Friday, 29 August 2008


I'm in the Isle of Man to commentate on the Manx Grand Prix motorbike races. It's been a frustrating time because bad weather has delayed the races all week. Today, the last scheduled day, there is no racing at all because low cloud has taken up residence over the island and, like an ageing tax exile, shows no sign of moving on. Not that that prevented us from delivering a modicum of entertainment. I presented a 30-minute programme, live and unscripted, from the commentary box in the Grandstand. The highlight was a contribution from Roy Moore, our commentator at the famous Ramsey Hairpin, up to the north of the island. Having discussed the prospects of racing being rescheduled for tomorrow, Roy inadvertently handed back "from Randy Hairpin"!! Well, I guess after all the delays for the team locked down in the box at Ramsey, that could well have been accurate!
Do you remember Radio Caroline North? If you're a certain age, you do. Radio Caroline was a ship which anchored off Ramsey in 1964 and broadcast pop music to the UK and Ireland at a time when all the BBC offered was an hour of pop with Alan Freeman on a Sunday afternoon. It was fantastic and kept all of us kids in the North West of England locked onto 199 metres in the medium wave. Then the Government clamped down on this non-licenced broadcasting and the pirates went off the air in 1968. There's an exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary in Peel on the island at the moment and it brings back so many memories. A video shows all the ups and downs of the saga, including priceless footage of Freddie and the Dreamers visiting the ship. If you can't get to Peel there's a book about the Radio Caroline years which has just been published - "Manx Giant, from the Wonderful Isle of Man" by Andy Wint (ex Manx Radio). All that and some wonderful classic motorbikes on the roads: we've been reliving the Sounds of the Sixties in more ways than one!
An update on the two battered-but-not-beaten riders: Alan Jackson completed one lap of the race on Wednesday and retired in the pits; Steve Ferguson went the full distance.

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