Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Bye Andy, and thanks for making history

Andy Arnold - Lay Reader at Ballaugh Church, and the kingpin for Manx Radio's version of Thought For The Day - died suddenly on September 30th.
It may suprise folk to know I'm gutted, but few know that Andy and his predecessor, Judith Ley, helped the non-religious to make history and show the BBC up as a weak, pathetic institution.
Unlike the BBC, the Manx Radio version of TFTD has non-religious contributors, and listeners. It was only when e-mailing him to set up spots for Amnesty International around Human Rights Day in December that I found out from his widow that Andy had died.
Judith Ley agreed at once when approached by Isle of Man Freethinkers about doing some 'thoughts' a couple of years back. As a Catholic, she knew all about Manx 'Christianity' and its sick sectarianism and anti-semitism, and was only too ready to have less bigoted voices on air. When Judith had to step down for family reasons Andy, similarly, helped me get Amnesty and other secular groups on there too. He was one of that fast vanishing species - Anglican but liberal , witty and worldly wise from an RAF career, and not about to take crap from any toytown priest or politico.
You knew where you were with them both. If you made a positive point - something to get people thinking in the morning, great. If you made them laugh, better. But slag others off and your tape mysteriously 'got lost'. It was the same rules for all, so fair enough.
Now Andy's gone I can reveal how little he thought of some evangelical snoremongers who tried to monopolise the spot. It was also Andy who quietly took godbothering retired senior army officers aside after the last 'Veterans Day' fiasco. He 'advised' them that if next year's also includes five hymns, prayers and responses and a sermon from the Bishop then interviews with angry vets would be the only radio coverage they'd get.
Great guy, who will be missed. Every time someone like Andy dies this island gets greyer.

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