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Monday October 27



Hello folks, it’s bitterly cold today, and the wind has swung round to the Northwest. They say it will be even colder tomorrow and for the rest of the week. We have to go to Douglas later; gosh it seems like a bit of an ordeal now to go to Douglas. It has to be something really important to make me go to Douglas.


When I was a youngster, going to Douglas was really exciting, even though it was a lot more hassle in those days. For one thing you had to catch the bus. Today you just jump in the car and you are there in 15 minutes. None-the-less heading off to Douglas on the bus as a kid with Mother and my brothers was a really exciting adventure. The bus itself was an exciting mode of transport. There was a unique smell about those route master busses. Maybe it was the paper in the conductor’s ticket machine, and the carpeted seats. Once in Douglas, Woolworths was an absolute heaven, the greatest toy shop in the world. It was even more special if you had an Aunt Trudy working on the sweet counter. I wonder can you be still prosecuted 45 years on. Well she didn’t really nick the sweets; it was just that the scales didn’t always work properly and gave half a pound instead of a quarter. Still I guess that when the accountants got round to doing the annual accounts for Woolies, they didn’t notice the few pounds of sweets my Aunty Trudy had mislaid throughout the year. To a kid that grew up in Castletown, Douglas was exciting, busy and vibrant. If you were there at 8.55 or 2.55, you would hear the Isle of Man Steam Packet vessel blowing her whistle to either announce her departure or arrival from Liverpool. You seldom hear the Ben My Chree blow her whistle these days. If going to Douglas once a month was a treat for me, then for some folks on this Island, it was a once in a lifetime experience. When we lived in St.Johns in the late 80’s, I once met a chap who was standing outside the village shop, and he told me he had not been to Douglas since 1938. I even met a chap in Bride who told me he had not been in to Ramsey for 5 years. I myself have never been abroad, apart from a day trip to Norway. I know of one certain gentleman who lives in Port Grenaugh who has never left the Island, and it’s not Donald Gelling. A neighbour of mine back in the 60’s had supported Everton all his life, so one day he decided he would sail across to Liverpool on a day trip and watch them play at Goodison Park. When poor old Ned arrived there, he decided he didn’t like it very much and tried to leave the ground. The only trouble was that 45,000 people were travelling in the opposite direction. Ned returned home to Castletown safely on the boat and for the rest of his life he confined his sporting aspirations to turning out for the Duck’s Nest dart team on Tuesday nights.


I spent 11 years of my young life in Liverpool, and much of that time was spent watching the ships on the banks of the Mersey. Now, just like my neighbour Ned, I am happy to confine myself to walking the banks of the Silverburn.


This is Tom Glassey, reminiscing on a bitterly cold October day, on the banks of the Silverburn River.


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