Dear friends and St Agnes lovers,
As a confirmed and crusty Luddite it is something of a surprise to me that I am emailing to let you know that I have a new website out in the vast and incomprehensible ethersphere. Those of you who received a weird and accidental test email from me yesterday (many apologies for that) will recognise that I am no techie, so I would welcome any criticisms, advice for improvement or rotten fruit that you feel like lobbing my way once you have had a quick look at the site:
The site has two main aims, I guess:
One aim is to bring all the various strands of my life on St Agnes together into one place. As a confirmed Jack-of-all-trades, with all the attention span of a mid-term government, I look back on nearly 25 years of island life to discover that I have turned my impatient hand to a number of different 'jobs' during that time in a scattergun attempt to piece together a life and a living. Seeing all these aspects of my life together in one place gives me a sense of wholeness otherwise lacking.
I am, of course, following in the footsteps of many who have lived before me on St Agnes in living a multi-tasking life. In such a small community, many islanders are required to do more than one job in order to keep the everyday wheels of the community turning smoothly. Farmer, fisherman and firefighter; boat operator, builder and bartender; chef, shopkeeper and artist - often the same person in a series of different hats. (But more about that in the next newsletter...)
The other main aim is to create a little online island where those of you who love St Agnes - perhaps more than anywhere else - can get a virtual fix of island life. With words, music, food and pictures I hope to bring a hint of sea air and fragrant gorse to your lives, wherever they are. A monthly newsletter will, I hope, provide a gently restorative blast of Scilly.
Those of you who know me as a ruthless businessman will not be surprised by the presence of an online shop, where some of the more tangible outcomes of an island life can be found: music and books, together with a range of wooden bowls turned from island trees - my new obsession, discovered during lockdown.
And I guess it is the lockdowns of the last year that explain my motivation to apply clumsy fingers and thumbs to the task of creating a website. Like the rest of you, I have missed people - family and friends of course, our lovely regular island visitors and even those brief chance conversations with relative strangers on the coastal paths.
This past year, those coastal paths became very overgrown and tangled without the usual human footfall, and the birds and bunnies became unnervingly tame. The island thrushes were quite happy to do their snail bashing in plain sight in the middle of the 'main' road, where small middens of shattered shells built up. Unabashed rabbits spread up the hill from their usual haunts to run happily around the foot of the lighthouse. The island soundscape echoed only to sea, wind and gulls in the absence of visitors chatting in the cafés and busy boats and planes going backwards and forwards.
As lovely as this mini re-wilding was, and as conscious as I was of my unfairly fortunate position far away from the real and awful restrictions of city life, I nonetheless shared with everyone else the sense of isolation generated by the pandemic. I felt deprived of human contact (and I speak as a confirmed introvert who ran away from the inexplicable demands of real life at the age of 25 to live an isolated island life within a community of just 80 people).
So perhaps the main aim of the website is simply to reach out to other people - those I know and love and those I may come to know and love - and to hope that I may see you all before too long, in real life. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy an island life.