The marmalade contest in the United Kingdom (see last issue’s Reporter’s Notebook) looks interesting, if not amusing. But I will not be competing. It wouldn’t be fair! After all, a Rolls Royce is the best car in the world by acclamation. So it is with my marmalade!

Because it is impossible to get Seville oranges (the bitter kind) here, I use three fruits: grapefruits, oranges, and lemons or limes. These fruits have very few pips (used to extract the pectin, which makes the mixture set), and artificial pectin is hard to come by, so I struggle with every batch.

But tell me, has Mr. Tacon’s marmalade gotten gubernatorial (several) approval? Has it gotten Foreign Office approval? Has he sold eight jars of his marmalade for more than $700 at auction? Is there a lady, loosely connected to minor aristocracy, who will do almost anything to get a jar of his marmalade? Has he made and sold more than 100 jars in the past two months and given the proceeds to charity? Does he have people ringing up for more? Will his marmalade be served at the Duke of Gloucester’s breakfast table? (Will mine?)

So, marmalade makers of the Virgin Islands, unite! Duncan, Janet, Aileen, Ingrid, Yvonne and so on, lets send off this interloper with his jar of “marmalade” back to the land of “swallows and Amazons.”

The condo owners at Lambert Beach must see the world through rose-tinted spectacles. I have taken visitors down there four times in the past six weeks. The pool is being well maintained, but the road is falling apart, the lawns are uncut, the bushes and trees are growing out of control, the paths are almost obliterated by growth, the beach is littered with broken, half-buried chairs, and the restaurant is defunct. This is a secret we certainly shouldn’t shout about!

Congratulations to the winner of X Factor, whatever that is. She claims roots in the VI, but Florida, where she was born, claims her as its own. Her supporters there certainly got plenty of exposure on the television. Watch out for a “she-is-ours” war, and see who wins.

I can’t help feeling the BVI Tourist Board, now under new management, is barking up the wrong tree. Paying consultants to advise on “greening” our resorts will not have the slightest effect on whether tourists come here, or choose a particular resort for its garbage policy. More to the point, in visiting those places, did they not notice the terrible roads, scrap cars and general trash, both by the roadside and on private properties? This is not to decry any attempt to clean up the islands and institute a sensible recycling policy.

I often wonder about an attitude towards retailing and shopping that I have noticed in the Caribbean. Two establishments this Christmas raised my concern. Despite much advertising, OneMart seems to have been turned into a “pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap(ish)” warehouse. This revamp is not a patch on the store when it first opened a few years ago. But I suspect that VI residents actually like shopping in that sort of store!

The other worry is the Island Department Store, otherwise known as “The God Shop.” When the store relocated to its present site I commented that it was nice to see the owner moving into the 20th Century, but it would have been even nicer if he had moved into the 21st Century.

The laborious process of purchasing and paying was exposed just before the holiday when some 50 people were queuing to have their purchases listed by hand, and another 50 were queuing to pay and collect! Why on earth don’t they have a row of supermarket-style checkouts, with computerised tills? I don’t think there is a computer in the place. Having all those small items behind the counter where you cannot browse is extremely inconvenient and puts shoppers off, even if it is to deter thieves. Checkouts would alleviate this problem.

TV channels

The change in allocation of TV channels has been raised again. I don’t know the real reason we have to have so many Spanish-speaking channels, but former Communications and Works Minister Julian Fraser is right when he says that the previous channel allocations were actually pirated, and therefore illegal. If St. Thomas can have English-speaking channels, why can’t we? International boundaries again?

The Beacon thrives on a little conflict, and the pro and con arguments for expanding the airport are an example. I tend towards the cons and wonder where the government now stands.

The Digicel $60,000 Christmas giveaway gave qualifying customers the chance to pick up cash and vouchers in a wind machine, provided they were able to answer some holiday-related questions. Most were pretty easy, but one flummoxed the competitor and me: Who wrote the play Twilight Night (sic)? Was it (a) some name; (b) another name; or (c) William Shakespeare? Not surprisingly, the competitor did not know the answer, even though the question was repeated, as stated, several times. I don’t know the answer either. Is there a play called Twilight Night? Was it a typing error? Was the question misread? Were they thinking of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”?

Perhaps it was meant to be Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare?

A belated happy new year to all readers.