The light did not shineth in the darkness…..
I heard I had been elected into Tynwald from my brother-in-law, monitoring Manx Radio, a few minutes after it had been announced. My radio dial in those days was welded immovably to Radio 4 and twiddling the dial as far away as Manx Radio was too great a step into the unknown.
So, what to do next? Apart from to grin stupidly and wonder what on earth had happened……
I had loved the idea of sticking my head above the parapet for a couple of weeks, I liked the idea of the challenge, but I had no idea that I would actually walk on the pavement of politics.
Texts and phone calls then came in from family and friends and I was advised to get down to Tynwald.
I went for a pint at the Shore at Laxey that night, after a football meeting, and there met by chance Peter Karran who advised me not to join the ‘troughites’ and get clubby-clubby and matey-matey.
Sound advice, but five years on I am still trying to find out where this “Club” is.
I went into Tynwald Chambers the next day, politely enquiring at the counter. No-one had any idea who I was.
The Clerk of Tynwald, Malachy Cornwell-Kelly greeted me and gave me a few basic ideas of what would happen next, which soon disappeared from my consciousness. This was all so new, and of course, unexpected. I know that I signed a form agreeing to be a member of Tynwald and was then ushered into the Chambers.
In those days the Member’s area consisted of one room, about 30 feet by 15 feet, with six desks, and a lounge area with a couple of easy chairs. 33 members, six desks. And it later became apparent that each desk was ‘owned’ by certain members. Woebetide you if you sat at the wrong desk.
Actually… does a bit of a grumpy frown justify using such a wonderful world as “woebetide”? Not really.
John Houghton, who I had met before was in the room and showed me round. He introduced me to several members, most of whom I knew of, but had never met. I was introduced to one member who refused to shake my hand. That was a real ‘gulp’ moment.
What had I come into?
Another member greeted me brusquely with, “You’ve no right to be here” before walking off. John was himself a little stunned and apologized on behalf of the other members.
I was the first ‘outsider’ for many years, and it was obvious that an outsider would not be universally popular and that I would have to earn any respect.
I was warmly welcomed by the President, Noel Cringle, who has seen it all before and was quite willing to accept the Outsider. In fact, most members gave me a warm welcome in the subsequent weeks
Then I was in a bit of a limbo. I was given a second hand laptop – still got it. An ex-Water Board jobbie, stuffed with hidden files and with speeds approaching Billy the Sloth.
Oh, and a diary. A diary that has ruled my life for the last five years.
I was also given a set of Standing Orders - and a lot of mysteries to unravel.
I was at the end of a Spike Milligan Q8 sketch – “What are we going to do now, what are we going to do now?” and sidled sideways out of the room….
So much to take in, so little understanding of what was going on around me. It is strange to look back those five years, as now it all seems rational and structured. But I was in those first days, very much in the Dark, and waiting for the Light. I determined to find me a Torch…..
Next blog – the first few weeks, and it will get more interesting……