Tarquin fights back: The Sunday Times response to Cornwall Now

ImageMy post, in response to last week’s Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine article on Cornwall has generated a lot of debate. I thought it only fair to give the author of the piece, Fleur Britten, a chance to respond. Hats off to Fleur for engaging in the discussion. It would be very easy for a journalist to write a piece and forget about it, so credit to her for explaining her thinking.

I do think though that there was some misunderstanding of the main point of my post. Fleur comments that: “Of course, there will be locals – as there have been for a long time – who will resent tourists, as they are free to.” Unfortunately, this continues a bit of a tradition of seeing any critique of the presentation of Cornwall to visitors as being anti-tourism. As I said in my response, ‘resenting tourists’ is a ridiculous position to take. First, it makes no sense financially – visitors are vital for the Cornish economy. Secondly, it is plain illogical since any time a person leave Cornwall, they becomes a ‘tourist’ themselves! No, my point was that most articles on Cornwall in the national press have a depressing sameness about them, presenting the luxury end of the visitor spectrum which is affordable by only a small urban elite. That inevitably paints a picture of Cornwall as a playground for the wealthy. While I suppose any exposure for Cornwall as a visitor attraction in the national press is welcome, I can’t think of another region of the UK that is written about in such a caricature way. It’s as if articles on Scotland were exclusively about holidays spent grouse shooting and fly fishing while staying in a large castle and being serenaded into breakfast every day by a kilted piper.  

Anyhow, enough of all that. Here is the correspondence between Cornwall Now and the Sunday Times. Please add your thoughts in the comment section of the Blog.

From: Cornwall Now                                                

To: Fleur Britten, Sunday Times 

Re: Sunday’s article on Cornwall by Fleur Britten in the Style Magazine. As you can see, the article got me more than a little miffed. I have posted a response on my blog, copied below.

Kind regards,

Colin Bradbury (St Agnes, Cornwall) 

 

From: Fleur Britten

Dear Colin

Thanks very much for sending in your thoughts regarding my Cornwall feature in Sunday’s Style magazine – we were sorry to learn that you were disappointed by it.  

To address your issues, my role as a journalist is to report on behaviour. Whether we approve or not, this is what is happening in Cornwall, and the reader is free to form their own opinion. To be fair, I don’t think I painted a picture of Cornwall being “just another place for the affluent to go to”, rather that, as described, Cornwall has so much to offer, with its history, its culture, its landscape, its food etc. 

Some Cornish folk have written to me saying they were really pleased with the piece as it will be very good for the Cornish economy. There are many, many places in Cornwall that depend on the tourist pound – it’s not, after all, a new tourist destination. Of course, there will be locals – as there have been for a long time – who will resent tourists, as they are free to. 

In any case, thank you again for taking the trouble to write in. We really do value readers’ opinions. Your comments have been noted and taken on board; I hope that despite recent misgivings you continue to be a valued reader of our publication.

Very best wishes,

Fleur Britten

 

From: Cornwall Now

Dear Fleur,

Thanks very much for taking the time to read my response to your piece. I do appreciate that your job is to report rather than to express approval or disapproval and that’s as it should be. From the perspective of the general reader, I thought that your article was very entertainingly written and I certainly enjoyed it as a piece of prose.

The problem in relation to Cornwall is that the articles written about the county recently tend to be very much of a kind, right down to mentioning the exact same laundry list of ’boutique’ hotels and celebrity chefs. Which means that the descriptions of what Cornwall has to offer are seen through the prism of lunch at Jamie Oliver’s or a weekend at the Idle Rocks. Whether this is the intention of not, the implication seems to be that Cornwall has become another addition to the list of ‘in’ places for a certain set in S.E. England, interchangeable with the Maldives or Chamonix.

Despite the popular view of Cornwall as an insular place, I think there are very, very few people here who resent tourists – I very definitely do not – and we recognise that the economy here would be in dire straits without the tourist pound. However, you can probably understand that in a part of the country that is economically deprived, with many on poor wages in seasonal jobs, the picture of wealthy ladies merrily ploughing at high speed down country lanes in ‘Chelsea Tractors’ and boasting about the number of speeding tickets picked up in the process, is a bit hard to stomach. I suspect that there was an element of caricature in your piece and it works admirably. The problem is that we’ve seen so many of these caricatures in print that it gets a bit old! Just for once, it would be nice to see a view of Cornwall presented in the media that didn’t feature the same-old same-old.

Anyhow, I remain a loyal Sunday Times reader and thanks for your comments.

Regards,

Colin Bradbury

 

From: Fleur Britten

Dear Colin, 

Thank you for your response and for your understanding. It’s very good for us to receive these letters as it does keep us on the rails, and I really appreciate your taking the time to write such a thorough critique in your blog!

Very best wishes,

Fleur

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