Perks of being Manx: Isle of Man TT

I’ve lived on the Isle of Man since I was three and yet it was only once I came to university that I began to appreciate the Isle of Man TT.

Now, I’d probably say that the Isle of Man TT is the marmite of the island: you have the people who love it, and the people who purposely book a two week holiday to France to avoid it.

You see, the TT literally overtakes the island for two weeks during the summer. And by ‘take over’ I mean the population is doubled with leather and helmets, the roads are rammed with motorbikes with foreign license plates and there’s a huge increase in the number of accents you hear in the pub– which is unusual in itslf considering the lack of variation when it comes to the cultures on the island to start with.

But there’s several problems with it as well, especially for the residents. First, the increase in accents also means the number of people in your local is going to trip– having an hour wait at the bar is never fun.

Second, the come-overs on their bikes simply love that our little island doesn’t have a national speed limit. While in the UK you’re restricted to 70mph, over here certain sections are literally unlimited. Though you’re supposed to translate as ‘only go as fast as you can control’, many read it literally.

There’s nothing good about 100+ mph and surprise cliff edged roads.

That brings me onto my third issue: the danger.

With my vague knowledge of the TT I don’t really know much about the history, but I do know that it is to this day the statistically most dangerous race in the world.

Take out the speed, you have wildlife to worry about!

But here it is again– two weeks of revving and beer. So let’s enjoy it while the sun lasts eh!

x

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So I Crashed and Burned

For anyone who’s read my blog before, you might have guessed that I’m struggling with my postgraduate degree. The workload has meant that I’m resorting to alnighters in the library to write about topics I don’t fully understand and in all honesty, it is stressful.

But I don’t mean to complain, most people going through university will feel like this. The obvious answer is to get organised, to stop procrasinating and to get on with it– that’s what the wonderful British taxpayers are paying for.

Well today I finally crashed.

I don’t mean literally but I took the hardest mental hit I think I’ve had since I came to university. Now, I have anxiety so I’m used to waking up and just feeling lousey. Most of the time there’ll be absolutely no reason for it so I’ll force myself to get out of bed and go for a walk to clear my head, or I go to the library and throw myself into my assignments.

I refuse to let myself mope around.

Except this morning I woke up and just burst into tears.

Crying isn’t part of my normal routine, I do the sulky bitch face brilliantly but I don’t cry unless I’m drunk. The weird thing was that I just couldn’t stop. The best way to describe it is that I actually felt like my world was ending, I guess kind of how I’ve felt with serious break ups, but nothing had happened to cause it.

Well, I had had a pretty bad night out last night and I was hung over but that’s not exactly news.

So I did what any rational twenty-something girl would do, I ran back home.

Now my problem here is that I’m from the Isle of Man and I go to university in England. There’s 100 miles, a train and a sea for me to get home. So it’s not something I would often do; in fact I’ve been home twice in the past two years.

So you can imagine mum’s shock when I text her telling her I was getting the boat that night. Immediately she phoned me up:

What’s happened? What’ve you done?

(Yes, thanks mum!)

But as soon as she heard me crying she quickly accepted I was coming home and put the phone down… And then got my little sister to phone me up to find out what was the problem.

What’s happened, mum said you refused to tell her anything? You can’t be homesick, no-one would be that desperate to come home.

Like I said, it was a big deal for me to randomly go home.

But I did. And I’m slightly annoyed with myself because I’m always the one saying that running away from your problems doesn’t help; and in all honesty even at midnight I still feel horrible.

But I’ve decided that if anything is going to fix this it’s some time with my dog, some island scenery and some home cooked roast dinners.

Though if I do find a magic cure I’ll be sure to pass it along.

x

Schools and “alternative” uniform changes

So recently I was browsing through the online articles which my newspaper back home puts up. And one really caught my eye: 

Students win argument to allow wearing of nose studs.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you have anything… different? I do: I have two tattoos which some may argue are not very discreet, I have pierced ears and I recently dyed my hair with an ombré. There are several individual reasons for each of these changes that I have made, but none were to thwart authority. Though I understand that in work I should try and keep my tattoos covered by my uniform, my employer has never pushed against this. I work with a colleague who recently went out on her lunch break and returned with two piercings: a belly bar and a bright pink tongue piercing.

Now, if you don’t fancy reading the article I can sum it up pretty easily. Essentially, a group of girls who are currently in sixth form stood up to the management at the school about their rules about piercings. Now, these rules haven’t been changed since before I began high school a decade ago. It’s simple: no piercings are allowed except for a pair of studs in your ears. No hoops, no multiple piercings, no dangly earrings. 

