge and her obvious affection for the Island from these pages. She writes very engagingly and with great humour, nowhere more so than in the little sub headings that appear throughout the book. These help to break up what would otherwise be a rather intimidating-looking wall of information.
This works well as a record of local history, as well being a handy little reference book for some very well-researched facts about the Island. The strangest one I came across was the fact that EastEnders' Dot Cotton apparently has (or, at the very least, had) 'an Alum Bay sand ornament on her mantelpiece'. That shows a true devotion to promoting the Island's cause that does: voluntarily sitting through at least one episode of that programme in order to present that invaluable factoid for our delectation.
I have only one slight criticism to make and that is from a purely personal point of view; in the section entitled 'That's Entertainment', there is a list of writers who wrote while on the Island, yet there is no mention of the late Michael Sheard, who wrote four volumes of his memoirs while living in Ryde. Oh, I do beg your pardon, he played Mr Bronson in 'Grange Hill' as well as appearing in umpteen other TV and film productions. He was a superb actor, a fine writer and a great fan of the Island. Surely, if Frances Barclay (well if you don't know who she was, I'm certainly not telling you(!)) can get a mention, then poor old Mr Sheard could have sneaked in there...?