Things you know if you are from the Isle of Man and living in Britain
‘No, not the Isle of Wight’
When you arrive at University, one of the FAQs is “where are you from”? This is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in such a context, and presumably it has a perfectly good answer (unless you’re from Mars or something). However, much like the inhabitants of Mars would, those of us from the Isle of Man spend three years explaining where we’re from and what it’s like.
There are a series of conundrums related to this, so I’ll outline them here and then when next I’m asked – I can direct the curious to this informative article.
First of all, the geographical location
Let’s just clarify before I say any more, that it is not the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England, and is in no way comparative to the jewel of the Irish Sea. With that statement, there’s your first clue – the Irish Sea. We’re strategically placed between Ireland and England. It isn’t that difficult to comprehend, and yet I know more people at university that could give me a guided tour of South-East Asia than could point to the Isle of Man on a map.
We’re also an independent nation
Yes we’re one of the British Isles, but we also have our own government. Our nationality is Manx. We even have our own flag. We have more autonomy than Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales could even dream of. Don’t be too dismayed though – to say our members of parliament were any more effective than the chaps at Westminster would be the grossest of lies. In fact, we’ll swap you any of our politicians for Boris Johnson, George Osbourne, and Michael Gove any day of the week. Hell, we’ll take Corbyn off your hands whilst we’re at it.
You heard me correctly the first time, in that heated discussion over tuition fees we’ve all been party to, I did say we don’t pay tuition. Our government, in their limited wisdom, have for the time-being preserved some degree of meritocracy for our higher educational opportunities. This isn’t my fault. In fact, it isn’t even a fault. Yet it is still demanded that we make some feigned attempt to justify our existence during such discussions.
So don’t be hating.
The places we’d never been before moving to the UK
No we don’t have an IKEA or a Nandos. We actually only got a Starbucks in February of this year. That said, since being exposed to these cultural monuments, I can conclude that a Nandos is neither “cheeky” nor particularly desirable. Likewise, IKEA is shit.
This mystical place is actually a rather grim sports-bar-come-god-awful-nightclub. To sneak your way into this rabbit-warren, aged 16, with your friend’s brother’s provisional driving license, is a rite of passage. This is a place we often recall at pre-drinks with our course-mates who have absolutely no idea what we’re talking about – we’ll tell you about it all the same though because it’s the stuff of legend.
Lastly, the big one. The only truly interesting thing that occurs of the Isle of Man on a annual basis is the TT races. It’s the longest motorcycle race on public roads in the world. Yes, it’s dangerous, and people do occasionally get killed. No, I don’t bother watching it. I don’t own a motorcycle myself and I do find that it being busy everywhere for a fortnight can be kind of irritating.
I do however, like all young people on the island, recognise it as a brilliant excuse to party for the better part of 14 days – casting aside both my worries and my responsibilities. And if you were going to visit at any point this would be the time to do it.
On the whole, the Isle of Man is no more interesting than where the vast majority of people live in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. It just happens to be smaller and a little more quaint.
But at least now I’ve written this I won’t have to tell you at pre-drinks next time.