Have you ever noticed how we say ‘in Britain’ but ‘on the Isle of Wight’? I hadn’t – not till Mark mentioned it this morning. ‘Why do we do that?’ he asked, as though I were the fount of all knowledge. ‘Maybe it’s because you’re on an island?’ I suggested.
‘Yes, but Britain is an island,’ he pointed out. He had me there – and I started to think about why it was that we do that. And I think it boils down to the fact that the Isle of Wight is a small island, so that you think of it a bit like standing on a rock; almost as though when you’re on it, you’re visible on the horizon. Hence we say on the Isle of Wight, on the Isle of Man but in England.
‘And what about Madagascar?’ Mark put in. I thought about it. ‘We say in Madagascar,’ I said. ‘Must be because it’s a big island.’
That set me thinking about the Isle of Man. Incidentally, did you know that in Middle English ‘wight’ means ‘man’, so really the Isle of Wight is the Isle of Man? There’s a fun fact to keep you going over Christmas… But I’ve never been to the Isle of Man, and apart from going to see the TT races, I can’t think of any reason why I’d want to. They were the last place to abolish hanging and they had the birch for punishment until about 2010. It’s probably a haunt of UKIPpers now, unless they want to secede from Britain altogether and set up their own benighted state – which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Oh, wait – apparently it’s still a Crown Dependency which means it’s self-governing in all but defence and foreign policy. And they’re not part of the EU, which means they can get away with stuff like this:
The Isle of Wight, however, is closer both physically and culturally to the mainland. Looking like a bit of biscuit broken off from the main cookie (or mother-cookie, if you will) it is mostly a holiday destination. It is warmer in every sense, too; hosting cultural events like the revived pop festival as well as yachting races and jazz festivals. Very hard to imagine a jazz festival on the Isle of Man, though I wouldn’t mind going to see the TT races some time:
Anyway, that’s all for today. If you haven’t taken a look at my Mslexia post, go and do so now: