As you read this I will have ‘celebrated’ another birthday. A big one with a zero at the end.

I’ve said it here before, but I cannot believe how quickly time goes past particularly as each year goes by.

It only seems like a short time ago that I attended the Collegiate School in Douglas and then on to Murray’s Road.

At the former my mother was issued with a ‘report’ into my progress which, looking back, cannot bear much resemblance to factual reality.

I have a theory that because fees were due each term from her to the school a positive outlook would be what she would like to read.

In reality three or four-year-old David Cretney couldn’t possibly read, write or comprehend to the level he was being credited.

After the Collegiate I attended Murray’s Road School, I think I may have been something of a ‘character’ (naughty boy).

My clearest memories are of being summonsed to the head teacher’s office up a narrow set of stairs and the stench of stale tobacco that emanated as I prepared myself to receive my punishment.

I am witness, well certainly in my case, that corporal punishment doesn’t stop offending as I can recall many such visits.

My mother and father had divorced when I was a baby, my theory here being that they saw me and that was it!

He had access to me each Sunday and on certain public holidays, indeed the divorce settlement papers specified my father had access to me on Senior Race Day for the TT and Manx Grand Prix.

Thus my lifelong passion for the world-famous road races on our island was ignited.

Little was I to know as I sat on a hedge often at Cronk-y-Voddy, Laurel Bank or the Ramsey Gooseneck with my dad and a pack of sandwiches, a bag of crisps and a bottle of Downward’s or Qualtrough’s pop that much later in life I would chair the TT organisation for 10 years between 1996 and 2006 as ‘Minister of Fun’ or indeed compete in the Manx Grand Prix on a number of occasions between 1976 and 1998.

It was during the latter that I achieved my lifelong ambition to lap at more than 100mph the last race I was able to compete in 1999, because in those days there was an age restriction and I was to hit 45.

My claim to fame in terms of winning at the Manx was at the riders’ social nights and on more than one occasion I took the award for drinking a yard of ale quickest.

I would walk to school and during the summer and weekends, like most of my generation, even at a young age.

I was a free agent for hours at a time or even all day, returning home only to get my tea.

I would walk from my house up to my favourite spot, the then thriving Majestic Hotel which had an outside swimming pool with a slide going into it which I found very exciting.

All around the pool, in what seemed like endless sunshine, guests would become sun worshipers.

I also recall attending Noble’s Park with friends who lived nearby and we would play cricket or have fun on the swings and in particular the witch’s hat.

We would also see the old man who would walk the donkeys down to the beach for happy holidaymakers to enjoy a ride.

The Saturday matinee at the Picture House in Strand Street was another treat and Noble’s Baths in Victoria Street where I was taught to swim by Mr Brady who hooked a contraption like a deflated inner tube over a ring at the end of a long pole which would help him guide me through the sometimes murky waters.

One incident I recall when walking to school, aged eight, was that I was using the zebra crossing at the junction of Berkley Street and Woodbourne Road when I was knocked over by a motorcycle.

Looking back it may in part have been my own fault as I recall wearing my duffle coat ‘Batman style’ and I may not have been paying full attention.

I remember afterwards Mrs Thorne a lovely lady who worked in Marks and Spencers bringing me a gift of the latest idea in crayons.

They consisted of being different colours each end of the crayon and together with a bumper colouring book they made a little boy very happy.

Years later when I became first a councillor and then MHK I had the honour to represent Ena and lots of other nice people in the Hillside Avenue area.

I hope in part I was able to repay the kindness that had been shown to me.

As a youngster I attended Bucks Road Sunday School where my family had been long associated, in particular my Uncle Jack was an enthusiastic mentor to many young people.

Others I remember attending included Julie Shutt, Verina Quiggin and a lot more and I remember being taught by Doreen Callister and meeting Norma Cowell for the first time.

She was later head teacher at Anagh Coar School and our paths would cross again in a positive way many times.

I recently met Norma again when I was doing a talk for the Methodist women’s group and we recalled the Sunday School Anniversaries, coach picnics and rambles where Ramsey Mooragh, Silverdale or Glen Wyllin were much-anticipated stop offs.

In particular everyone wanted to buy something at the Ramsey joke shop to tease everyone else on the coach with.

My dad would donate oranges and buns for all the children and I remember participating in ‘scrambles’ for sweets.

We also had a Sunday School Eiseddfod each year with competitions for general knowledge, spelling, solo, recitation and so on. We also had nativity plays and I was usually cast as a shepherd.

After Murray’s Road I attended Ballakermeen Secondary School for two years before going on to St Ninian’s.

When I attended the girls were in the southern part of the school and the boys at the other side.

From my perspective this was probably a good thing as I may not have got any work done if there were females in the class.

Certainly if my experience of French was anything to go by.

We had a young female teacher, Mrs Caine, and I did two years of French and learned very little as my attention was occupied staring at her.

My general approach to lessons was one where concentration was lacking and my school reports referred to my being ‘easily distracted’.

I did enjoy English, geography and history but hated maths. Sport was something that I was okay at, in particular enjoying cross-country.

I will write some more another time, but to finish we have been very lucky with the first couple of weeks in January with blue skies and although it has been chilly I’ve got some good walks in with my dogs Rosie and Ted.

So there’s no doubt although I’m getting older at least I have that privilege to get out with them.