I see the itinerary for Tynwald Day has been released (see http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=46147). Oh, how……whatever!
For a few years now, the only reason I look in on Tynwald Fair is morbid fascination. The colonial clown show itself – never watched it, never want to. How sad would you have to be to bother? And incidentally, if the Play People are now the clowns, then why are all those baggy-trousered buffoons with the red noses, top hats and other silly clothing still there?
But I do like to check out the ragbag collection of evangelical nutters, paramilitary throwbacks and botulism-friendly food merchants who gather on what is - nominally at least - a showcase of local charitable and community organisations, roped off safely behind the area reserved for visiting dictators to mingle with Manx civil servants and politicians hoping for a free foreign holiday. I just need to see if things really ARE that naff and getting worse – which they invariably are!
Not this year though.
One practical reason is that, after several years of either not having a stall or piggybacking on the stalls of ‘government-approved’ charities, the group I often work with will just be down the road instead, part of the free (in every sense) party being hosted at the One World Centre for local activist groups with international links.
The thing is that Tynwald Fair reinforces ideas of’ consensus’ and ‘democracy’ which simply do not exist, and why help perpetuate this sham? Behind the scenes, for almost a decade now, there are any number of subtle ways in which the government decides who does and who does not get a place on the ‘charity field’ and under what terms, just as the ‘right’ of any Manx citizen to present a petition also does not exist, because a government committee decides if any applicant is suitable and edits the wording.
There is a constant battle between an autocratic government trying to curtail free discussion and genuine community activists trying ever more imaginative ways to sidestep that. And this year I cannot be bothered to play this game, or even turn up just to poke fun at the witless and the government-sanctioned wowsers.
I would rather just talk openly with people – anyone who stops by - and not be part of a fraud which pretends economic, corporate and political interests cannot dictate (even if often by accident and apathy rather than design) how a ‘national ceremony’ runs. I do not share this vacuous interpretation of ‘national interest’, the slightly sinister idea of a ‘Manx national culture’ or the conflation of petty, pathetic völkisch twaddle with ‘Manxness’ and Manx citizenship. I am not, in short, an investor, willing or otherwise, in ‘IOM PLC’, and while even a token shareholder revolt at the AGM might be nice, it is not going to happen. Too many other shareholders are either too apathetic to look at how the company gets run, or not about to squeak in case the fat cats stop throwing them the odd Manx kipper.