Holy Moly

In our family, it is a well-known fact that Ma makes the best pikelets in the world. Growing up, we had them most weekends and they were always presented to us as a treat; leading us to believe we got them because we were special; when, in fact, we got them because we were poor. Yes, pikelets are the poor man’s bread.

Nonetheless, we loved them and still do. Indeed, since Ma’s conversion to capitalism and her subsequent ability to afford bread, they have been in short supply and, as such, have become highly valued by my brother, sister and I.

This being so, you can imagine my annoyance when I received a text from my brother declaring that Ma had made a whole batch of pikelets just for him.

pikelets-597x800-478x640

How had he come by such prize? Turns out they were pity-pikelets. You see, he’d turned up at our parent’s house looking like this:-

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No, despite appearances, it was not a lobotomy; rather, he’d had a teeny tiny mole removed. To be fair, it was cancerous – even so…a whole batch a pikelets to himself???

With a hankering for pikelets and, coincidently, a Doctor’s appointment schedule for the following day, I decided, while there, I would trot out a few moles of my own. After all, when I go to the Doctor’s, I like to have a few ailments to discuss, to make the trip worthwhile.

So there I was at the Doctors. First I told him about a lump I’d noticed. He asked me how long I’d had it. I said, 5 years. I could tell by the look on his face that it would’ve been more appropriate to say 5 weeks…or even 5 months. Given the awkwardness of the situation, I decided not to tell him why I had left it so long.

You see, I had been subscribing to my Ma’s philosophy on lumps – leave it alone and it’ll go away (strange considering she was proven alarmingly wrong on 3 occasions – though she wouldn’t be without us). Ma’s leave it alone philosophy about sums up her entire medical ethos and, for the most part, I think she is probably right. After all, trotting off to the doctor’s willy nilly, with all manner of diseases one has diagnosed on the internet, can be embarrassing – like the time my suspected cervical cancer turned out to be constipation.

Next I showed him my moles.

Now, the majority of GPs wouldn’t know a cancerous mole from a remnant of Cadbury Flake eaten in bed the night before; hence the need for a Dermatology Department – to which one would typically be referred. I showed the Doctor my most impressive moles and, sure enough, he said they looked suspect and would have to be seen by a dermatologist. Only, he added, I wouldn’t be going with them. You see, unfortunately for molely Islanders, a Dermatology Department is not available – so all moles have to be sent away, detached from their hosts, to determine whether they need to be removed or not.

A removal appointment was made for the following week and any apprehension I fealt was allayed by the thought of fresh warm pikelets.

Soon the big day arrived and I trotted off to the Minor Ops Clinic. Naturally, having never been a fan of flesh gouging, I felt very nervous when I was sitting in waiting room.

reception

I needn’t have been. When I went into the theatre, the gouging lady took one look at my moles and declared: They’re not moles, they’re age spots. And, to make matters worse, she wouldn’t gouging them out. With my dreams of pikelets slowly slipping away, she then informed me she was going to freeze them off (perhaps all was not lost). I asked her if it hurt, and she said, yes. She was right, but I endured.

Post-op:

After my procedure I dropped in on my parents. Knowing that old-age spot freezing doesn’t have quite the same ring as cancerous mole gouging, and without a fancy bandage (I didn’t even have a plaster), I knew my chances of scoring some pikelets was limited, but it might at least be worth something.

And so it was.

scone

A stale scone

Naturally I was disappointed; until, that is, I found out that my Brother’s cancerous mole turned out to be the non-melanoma kind…so there’ll be no more pity-pikelets for him either!

Girls Night Out

Recently, my workmates (aka Daisy and Maisy) and I had a Girl’s Night out in Douglas. I use the term night loosely, because, like old-folk hurrying to catch the pensioner-special, we set off at 4.30 in the afternoon. Our early departure was, according to Daisy, in order to avoid the crowds at the restaurant. And avoid we did; when we arrived, there were only a couple of people…finishing their lunch.

Joining us for the evening were Daisy’s besties – let’s call them, Polly and Dolly. The trio have been friends for a long time and, although they are all very different, they amuse each other no end. Indeed, to enliven an otherwise dull morning at work, Daisy will regale Maisy and I with tales of their adventures.

Of all their adventures, my personal favourite are their weekly keep-fit walks; which, despite their efforts, have not yet reduced them to waifs – probably due to the fact that they typically end with paninis, coffee and cake.

