Spills and chills

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

One day in the mid-1990s I was filming with my BBC TV crew outside the Creg Ny Baa hotel. We were crouching down at the top of the escape road alongside a medic who knew everything there was to know about the TT. You could tell he knew everything because he spoke in a cool drawl like James Stewart and he wore an Aussie-style hat. “You can always tell if a rider’s gonna make the corner,” he informed us. “It’s not the speed, it’s the line.”  We nodded and carried out setting up the camera. “Look at this chap now,” he went on. “He’s got it. You can always tell. His line’s spot on.” At that moment there was that horrible sound of metal scraping on tarmac, a shout went up from the crowd, and our new best mate was grabbing his medical bag and running off to patch up the rider whose line, unfortunately, had landed him in the chicken wire outside the Creg’s saloon.

Talking of horrible sounds, one that I’ll never forget came in my first year as Manx Radio commentator. I was staying at the Hilton, although it might have been called the Palace then, or maybe the Stakis….. My room overlooked the car park at the back. I was working away on my preparation, head down, when there was the sound of metal splintering and the most horrendous howl-cum-scream that I’ve ever heard. I rushed to the window and there was a car which had obviously reversed into a baby buggy, with the baby in it. There was more shouting and screaming and it emerged that dad had backed up the car, not realising that the buggy was parked right behind the rear bumper. The mum was distraught, hotel staff raced out, an ambulance came, and the babe was rushed off for treatment. I heard later that he, or she, can’t remember which now, was ok. But it was a terrible incident which could have been absolutely tragic.

Another episode which chills the blood, looking back, was when I was in a car being driven by a cameraman to the airport. Somewhere after the Mount Murray a biker pulled right out in front of us at 90 degrees. We smashed  into him, he flew up over the windscreen and the roof, and my instant thought was that he had to be seriously injured, if not dead. Looking back over my shoulder, I could see him picking himself up. Incredibly, he was unhurt and was full of apologies.

It’s an extreme place, the Isle of Man, especially at TT time. As the precinct lootenant used to say in that brilliant series Hill Street Blues, “be careful out there”.

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