W. David Ward
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Tynwald Day

Excerpt from Time Enough - June 2013 – Chapter 18

July 4th, 2012:
In the scene below, the day before the 1033rd sitting of Tynwald (July 5th, 2012), I meet with my friend Andy to make arrangements to attend of the Manx parliament's annual outdoor session; an event that has taken place since the year 979 AD. As you will read, 2012 was an especially notable year, and while the subject of 'missions to the moon' seems a little incongruous, please bear with me; I assure you, it does tie in, not only with the island's mythological tradition – The Grail and the 'Cauldren of Regeneration' in particular but also with a parallel story, which culminates (later in the book) with the Apollo 11 crew and John Glenn being awaded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Please enjoy 'Tynwald Day' :

pp. 263 - 267

Chapter 18

Tynwald Day



‘Tis Mona the lone! – where the silver mist gathers –
Pale shroud whence our wizard-chief watches unseen,
O’er the breezy, the bright, the lov’d home of my father;
Oh Mannin, my graih, my cree! Mannin, veg veen!


July 4th, 2012: Douglas, Isle of Man

    A light drizzle quickly became a determined shower. As Andy hurried across
Victoria Street to meet me, he pointed to a nearby cafe.

    “Cup of tea?

    We ducked inside. The weather had been gray and threatening ever since I
arrived in Douglas, but the rain had held off until now.”

    “It’s been like this most of the summer,” Andy cautioned. “The rest of the week
doesn’t look good either, but you know what they say about Tynwald Day?”

    “Yes,” I replied. “They say it always rains.” I’d been asked a number of times in
the past, if I planned to come over for Tynwald, always with this caveat. It wasn’t the dour warnings that had kept me away, however. July was always a busy time of year at home, and a more expensive time to be in the British Isles as well, so I’d never managed to get myself here for the fifth of July before.”

    “It can’t rain every year, surely,” I reasoned, pulling a copy of this year’s program from my pack. “Here you go. Sunshine.”

    The cover image, strategically selected no doubt, presented a grandstand full
of spectators in summer attire, bathed in sunlight as they observed the ancient
proceedings on Tynwald Hill.

    “Not exactly a blue sky.” Said Andy.

    The clouds were a little heavy, but I chose to disregard this pessimistic

    “Don’t worry about it. Pam told me we should bring our waterproofs, and a
foam mat or something to sit on, just in case – the metal benches can be chilly.
It’ll clear up though, I’m sure of it.”

    Andy was leafing through the program’s introduction. “I hope so.” He said,
grinning. “I had my hat picked out and everything.” Officials and dignitaries were bedecked in their finery: robes of State, top hats and tails and a grandstand packed with ascots. “Are we sitting with your friends then?”

    “They’re in the first section, friends in high places, and all that. Or family, I
guess that would be. We’re up near the top end though. We’ll have a great view of
the avenue, and the stairs up the front of the Hill. I’m meeting with Pam tomorrow – I’ve got to pick up that etching I bought over at the Sayle Gallery – and we’re going to have a coffee next door. I’ll get some more details then.” I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out an envelope. “Here’s your ticket. unless you want me to hang onto it?”

    “No. I’ll keep it. In case I miss you at the bus station, they’ll have extra buses running, but it’ll be busy.” He flipped to the back of the book. “Maybe there’s a holiday schedule here somewhere. I should have thought to check it when I was down at the market.”

    “We should leave early, whatever the schedule says. I want to make sure we get
good seats.”

    “Acts for Promulgation,” he read. “These will be all the new pieces of legislation parliament wants to enact this year...continued.” He scanned the back pages. “We might be there for a while.”

    “I don’t imagine they’ll read the whole bill each time. It’s an official public
notification, a bit like the three readings of a bill in Canadian Parliament I imagine.”

    “It’ll be in Manx too,” said Andy, pointing to the translation alongside. The
prospect of sitting long hours in the rain had clearly been playing on his mind. “It
won’t be good for my rheumatism.”

    “It’s not going to rain.” I repeated, with far more conviction than I actually felt. “I have good intuition when it comes to the weather. Beside, you’ve always told me
you should go. Where else can you see a ceremony that has more than a thousand
years of history? And this year’s kind of special.”

    “Absolutely,” he responded, with renewed enthusiasm. Actually, I can’t believe
I’ve lived here all these years and I’ve still never managed to get there.” He glanced
out of the window, at the apparently unrelenting rain. “We’ll take our chances. Just
better make sure I find a bathroom before we get to our seats.” He closed the
program. “Can I keep this?”

    “It comes with the ticket. It’s yours,” I assured him.