Just one. Pair. Of. Studs.

In all honesty, this never bothered me. But getting a nose stud didn’t become the fashion until I was in year 8 and one of my “rebellious” friend’s came into school flaunting it. But she spent her time in the mobile, which would now be called a nurturing centre for “disadvantaged” students nowadays but we just called it the place were all the naughty kids went. Then a few of the “popular” girls started getting one, and then it drifted into my group of friends. One of the main highlights of the trend was the theory that you were a lesbian if you got a specific side pierced… Now that got people paranoid.

I think it was quite a small thing which the teachers weren’t particularly concerned about until it became a much bigger trend. Probably because I didn’t have one, I don’t remember if anyone got told off for having one. 

But it’s a similar thing with any changes you make to your uniform, and many I don’t agree with:

  1. Stillettos I wore five inch stillettoes throughout high school, and in year nine it suddenly became fashionable to wear dolly/ballerina/flat pumps. I never caught onto the trend and still remember being sent to the head of year’s office for my offence footwear. Apparently they were considered highly dangerous and could be used as a weapon- considering I was 13 and had never been sent to the headteacher’s office, using my shoes as a weapon had never crossed my mind.
  2. Chewing gum Now, I can see the two sides of this story. Chewing gum is unsightly especially if the person refuses to be subtle. However, there are educational theories which prove that everyone learns differently, and kinetic learners enhance their learning ability by being active while they learn. If they can’t walk around the classroom then chewing gum is the most movement they’ll be able to achieve being stationary.
  3. Do your top button up agh! Don’t even get me started! Doing your top button up is never considered cool, and it still drives me nuts when certain friends of mine do it now. It’s choking and restrictive and, you know what, it’s highly likely that that can be used as a weapon when you put a tie on. I understand that it is important to look presentable in the classroom, and it prepared you for employment, but why does it have to be all the way up to the very top and not the second to last? 
  4. Banning nail varnish Sorry, but why is this even relevant in the classroom? OK, chipped nail varnish can look nasty but even the snobs that I know (I love them really!) would die without a regular manicure and fake nails. If school is setting you up for the future then ban bad nail varnish and dirty nails.

Those are the few I can remember since leaving high school but I imagine a few more have come in since I left, are hair extensions banned yet?

In my opinion, if it doesn’t interfere with their work then go for it. Society’s changing at a much quicker pace than these high school policies are changing, and yet they’re more eager to cut out PE lessons in a increasingly obese society or create an even worse menu than let a few with a bit of an alternative dress sense slide?

An Island Girl stranded in a Multicultural City…

Being a student studying in Preston, from the Isle of Man, has made me realise two things over the past two years:

  1. I’m a lot more proud of being Manx than I ever realised
  2. The Isle of Man is different

But it’s the second point which has particularly been evident over the past few weeks. Moving on from the whole snow fiasco like I mentioned a few days ago (and which I’m sure you’re sick to death of hearing about elsewhere anyway), my taxi driver last night asked a few odd questions. Generally, when I mention the Isle of Man I expect the “Where is that?” “I went there when I was young, where about’s are you from?” or “I guess you’re obsessed with motorbikes then!” kind of introductory comments. These then might turn into typical stone age comments about the Isle of Man’s culture or [supposed, lack of] technology. Or I sit and nod while some motorbike fanatic tells me of his five different motorbikes.

What I don’t expect is “Does the Isle of Man have any Indian restaurants/kebab shops/corner shops?” which is what came from my taxi driver’s mouth last night.

Seriously?

Ironically, though, we actually have very few. Especially in the town where I’m from, we have one Chinese restaurant, one Indian restaurant, three newsagents and the only kebab shop is in Douglas and when all the clubs close at about 1am that’s where we’d all gather. If you’d lost anyone on a night out this was very useful!

Of course, in Douglas it’s different because it’s bigger and given that it’s where the port is you generally see a range of ethnicities though still, this is generally only during peak holiday time like TT. Maybe that is what contributes to our lack of take aways, since there are very few Asian families or other cultures who typically set these businesses up. There’s also no call for many take aways given our restricted nightlife.

I remember during one TT fortnight I worked in a supermarket and had one entire family speaking to me in French, without even a slight attempt at English or even some other sort of indication of what they wanted. It got worse when no other staff member in the entire store understood a word of french. We had never needed to, the community I grew up in didn’t travel, we were born and bred islanders who were very proud of that- well, when I say “we” I mean them, since I was born in Essex.

