So 2021 is nearly at an end and what a crap year it truly was. Sure it was better than 2020, but that is like saying getting punched in the head is better than being kicked.
With 2020 delivering a final screw you on the way out the door at 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve last year, when the gov told us all about places of concern, 2021 hardly got off to a good start.
But away from the pandemic, loads of mad shit happened, some of it incredibly funny, some of it terribly sad and a lot of it was just plain bizarre.
In the month which saw the first Covid vaccine on the island being put into the arm of Sandie Hannay, we also got to see Biden replace Trump, the storming of the Capitol and Bernie Sanders on a deckchair wearing mittens.
There was only one star in February, Jackie Weaver. Handforth Parish Council may have been unknown to anyone outside of Handforth before THAT Zoom meeting but everyone knows about it now. Here, sit back and enjoy it one more time:
Meanwhile on Manx shores the gov backed down in its row with the Steam Packet over whether its crews had to isolate when not at sea, which it turned out they never had been anyway.
February was also when we heard that Boris Johnson had people working on plans to build a roundabout under the Irish Sea. The Womble PM has since ditched his proposals for a tunnel or bridge which would’ve connected the British Isles both underground and overground.
The Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, was closed after the absolutely monstrous Ever Given container ship ran aground. It took salvage crews six days to free the Ever Given, leading to a traffic jam of over 200 vessels.
However, the dominating issue of the month was the safety of women after a serving Met Police officer kidnapped and murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard. The Met was later further criticised when its officers arrested four women during a vigil held on Clapham Common.
The annual Cheltenham Festival saw a “Manxish” horse, Vintage Clouds, owned by islander Trevor Hemmings roll back the years with a stunning victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at odds of 28/1. Elsewhere battle lines were drawn over the status of Mountain Hares on the island, a deal was done to finance repairs to the Great Laxey Wheel and we asked whether Laxey could get pumped?
Plus, after three months at sea, local advocate Andrew Baker reached land in Barbados, having rowed across the Atlantic.
The Queen’s husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99. The Queen had to sit alone during his funeral, reflecting the Covid situation at the time.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Chauvin was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years for the murder but has started an appeal.
An under the radar moment really as April saw the end of Castro rule in Cuba after Raul, brother of Fidel, stepped down as President.
But the most intriguing story of the month saw M&S taking on Aldi in the battle of the caterpillars. Colin v Cuthbert saw M&S lodging a complaint that Aldi’s alternative was misleading to customers. Why they picked Aldi we don’t know as there are many caterpillar cakes on supermarket shelves across the country. While many people backed national icon Colin, they weren’t too pleased with M&S’ course of action, they also lost the banter war as Aldi’s Twitter account went to town:
Meanwhile we were finally starting to learn more about the expected costs of the Liverpool ferry terminal as then DoI minister Tim Baker confirmed it would be late and over budget. The disastrous scheme would return to Tynwald later in the year, more on that later.
Peel residents found out that the Corrin Memorial Home had run out of money and would be forced to close and the gov finally come forward with a plan to open the island’s borders by the end of June.
However, the big show in town was Dr Rachel Glover’s evidence session with the Public Accounts Committee.
Bond villain Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully flew, landed, and recovered a Starship prototype for the first time. Meanwhile in the real world, a Ryanair flight is forced to land in Bulgaria as authorities arrest journalist Roman Protasevich and Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest.
While many of us were counting down to the borders opening, Manx student Jonathan Williams from Port St Mary, was winning on Countdown as he took home the cherished winner’s teapot. Families, partners and property owners were allowed to come to the island and Stephanie Kelsey, founder of local business Beachpowder Ltd, entered Dragon’s Den.
After weeks of dreaming, England fans had their hearts broken as Gareth Southgate’s men lost to Italy on penalties in the final of the delayed Euro 2020.
On the island, the island’s first ever major Pride event was held at the Villa Marina. Beginning with a parade through town, Pride saw the outside of the Villa painted in a rainbow flag. The gov announced a plan to borrow £400m and a successful campaign to save elm trees in St Marks grabbed the attention of TV’s Chris Packham.
June also saw us saying goodbye to Bob Corkish whose incredible fundraising campaign in lockdown one saw him raise over £21,000 for the Friends of Nobles Hospital by walking around his home.
Heavy floods in Europe saw over 200 people killed, including 184 in Germany. Bezos got in on the space fun by blasting into space on his Blue Origin rocket alongside his brother, an 18-year-old and an 82-year-old. Oh and Team GB did quite well in the Tokyo Olympics.
Here on the rock, we were all revelling in the Cav comeback story as the Manx Missile drew level with Eddy Merckx for the most wins on Le Tour. As crowds gathered at the Villa to watch the final stage on the big screen, Cav came up short in claiming his own piece of history, but in winning four stages in a tour he wasn’t expected to be in, as well as winning his classification 10 years after first doing so, he further cemented his legend status.
