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Thursday January 22nd



Hello folks. Yes I am back again and so soon! Well no not really, I have come out of retirement to write a very special blog dedicated to a very special person. My Uncle Norman (Gregson) or Normie as he liked to be known, followed all my blogs. He didn’t have a computer, but he made sure each week that they were printed off for him by someone in an office. Norman sadly past away on Tuesday morning, he simply never recovered from a so-called ‘not to serious’ operation. I was extremely close to my Uncle Normie. He was a very special person and I am more than happy to be delivering his Eulogy in the Abbey church Ballasalla next week.


By some very strange irony I found myself in the chemo ward at Noble yesterday. I was about to begin chemo again for the second time. Last year I was on this very same ward receiving my chemo and just across the passageway lay my Dad. He had died that morning. Yesterday Normie lay just across the passageway having died the day before. Now let me try and give you a brief insight in to Normie’s life. He was a wonderful friend, never let you down and always there for you. I recall a time back in the early 80’s when I had relocated to North Wales. I had gone there to learn a bit about restoring antique furniture. I had taken up residense in a flat, which was on the top floor of an old folk’s home. Hardly ideal, but with very little money I could not afford to be fussy. I had only been there a few days and was still feeling my way round. I had taken to nipping over the road to a little pub called the Castle. This was in the town of Abergele. I knew absolutely nobody; neither did I know my way around. I didn’t know the names of any streets or how to get to the nearest shop even. I remember sitting in the Castle Pub this night having ordered a pint and trying to make it last because I only had about a quid left. There was no one I could turn to for help as I did not know anyone. I sat there almost crying in to my beer, when all of a sudden the door of the pub burst open and a voice I knew only to well roared across the bar. “Never fear Toma, Normie’s here” Norm had been visiting his sick Mother in a hospital in Wales somewhere and tracked me down. Within seconds he had pulled up a bar stool ordered his Bacardi, a pint for me and drinks for the landlord and anyone else that was within arms reach at the bar. He even managed to talk the landlord in to giving him a lift to Liverpool the next morning in order to catch the boat, and I enjoyed my first lock in in Abergele since my arrival. We staggered home at some ungodly hour and turned in for the rest of the night. The following morning Normie had woken on time, dressed, made tea and on leaving, he tossed a handful of fivers in to my bed. In a flash he was gone almost as quickly as he had arrived. That was Normie. Whenever I was heading for trouble, Normie just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Back in about 1970, Normie had not been over here very long. He had relocated back to the Island from Coventry and gone into business with my Dad, landscape gardening. The bowling green in Port Erin is a monument to his work. Anyway I was returning to college in Birmingham where I was hoping to become an engineer. Normie was at the same time travelling back to Coventry to collect his daughter Mandy. She had been staying with her Gran, the fantastic Dolly, a living font of human kindness. Well Normie and I boarded the Manx Maid and set sail for Liverpool on what turned out to be the roughest crossing for 4 years. We both sat in the passenger lounge, and as the ship sailed out of Douglas and got further and further out to sea, so she became a tossing pancake. Everytime she took a roll to starboard, every dish and table crashed down the length of the deck, and then all came back on the return roll. Any old man spotting his opportunity positioned himself across the open door to the deck and began catching all the passengers as they were hurled from one side of the lounge to the other. Normie decided to set himself up as the official commentator of this malarkey. He described how the old man was hanging on to the lady passengers much longer than he was the men. Normie thought it was great crack. Soon we were hit by a huge sea which dislodged us out of our seats and sent me and Normie crashing to the floor. I landed on top of Norman and he couldn’t do anything because of the fit of laughter he had gone into. Eventually he pulled himself together and we managed to get the seat firmly back in position. Every passenger was throwing up and we were the only two who were wrapped in delirious laughter, lying spread out in the middle of the lounge floor. We eventually we got into Liverpool and boarded a train to Birmingham where Normie regaled the passengers in the carriage with the story of our epic sea voyage. I was starting to think we had just crossed the Atlantic. Eventually someone sniggered “Where have you sailed from?” There was much laughter when we replied “The Isle of Man.” In Birmingham Normie got off the train and came with me to the college before continuing his passage to Coventry. I had a small homesick tear in my eye as I climbed the college steps. I didn’t turn around but I know Normie was weeping too as he trudged his way back down the college driveway. God bless my Uncle Normie, I shall miss him terribly. He has not gone forever though. I will join him again at some point in the future. Until then, Goodbye my very special friend. We part yet again with tears in our eyes, but this parting is not forever. Only a tiny part of you has died. Our love and friendship is still here and will never ever die.


Now I know you are all enjoying Barbara’s blogs. I have not returned to takeover again this has been a special blog for a very special person. For the record though, I am now back on chemo and already feeling much better. You are still of course more than welcome to email me at tomglassey@manx.net.


For the time being though, good bye people and farewell from Tom on the banks of the Silverburn River.


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