CRINGLE: Winter was time to take a look closer to home

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IT’S winter. The date says so, the weather says so and the dark of early evening says so.

But the pages of What, Where, When in the Manx Independent give promise of lots of good things to do in the months to come.

That’s not the way it used to be.

Not, for instance, in the winter of 1946 when I was 15. It was as if everybody in the Isle of Man had left on the last boat with the last man to go charged with switching the lights off.

It was not a great place to be if you were young.

But boys had girls and we could at least go to the flicks.

The Picture House in Strand Street, Douglas, usually had the pick of the pictures.

The manager was Jim Killip and in those days cinema managers standing front of house had to wear dinner jackets, with black tie. If you started queueing early to get into the Picture House you might be lucky enough to see Jim arriving for work.

He would be in full fig – riding a bicycle and dismounting elegantly with his dress trousers in cycle clips.

If a boy and a girl were going steady – a phrase Hollywood taught us – the boy would pay for her if he could afford it. But if he was asking for a first date and he wasn’t sure if he liked her, he would arrange to meet her inside. We could see very well in the dark.

The Picture House also had a section of seating, far at the back downstairs, known as the fauteuils. It’s French for armchair and it was something of a misnomer. They consisted of double tip-up seats with no arm rests in the middle.

You could get up close and personal there and, instead of a shilling, a fauteuil cost you 1s.3d.

At the time I had a girl friend. We were both in our last school years. I would take her out for walks in the dark winter evenings. She would be wearing her school uniform raincoat.

As we walked I put my arm round her waist and she put hers round mine. When we came to an unoccupied bus shelter we would sit there and I was permitted to put my arm around her shoulder and hold her close. We didn’t get as far as developing this intimacy into kissing.

But at least I was getting my arm over on a regular basis.

Winter didn’t last. In May the visitors started arriving and the TT was on its way. Glorious summer had arrived and it was a rite of passage that boy friends and girl friends would place their relationships on hold until next winter.

In the summer time we went separately in search of fresh meat from across the water and as a rite of passage we had a right old time of it.

• MANX Radio newsman Howard Caine reported that in the semi-finals of the Japanese open tennis tournament Heather Watson had beaten Pauline Parmentier of France ‘in straight sex . . . sets even.’

It’s a good job Jeremy Hunt wasn’t playing.

• THE website of the Liberal Vannin Party declares: ‘The Liberal Vannin Party Are Committed To Building A Transparent Independent Scruitinised Government.’

The i’s have it, the i’s have it.

• THIS week’s Karl Campbell example of the way in which the Isle of Man figures in crossword clues is: ‘One hasn’t the sense to raise obstruction on an island (6) – MADMAN (Daily Mail).’

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