The Island is a beautiful place.

Some of us think it is better than anywhere else in the world and that’s why we have chosen to live here.

Some of us were born and brought up here and still think we have struck gold every time we see the curl of a winter wave or the brilliance of the stars in an inky night’s sky.

Isle of Wighters can certainly understand the compulsion that makes people consider purchasing a second home on our island, but it’s at times like these that we must really think about what it means to be an Island resident — to be an Islander.

Some would say that if you’re not a caulkhead you’re not a real islander — that if you can’t trace your heritage back to island born grandparents you’re not the real thing.

Others say that if you were born at St Mary’s you can just about claim your caulkhead passport.

Many of us would say that if this is your permanent home, then you are an Islander even if you are not a caulk-head.

What we all agree on is this: an islander is definitely NOT someone who buys property here for convenience sake only — for that frosty Christmas walk or the super-authentic summer Fridays on the Bay where ‘locals’ gather to munch artisan pizza.

It’s been apparent in the last year, especially in the lockdowns, that our island numbers have been swelled by too many casual users who take but don’t give.

And, if you are one of those people reading this right now while living in your second home during lockdown then shame on you.

It’s obvious you’re here, by the way. A local will have noticed and they will be judging you. They could refer you to Section 12 of the National government restrictions (November 5) and then report you. And, they should.

This Island that you consider a haven is so because it is shaped by the people living in it — all the time.

We have moulded it by our permanent presence.

If it safe for you to watch your children play in the woods then that is because we have a known community that cares for each other.

If you can bring your friends ‘Down From Town’ to chat about the quality of the ‘craft’ beers in the pubs then thank the punters who are handing over their cash daily to keep the doors open (and who resent the fact that you are sitting in ‘their’ seat).

If you enjoy browsing through the quaint village grocer’s then thank the residents of Brighstone for keeping it going on a dark Tuesday evening in January when you are sipping cocktails in Goodge Street.

Real Islanders work here, they learn here, they play here, they die here, they check on vulnerable neighbours here, they say, “good morning” to people they pass in the street here, they volunteer in libraries, food banks, mini-bus services, for their churches, kids’ groups, lifeboats…

You may think that you can escape ‘real life’ by popping over here for the duration of lockdown but don’t forget that the Isle of Wight is OUR real life.

You are reaping what we have sewn and it is selfish. You cannot buy a piece of a community — you have to be here day in and day out to create it and earn it.

If you are here and you know you shouldn’t be, you don’t deserve any part of our island.

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