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Friday, 1 August 2014

Punished for plugging Pugin: Persona Non Grata

I've been banned. I've been excluded, driven out, ostracised, shown the door. Made an example of. I'm a persona non grata.....

...and all because I posted a review on TripAdvisor.

It began all so innocently. I was as excited as a kid with a new toy. We were off to Ramsgate (where?). Ramsgate an ancient sea port on the Kent coast not a seagull droppings away from Margate and Broadstairs - the Isle of Thanet.

Ramsgate used to be posh, but like many UK sea side town it's suffered from  sex, sangria and shingles: although unlike Brighton and Hove, its beaches stretch for mile after sandy mile.

It has some lovely Regency buildings, although many are now looking extremely sorry for themselves. It has a harbour and once had a port, now disused except as a base for the ships servicing the massive wind farm stationed somewhere off the Goodwin sands.

It lays claim to being the first port of call of St Augustine, who was on a mission from Rome in the 6th Century to convert the Angles into Christians. There were Acute Angles, Obtuse Angles and Reflex Angles (discovered by Duran Duran in the 1980's) and single handedly Augustine converted them all into Right Angles.

Skipping a millennium or so we arrive at Ramsgate in the 1840's when  Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, a very strong Right Angle, decided to build his family home where Augustine's feet first fell on English soil.

The Grange next to Screaming Alley was rescued by the Landmark Trust in the late 1990's, thro' much prompting from the Pugin Society and in 2006 it was restored faithfully to Pugin's original design and opened to the public.

The Landmark Trust rescues fab buildings, castles, pineapples and pig styes, which otherwise would have been buried under acres of Travel Lodges and lets them out. The Grange is one such building.

Our friends had rented this lovely pile for 4 days this week and invited us down for the day. Going to the sea side! I love the sea, the smell of brine and the candy floss and the "Kiss Me Extremely Slowly" hats.

I checked the pressure of all four tyres, inserting the requisite puff to ensure we rolled along merrily. Didn't bother with the dip stick this time, the car having just been serviced ( reference earlier post). The petrol gauge hovered at half full. And off we set.

The journey was uneventful, other than the satnav on my phone steadfastly refusing to identify Pugin's Grange although it was happy to pin point the Grange Chinese Restaurant, the  Grange Nursery and Grange Tattoo parlour - all in Ramsgate.

We had a lovely time. So lovely in fact that I wrote a review on the TripAdvisor (TA) website: I thought more people ought to be aware of this gem of the Gothic Revival. I confidently filed my post sure that it would shortly appear gleaming on the TA website, after it was moderated...

Today I received the following:

"Dear TripAdvisor Member,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review of The Grange on TripAdvisor.

We value your contribution, and would like to be able to post it to our website. However, we are unable to publish your review because it violated the following guideline(s):

No profanity, threats, prejudiced comments, hate speech, sexually explicit language or other content that is not appropriate for our community.
NOTE: We do not publish explicit or implied profanity. This includes acronyms which contain intended profanity and profanity that has been masked using symbols.

If you'd be willing to edit and resubmit your review, we'd really appreciate it, and so will your fellow travellers! Your original review is included below so you can easily copy and paste it into the review form and make the necessary edits. You may view a comprehensive list of our guidelines here:

Best regards,
TripAdvisor Support Team

------original review-------

Subject: The Grange
Location: Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, Kent, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Title: 3 Wives, 7 Kids, 100 churches and the Houses of Parliament and this...
ID#: 218636722

What a man, what a house, what a day.

Friends who are staying at the Grange (lucky bastards), invited us down for the day. From the "Harry Potter" covered entrance to the fabulous view from the tower - unfortunately we'd left our "Jolly Roger" at home so couldn't run it up the flag pole - it is a delight.

Coffee was served in the drawing room, and a substantial lunch with fine wine in the kitchen room. The dining room was far too grand.

Every room is a delight, although my personal favourite is the bedroom at the top of the house.

In the afternoon tea on the lawn, after a visit to Pugin's St Augustine's church and before we left to return to Dickensian London and the sweltering Thames: a quick walk along the prom.

During the afternoon, we were invaded by a guided tour: already I was feeling possessive. How dear they stomp all over my house.

Luckily they only were allowed in a couple of rooms and Pugin's family chapel in the house. The guide was hugely informative - a member of the Pugin Society - do join

Did I like it? Not 'alf"

I'm dumbstruck. How is this not "Family Friendly"? The phrase "lucky bastards" might be slightly off message, but I can't believe it was that that had offended the censors at the Ministry of Love. No, I think what got these warped puritans hot under the ruff was "our "Jolly Roger" and running it up the flag pole. On reflection, it is so full of sexual imagery and inappropriateness that I'm ashamed that I could ever write such words.

I love America, Coca Cola, Ronald MacDonald and Uncle Tom's Cabin, so  I needed to find out more about where TripAdvisor originated. Newton, Massachusetts...settled in 1630. Today "its handsome housing stock, good public schools and safe and quiet neighborhoods, make it a desirable community for those who commute to Boston." No running the Jolly Roger up the flag pole there I suspect.

According to Wikipedia "The City of Newton Police Department is one of the most progressive departments in the state and has 139 sworn officers. The Newton Fire Department is fully paid and operates three ladder companies and six engine companies from six stations." Can't get more straight laced than that.

What about TripAdvisor? I have visions of rows upon rows of clerks with quill pens and red ink scratching out anything that might upset Aunt Maude of Maine in 1776.

Again my source Wikipedia suggests that it might be over-reacting to its recent brushes with the authorities.

"In September 2011, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched a formal investigation into TripAdvisor after receiving complaints that its claims to provide trustworthy and honest reviews from travellers are false." and this year "Italian authorities began proceedings for improper commercial practices against TripAdvisor."

Certainly the reviews that get past the censorial TA  are pretty colourless. I swear they have a team of estate agents writing them. I thought mine would add a dash of character.

That's life, I suppose.

 As well as being banned from John Lewis - for carrying a Lidl "for life" bag, and Tate Modern after asking whether actually being able to draw properly meant you were persona non grata, and EuroStar, after complaining about the smell of garlic, I suppose I'll have to stick to Wilko's and the Walthamstow Marshes. 


Steve said...

2411I'm shocked at the gutter level profanity that your review is deluged in. Disgusting! How dare you, sir!

Barry Coidan said...

Oh dear, that's another I've offended.

Anonymous said...

Don't take offence. Just an automatic filter blocking your review because you used inappropriate words.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a lovely trip to Ramsgate when we were first married. Didn't know though that Anglesey was nearby.

Barry Coidan said...

Anon 1: None taken

Anon2: Yes, it's moored just off the beach for the summer.

Jack the Hat said...

Went down to Southend for the day last week. Luvverly. Ramsgate is too poncy for my taste.

Barry Coidan said...

Dear JtH, I'm sure you're right. Ramsgate is far too up market for you. Margate is more to your taste I suspect.