The annoyingly dead but otherwise marvellous writer Douglas Adams recommended that those hitchhiking around the galaxy should always know where their towel is. In the not-completely unlikely scenario that there might one day be Manx people backpacking through Betelgeuse (let’s face it, we get everywhere), I think we’d replace the towel with a coat.
One warm morning, a neighbour spotted me leaving home. Indicating my jacket and his own pinkly-glowing demeanour, he uttered the well-meaning words ‘You won’t need your coat!’ I smiled politely because I was nicely raised, but made no adjustment to my outfit.
‘You won’t need your coat’ is not a phrase that I trust. I’m originally from Peel – my tribe feel the cold because our hearts are so warm. Unless rivulets of molten tarmac are oozing into the gutter, there’s a fold-up cagoule lurking in my manbag. Because it might turn murky later – now there’s a phrase you CAN trust.
Although we obviously have the benefits of living on an island in the gulf stream – like Goldilocks’ pilfered porridge, we’re rarely too hot or too cold – the Manx climate still has a reputation for changing, and changing fast. Although I don’t have any stats to back this up, it’s usually when the weather is warm and pleasant that it’s also the most changeable.
Open the curtains on a November morning to find biblical rain cascading out of sky the colour of anthracite, and we quite reasonably assume that these will be the conditions for the day. Nobody shoves a bottle of Factor 50 into their duffle coat pocket, on the off-chance of an unseasonal heatwave around teatime. However, draw back the same curtains in July to find brilliant sunshine scorching the neighbour’s gnomes, and the words ‘It won’t last’ aren’t too far away. I’d much rather mooch round on a sunny day with a jacket slung nonchalantly over my arm, then squelch about with half the contents of a cloud saturating my shirt.
And on those rare occasions where I do find myself away from home without a coat of some description, there’s a strategy in place. I take a deep breath, check the forecast on my phone, scan the locale for coffee shops and pubs in which to shelter if necessary, and remember another catchphrase of Mr Adams – Don’t Panic.