Daisy, Polly and Dolly

Daisy, Polly and Dolly

Indeed, when we picked up Dolly in Laxey, on our way to Douglas, she informed us that the Butcher’s there is now a French Patisserie – selling all manner of cream-laden fancies. In light of this new information, it came as no surprise when, later that evening, Daisy, Polly and Dolly decided that their next keep-fit walk should be in Laxey.

Our dinner – come afternoon tea – was at Sir Norman’s, which is situated within the Sefton Hotel, on Douglas promenade. The restaurant’s name-sake, Sir Norman Wisdom – British entertainer and funny-man – lived on the Island from 1980, until his death in 2010. Arguably, one of Sir Norman’s finest achievements was being made an honorary citizen of Albania. Having attained cult status there, his films were among the few that were allowed to be shown in Albania during the rule of Dictator and Sir Norman devotee, Enver Hoxha.

You can’t miss Sir Norman’s the Restaurant, because the man himself is sitting outside.

Sir Norman outside Sir Norman's

Sir Norman outside Sir Norman’s

Dinner was superb, both in terms of food and company. Dolly, who lives on a farm, entertained us with stories of her favourite bovines – namely Miss Isle of Man and Frank. Just as we were cooing over a photo of handsome Frank, Polly informed us Frank had since left the farm – not, as we were hoping, on his summer vacation; rather, as Polly put it, he had gone for beef – prompting Maisy to order a veggie burger and causing Daisy to eat her Manx-beef burger with some misgivings.

Miss Isle of Man and Frank

Miss Isle of Man and Frank

Polly was excellent company too. Just as Daisy knows everything that’s going on in the North of the Island – from political intrigue to domestic scandal; it turns out, Polly knows what’s happening everywhere else – except, of course, Port Erin – no one knows what is happening down there.

After our meal, Dolly surprised us all with a goody-bag – relevant to the next part of the evening. Each bag contained a bottle of water, a packet of Minstrels and a pair of binoculars.

The lovely Daisy

The lovely Daisy

Where were we headed?

The Full Monty…the musical!!!

The show was at The Gaiety Theatre, which, as luck would have it, is next-door to the Sefton. The Theatre, the jewel of the Douglas Promenade, is absolutely exquisite. In the 1960’s it was saved from demolition and has since been lovingly restored. A fine example of Victorian craftsmanship, The Gaiety boasts the only surviving Corsican Trap in the British Isles. A Corsican Trap (aka Ghost Slide), allows an actor to rise through stage floor while simultaneous sliding along in, as the alternate name suggest, a ghost-like fashion. Speaking of ghosts, the theatre is reputedly haunted by a woman who sits in seat B14.

The Gaiety Theatre, Isle of Man

The Gaiety Theatre, Isle of Man

Having bought our tickets to The Full Monty weeks in advance – courtesy of Dolly and Daisy’s top-notch forward-planning – the anticipatory excitement was huge. While milling outside the theatre, it was apparent that we were not the only one’s eager to see what our local male thespians had on offer; a good portion of the Island’s female population were there too…divested of their husbands of course.

Such popularity made it surprising to hear that my sister in-law had declined an invitation to see the show. However, her reasoning was:

“Why pay good money to see some fat bloke get his kit off, when I can get that at home for free?”

For me, minus a fat bloke at home, the opportunity to see some men prancing about in the nick seemed like a grand idea. Turns out, not so much. You see, the whole premise of The Full Monty is: ‘ordinary men’ taking their clothes off to music, regardless of shape or size, is exciting to woman. Well, I am here to tell you, categorically, that it ain’t! At best it’s funny; at worst it’s downright traumatic.

Now, I don’t wish to be too critical; however, if you’re going prance around on stage in the nuddy then you necessarily open yourself up to appraisal; that said, unless you’re strapping and bother to work out, then striptease is probably not for you. The fact that The Full Monty propagates the myth that any old fella can have a go, and women love it, is completely misleading.

10 out of 10 women would agree: they’d rather see this fella strip…

Stripper material

Stripper

…than this one!

non-stripper

non-stripper

Of course, the predominantly female audience were generous in their applause and hooted and hollered when the fellas got stripping; which was partly kindness, partly horror and mostly amusement; what it certainly wasn’t, was attraction.

To be fair to the actors, their performances were excellent; I thought the singing was particularly good. Naturally, Polly knew half of the cast – where they worked, who they’re related to, and their place in the intricate web of Island life. As for Daisy, she thought she saw the DHL guy; however, this was later disconfirmed by one of his work mates (either that or the guy had neglected to tell his co-workers that he moonlights as a chorus stripper.)

