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Sunday March 30th



Its Sunday morning 8.40 a.m. and this is a day that will be marked in history. Not only have the clocks gone forward but the smoking ban has arrived in all public places. I guess there will be quite a lot of grumbling going on in bars throughout the Island at lunchtime today. Well at least the brewery will hope there is, for if not, it will mean folks have stayed away. I do find it a bit strange though, how pubs will still be able to sell cigarettes. But then I suppose chemists sell condoms but I doubt that it is legal to use them on their premises. Well for what it is worth, I shall not be enjoying a pint in my local this lunchtime. I am still deep in the chemotherapy and therefore have to avoid public places for fear of catching an infection. So, I shall be trudging my way up the Silverburn to Ballasalla and back. Of course we are still only halfway through the Easter holiday (that is if you are a school kid). Easter holidays were always a bit special to me as a school kid. For one thing it meant that the Steam Packet boats were now sailing more than once a day to Liverpool. This meant it was easier to get home for school holidays. No more having to stay in hotels over night waiting for the 11a.m boat. I would spend most of my holiday down on the quay at Castletown. Back then the quay was a very different place than it is today. The harbour then was very much a commercial harbour. Coal, cement, gravel and timber were being shipped in to Castletown in small steamers on a regular basis. Usually these cargoes were brought in by the Ramsey Steam ship company. They had a fleet of small steamers that were small enough to get in to places like Castletown. However, from time to time, other ships were used. One such vessel was the Staley Bridge.


I recall one Easter being home on holiday from St. Vincent’s. I would have been about 9. I didn’t really know much about football but every kid in Liverpool at my school supported a football team. Most of them supported Liverpool. I needed to find a football team to support but no way was I going to support Liverpool, I hated the place. Well as a 9 year old kid, I thought I hated the place. Anyway, I found myself on the quayside in Castletown as the ‘Staley Bridge’ was unloading. I used to love to kneel on the quay and place my hands on the rails of the ship. I loved feeling the rise and fall as she lifted and then fell away with the tide. One of the crew came talking to me and I asked him what football team he supported. “Everton” he said. That was it then, I had found a football team to support. I did not know that Everton were another team from Liverpool. I returned to school and proudly boasted about my football team. There was a riot in the school playground. An Everton supporter in their midst was like placing a sparrow hawk in an aviary. I can’t actually remember the exact transfer details but, I think I came over to be a Liverpool supporter for 10 Player’s No. 6.


Anyway, the quayside in Castletown was by far my favourite place. I would sit on the belt on (the low wall on the edge of the quay) with my hands on the rails of the ship, listening to the wagons loading coal and what have you, manoeuvring just feet away from me, chains clanking, coal tubs discharging into the waiting wagons and the majestic sound of the steam winch hissing and whirling. The modern day health and safety chaps would have leaped in to the harbour and committed hari kari. There didn’t seem to be many jobs worth’s around in those days. I wonder what jobs worth is preparing to tell passengers to put their cigarettes out on the steam train from now on. Yes of course a smoke free environment in general will be much better for all. I just don’t see why we have to be so draconian about it. A few pubs where smokers can smoke if they choose to would not harm anyone who didn’t visit them. My hunch is, the pub, just like the quayside, will become a place full of history, but with very little presence.


Until tomorrow then, Tom Glassey, news at 9.50 a.m. Just about to set off along the banks of the Silverburn.

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Guest Mairead


Changes are always difficult and I am sure a lot of smokers would prefer to continue as before with smoking permitted in the pubs. But on other hand, many non smokers who have breathing difficulties have been forced to stay out of pubs for a long time. The music and friendly atmosphere can't be enjoyed by these people. If there were to be some pubs allowing smoking a lot of groups going out together would follow the smoker into the pubs that allow smoking and the non smoking pubs would lose out. This is what happened to the Railway Pub. They had no smoking for a trial but it didn't work because the nonsmokers followed the smokers. My husband is more affected by the smoke than I am so I am hoping that we both will be able to go out together and play our music in a session without the worry of smoke and it is nice not to wake up to find our clothes smelling like an ash tray. The smokers have the choice to smoke outside if they like but the nonsmokers just have to stay away. That is just what I think.


I do enjoy reading your blogs, Tom. They are very refreshing and I have the site on my favourites. Good luck and I hope you carry on feeling better and better.


Lhiats (yours in Manx) Maíréad

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