Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1988: Slowing down

Have you ever been to the Isle of Man? Funny isn't it.

Quiet, rugged, bleak, not a lot there. I had my one and only visit to date in the summer of 1988 for a schoolfriend's wedding. She was only 22 and was the type of person who attached herself limpet like to men and never let go. I once made the mistake of lending an ear and never heard the end of it. I just had to stop returning phone calls in the end.

But by this time she's sorted herself out and was marrying a soldier. Very young to do so even then, but marrying she was. And in the Isle of Man too.

I had no money. I had no chequebook, no chequecard, I worked in a job that paid me in cash - and not much of it. What was I going to do? I know, why don't I get in touch with another old schoofriend and family friend of the bride and see if there was anyway I could cadge a lift, despite not having seen or heard from him in four years? No problem. All I had to do was get myself to Billericay and we'd drive up.

It was going to be fun, made even better by being told on arrival I had Morrissey hair, which was just the ticket. So after a nightout in a rather subdued Billericay we set off for the Isle of Man ferry north of Blackpool. All the way up it was Touchy! by A-ha, every hour it seemed. Lunch at that groovy space-age Forton services on the M6, when you could still eat in the tower, then onto Heysham.

It was only as we were sighting land that I realised I'd left my suit hanging on the back of the door in Billericay. Again, no problem. His parents, who were flying up, had spotted it and packed it for me.

We had a great room, lovely see view and a day to kill before the wedding. We palled up with two sisters who were also invitees and hit the, er, town, which wasn't even Douglas, IIRC. I can't remember what it was but it was tiny. But there was a record shop in which Rush Hour was playing, and which always takes me back to walking along the seafront, ducking into the deserted aquariaum and breathing in air so fresh I've never experienced its like since. A more incongruous song/situation combo there has never been.

That night we went to a club with all the groom's army mates as a kind of stag do. It was a hoot, dancing to Damien's The Time Warp in something like a suburban bungalow with French doors out onto a garden. Everyone was very well-behaved - no squaddie fights here. The only hitch was the decision to throw the groom down a riverbank which involved his spraining his ankle and walking up the aisle on cruthces, much to his mother's absolute fury. And it poured with rain. But it was great fun. I'm dying to return to Man.

Anyway, they're divorced now. And I still owe my mate a tenner. I've not seen him since.

I'm unsure as the point of this story.


  1. What a carry on - do you remember where in Billericay? I lived there from 82 - 86, and worked there until 87..

    The Red Lion and the Chequers were the recommended pubs at that time or the Fontainebleau cocktail bar for something more fancy

  2. The Isle of Man via Essex. An unusual route. Sounds a laugh of a weekend.

    I rediscovered Rush Hour only last week. It still sounds fresh and chipper, which is more than I can say for me.

  3. I have no idea Mondo. I may remember some details, but not all!