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Donkin's World: Two Minutes Hate

Richard Donkin confesses that The Daily Telegraph can be counted on to stir up his ire.

In George Orwell's 1984, people gather round each day for the Two Minutes Hate, a concentration of projected bile at whoever or whatever is upsetting Big Brother on that particular day.

I find that buying the Daily Telegraph does the same job. It brings my blood to the boil with the speed of a microwave oven and it usually does so from unexpected quarters although its female columnists have proven a reliable source of irritation.

Recently it was Judith Woods writing about the island of Tresco http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/familyholidays/8366854/Tresco-pinch-me-Im-dreaming.html for no other reason than that is has been rumoured that the Royal newlyweds might be spending their honeymoon there and that a film has been made about the Scillies called Archipelago. http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/89071/archipelago.html

In one unsubstantiated rumour and one class-ridden column-cum-feature the Daily Telegraph and, perhaps unwittingly, the Royals, have ruined the Scillies, possibly for good. The Scilly Isles work as a holiday destination because not many people go there.

Not many people go there because there isn't much to do when you get there. And this is the big appeal for what Woods calls the "upper middles" who are prepared to spend good money trying to recreate an Enid Blyton adventure for their children, replete with rock pools, crabs, bladderwrack, tartan travel rugs and a little wooden boat that is not unlike The Swallow in Swallows and Amazons. http://www.richarddonkin.com/sailing_Swallows.shtml

To cap it all there is a ridiculously large picture of Woods standing by an empty beach with a wine glass in her hand. Why?

She is at pains to tell us that part of the exclusivity of Tresco is the cost of getting there and staying there - a bit more than your average package to Ibiza.

Woods is a sharp writer and a sharp observer, so she's careful to step aside from her fellow London-centric chatterers for a bit of in-joke leg-pulling with comments about Boden-on-sea and a "Truman Show sense of staginess" that is spot on in describing Tresco.

But she is equally careful to include herself among the cognoscenti who have nothing better to do in their north London enclaves, it seems, than choose safe stripy tee-shirts and canvass slacks from the Boden catalogue.

This stuff makes me so sick I want to seek out the nearest tattoo parlour and get a stud in my nose. But behind this rage, possibly at its root, is that I too love the Scillies and had a wonderful holiday there once when the children were young, not on Tresco but on Bryher (which the cognoscenti can tell you has none of the pretensions of Tresco). And yes, at the time, we ran a Golf Gti (Mk I, black, silver stripes) wore Barbour jackets and green Hunter wellies.

In those days the islands were just as twee but they were appealingly unfashionable, confirmed so in people's memories as the place that Harold Wilson and his wife Mary spent their summer holidays, stretching out the pound in his pocket.

As the hate subsides and I come to the end of her feature, I'm prepared to give Woods and her colleagues another chance to redeem themselves in the Donkin household. She writes well and the piece is finely observed.

All it needs is a suitable ending with the ritual burning of a journalist outsider in a giant Wicker Man fertility sacrifice, thus preserving the timeless ritual of birth, death and renewal in a place where you only need to come from Devon to be classed as an ethnic minority. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070917/

I can face the day now, prejudices intact. By tonight the newspaper will be in the bin. Tomorrow there'll be another one and Two Minutes Hate all over


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