The Isle of Man intrigues us. For years we knew of it but never paid attention to it. Then recently, we decided to take a Google car ride through some streets in London and as we zoomed in the satellite view we spotted the island and thought to ourselves, hey, there’s that Isle of Man place that has intrigued us. Let’s take a better look. So, after zooming in on various places using the Google Maps street view, we decided to look up some stuff about the place. Here are some things we learned. As always, we are super-informative and we’re confident that the residents of the Isle of Man will learn some things as well.
Characteristics of the Isle of Man
It is a British Crown Dependency. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but apparently that means the residents can do some self-governing but are also responsible for paying taxes to support the dental care of the royal family. By the way, the island only came to be about 8,500 years ago as glaciers melted during the Mesolithic period.
The awesome flag of the crown dependency is a runner up on our list of the 20 Most Interesting Flags of the World, and probably deserves to be on that list itself. We may have to revise it in the future (or as they say on the island “… in future” because the “the” isn’t used for some reason. Damn English-speakers from the Old Country).
There are an awful lot of grey sky days. The average amount of blue sky during any given day is only about a third of the total. This is why the sale of tanning salons ranks 4th globally. There is an occasional red sky when the blood of the long-dead Manx Lamb boils up from the bowels of the sea rising to warn that the Spirit of the Lamb will soon reclaim its home. We just made that up. We do assume the occasional sunset does make the sky reddish, though.
Gambling is allowed. There is a casino in Douglas (the capital city) attached to a Best Western hotel. Yeah, you heard right. A Best Western. Apparently there are lots of them in the UK. That’s like going to Reno, Nevada and being served fish & chips and warm beer. Well, there’s a McDonald’s in New Delhi, so why not a Best Western on the Isle, we suppose.
The beach front in Douglas is hideous. There really isn’t anything more to say about that but we’re trying to get our pictures to line up and we need a few more lines of text. So we need some filler. Here goes: The Isle of Man’s temperature barely peaks over 60 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s less than 20 degrees Celsius). OK, that should be good enough.
The island is snuggled between Northern Ireland and England. Motorists drive on the left. The island-country is not part of the British Commonwealth and is not a member of the European Union. There is an airport but most transport is done by ferry. It takes about five hours to go from the capital to Liverpool, England. It takes about four hours to get to Belfast, North Ireland. And now you know.
The capital city of Douglas has a population of about 27,000. That’s about the equivalent of one square mile in New York City. Douglas has a density of about 10% of NYC. The rest of the island has a density of about 360 per sqare mile. That means that there are lots of places to hide the bodies.
The total population of the island is about 85,000 which is the same size as Trenton, New Jersey. However, crime rates on the island are some of the lowest in Europe. Burglaries average less than 100 on the island while they average over 1,100 in Trenton. Domestic assault is also quite a bit less than 100 on the Isle of Man whereas the decaying New Jersey city averages over 10 times as much. We’ve been to Trenton. We only feel it’s fair now to visit the Isle of Man. Who’s ponying up the airfare?
The island has the only non-smoking prison in Europe. There is speculation that criminals fear ending up in the island’s penal system and that this fear contributes to a lower crime rate. Who wants to go to a prison where an inmate can’t suck on some fags? (That means something completely different in the UK than it does in the US, by the way).
Injebreck Reservoir, about 3000′ in length at capacity, runs along Baldwin (a road), right in the center of the island. It’s pretty but don’t let it fool you. When it was drained in 2002, the carcass of a strange amphibian about the size of a right whale was found at the bottom. Apparently, Nessie from Loch Ness left Scotland several years ago to get away from the tourists. She didn’t know that Injebreck had been used for underwater nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s.
The island is about 30 miles long and 11 miles across. It has a land mass of 338 square miles. That makes it about half the size of Oahu in Hawaii. As a side note, a few hundred miles south is Bishop Rock, the world’s smallest island with a building on it. The lighthouse on Bishop Rock covers most of the land and accessibility is limited to helicopters. No one currently inhabits Bishop Rock but the ghosts of ancient mariners that were dashed upon the rocks of this most dangerous part of the Celtic Sea.
Just off the south tip of the Isle of Man is the Calf of Man, another tiny island. There is a lighthouse on the south side where apparently two people live. They may be game wardens or something. Since we couldn’t find any details about them, we’re going to make them up. Let’s say that they are Theresa Cassidy and Jamie Madrox #3. Theresa (also known as Siryn) and Jami Madrox’s multiple have carried on for a while in an on-again-off-again relationship. After a particularly heated falling out with Moira Taggart over an episode of rage on Theresa’s part (yada, yada, yada, broken glass, yada, yada, mother’s priceless heirloom, yada), Theresa stormed off Muir Island and rented the shanty on Calf of Man so she could lead a simpler life devoid of contact with others (although the infernal tourists invade her space frequently enough that she sometimes screams at them until their ears bleed). Theresa and JM3 live mostly peaceful lives tending to a herd of cows and stacking rocks up along the fence line around the lighthouse property. Or something like that. Good enough.
The native Manx cat is a tailless breed specifically designed to avoid the problems associated with getting its tail caught in the door on its way out to do its business or kill rodents and birds. Incidentally, a Manx cat with evil powers figures into a mini-series with one of our favorite characters, Grimjack. We haven’t read it. Maybe now we are thinking we should. Perhaps we will. Maybe we’ll pick up copies of the story at the Comic-Con this year. Maybe.
Another breed of animal specific to the island is the Loaghtan Sheep which has two sets of horns and is known for impaling tourists that stray too close.
The island has become a hub for space tourism. Don’t know why. Don’t care to research that. But if you want to look down upon everybody else (literally and figuratively), pony up a few million and get thee to the upper atmosphere.
And finally, the Isle of Man is famous for Europe’s best motorcycle race, the TT. We’re going to discuss that in another post.
Other Useless Geographical Stuff
The island looks like a shrew.
Great Britain looks like Smarty Weasel from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. See how gaily he runs!
That’s pretty much all there is to know about the Isle of Man. OK, not really, but we’re done here. You’re welcome to comment and add to the post.