CRINGLE: Tower of Revenue

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GRIZZLED veterans of making the once perilous journey out to the Tower of Refuge looked on with amused indulgence when those 2,000 other people did it.

My office window overlooks Conister and, as the walk coincided with the cocktail hour, I observed the event with friends and a few snifters and bored the latter breathless with my relentless reminiscences of doing it when it was nothing like as easy as it is today.

For one thing, there was no causeway like the one built a few years ago so that building materials could be hauled out for carrying out repairs to the tower.

The only way to get out dry shod was to walk on top of the 19th century sewer pipe which leads out to seaward of Conister. This is curved and always covered in slippery wet seaweed.

When their mothers didn’t know is I took my young children and grand-children out that way.

They were unconcerned about the risks of falling into the sea. They were fully focused in breathless wonder on what was streaming out under their feet.

But those days are gone and I read in the Manx Independent that the walk is to be repeated, again organised by the Douglas Development Partnership and sponsored, with admirable opportunism, by Tower Insurance.

I can see the future now . . .

There will be Sunday School trips out to Conister, picnics for members of the WI and the Mothers’ Union, and intrepid people in wheelchairs will do it for charitable purposes.

In TT Week the likes of Steve Colley and David Knight and Conor Cummins will ride out on their rear wheels.

Young mothers will take their children out during the school run in their four-wheel drive Toyota Tiger Tanks.

Mark Cavendish? I don’t know about that. But I think Infrastructure Minister David Cretney and the First Deemster might jog it.

Of course, there will have to be refreshment facilities on Conister. The Tower of Refuge will be licensed with all drinks served on the rocks and there will have to be stalls selling pizzas and burgers.

Mind you, the latter idea is nothing new. In the long ago, when visitors hired rowing boats to take them out to Conister, there would be local ladies there who had been rowed out with stands from which they sold mineral waters and ice cream.

One who did it is Celia Cringle (no relation and wife of Peter) who was known as the Queen of Conister and who I am still hoping will tell me about it for Times Past.

Finally, there will be annual outings for us grizzled veterans. Naturally we will disdain the causeway. It will be the Poo Pipe for us.

• I HAVE been told, in strict anonymity, that the Isle of Man Courier’s outdoor bowls championships report said: ‘The favourite for the crown is Margaret Thatcher . . .’

No it wasn’t. It was really Margaret Tasker.

• I RAN into my old friend and former senior Douglas fire officer Godfrey Cain in the car park at Winerite and he told me he had a bad shoulder. I asked him what had happened.

‘Fell off a ladder,’ he said, before he could stop himself.

Oh how we laughed. Certainly I did.

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