A different pace of life

Some better informed or more observant readers will know that I have links with the Isle of Man – the small and extremely beautiful lump of rock in the middle of the Irish Sea. In fact, that little red and white thing in your address bar just up there [points] is not just the symbol of 6000 miles… website, but also the symbol of the island: the three legs of Man.

While I am Sheffield born and bred, I spent a lot of my childhood on the Isle of Man, I have a lot of family there and even more family history. Thus, it’s always good to keep up with what’s happening on “my island”.
Before I continue, perhaps I should explain that while the IoM is now a technologically-progressive, global financial hub, there remains a far slower pace of life over there. If you’ve ever watched Father Ted – think of it as a slightly larger Craggy Island: same wild beauty, same fierce national pride, same bizarre local traditions and characters. After all, this is the place where in February 1990 (yes, nineteen-NINETY!), locals queued up to stare in wonder at the “moving stairs” at the new Strand Shopping Centre in Douglas: the first public escalator on the island. Thus, the IoM is often mocked as being a bit backward – caught in the past – by many in the UK. Well, vive le difference, I say (when I’m in that sort of mood).

Catching up on the the latest goings-on via the BBC website, I was distressed and distraught to learn that the Isle of Man seems to have lost out to Southern Lebanon in possessing the world’s heaviest potato.

The 3.5kg (7lb 13oz) potato was bought by Greens restaurant owner Nigel Kermode in Douglas after it became the official world record holder more than 10 years ago. But on Monday, it emerged that a farmer in southern Lebanon had grown a potato weighing in at 11.3kg (24.9lbs).

Lebanese farmer Khalil Semhat hopes the monster spud from his farm near Tyre, 85km (50 miles) south of Beirut, will take the crown. But according to the Guinness Book of Records, the current record is till held by the Manx potato.

And Mr Kermode said there was still a local interest in the original, more than a decade after it was found: “It’s not on display at the moment. We’ve had it out periodically because, to be honest, it doesn’t look very nice,” he said. “It’s gone all sort of grey and brown and it doesn’t look very appetising.”

Yes. That’s what passses for news on the Isle of Man. A big, 10-year-old, mouldy root vegetable.

I’m heading back there next year for a few weeks of relaxation and I can’t wait. Because life is different there: the rat-race doesn’t exist, the outside world doesn’t matter and no-one really cares how big your potato is.
I’ll leave the closing remarks to Nigel Kermode – because he sums it up so well:

We’re still a world champion – we’ll call it the second biggest potato in the world.

Perfect.

Got bus?

Did you leave your bus in Heerengracht?
Still planning to work on that rattle in the cooling system when you’ve finished your lunch?

Umm. Too late.

    
Heerengracht, Cape Town, 1330 CAT, 1st December 2008

Sorry and all that…

UPDATE: More from News24.com. And I should think so – that’s their big yellow building.

Doing the business in China

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He had a long neck, Officer

We’ve all heard about South Africa’s crime rate, but in a worrying twist, it seems that even the local wildlife is now getting in on the act:

Pietermaritzburg – Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe. Hagen had gone for his usual morning walk at Bisley Nature Reserve in March.

The only thing he uttered to his distraught wife on his return from his walk, with blood spurting from a deep head wound, was “I ran away*“. Hagen later died of his injuries.

Prompted by the story of Hagen’s death in The Witness last week, a reader told on Monday how a bull giraffe attacked and chased instructors and patrons around at the Canterbury stables, the same month Hagen was injured. Hagen’s wife, Aletha, added that he and his 16-year-old grand-daughter had previously gone for a walk in the reserve when a giraffe, accompanied by a sibling, charged at them aggressively.

“I suppose it was chasing them away from the group. When he came home wounded that day, the first thing I asked him was if he had been attacked by a giraffe**, but he was unable to reply,” said Aletha.

Hagen had suffered a cracked skull and a deep head wound which received 14 stitches.

And then, as ever in South African news, the amusing side to this tragic tale, which also goes some way to explain why sit-com writers spend so much time scanning our local newspapers in search of novel, yet implausible, ideas.

The story of Hagen’s mysterious injury sparked Ross McCann’s memory of a giraffe attack at the Canterbury stables, a riding school at the Bisley Valley Nature reserve.

“I am of the firm belief that Hagen was attacked by a giraffe.” He said a giraffe left marks on a tree at the stables when it attacked instructors and trainees.

Instructor Francois Hugo said the bull giraffe chased more than five people around the stables. “I was with my colleague and four people, some of whom were training in the sand arena. It charged my colleague who ran into the outside toilet for hiding. But the giraffe stuck its head into the toilet through the hole above the door. It was trying to head-butt him, so I tried to distract it. It immediately came after me as I ran and hid behind the tree. It was a bull giraffe, it smelt horrible, and had big black spots, darker than spots on other giraffes. We were separated just by the tree’s trunk.”

Hugo said the giraffe attacked him using its horns but missed and dug them into the tree trunk. Two marks are still visible***. Hugo admitted he was scared and ran for his life, followed by his trainees, as the giraffe chased after them.

I’m picturing Michael Palin as colleague cowering in outside toilet
South African “comedian” Leon Schuster will have to be the giraffe. It’s the law.

* not fast enough, you didn’t.
** as you would…
*** neatly comparable with the number of horns on your average giraffe.

Business Time

This was sent to me by a colleague. I think it’s brilliant.

If you, like me, are in a long term relationship and cohabiting, prepare to be very – very – scared.
Somebody has obviously been watching us…

And I’ll just slip in a couple of housekeeping points:

1. This blog is now registered on commentluv.com. It’s one of my favourite WP plugins so I thought it was the right thing to do. I have no idea what benefits this will bring for this site or my visitors. Probably none.
2. A warm welcome to Po who joins the esteemed and exclusive 6000 miles… blogroll. Welcome. There you go.