David Cretney’s column: Remember the three legs chocolates you got on Manx Airlines?

Monday 9th May 2022 11:04 am
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This column first appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner of May 2.

I recently used Loganair for the first time.

Travelling to Manchester after a recorded pleasant Scottish accent giving all the pre-flight advice, we were treated to either a Tunnocks caramel wafer or shortbread in flight.

I half expected Irn Bru to accompany these well known exports from Scotland but it was tea or coffee!

The plane was very smart and the crew attentive. The only disappointment on the return leg – this time via Liverpool – was the announcement that, because of the short journey, there would be no in-flight service.

Who remembers Manx Airlines?

The in-flight service of a light breakfast or afternoon tea with scones was very good.

People remember Manx Airlines with fondness as a ‘national carrier’, just like Loganair.

I seem to remember the Shorts 360 aircraft being quite noisy internally, hence some of the ‘pet’ names given.

Other than the famous Liverpool ‘Farecracker’, the cost of travel was in some instances very expensive even many years ago but we did get a chocolate three legs to sweeten the pill!

When people who are returning from hospital, elderly or frail and are assisted to the plane via a wheelchair because of mobility problems, why are they then required to sometimes struggle half way down the aircraft to their seats?

Surely it must be preferable to be seated as close as possible to the exit?

They are relatively small numbers so it would be easy to arrange. In fact those requiring assistance notify the carrier in advance.

But may be there is another reason that I’m not aware of!

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Great feedback from last week’s piece about gigs at the Palace Lido and elsewhere, including Stuart Christian whose favourite was one I missed: The Swinging Blue Jeans. Another caller reminded me of the Hollies.

Interesting stories from David Carter, whose late father was assistant manager at the Palace in the 1960s.

The resident band in the 1950s had been Ronnie Aldrich and the Squadronaires.

David’s father got on well with their sax player Cliff Townshend, whose little boy would ‘play in the sands of the Isle of Man’ as he wrote in their hit Happy Jack.

When The Who came over to play the Lido he reminisced with Pete Townshend about his dad in the 1950s but was then stunned when Pete smashed up his guitar on stage at the end of the night!

The Squadronaires would never have done that.

David Harding recalled living next door to Arthur Corkill, who was company secretary of the Palace and Derby Castle Co.

Arthur sometimes gave complementary tickets to David but not for the Chuck Berry gig in 1976.

At that time Chuck had his biggest hit (amazing given his rock n’ roll back catalogue!) with My Ding-a-Ling.

David did get tickets to Gary Glitter who, like a number of others in the music industry, subsequently fell into disgrace but who at that time was a significant player in the glam rock movement.

He also got to see ELO when Roy Wood was in the band (1970-72) and has seen them several times since.

To prove the music of the 1960s/70s is timeless, David’s 13-year-old granddaughter likes the music of ELO and the Beach Boys, amongst others.

I once supported Roy Wood in his Wizzard days with a Christmas show and disco. Great music!

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I’ve said before on here how important the TT and MGP is to me and that goes back a very long way.

My mother and father divorced when I was a baby (yes, one look at me was enough!) and in the settlement papers my dad got access to me on Senior Race Day for both events so I have many happy memories of those times.

All fans have an era that was the most special for them. Mine was clearly the mid/late 1960s to the early 1970s.

The TT still held world championship status and for me the furthest I had been was a day trip to Liverpool.

The glamour of the exotic multi-cylinder machines and equally exciting riders from all around the world, with works teams giving out badges, hats, transfers and other memorabilia, had me hooked for life.

Little was I to know that I would go on to chair the TT organisation for 10 years later in life.

Those of us who have a passion for the greatest road races in the world treasure our particular favourite things about the events and that’s fine but things don’t stand still. The promoters have to try to meet the needs of present-day and future audiences.

Who remembers the siren voices when the world championship status was removed that this would be the end of the races?

Who remembers the many people, including road race fans, who said 2007 (the centenary of the TT from its humble beginnings at St John’s), would see the end of the TT races?

As government minister prior to 2007 I consistently had to battle against the negativity that the end was coming.

Just as after the loss of world championship status the event has continued to attract new generations of fans from across the world.

We have since celebrated 100 years of the TT Mountain Course and after a two-year hiatus we are looking forward to welcoming friends to once again join us in celebrating the continued success of this iconic sporting event.

I’m not saying there are aspects about which I have some concerns but we must trust everyone involved that their primary motivation is the future success of the TT festival.

I recently attended the Portuguese Moto GP event, which was very exciting and is broadcast live on TV around the world.

Some of the grandstands were half empty.

Now that could be for a number of reasons. The Portuguese economy, like many others, has struggled through the pandemic, having an impact on a nation whose workers’ wages are at the lower end. It could be the price of grandstand seats.

It could be that, for a relatively modest sum, the races could be viewed live.

From an Isle of Man perspective it is, in my opinion, very important that live screening of the TT races is a means to attract a new audience to come and spend time with us on our island, and bring have the much-needed benefit to the economy that comes through visitor spend.

We were in at the start of motorcycle racing by being innovative and closing public roads in 1907 when others adjacent wouldn’t so, although I acknowledge the field for the electric bikes was very low, the advancement of technology is travelling at a pace, as did the lap times.

Maybe alternative fuel technologies would attract a larger field?

Music tastes change and it is a fallacy to suggest all motorcycle racing fans want one particular genre so I welcome the variation being promoted.

Since I ceased to be Minister of Fun in 2006 (and before) I have been a TT marshal and I’ve just signed on again.

We have a real issue with the age profile of marshals and we need to attract the next generation.

The importance of the marshals to the success of the event is key to its future and I welcome support being given to recognise this and to continually improve the professionalism of this world-class event.

Let’s all work together to ensure its success in the future!

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