Being a mum of little people I end up watching rather more CBeebies than I ever imagined!
The other day we were watching an episode of Katie Morag, a wee drama set on the fictional Scottish Isle of Struay. In the episode Katie is worried her family are going to have to move away from the island when their Landlords wife, Mrs Cavendish decides that she wants to live on the island and in the property where Katie and her family currently live and run the local shop and postal service.
Katie decides to try and put Mrs Cavendish off the island by taking her on a tour that results in the lady getting bitten by midges, falling in a bog and losing one of her smart shoes and getting covered in seagull poo. But none of this puts the wife of their landlord off – she is determined to oust the Morags and make their home her own. That is until Mrs Cavendish finds that Katie’s mum already knows what has happened, a neighbour turns up with cream for her bites and someone else returns her shoe from the bog all cleaned up. Various people had witnessed what had happened to her and were responding with kindness and concern but she sees it as people spying on her, being busybodies and the idea of living in a community where people might know her business is horrific.
Katie Morag reflects that it is very strange that despite showing Mrs Cavendish the worst parts of the island she wasn’t put off and yet when she was shown what Katie feels is the best bit – a community that looks out for each other she couldn’t get away fast enough.
Being part of a community like that is something I love about living on the Isle of Wight. We’ve a much bigger population than any of the Scottish islands with over 140000 people living here and yet there is still a strong sense of being interconnected, of people knowing each other or at least knowing someone else who does! You go to the local shops and you have to be prepared for it to take longer than you think because you’ll bump into someone you know in the bread aisle, and by the tomatoes, and by the loo roll. And then of course there’s no rushing at the checkouts because the person in front of you is chatting to the lady on the till.
When I lived and worked in Surrey I found life was very compartmentalised. You had friends and acquaintances at work, and different friends from where you live, and different friends from church and different friends from your slimming group or exercise class or parent and toddler group and none of these friendship circles really ever mixed.
In contrast here in the West Wight I can meet someone at the sports centre that I also go to church with and in my exercise class there will be someone else I also know from work. The mum I see at toddler group also goes to my slimming group, and at that slimming group is a friend who I know from one of the other churches in the area. At the beach I’ll see a lady from round the corner who’ll let me know how her Dad is because my husband saw him two days ago in his job as a paramedic. And when you have a summer BBQ and you invite your friends from all these different areas of your life it’s not awkward because they’ll find they are already connected in some way that you never realised.
I absolutely love the interconnectedness of island life and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to embrace it – but it’s clearly not for everyone. The lady who lived in our house before us said they left the island because they found it too claustrophobic… apparently she and her husband kept very much to themselves. I know everyone is different but I find that sad.
Just three months after we moved to the Isle of Wight I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. It was caught early enough that I’m still healthy and well now but it still required ‘the full works’ of treatment to rid me of it and prevent a recurrence. As we were presented with the treatment plan we considered moving back to Surrey, closer to family and friends. But the island friends, work colleagues and acquaintances just weeks in the making supported us and blessed us and showed us what being part of the community here means.
The past year of the Covid Pandemic has in some ways maybe squashed many aspects of our community life but it’s resilience has continued to shine through. Our local sports and community centre became a help hub with the support of the local churches and many many volunteers. It’s also more recently become a vaccination centre under the neighbouring GP surgery and has achieved the highest rates of vaccination in the whole country. Being blessed with beaches and open countryside we can easily get out for walks and whenever you meet anyone warm hellos and short conversations take place whether you know each other or not. The NHS Trust considered one of the most vulnerable in the country to being overwhelmed by Covid has stood up to the challenge and the island community has blessed the staff there with their support too.
Yes there are things about island life that can be frustrating but there are so many aspects that make it a very special place to live – not least the interconnectedness and sense of community that can be across the island.
We thank God that he called us to move to the island and make our home in the West Wight – we are greatly blessed.
One thought on “The Blessing of Interconnectedness.”
So true, Katie and what a brilliant link with the Katie Morag story! ( I was at school with the creator and illustrator, Marie Hedderwick!) Gill & Peter