The Isle of Man often flies under the radar to a lot of the outside world or is known as a backwards land on which inhabitants are part of a cult that sacrifices all mainlanders in a Wicker Man type situation.
In reality, this has only happened once to a person who we tragically mistook to be Nicolas Cage.
Many a time when enquiring if someone has heard of the Isle of Man, the conversation will go down one of three paths.
‘Oh yeah, the Isle of Man, down South yeah?’
To which you will jovially reply that no, they are thinking of the Isle of Wight before punching them in the face with a Geography textbook.
“Oh yes, I have a mate from the Isle of Man, perhaps you know them. Miles Smith?”
To which you will reply that the Island inhabits 84,000 people and you don’t all know each other… But yes, you do know Miles. You dated him in high school.
The third and final is the wonderfully hilarious;
“Aren’t you all incestual over there?”
I always respond to this with a dead-eyed stare and reply ‘only on Fridays.’
However, once a year an event is held that stamps the Isle of Man’s place on the map and trumps all local headlines of “WINDSCREEN WIPERS STOLEN” shortly followed by “WINDSCREEN WIPERS FOUND.”
It is, of course, the T.T.
Below I have listed 9 traits of the T.T (outside of the actual racing) that make this event the most infamous tradition in Manx history…
#1 Flight Prices
From the last week of May to the end of the first week of June, the ironically named EasyJet and Flybe (known to locals as ‘FlyMaybe’ and ‘Anythingbuteasyjet’) will charge you the price of a private Caribbean Island with your own personal butler for the twenty-minute flight from the mainland to the Isle of Man.
It roughly works out at about £200 a minute throughout the journey. Although, it will work out cheaper than that if you take into consideration the inevitable seventeen-hour delay.
#2 T.T. Attire
This time of year is Christmas for the TT merchandise shops. TT T-shirts, jumpers, coats, hats, facemasks, gloves, bum-bags, socks, corsets, gimp masks and adult nappies are sold by the hundreds.
There seems to be a secret spectator rule of thumb that one needs to be wearing at least twelve items of TT attire at a time. Otherwise, people might question why you’re even here.
#3 The Road Closures
For many locals, this is the first experience of real life rush hour.
Never before have Manx people found themselves facing the dilemma of which object to urinate into during the eighteenth hour of traffic. The car cup holder or Uncle John’s thermos flask that’s been rolling around on the backseat for years.
Until TT, traffic jams on the Isle of Man consisted of five cars waiting at the Quarter Bridge and getting home seven minutes later than usual. I, for one, was not mentally prepared for such a surge in traffic and found myself in a line of traffic the length of Brazil, devouring a family sized bag of baked goods that I’d panic bought from Tesco for the journey and crying whilst telling myself Uncle John will never find out.
This was after twenty minutes.
With the rise in population, comes the rise in the number of people purchasing ice-creams, hot dogs and chips, cheese and gravy to accompany their strolls along the prom and thus Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ comes to reality.
Manx seagulls are the thugs of the bird world. The ones you’d see drinking White Lightning at a bus stop at 10 on a Sunday morning before appearing on Jeremy Kyle at 2.
With the words ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ tattooed on each wing, these are the birds that don’t wait for you to drop a chip, they wait until it’s a centimetre from your teeth before swooping in to steal it whilst trying to dismember you for fun in the process.
For weeks, some say months, after the Bushy’s tent has packed up and gone, people remain stuck to the ground. A trapped reminder of what once was. Sealed solidly to the spot by an ocean’s worth of spilt Blue Wicked. I wave at them sympathetically as I pass by.
#6 Home Stay
Due to the overload of people, hotels quickly fill to the brim, so the locals open their doors for a small fee. My parents included. All recognition of me being their first-born child is squashed at breakneck speed in the face of some extra pennies and I am booted out of my room for the duration of the TT.
The following two weeks involve awkward run-ins in the hallway, and me with a glass to my bedroom door, checking to make sure they are out before I can sneak in to get clothes. By the end of the two weeks, everyone is in high spirits; mum and dad have made a few bob, the visitors leave with happy memories and I am left with a room that smells of other people.
#7 The Fair
The Isle of Man’s very own Alton Towers. Rides are put up with artwork, nuts and bolts from the early 70s. Excitement is doubled from going on a ride with a 50/50 chance of inheriting an STI or being abducted by a carnival worker during the process.
#8 TT Race Girls
The TT race girls are like the Vegas boxing girls. You know the ones that walk around the ring holding up numbered cards. Swap the cards for flags and keep the same attire but add two stone. Just kidding. Add three.
#9 The Weather
Practice week lures us all into a false sense of security of glorious sunshine. Then race week begins, bringing with it weather that would make Poseidon blow out his cheeks and say; ‘bit wet isn’t it?’.
Tents are flooded, races are cancelled and sick pungently wafts on the breeze from the ferry. Last year, my father witnessed a chap trying to dry his drenched sleeping bag underneath a hand dryer.
After an hour and a half Dad told him it might work better if he turned it on!
Of course, this is all in jest. The TT ladies are so gorgeous it makes me feel like the underside of a boat and there’s really only a 10% chance of inheriting an STI from the fair rides.
The TT brings people from all corners of the globe to our little gem in the middle of the Irish sea and for two weeks the population and diversity of the island increases tenfold.
Beer flows, friendships are made, brave racers dice with inexplicable speeds and there is a general feeling of merriment and good will by all that couldn’t possibly be dampened.
Not even by the atrocious weather.