It is almost a tradition that at this time of year I blog about the Tynwald Day Ceremony – the Manx national day (increasingly of desperation) on July 5th, when the island’s patriots and scoundrels gather in a big field to – well, you know what national ceremonies are like, so…….. that, but smaller and often wetter.
Anyway, I was there as usual, and yes, I noticed a few things.
As it’s a national occasion I go along and do something vaguely useful for humanity for a few hours. Nothing annoys me more than do-gooders and prod-noses, so I try to neutralise this irritating bourgeois concept of guilt. But when the entire Manx nation is now out for itself and stepping on the faces of the losers, the least I can do as a good contrarian and social irritant is the opposite. Altruism for the hell of it, if you like.
Which is why each Tynwald Day finds me on the Amnesty International stall, highlighting the plight of someone who is having his fingernails pulled out or something for – well, having the temerity to think and breathe mostly.
Thankfully, due to the hypocrisy of our “government”, we have to do this well away from the Colonial Clown Show itself.
There is actually an official field behind the main ceremony site for “charities”, but this is carefully vetted to ensure nothing resembling a humanitarian gesture can spoil the general impression. So a few years back, we folk whose (fake) charity field application always got “lost” decided to set up our own field, The Global Village, on a site down the road from the ceremony. More recently, thanks to a rare friend in government, the village moved to a national garden down the hill from the fake charities and is now more like a global small town, complete with a “street” of international food vendors representing some of the hundred plus nations where our island’s current population have roots.
So, how hard is it to do the right thing when a few metres away is a Jamaican food stall pumping out dub where I can get a steady supply of chocolate cake soaked in rum? Babylon might have most of the power, but we have all the good food, music and vibes, so no contest really.
In the interests of objectivity, I did take a brief look at the Fake Charity Field, where the main smell was the diesel fumes from greasy spoon burger vans and the main attractions militaristic propaganda, plus drab folk dancers allied to the increasingly desperate attempts of government to push Manx “heritage”.
By the way, I can save you the trouble of exploring this pseudo-historical blind alley. There isn’t any. As intimated above, over 50% of our population weren’t born here, and unless that figure rises nobody else will be in future.
Masochists who really could not get through Tynwald Day without Manx dancing are circulating the obligatory You-tube clip of some sort of mass circle dance on the main field, speeded up to allow for all the groups to join in one by one. Presumably, folk were supposed to be impressed by the strength of pride and interest in “our” cultural sewage ( sorry – heritage). But to be honest, imagine a Benny Hill chase scene (but with longer skirts and the blokes keep their trousers on) and there’s nothing new to find, see and snigger at.
But the biggest surprise was the absence of the uber-uber Manx hardliners, Mec Vannin (“Sons of Mann”), whose grumpy presence is a tradition almost as old at the ceremony itself. For years, their stall was the first thing you see as you enter the Fake Charity Field, like that doom-mongering relative at weddings who says “I TOLD you it would rain”.
It mystified me for years that while genuine campaigning charities and community groups could never get a place on the increasingly commercial field, Mec Vannin (which historically preached independence to the point of flirting with Irish and Scottish paramilitarism) always could. From what an MV main man once told me, they didn’t even have to put in an application.
This year, it appears, the civil servant organisers of the field actually did their job. When the pitches were marked out, MV, instead of being just inside the entrance as usual, next to Manx Heritage (purveyors of plastic patriotism to the ignoranti), were allotted a spot further in. MV’s traditional spot went to PAG (Positive Action Group, which has run numerous genuine community campaigns for social change), simply because, as PAG’s rep told me, he’s so worried about being knocked back that he gets his application in before anyone else on the island. So MV threw their toys out of the pram, big blustery posting on their increasingly rabid Facebook page (think English Defence League in kilts) explaining why Manx civilisation as we know it is now in meltdown.
I suppose their activists spent the day at home, drinking, watching Postman Pat in Manx Gaelic and texting ever wierder rants to each other – much as they do the other 364 days of the year. Almost a pity there isn’t a direct feed really. If you want real Manx culture it would be far more accurate than any of that twaddle they put on for American tourists down at Cregneash folk village.