A day trip to Liverpool was all the excitement I needed.

But when my taxi driver asked me that, it really hit me and similarly when my Asian boss commented that he was going to visit one day. Ironically my first response was “considering a few years ago the front page news was the locals refusing the let the Muslims build a mosque, I probably would stay away.”

I guess I have always had a slight inclination about my community.

Now, I’m not saying the Isle of Man is racist. The one Chinese restaurant in our town is a family run business, and they’re one of the biggest factors in our community. Despite the fact others have tried setting up similar businesses, if you’re a native, you always go to Hong Kong Delight. The Indian restaurant is a lot newer, and was a shock to the system, but even that’s thriving. We do do culture suddenly.

Just nowhere near as much of it as the likes of Preston!

Snow Day!

isle of man

So at the minute my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram timelines are all crammed to the brim with one topic; no, not the football… No, not X Factor… It’s been snowing!

Now, I’m sure many of you do actually realise this since I imagine you’re in a similar situation yourself. Back home, in the Isle of Man, they’re suffering. I know they are because my sister sent me an urgent message on Facebook last night, and I know it was urgent because she never initiates the conversation. But in this case it was a matter of being stranded, in the snow. Now, it gets all the more better when she continues to explain that she’s at the Highway Man, our local pub, which is around half a mile away from our house.

And no, they hadn’t been snowed into the establishment!

That’s what amuses me about snow back home, the whole island’s been forced to a standstill by a lot less than this. We never get snow though. There’s a weird, biological or geographical explaination for this but I know it has something to do with the sea. The last time we had this much snow was when I was about five, and again that was during Easter.

I mean, seriously, did no-one let the weather know it’s the beginning of spring?

The ironic thing is though, that as I’m writing all of this about the Isle of Man. That as all my friends who are making their way home, or at least attempting to despite the cancelled flights and sailings. Is that Preston has zero snow. Well, settled snow. And yet, I’m sat here in the library with two hoodies in.

Where is the justice?

Gold Duke Of Edinburgh

So way before I started this blog I decided on something: I wanted to complete a Duke of Edinburgh award. And by “way before…” I mean back in high school. Year eight I think? I remember our PE teacher, Mrs S something or other, being there while we spoke to the local co-ordinator for our area. Me and my best friend went along.

The first meeting was a general introduction, the next we were expected to pay around £15 (I think?) to sign up. This was the interesting part because this was where we decided what we were going to do for the next six months to qualify for the award. We were only old enough for the bronze at this point but I had big dreams of completing the gold and meeting the DoE himself (I already had met and spoke to him when the royals visited the Isle of Man but that didn’t matter).

I did so few things outside of school though I really struggled to decide anything!

We needed a skill, a physical, a volunteering role and then the expedition. I signed up to volunteer with the Manx SPCA but almost straight away my DoE centre closed.

Recently, still before I started up this blog though, i’ve set my mind to it again. This time though I’m 21 and can hit the gold first time. And it’ll take me around a year and a half to complete so it’ll be no easy task.

Again I need a physical, skill, volunteering and an expedition but on a gold you add in a residential. The best part about the residential? My three months in America will strike that off straight away which is brilliant!

Now just to decide on the rest…

Day *54

So today is my last day before going back to Preston for a few more months. At the minute it looks like I’ll be heading back in April which means, apart from this last skint, that’ll be my shortest period between two visits. Which is weird since you’d imagine I’d spend longer away from home as I go through university. But I don’t think it’s purposely getting shorter. When I’m at university, I think about home a lot less than in first year. Though, on the other hand, I have started talking about home a lot more and comparing Preston to the Isle of Man… So maybe, there is something else to it.

One thing is sure though, I’m definitely not ready to move back here just yet. This entire week I’ve been updating Twitter and Facebook much more, even running up a huge phone bill due to the roaming charges. I’ve been hassling friends back in Preston, reminding them that I’ll be home tomorrow. I can’t imagine moving back in with my mum and sister either, especially without a guaranteed job here on the island. Mum hassling me for rent when I was 16 and had a job was bad enough!

At least, if anything, this visit’s helped me get my head straight though. I know I want to be an Educational Psychologist. The practical placement has also helped set a few theories that I’ve been learning about into my head. Which is actually fantastic! Even if it has got me itching to get back into the library…