Returning to the Isle of Man

IT'S holiday season again. Everyone is jetting off somewhere. The Canary Islands, a cruise of the Greek islands, Florida - I even know someone who is going to India.

IT'S holiday season again.

Everyone is jetting off somewhere. The Canary Islands, a cruise of the Greek islands, Florida - I even know someone who is going to India.

So at the weekend I left the comfort of my little Ipswich sitting room and jetted off to that lesser known tourist destination - the Isle of Man. In a previous life I used to live on the island, and I decided it was time I caught up with my talented-actress-cum-singer-friend Marie.

After a tiresome journey - during which the trusty rusty Rover was tested to its mechanical limits on the way to Luton - I had to push my way through a group of fans (football - not mine) and run for the flight after taking too long to spray some aftershave and buy a bar of Toblerone.

I admit that Douglas, the island's capital, might not have the panache of Monaco, and when I arrived it was bathed in a rather unseasonal fog.

Marie, who works as a hairdresser while resting from the demands of the stage, met me for a glass of wine. “How lovely to see you darling, I hardly recognised you. You look so slim,” I think I heard her almost say.

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Marie, a scion of the Manx Operatic Society, suggested we take a trip across the island's stunning mountain Snaefell, to her home on the north west of the island.

“Only if you drive carefully,” I replied. “I have fans who would be shocked to hear of my death in a freak mountain plunge.”

It was a picturesque and somewhat emotional journey. Not least because my life flashed before my eyes three times as we negotiated hairpin bends, stupid sheep and sheer drops. I was tempted to kiss the ground when we got down.

An hour later I was sitting in glorious sunshine marvelling at the Manx microclimate and sipping a Sasparilla.

So exhausted was I by the demands of air travel and mountain driving, that I gracefully declined the offer made by Marie's three children to play cricket and stroke their Jack Russell dog.

The next day I found myself on the beach under the shadow of Peel castle enjoying an ice cream and a view across the water to Ireland -well I think it was.

After writing a few postcards and watching a Viking ship invade the harbour, I determined to venture to the water's edge. Marie said: “It won't be warm and your legs might go orange in the radioactive waters of the Irish sea. It's where they dump all that nuclear waste.”

I bravely brushed her warnings aside.

“Oh, I'll be fine,” I said.

Well I was wrong.

While other people go snorkelling in the red sea, or bathing off some desert island I found myself in the icy grip of the Irish sea, breathless and in a state of shock. I was lucky I didn't have to be rescued by a Wattisham-based helicopter.

I soon sashayed back on to the beach, rubbing my legs trying to stimulate circulation.

I had to have a scampi lunch to recover.

I lived in a village called Laxey.

I wasn't a celebrity then - I worked in a bank.

The trusty rusty Rover has been to the Isle of Man - it wasn't so rusty then.

I had a little Manx sitting room with stunning views.

Everyone missed me when I left.

The three legs of man is the Island's symbol of independence. The symbol's Latin inscription “Quocunque Jeceris Stabit” means “Whichever way you throw me I stand.”

SO now a die-hard Eng-er-land fan, I have decided I might follow the example of the national team and sign a lucrative modelling contract for sunglasses or toothpaste or something.

But as I mentioned my plans to my colleagues on the Evening Star newsdesk much merriment ensued-a reaction that somewhat depressed me.

“What's so funny?” I enquired. “Why can't I be a model? Don't you think I look like Beckham?”

“Oooh that's a tough one,” replied health reporter Sarah Gillett, and do you know dear readers, I don't think she was entirely serious.

At least I don't cry at the slightest thing.

I'VE been off sick dear readers, away from my fans, away from my desk and away from my usual rude health.

I was at death's door with a terribly unpleasant chest infection - I think it was probably something dramatic like whooping cough.

For nearly 48 hours I rested in my maroon boudoir, with only occasional trips to my little Ipswich sitting room. I thought I was going to die only to be discovered half-eaten by cats weeks later.

Can you imagine the humiliation? Can you imagine the headlines?

Celebrity Forgotten.

Unheard of Marston - Famous in Death

Bachelor Boy's Body Beyond Recognition

“James Who?” says neighbour.

Using all my reserve strength and two bottles of purely medicinal brandy later, I have forced my way back to the land of the living.

I am too young to die as an unknown.