    “I’ll read it later. Thanks.” He rummaged in his satchel and pulled out a thick
colourful magazine. “I wanted to show you this. It’s the very first issue.” He said,
proudly. “This is the next generation of NASA’s heavy lifters. It’s what they’ll use
to go to the moon.”

    ‘BLAST OFF on board the most powerful rocket ever,’ read a banner across the
first edition of All About Space magazine.

    “Andy, this is so you,” I exclaimed. An artist’s impression of a futuristic Saturn
V rocket, with space shuttle boosters affixed either side, blazed off the cover. Below
it: ‘RACE TO THE MOON. USA, China or Russia: which is closest?’

    “You can borrow it if you like. I loved those GRAIL pictures you sent by the
way, and the ‘artsy’ video too; I’m glad your friend could arrange that for you.”

    “Yeah. It wasn’t so straightforward this time though. Roselee doesn’t actually
work for NASA anymore. The launch was touch and go as well. Five attempts this
time, so I had lots of time at the pub.”

    “Too much drinking and not enough writing.” Andy chastised. “You didn’t do
a story about this one.”

    “Well I did, but I’m going to use it as the intro for the book. My writer friends
in Toronto have been helping me with the text, and it was something they said actually, about selling a book like a movie – not that I know anything about selling movies either – but it suddenly struck me that this could be the perfect thing to open the story. I’ll let you read it this week sometime. It’d be good to get your opinion because I have a presentation to make on Friday. Actually, that’s the main reason for my trip this time.”

    “I thought you were coming to see the new President’s inaugural appearance at

    “I am, I wouldn’t miss that. But I sent off a few notes last month, knowing I’d
be here, and I got a response from one of the island’s publishers. So I’m meeting
with them to make a proposal.”

    “That’s brave,” Andy exclaimed. “How on earth are you going to sell a story
about rockets to the moon, to a publisher in the Isle of Man?”

    “It’s about mythology, really. People who wouldn’t necessarily pick up a book
about the Isle of Man might pick up a book about mythology; it’s one of those
universal subjects. The Isle of Man makes an occasional appearance early on but
the story ends here, so I figured that anyone who reads the whole thing might then be curious enough to want to see the place for themself. The publisher seemed to like that idea. I’m still scrambling to finish some text and write a précis, and that does make me nervous; I’ve never written one of those before.”

    “So this visit really is a work trip isn’t it? usually you tell me you have to work, and then you head off down to the beach. Or maybe you just go to the pub,” he said, with a wink. “I’ve never actually seen you down on the front with your paints and brushes.”

    “No, it’s definitely a work trip, and the stars seem to be aligned this time; I have a meeting at the museum tomorrow as well. And this is all your fault, Andy!”
Andy looked puzzled.

    “I took your advice about doing a painting for the gallery here in Douglas.”


    “Really. I called the museum from Leeds, last week, and one of the curators
agreed to meet with me.”

    “Did you bring it with you?”

    “I don’t have the actual painting; I’m behind schedule with that too. But I have
some in-progress images to show him, and he wanted to get a little more background. I feel like I’m here interviewing for a job.” I pulled out my laptop and scrolled through my current picture file. “This is the latest.”

    “What is it?”

    “Now you do have me worried.”

    “I can see it’s the island, and these are clouds, swirling around, but what’s...” he paused for moment and held the screen at arm’s length. “Ah, I see what you’re doing.”

    “Manannan, son of the sea. The first time I looked at a map of the Isle of Man
this image came to mind, and I finally have a reason to put it on canvas. See? Here’s the small of his back, and the shoulder, and this ridge of peaks running up to Maughold from Snaefell are like the vertebrae in the neck. His head’s under the water, as if he’s about to dive.”

    “Right. I think you need to show more of his body underwater though,” Andy

    “I’m working on it. It’s more about the concept at this stage. I hadn’t really
thought about this for years, until last summer, when you suggested doing a
painting for the collection here. I just hope the museum’s art committee finds it

    “What ever happened to that painting you wanted to do for NASA?”

    “Well, they received a pile of submissions recently, with all the publicity around the last shuttle launches. That’s the impression I get anyway, reading between the lines. The idea of the Canada Arm came up in one email, as a potential subject – being Canadian, that seems the obvious choice. What I’d really like to do though, is some thing about the GRAIL mission. Those two satellites are zipping across the moon’s surface as we speak.”

    “Ebb and Flow.”

    “Clever names, eh? Some school kids came up with those. I’ll have to do
something equally creative I think, I just haven’t had the time to work on it yet.”

    “Hey, look.” said Andy, glancing out the window again. “It’s stopped raining.
Shall we make our way back?”   


Additional background, and the story of "The President's Book" from my PechaKucha presentation can be seen at:   http://www.wdavidward.com/photos_pechakucha.htm

Time Enough
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