All in all we had a brilliant evening – as one does when the food, company and entertainment are excellent. Also, I am pleased to report that the shock of seeing flaccid, pasty bodies pirouetting across the stage, has since worn off; and, although there is the occasional flash-back, I expect to make a full recovery. As for Daisy, Polly and Dolly, their weekly keep-fit walks have suspiciously changed location, and now take place in Laxey.

The Party

My work colleague and fellow Flood Inspector – let’s still call her Daisy (see previous post) – not only knows everyone in town, she is also related to half of them; indeed, I have only been here a total of six years and already she is related to me. She is the Aunty of my best friend Nicola, whose Mother was Daisy’s sister and whose son is my Godson and Daisy’s Grandnephew – confusing? Welcome to the world of Manx family connections.

Well, it transpired that Daisy and I were invited to our Grandnephew/Godson’s 3rd birthday party; what’s more, it was to be a costume party; what’s even more, costumes were to be mandatory…no exceptions…on pain of death. Although not huge fans of costume wearing, we resolved to comply nonetheless. Daisy decided to go as a sassy pirate; and I, aware of the ethical concerns of privateering, decided to go as a sailor.

Now, Daisy, in terms of girth, is what you might call a generous woman; so, it was with an impressive degree of optimism that she chose the following outfit.

Daisy's first choice

Daisy’s first choice

Worried that the costume was more I dance around and take my clothes off for money pirate, I attempted to point out its inherent flaws; but Daisy, ever hopeful, assured me that with a frilly petticoat and an elastic band, she could fashion the costume into that of sassy pirate.

Unfortunately, Daisy’s optimism proved misguided and, after much tinkering, she ended up with a costume that resembled my crack supply ran out and I’ve started turning tricks pirate. Poor Daisy was traumatised by the experience; indeed, when she arrived at work the next day, she looked ashen and shaken. I told her not to worry, as I would be visiting the House of Fun (the local costume hire place) and could look out for a costume for her as well.

The House of Fun is basically 1000’s of costumes stuffed into someone’s garden shed. It is run by a lovely couple and a Labradoodle called Max – who’s as big as a horse.

The House of Fun

The House of Fun, Ramsey

Once inside the shed, you are greeted by massive array of costumes; indeed, the sheer number of them in one small place is overwhelming.  Luckily the owners are on hand and know where everything is; all you have to do is say what you’re interested in and they can find it lickety spilt.

Inside the House of Fun

Inside the House of Fun

There were lots of sassy-sailor costumes to choose from; but with Daisy’s experience freshly in mind, I decided to play it safe and go as a potato.

Me in my costume

Me in my costume

Eventually the big day arrived. Nicola had asked me to make my famous smiley-face birthday biscuits. To be honest, I was a little surprise, considering that, while cleaning up after last year’s party, she found loads of discarded biscuits, with their smiley-faces licked off.

Smiley-face buscuits

Smiley-face biscuits

Biscuits ready and costume on, I waited for the call from Daisy to say she was on her way; for, not wanting to roam the streets of Ramsey dressed as a giant potato, I’d gladly accepted a lift from her.

Daisy looked fantastic in her sassy and (thank God for small mercies) respectable pirate costume.

Daisy with the birthday boy, Olly

Daisy with the birthday boy, Olly

We arrived early to help Nicola and her partner Matt set up for the party. Suspiciously, they were both uncostumed; but Nicola assured us they would be putting theirs on in due course. Indeed, Matt did; he wore a rather cool Jack Sparrow pirate outfit. Nicola’s costume, however, remained elusive.

Soon guests started to arrive and, horror of horrors, there was not a costume-clad adult among them. So there we were:  Sassy pirate Daisy and me, a giant potato.  Only one other adult came in costume – some poor fella dressed as a horse.

Clearly an awesome Dad!

Clearly an awesome Dad!

Lucky for me, I was gainfully employed at the party (limiting the obligatory small-talk with other adults while dressed as a potato)as Nicola had put me in charge of temporary tattoos. All the kids were really sweet; they liked their tattoos and honking the nose of my costume.

Hard at work

Hard at work, tattooing the lovely Rose.

All in all, the party was a great success; there was a disco, games, yummy party food and a delicious Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake. The kids had a great time – if the incessant screeching was anything to go by; indeed, a child’s party is like tossing a few chips to a flock of seagulls. Almost as suddenly as it began, it was all over and there was nothing left to do but pop the balloons and collect discarded biscuits with licked off smiley-faces.

