Finding Your Own Plaice!


Dave Watkins

28 May 2003 09:15

A friendly plaice?

Having recently visited St Ives on a bit of a busman's holiday, I thought I would share an emmets views on the state of play in your fair town. There seems to be a certain us and them mentality around the town, with the indigenous locals decrying the new London money and the money thinking that the locals are all a bunch of swede heads. My wife and I have always wanted to live in the area, and when a job as a district nurse came up my highly qualified other half thought it would be a good move. Unfortunately she didn't get the job (apparently she didn't have clotted cream in her ears) but hey ho nothing ventured etc. What really disappointed us was the attitude of some St Ives hoteliers and B&B operatives, whom when asked if we could stay  1 night, we were told in no uncertain terms oH No! why let  for 1 night when we can hang out for the hope of letting for 2!!. Now, after finding a great place that took for any number of nights and allowed 5 year old children (Harringtons in the Digey,  Ken and Kay very nice) in it seemed to me that the shortsightedness or just plain greed of some operators are driving casual visitors away. In short parts of St Ives have disappeared up its own orifice. when will they realise that tourism is the lifeblood of a lot of places that have no recognised industry. I was in the Castle Inn (purely on a fact finding mission) and chatting to the landlord. I explained the situation of working and living in the area and he agreed that the new money buying up all the holiday lets etc. and not putting anything into the community was one of the biggest bugbears of the locals who cant afford to Live and work in the area. Rant aside, like the website If you want any work done I've just completed IT degree at Uni (vintage mature student) all offers considered.
I like the idea of pelting dignitaries (surely trading standards are concerned about the description) with saffron buns but in this age of recycling perhaps the local seagulls might provide a more suitable supply. Keep up with the good work I'm sure it will be recognised,  perhaps the Tate could exhibit an interactive website whereby visitors could throw cyber buns etc...............................

Vile Jelly

28 May 2003 11:09

Actually, the 'us and them' seems to work at various levels. There's the 'us and them' of the (few) born and died for a dozen generations St. Iveans who regard anyone whose family hasn't been living in St. Ives since the Hundred Years War as foreigners. Also, there's an 'us and them' between the St. Ives propertied (domestic and business) and the ordinary folks. As I've touched on previously the 'tourism brings in money' argument doesn't really mean much to the rank and file whose tourist-generated jobs tend to bring in little more than the minimum wage if you're lucky. So, apart from those lucky enough to get Council/PHA houses in St. Ives there are an awful lot of ordinary workers looking at their kids and then St. Ives and saying, "One day, my son, none of this will be yours". There was an article in last week's local papers (lost now I'm afraid) by some bod from RICS or something of that ilk who had been working out what people would need to stump up as a deposit on a property in West Cornwall based on the average house price, salary, mortgage, etc. It worked out that a teacher or a nurse would be looking at over £30,000 and a fireman over £40,000. I suppose I should have put that in the news bulletin but I didn't want to be accused of further whingeing!
 
Anyway, back to the main plot .....
 
Of course, there's also the general 'us and them' of those who live in St. Ives as opposed to those who don't. Actually, I think that that one is perfectly normal and everyone everywhere does that to some degree. It's probably a bit more obvious in St. Ives because of disproportionate number of visitors in the peak periods. F'rinstance, one of the most common remarks I heard from working St. Iveans was "wasn't Easter awful" and "I'm not looking forward to Summer". And, to be honest, Easter was pretty bloody awful. The town was absolutely swamped. It mystifies me why ever more people keep coming down at peak periods when the place is liked that. I'd have thought that the only people who'd get any enjoyment out of visiting the place at such times would be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!
 
One last comment: It always makes me laugh (very evilly and cynically) when visitors complain about the locals being rude. Talk about the relative dark pigmentation of kitchen equipment! Back when I lived on Island Road, if I'd had a fiver for every emmet that just pressed its face up against the lounge window to see inside ..... well, I'd be sufficiently affluent to be able to buy a house in St. Ives! Honestly, sometimes I'd be sat at the table eating and they'd still just keep peering in like it was some sort of working museum. I even had people knock on the door and ask if they could have a look around the house! If only they tried applying that scenario to their own homes 24/7, week in week out, then maybe they'd find themselves running short of the milk of human kindness too!
 
Any wahey, cheers for your considered thoughts on the subject. I suppose that SSI does rather tend to take an 'us and them' approach but then I am not aware of any other St. Ives websites that even acknowledge, let alone address, such issues as affordable housing, low wages, erosion of the local character, etc. I'm not claiming I'm either right or have got the answers but I do think it is important to bring the issues to people's attention, especially those that regard St. Ives as some sort of Shangri-la for all. I have a natural tendency to play devil's advocate and feel that 'unpopular issues' should be raised to counter the saccharine, rose-tinted, close-that-sale view that a lot of St. Ives (especially tourist gouging) websites take.
 
As for your room for the night problems, I sympathise but, in a way, it is your fault. Not yours personally, visitors in general. You see, St. Ives is a small town with a very limited capacity when it comes to just about everything. Thus, according to the laws of supply & demand, the ever increasing influx of visitors mean that businesses in St. Ives do not feel obliged to make much, if any, of an effort. i.e. "Why should they, if you don't like/want it, someone else will. Next customer please." Unfortunately, the visitors don't seem to realise that the more they pour into town the less likely it is that local businesses will make any great effort for them. It's ugly and I don't agree with it but that's so pure Adam Smith I'm surprised that Maggie Thatcher hasn't opened up a B&B here!
 
Or, as someone else in the restaurant business put it, in St. Ives during the peak season 'you can sell someone a dog turd sandwich for £10 and they'll buy it because they won't be able to find anywhere else to eat'!
 
Sorry about that, but that's the bosses' attitude not the workers'. As long as they can pay their staff as little as possible and charge the customers the earth and the visitors still keep coming in droves why should they change? It's money for old popes! [This phenomenon can be seen in action in certain establishments if you read Andrew MacDonald's review in the Readers' Rants Section, which, incidentally, has been very poorly subscribed to. If you (that's the readership in general) want to air your views, well, there's the opportunity.]
 
PS. The saffron buns are a tradition, so we have to use them. That said, it's a fair deal because if the mayor survives then the seagulls get to eat the crumbs and if he doesn't ..... the seagulls get to eat the mayor!
 
And, if the seagulls get out of control ..... well, that's when we dig out the major armament, the equally tradition Hevva Cake!
 
PPS. Like the idea of cyber buns. Perfect for the calorie-controlled diet!

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