- Vol. 07
- Chapter 01
“So where are you from?”
With just one exception, this is the question I hate getting asked the most.
Any kind of small talk fills me with anxiety, because I just know that this question will come at some point. It usually doesn’t take that long either. After “what do you do?” and “so, how do you know X?”, the two of us will flounder, waiting for some miracle to present itself and save this stillborn conversation. And when it doesn't, the other person will inevitably ask the question. They'll ask, and I’ll have to tell them:
I’m from the Isle of Man.
It sounds unusual, almost exotic. Nobody knows anyone from the Isle of Man, which makes sense because there aren’t that many of us. The problem is, there’s just not a lot to say about the Isle of Man. More often than not I need to correct people when they respond excitedly with:
“Oooh! Yeah, I went to the festival once.”
That’s the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight isn’t so bad. I mean, I can’t speak to what it’s like actually living there, but at least talk about the festival or the nice weather. There’s a bit of novelty to the Isle of Wight, but the Isle of Man is just…
Well, it’s just a bit dull.
It’s grey and it rains a lot, but that’s not a conversation because we’re in the UK; it’s grey and it rains a lot everywhere.
There aren’t many people from there that your average twenty-something year old would know or care about, either. It was alright for Mum and Dad. They had something to latch onto; they had the Bee Gees. Being from the same tiny island, going to the same tiny school as the Gibb brothers meant something to their contemporaries.
“So where are you from?”For me, it gets a smile and a nod; that short, sharp "I am amused" exhale through the nose that people do. I hate the Bee Gees. Especially Barry. To me, his piercing falsetto is a banshee shriek that, for all generations to follow, has driven back any Manx that had the potential for greatness, the potential to be my conversation piece.
There’s the TT as well. The “must-see” motorcycle event of the year that draws dads from all corners of the world, paunches strapped down under pristine leathers. That’s the start and the end of my knowledge on motor-sport, so that's a non-starter too.
The biggest problem about being from the Isle of Man is that all of this has already raced through my head before the other person has a chance to ask their next question. The actual question that I hate getting asked the most:
“So…what’s it like there?”