Theme Park Mann

I must say, it’s very good of the Manx government to assemble most of the worst things about the island in one place which you have to pay to enter. House of Mannanan, Peel’s cultural sepulchre, would be a prime example, but the Festival of Food and Drink running this weekend broadened the scope of misery somewhat, and at £5 to get in must have put off all but hardened masochists. This was more evidence of Heritage Park Mann – a plastic variant on Manxness that could not survive in the wild, so has to be reared under government supervision behind a fence.

I readily admit, I’ve gone right off Manx folk music and was never keen on the dance. There are only about two tunes, and once you’ve heard one civil servant murder them on a Chinese violin there’s no reason to endure such pain again.

When I see them in action I’m reminded of Alexei Sayle’s quip that a genuine modern folk song would start something like ‘Oh I am a computer programmer from jolly Milton Keynes’. The Manx equivalent would probably have to extol the joys of being a tax inspector, teacher or just full-time national cultural apologist, as you’d be hard pressed to find a folkie who isn’t in some sort of lifetime-protected public sector profession ( which they were assured in the first place through a tin-whistling older civil servant, just like their father before them, and their father before them….and so on)

I’m also as big a fan as any of home made jam and cakes – in fact I’m first in the queue for any church fete even though I couldn’t care less about the state of the church roof – but there’s more than a whiff of the redundant office worker or bored stockbroker’s wife about ‘artisans’ and their lumpy, taste-deficient produce. Tell me some ‘ethnic’ knicknack in Oxfam was made by a factory employing war refugees or something and I’ll cheerfully pay over the odds, even if it falls apart in a day. But I draw the line at the idea that by putting a Manx flag on a box of somebody’s nightclass cakes you can charge Harrod’s prices for something you’d quietly bin if your kid brought it home from school.

Then there was the ghastly sight of the island’s most notorious fundamentalist church running the creche, so that Dummy could get legless in the local beer tent while Maddy pigged out on dubious fairy (phynoderee?) cakes. Who on earth dreamt that up, Hieronymous Bosch?

All in all, this is the kind of thing that has me running flat out into Tesco. I may not like supermarkets run by those too concerned with maxing out profit to worry about taste, quality, human rights and global warming either: but at least the staff are decent sorts with kids and utility bills to worry about who don’t – even for a second – believe the hype about their product. 


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