Free Portland News
September 2019 by Keith
More tales of the unexpected.
I have a fan – a lovely young lady.
This lovely young lady had won a ticket in a raffle – breakfast for two at a local hostelry - and so she invited me to join her for breakfast to chat about Rotary, polio, FPN, what we are doing, what else we can do etc. etc. etc.. Now I am sure it will come as a massive surprise to FPN readers that anyone should want to take me out to breakfast, but it is true. A lovely idea and, in a thoroughly enjoyable two hours while eating a delicious breakfast, we put the world to rights and, indeed, solved all the problems of the world – in theory. Sometimes Rotarians get very blinkered and it does them good to have an outside opinion on what we are doing and where we are going. Thank you so much to the young lady concerned.
I have been congratulated on our success against polio, but FPN readers will remember that I have been giving warnings for several months. We had what I should perhaps call a break-down in communication in Pakistan and a lot of children were stopped by their parents from having the polio vaccine – for a variety of reasons. The result was inevitable. As at the time of writing there have now been 66 cases in the world, and 53 of these have been in Pakistan. This is our highest number for a year or two. Still not a massive number, but the warning, perhaps particularly apposite at this time because of the measles and other epidemics, is that, if we allow our guard to drop and immunisation levels to fall, epidemics will once more become pandemics. It looks very much as if Pakistan will have the unenviable reputation of being the last country to eliminate polio. Having said that, we said the same about India but India has been polio-free for something like six years. However, the news of a possible cease-fire in Afghanistan is very encouraging. Who knows, if Afghanistan can get rid of polio, maybe the message will pop across the Khyber Pass and Pakistan will soon follow suit.
I am delighted to be able to tell you that we now have two more defibrillators in situ on the island to add to the ones already mentioned in previous editions of FPN. I hope they will never need to be used, but they are there, primed and ready to go should the need arise. They are situated at Fancy’s Farm and in the Weston Scout Hut/Community Hall at the junction of Weston Street and Weston Rd..
The other good news, from my point of view, is that I have just spent a very happy early morning half hour at Portland Bill removing money from the Wishing Well – donations given by all and sundry. Interestingly, apart from the usual UK monies and the inevitable Euro cents, this time we have twenty six Grosz, fifty five Forints, fifty Sen from Malaysia, and two Rands. Whether this reflects the varying number of visitors coming to the island, or whether this is a bonus from the cruise liners that now favour us with their custom, I know not. But I have discovered that those who go up the lighthouse to the very top receive a badge to mark their achievement. How do I know? Because a large proportion of these find their way into the wishing well also. Unfortunately after a day or so in the water they rust and cannot be used again. Finally my thanks to the most generous person who so kindly deposited in the well a present from his or her dog, nicely wrapped in green plastic. Those we are trying to help will surely benefit from such a magnificent gift.
Farewell Basil - and Spot
I have been surprised but, perhaps, not markedly so, by the response to my last article and others in the past, describing the various “goodies” that have been left in the Rotary wishing well at Portland Bill. I will not list them all again. I appreciate that there are many, many illiterate people around who cannot read the wording explaining that the donations put in the well are to help others less fortunate than ourselves. And I also appreciate that there are many whose knowledge of our language does not extent as far as understanding that the word donation means a gift to help others. I am talking about the mindless morons who cannot think for themselves and take the easy way out and simply drop rubbish wherever they want. Walk around the island and you will note that it is littered with poo bags, and other debris, hidden behind stones, dropped on the path, hung on fences etc..
Why am I so angry? I bang on about polio, disasters, starvation etc., but one of Rotary’s big interests is the environment – perhaps very appropriate at the time of writing. But yesterday I watched Basil, the patriarch, and his mate, Spot, being removed from their enclosure on Old Hill. Basil and Spot are, or rather were, goats and had been put on Old Hill to help control the undergrowth and foliage and were doing a magnificent job – until they were killed. For Basil and Spot are no more. We believe they were killed by ingesting poo bags that unthinking idiots had simply thrown into their enclosure. The bag bursts when eaten and the goats choke and die. I am not saying this is deliberate vandalism but, now that the growth on Old Hill has been controlled, it is possible to see the poo bags, cans, wrapping paper, plastic containers, bottles, jars etc. that have been, for the most part thrown over the fence. I accept that some debris blows in because of the strong winds we experience at times on Portland, but one only has to watch people walking along the lane eating or drinking, to see what they do with whatever is left. And of course it is not just Old Hill – we have this problem all over Portland but at least we now have bins on New Ground for rubbish. We talk about protecting the environment, but the environment includes all the wildlife as well and we wipe that out at our peril.
All Basil and Spot wanted to do was eat, sleep, procreate and have their noses tickled by passers-by but, sadly, they will do it no more. Please, please, take your litter, your cans, your food containers and your poo bags home with you – or put them in the bins provided. A year or two ago we had a campaign to get rid of the “grot spots” on Portland and Weymouth. Maybe the passing of Basil and Spot will wake us all up to the damage that we are doing to the nature that surrounds us. Rest in peace.