When we were Manx

After her divorce from our father Mum took us to live in the Isle of Man for a year and a half. We cleared Stoke-on-Trent in a midnight runner and journeyed over on the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry. The flit was in aid of ‘getting away from it all’- our destination was a pub and Pleasure Gardens in a small town called Ballasalla. Henry, our Spanish stepfather, was to manage this for a friend of his, Larry the Greek, who had a Triumph Stag which blew up an engine every six months (this was apparently what they did); Larry taught me to make moussaka, the one he put together in the kitchen there remains the best I’ve ever had. I think he was the first person I ever saw slice potatoes on a mandolin. There was a river adjacent to the pub, and a wood nearby with a rope swing over a vertiginous incline into which we frequently fell and with scramble paths for bikes where we could break our collar bones. The pleasure facility was called the Rushen Abbey Gardens; day trippers came to eat the famous local strawberries which, in truth, were imported from Liverpool every day. I was thirteen then and, in a conceptually intact motif, was allowed to work thirteen hours a day in the canteen; Henry had some story that for me to work longer than this was illegal as they could only pay a child of my age a certain maximum wage and thirteen mutliplied by seven days a week was the threshold. I did not mind, I had access to a fridge full of choc ices which is a short cut to making friends when you are a new kid in town.

This picture below has emerged from Mum’s photos. It’s my sister on the ferry over (the midnight runner turned into a daytime crossing).
‘Who is that with her?’ I asked Mum.
‘Just somebody who was on the boat, duck,’ she replied.
‘You look good in that shawl,’ I said to Diane.
‘That’s not a shawl it’s a poncho,’ Diane replied.
‘I was always crocheting them for you, wasn’t I?’ Mum said.
‘Yes,’ replied Diane, ‘I was right into them.’

Diane goes as the ginger Macy Gray, age 6

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16 Responses to When we were Manx

  1. Christie Watson says:

    I knew there was something about you,
    Christie (Manx …)

  2. Daftburger says:

    Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
    Onward, the sailors cry
    Carry the lad that’s born to be king
    Over the sea to the Isle of Man (skye)

    Just reminded me of that, dunno why.

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    Well well. I knew there was something about you too …

  4. Chiffs says:

    Maybe it’s because the unknown girl looks like a renaissance Madonna?

  5. OS says:

    Good spot, ChiffS! xxx

    Diane had got the sort of hair that only a mum would dare comb. 😉

  6. Daftburger says:

    What a boy with a lickle penis or more to do with the sadness of having a midnight flit, a similar journey undertaken by the Young pretender possibly dressed as a woman.

    You can tell us which more accurately fits with your beloved’s story! 😀

  7. Daftburger says:

    Mr Winger sir have you seen this. IMHO the boy Jimmy Cooper has talent.


    *** contains swear words and comments that may offend***

  8. OS says:

    Good find, Daftbugger. I would have missed it. I’m glad I didn’t. IMHO, the boy Jimmy Cooper has exceptional talent. That being on the Oatcake is like finding the Koh-i-Noor in my dustbin. 😉

  9. Diane Watson says:

    we did indeed do a flit to the isle of man, and we left early one morning…I remember this as I just had time to run to my friend Beverly Baylies house and tell her of our immediate departure, and this is a photo of me on the ferry to the isle of man but taken a few years earlier, mum took me there when I was four after they fixed my heart up…you are historically inaccurate ……. but I will allow you that artistic licence. When were went all flitted we had shandy the golden Labrador with us (that you talked mum into getting you) and I spent most of the trip running around and around the deck with her, no time for sitting on strangers knees and drawing!!! My first memory of the Isle of Man is taking a bike trip to Castletown with you and bumble and the dog…and being the lovely brothers you are you left me with the dog to make my own way back, and I had to go to a police station because I had no idea how to get home.

  10. Stephen Foster says:

    He is classy to begin with but like many a m/b intellectual wannabee he gets carried away with the hubris of his overnight success and overdoes it in the end.

  11. Stephen Foster says:

    O dear : )

  12. Stephen Foster says:

    Nb: did I/Bumble go to the IOM after your heart op or was this Special for you?

  13. Diane Watson says:

    just special for me…….oh and i do seem to remember a millionaire that was interested in our mum

  14. Stephen Foster says:

    That rings a bell: pls elaborate (the IoM taxhaven is full of millionaires of course, and no doubt that ferry is full of blokes claiming to be one…)

  15. diane watson says:

    Mum still has a photo of the fella old fat and balding if my memory is correct! I am in a bumper car next to him looking very smart, wearing a cardigan as a cape only top button fastened. I dont remember that much about that trip (I was only 4 or 5) We must have stayed in a hotel because I do remember Mum sneeking off to the Bar once I was asleep….as for the millionair he might have been rich but I think mum had her eye on a spanish waiter at the time (teehee) oh and the Queen must have been in the IOM at the same time there was waving involved………

  16. bumble says:

    have you all forgotten about the skitzo cat that pooed and wee,d so much we had to shoot it ,chop it into small pieces and sell it to the chinky restaurante in liverpool !!??

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