Cav wasn’t the only famous Manxman to be honoured in the summer though as statues of the island’s most famous sons, the Bee Gees were unveiled on Douglas prom. Since their unveiling, the statues have proved popular with visitors posing for selfies, as well as drunkards who can’t resist the temptation to place a cone on their heads. And as if that wasn’t enough, we had a royal visit to Tynwald as Princess Anne (from Netflix’s The Crown) came to oversee the island’s national day ceremony.
Plus, islanders were now fairly free to come and go as they pleased, provided that they were vaccinated. However, this led to accusations of a two-tier society.
Following on from the Olympics, Team GB’s Paralympic team had a great games, finishing second behind China in the medal table. But the month was dominated by one story, the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Somehow catching everybody without a Twitter account off guard, the Taliban dispatched of the Afghan gov within days and claimed the capital Kabul as British, American and allied partners fled the country leaving people stranded and some desperate souls trying to cling onto planes.
As for the ever big event in August, you’re better just watching it as nothing I say can give it justice.
Back at home, Kirk Michael was told it was getting a black and red crossing instead of a normal white one. Dubbed ‘Dennis’ by mean spirited journalists (Sam), the DoI quickly realised it wasn’t working and replaced it with a standard zebra crossing.
Dr Rosalind Ranson, the Medical Director of the DHSC, gave explosive evidence to Tynwald which criticised the way the gov had handled the pandemic right from the start, the island’s first Culture Fest was held at the Nunnery, the CEG Orbit ran aground in the north of the island and with election campaigning under way, one minister had a unique way of connecting with voters.
As the kids returned to school, we got to see a battle for ages playing out in front of our very eyes as Prof Chris Whitty said rapper Nicki Minaj ‘should be ashamed’ after she tweeted this:
It then got a lot weirder as Minaj followed it up with two even more bizarre tweets.
On the island we only had a few minor stories like the General Election, the end of CoMen, the new Lieutenant Governor, the chair of Castletown Commissioners resigning after an incident with her dog and Mystic Chess critiquing MHK’s outfits which led to her being labelled a misogynist. The people of Peel protested against raw sewage being dumped in the sea and, having finally got used to seeing the roundels on the prom, islanders received contradictory advice on how to use them with the DoI and the Police failing to agree on whether or not they are just roundabouts.
Plus, the best news of all, FC Isle of Man were finally able to play a league game on home soil (or astro turf).
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a ton of leaked docs which went on to be called the Pandora Papers. Given our history with such leaks Manxies flocked online to see what was being said about us this time, but we were somewhat conspicuous by our absence. COP 26 got underway and the World Health Organisation approved the world’s first Malaria vaccine.
Meanwhile the world stood still, or at least seemed to, as Facebook went down for several hours, this led to uncles everywhere having to tell their dogs that vaccines include microchips so Bill Gates can track him going to Shoprite.
Over on Manx soil was Alf v Dr Al in the battle to be Chief Minister, a contest Mr Cannan later won. We were later told the good news that we should expect a 27.5% gas bill increase, the chair of Castletown Commissioners stood down and one of the island’s most famous residents, Trevor Hemmings, died suddenly at the age of 86.
Barbados became a republic as it ditched the Queen as head of state, but decided to stay in the Commonwealth as it enjoys the once-every-four-years sportsday as much as the rest of us. We first heard of something called the Omicron variant and NASA launched a rocket in the hope of being able to alter the direction of an asteroid. The Daily Mirror also ran a story that was going to go big in the coming weeks as it said it knew there were parties in Downing Street during 2020 when people weren’t allowed to mix with their relatives at Christmas.
On the island, the FLUMES WERE OPENED! After years of delays and failings the NSC flumes were finally back in action. Briefly. As we now know that one of them has since been closed, though the gov is being a bit tight lipped as to why exactly that is. The man whose report led to the major restructuring of the island’s health service praised the work done so far, but admitted the job is much bigger than he first thought and the DoI came back for more cash for the Liverpool ferry terminal, bringing it to a mere £70m of taxpayers’ money. Having already sunk £40m into the scheme, Tynwald would later agree to paying the rest as otherwise we’d be left with nothing and now the Public Accounts Committee is looking into this whole mess.
The USA announced it wasn’t sending diplomats to the 2022 China Winter Olympics because for the country’s human rights record. Canada, the UK and Australia quickly followed.
The biggest thing we learnt this December was that last Christmas there were a series of parties at Downing Street. It all began on December 7 when ITV got hold of a video of former spokesperson Allegra Stratton in which she and other Downing Street staff made joking references to a Christmas gathering at 10 Downing Street that took place four days earlier. It later emerged there were pictures of Boris and some staff drinking wine and cheese in Number 10’s garden when the country was in the midst of its first lockdown.
Also as M&S v Aldi round 2 kicked off over sparkly gin, one of them was willing to make amends.
Here on the Isle of Man, Manx Gas sought a second gas price increase, despite only getting a 27.5% one in October, which was rejected by the utilities regulator, Kush the legendary red panda, who twice escaped from the Curraghs Wildlife Park, sadly died and Peel and Douglas submitted bids for city status.