Root and branch review

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A CRINGLEGATION of Cringles, by which I mean my lot, has been taking place in the Isle of Man and it was the first gathering of its kind for a long time.

There were between 30 and 40 persons present and more than half of them pitched up from elsewhere, which means some had never been here before, especially young children.

Having established these basic elements I must explain that what follows is not about the people concerned in any detailed personal way.

Big reunions of members of a far-flung family with Manx roots are not all that common.

My theme is the sort of things which happen on such occasions, and let me say first that there was no fighting, perhaps because it was a birthday party and not a wedding.

It was the birthday of my cousin Christine, daughter of Auntie Eileen. She was 70 without managing to look it. It was her husband’s idea to come to the Isle of Man to celebrate.

The oldest person present would have been Auntie Elsie but, going on for 90, she was not quite up to it, so I was the senior senior citizen on hand for the birthday lunch at the Abbey Restaurant at Ballasalla.

The children were on best behaviour and I sometimes caught them looking up at me in some awe, wondering who the portly old buffer with the shiny white hair must be.

Of course, there had to be a group photograph on the lawn outside the hotel in the sunshine, with one of the waiters wielding the camera.

He stood on a small rise to get a better view but had to call upon some persons in the middle of the group to bend their knees a little.

We whom he addressed were just able to manage it without grunts of pain and fearful grimaces. I might add in this connection that only two of the gentlemen had walking sticks.

There was also the latest recruit to the family, a radiantly beautiful and composed girl called Venice, who has been ushered in by marriage.

There was less than a handful of smokers and few non-drinkers.

Many were making acquaintance with others for the first time. There were names and relationships flying through the air. I had to work hard to keep up. I had to play my 80-year-old card when I crashed.

Not everybody left the Isle of Man immediately after the celebration. There were smaller follow-up groups. One I was at focused on efforts to compile a family tree.

This was when I learned that there was a family connection with a lady now gone from us and known as Dirty Gertie.

That’s family for you.

l A FURTHER look at some of Margaret Dodd’s selection of Songs for Swinging Manxmen:

‘Don’t Ballaugh At Me ’Cos I’m a Fool.’

‘Come Fly With Me, Let’s Float Down to Malew.’

‘Sulby Cubbon Round the Mountain.’

‘Jurby Jurby Cheep Cheep.’

‘Howstrakes By the Number.’

‘A Hard Dave Knight.’

l IAN Cottier refers me to the Yellow Pages and the entry: ‘Imported Turf Supplies. All Island Coverage. No Job Too Small.’

And none too big either, by the sound of it.

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