Addendum:  According to section 23, subsection 8, paragraph 3 of the Friends and Relations Charter: Making your Best Friend and Aunty wear a costume to your child’s party, that you and no-body else (bar the requisite horse and Jack Sparrow impersonator) wears a costume to, is a serious breach of conduct; and carries the penalty of reparations due, in the form of baked-goods (usually chocolate brownies), in order to fully compensate said Best Friend and Aunty.

The Great Flood

There was I thinking 2014 looked set to be about as exciting as a pencil convention – indeed, the extent of my New Year’s celebrations was a text from my Dad at midnight. When, only 3 days in, a Great Flood did come upon the Island.

The story of The Great Flood involves Champagne, Fish n Chips and my refusal to have a TV Licence.

In this part of the world, not having a TV Licence means one of two things: You either watch television illegally or not at all. I choose the latter. The silver lining  is: I am spared the constant barrage of advertising, drivel from TV presenters and the depressing realities of News Broadcasts. However, the one thing I do miss – having always been a fan of the predictive arts – is the Weather Forecast. Lucky for me, I live in a building – known locally as God’s Waiting Room (on account of the fact that the average age of the residents is 90) – filled with people who love to talk about the weather; so, I need only meet someone in the hall to receive a full report.

The morning of The Great Flood began like any other: I got up early to paint and then set off for work at the local Whisky Brokers. Although I didn’t meet anyone in the hallway that morning, someone was kind enough to leave the following forecast in the foyer.

Who needs the Weather Channel!

Who needs the Weather Channel!

Once at work, the flood warning was confirmed by my workmates (to protect their anonymity, let’s call them Daisy and Maisy). Daisy and Maisy are wonderful; indeed, my favourite thing about going to work is seeing them…well, that and having the odd tipple.

Daisy & Maisy

Daisy & Maisy

The flood was due to to make its appearance with the rising noonday tide; so Daisy, Maisy and myself – as the self-appointed Ramsey Flood Inspectorate – decided we’d take a stroll around the streets at that time. Also, having already decided to retreat to my place after work for champagne and fish n chips, we thought it would be a good opportunity to place our order at the local chippy.

So, just before 12pm, we donned our winter woollies, grabbed our cameras and headed out into the flood ravaged streets. I have to say it was all rather exciting. However, progress around the various sites was rather slow; not only because some streets were impassable, but also because Daisy, born and bred in Ramsey, knows everyone in town (indeed, if she doesn’t know them, it means they are not from here) and it is only polite to stop and have a wee chat.

To give you a better idea of the state of things, here are some Flood photos.

Ramsey flood 1

St Paul’s

art-gallery-flood

Facing Market Square

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Water Street – I kid you not!

Having inspected all accessible areas, we decided we might do well to gain a higher perspective of the worst hit area. So we trotted off to the Mitre Hotel and Public House – for Flood Inspectorate duties of course.

The pub was full of regulars and mighty warm and, from the first floor windows, we were afforded an excellent view of the submerged Quay. I spoke to a nice lady about her travels and was reminded of how pleasant day-drinkers can be.

West Quay

West Quay

On turning to leave, Daisy informed Maisy and me and, as it happened, the entire pub, that we need look no further than the latter’s day-time drinking activities if we wanted to know where our hard-earned tax dollars were going. As cosy as the pub was, a speedy exit seemed to be in our best interest, so we hurried out.

On our way back to work we stopped off at the Chippy. The thought of hot fish and chips had kept us going all morning during our arduous Inspectorate duties, so, you can imagine our dismay when we arrived at the Chippy and found it closed – due to the flood knocking out its power supply. Though most inconvenient, we accepted our hardship with good grace, as one ought when faced with the calamities of a natural disaster.

The Chippy

The Chippy

Unfortunately, another calamity was awaiting us back at work. Our building, on the same electrical circuit as the chippy, was also without power. Naturally, we accepted this inconvenience with even more grace, being there was little we could do, in the way of work, without electricity.

So, with clearance from the Big Kahuna in England; Daisy, Maisy and me trotted off to my place for Champagne and – I suppose they were pretty good, but they weren’t no fish n chips – sandwiches.

Daisy, Maisy and Me.

Daisy, Maisy and Me.

A lovely time was had by all and, to this day, we all remember the Great Flood of 2014 with deep affection.