Amy Willcock, who is planning a food festival to promote Island produce.
THE VIEW FROM HERE SUPER-whizzo Amy Willcock, probably the busiest woman on the Island (cookery demonstrations, WI, agricultural society, pinning people against the wall and insisting they comply with her wishes), has her sights set on a new project.
Having this summer triumphantly hectored the County Show into spruced-up farmyard mode after its years among the mildewed bindweed of agricultural decline, Amy is now seeking support for a food festival.
Planned to coincide with next year’s show and organised under the auspices of the IW Agricultural Society, this festival aims to show Island food at its best, with Amy recently campaigning on behalf of an application to the LEADER programme, which distributes grants from the European Agricultural Fund to aid rural projects.
I don’t envy anybody on the LEADER programme who has the least quibble with Amy’s ideas. Have you seen her when thwarted? Very shouty.
If they’ve got any sense, they’ll just give the nod to the whole project and hand over the dosh, perhaps after skipping obediently through the interesting document, produced by the IW Agricultural Society, detailing just what the festival might entail.
Just before we get started on that, could I, at the risk of provoking an Amy screechblitz, raise a small point of grammar? The Agricultural Society’s full title is, according to its publicity, the "Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Society", and its remit includes the "Royal Isle of Wight County Show". Should it not be the IW Royal Agricultural Society and the IW Royal County Show? Unless, of course, the Island has actually been granted Royal status. Have I missed something? Did Amy fix it with Her Majesty when I wasn’t looking?
Anyway, wherever we stick these royals, the festival proposes to show off our foodie credentials at their very best. "The Island as a quality food destination…local food can be fun, interesting and value for money…benefit to the rural economy…a vibrant food pavilion…six eating experiences…" Yup…that seems to have all the right buzzwords. I particularly like the eating experiences. So much better than just shoving food in our mouths. And what about the vibrant food pavilion? Actually, Amy, you realise vibrant is a synonym for "vibrating" don’t you? I hope we’re not going beyond the bounds of decency here. Food can so easily turn offensively aphrodisiac and this is a family event. Perhaps better to call your tent the "very nice pavilion".
I’m sure Amy will sort it all out. I see she’s in charge of the festival’s PR and marketing, alongside somebody called Maureen Mills, who, we are informed, is the "undistributed queen bee of London restaurant PR". No, I have no idea what an undistributed queen bee is. Maybe it’s an agricultural term. Like that vibrating pavilion, it doesn’t sound altogether pleasant, so I shall move on.
And here’s my real concern. According to this document, "The target audience for the festival will be "Guardian and Telegraph" readers and our marketing and PR leads and celebrity chefs have been selected with this in mind.".
Excusez-moi? Guardian and Telegraph? Why no mention of County Press readers? Aren’t they good enough for your celebrity chefs? And I’m not at all sure about this elitist stance. Lots of people on the Island take the Daily Mail, you know, and even hangers and floggers have to eat. And why shouldn’t Sun readers enjoy a lobster vol au vent?
Worst of all, are Amy and the undistributed queen bee not aware that Guardian and Telegraph readers simply hate each other? Chattering vegetarian lefties versus blustering right-wing carnivores. Continue with this plan and the pavilion won’t just vibrate. It’ll be the scene of wholesale massacre.
A recipe for disaster, I’m afraid.
Bishop's out of the running
I AM extremely disappointed in the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth.
Back in March, I nominated him as my choice to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
He was 33/1 at Ladbrokes at the time, and if he’d only taken my advice and grown an unkempt beard and loony eyebrows and preached incomprehensible sermons, it would have been in the bag and we could all have collected at the bookies.
However, he hasn’t done any training for the post, no beard or waffle, and Ladbrokes tell me he’s now slumped to 66/1 and has no possible chance of preferment, having left it far too late to get his eyebrows rambling.
Much depressed, I asked Ladbrokes if our bish had the longest odds of all. Apparently not. Paul Gascoigne and John Terry are both 5,000/1, while Boris Johnson is 1,000/1 as, most interestingly, is Andrew Mitchell.
Right, I’m dropping Foster and backing Mitchell for Archbishop. Never mind he hasn’t got a beard. He’s got a whip and he swears, and is clearly just the chap to shake the CofE out its present parlous state.