See you on the fair day!

Michael Cowin

Michael Cowin

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As we all know, Tynwald Day, our national day is on July 5.

Tynwald Day is a national holiday, and the traditional public sitting of Tynwald, our parliament, is held at St John’s.

The very first time that I went to Tynwald was in 1979, millennium year.

The historians had decided that Tynwald dated back to 979AD, and as such, was the world’s longest continuous parliament.

We had gone to live in Greeba in 1965. Greeba is just round the corner, so to speak, from St John’s, so you would think I would have had a wander along the A1 before 1979.

I’ll tell you why I had been a ‘no show’. I worked in a shop in Strand Street and all leave was cancelled from the week before TT practice week, in May, and the end of the Manx Grand Prix, in September. Shops did not close in the middle of the summer season for anything.

If the biblical prediction of the second coming of the Messiah had come true in July, in any year, we would have had to wait until the second week in September before we joined the celebrations.

Now I think it is a fair bet we will only have the one chance to celebrate 1,000 years of Tynwald.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II must have had the same thought because she decided to come and have a day out with her loyal subjects.

She was to be accompanied by HRH Duke of Edinburgh, and they would have a full entourage of horses, carriages, limousines, and half a regiment of the Blues and Royals.

So I thought if the Queen of England was going to the fair fay, the least the Cowin family could do would be to make an effort to be there as well.

So I entered into negotiations with my boss, and cutting a long story short, I went to the fair for the first time.

Brown Eyes and our two fine sons were regular attendees, but for me it was all new. And it was brilliant.

We saw the Queen, the Duke, the pageant, and we’ve been to the fair every year since.

Millennium year was obviously a one-off, and all things change and evolve, but for me, it’s a special day.

I could fill a few pages with memories of Tynwald Days but I shall limit myself to one of my favourites.

For a couple of years, there was this bloke who was dressed as a Viking. He was patrolling the field and looked suitably threatening.

He was ready to defend his honour (or whatever) with a realistic looking hand axe swinging from a hairy, tanned hand, at the end of a hairy, tanned arm. He looked like Kirk Douglas on his way back to his long­boat.

We had entered the era of heightened security which sadly is now a part of our everyday lives, and eagle eyed, uniformed police officers were well in evidence.

I recognised a few plain clothes police officers who were obviously operating under­cover but who also looked like eagle eyed uniformed police officers.

No doubt, they were all on the lookout for any threats to our safety and well being.

I had been across the road to inspect the public conveniences in the lay­by near St John’s School and was on my way back to the fair field.

I found myself behind the Viking who in turn was walking behind a young dad pushing a small pram with his equally small son as a passenger.

An eagle eyed police officer stepped forward and stopped the young man with the pram. He politely asked if he could inspect the handbag hung from the pram’s handlebars.

He had to stand to one side to allow this vicious looking Viking, who was casually swinging a very realistic axe, to continue on his way to the fair field.

No doubt the police were confident that the Lieutenant Governor was being suitably guarded by his sword bearer, a pleasant looking lady dressed in her sword bearers uniform.

See you on the fair day.

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