John Shand's Column - Will the TT be on next year?

Wow! That Mr Phillips has asked me to do a monthly column for the TT website. TT website dot com as well, even more important. He said once before he did not want to institutionalise us TT entrants by having their own space on the pages here. No idea what that means, do you?

My old grandad on the milkmans side of the family once said to my other old grandad on the coalmans side, that what this country needs is "Institution, Constitution and Prostitution" Well I don't know what the last one means, but I figure it is an institution for professionals like me-that's where the "pro" bit comes in , don't you think? That Phillips bloke has no respect. I would rather be thrown into one of them prostitutions, they seem more important.

Still, he has asked for some words on his site so I guess that's a start.

So the best start is to talk about the subject on everyone's lips right now.

Will the TT be on next year?

We can start with the answer first and then work through some of the reasons why. The 2002 TT races will be on. A big fat YES. Don't even think otherwise; the TT will go ahead. Book your tickets and accommodation now!!

Why am I so confident? There are a lot of reasons.

First, its about money. For the first time since World War Two the population and business houses have experienced a TT free year. The 50 million quid generated by the TT ,or whatever the figure is, depending on who you talk to, was sorely missed by a whole lot of people. The point driven home by this, is the downstream effects of the money chain. Not only the hotels suffered, but the suppliers to the hotels, the employees, the brewers and so on. For every person directly affected by no TT income, there are 10 who are indirectly affected and the money circle cannot go around if there is nobody tipping it in at the beginning. I think they found out that 50 million quid missing from circulation hurt them enough to convince many people that it must never happen again. So the economy and worth of the TT can still be considered a major factor in the livelihoods of many island folk. Its all very well to say the banking sector can live without the TT but as yet they do not outnumber the ones who do need the TT. And of course money investing bubble has burst more than once in the last hundred years but the race goes on and on, always bringing its annual contribution from the pilgrims and worshippers of our great sport.

Next to consider is that if the 2002 TT was cancelled and held in 2003, it would make a total of three years without the event. The tourist industry cannot hold its breath that long. There would be such dramatic changes to the tourist economy and its infrastructure in order to simply survive and exist, that a the replacement system would not want or trust that the TT could be part of the new scheme. To put it more simply-if there is no TT next year, there will never be another one, ever more. Now its the Department of Tourism that run and fund the TT, and for them a huge restructure of their economic strategy, goals and aspirations, probably at a cost not nearly so effective as continuing with the status quo. For them it must continue. The alternatives are not good.

Lets look at why the TT was cancelled this year. Ah yes; an animal disease that is contagious but not life threatening to man or beast. Most can now agree that it is a political as well as animal illness. A country with the infection must be declared so in terms of international agreements and for protection to countries importing the meat products. Once the disease is eradicated the problem nation can be declared disease free within three months and the export trade starts up again. However if vaccination takes place, the time frame is lengthened considerably before exports and general consumption resume. But the man in Whitehall with the abacus must have figured out by now that the cost of slaughter of healthy animals is getting close to equal the loss in lost export earnings had vaccination taken place. Add to that the many incidents of the farmers themselves entering into corrupt practices, the seemingly casual approach to the eradication programme and a watchful public seeing farmers not doing their bit while they are; there is a swing in the mood of opinion. Like the spider weaving a web across a toilet seat, eventually it got pissed off! People are pissed off that this is still not under control.

The politicians are ducking for cover as well. The European Parliament were told three years ago that the stocking rates are too high and farming is too intensive. A disease of any type is hard to eradicate. Now they are all fumbling the ball. The situation now is a bit like farting in church. Keep your poker face, sing along obediently and pretend it wasn't you. Nobody wants to take responsibility. Meanwhile the vicar has tears in his eyes, choir boys are passing out and the gold paint is coming off the statue beside the pulpit. But pretend all is OK.

So by next June there will have been almost 18 months of this tail chasing if they haven't fixed it first, and the only place they will find sympathy will be in a dictionary. So far they have shot almost four million healthy animals at a cost of around a billion pounds in compensation and culling fees. That's about half a million animals a month so by the TT next year it will be up around the ten million mark. So they will either run out of animals to shoot or run out of money to pay the costs. Will the public stand for this senlessness when vaccination has always been an option. The mood has already swung. The TT will be on.

Next is the reaction to the loss of the TT this year. The people on the Island as well as the thousands who visit are now going through the withdrawal symptoms of not having their annual adrenaline fix for the two weeks in June. All getting a little bitchy and irritated. Now the groundswell of opinion is to not let this happen again. The attempt at having some kind of consolation prize in the form of the so called festival was a flop. The whole fortnight was a faked orgasm and now we are all getting funny in the pants again for the next encounter. The foreplay has already started and next June everybody better have their pants off and hotted up because there will be no stopping this one!! Book your tickets.

All those who said it costs too much to go to the TT and we are better off to go to a GP or Superbike round somewhere else in Europe is more cost effective. Moan moan moan about the Steam Packet Company. What rubbish. Offset against the extra cost of the travel is that once you get onto the Island, pretty much everything else is the same as any other place in terms of cost. But here is the big difference. You can almost touch the bikes as they go by.

You can actually talk to the riders. You can visit their garage. You can ride on the racetrack. You can drink in the same pub as the stars and with them. You can talk the same TT language to anyone you meet from the publican to the old lady in the flower shop. There are many things that you can do at the TT that one must either pay a kings ransom for at a GP or Superbike race, that's if you can do it at all! So paying an extra 50 quid in travel to get his kind of action is peanuts to the return in thrills, atmosphere, camaraderie, and sheer enjoyment at the TT, which is why they can promote the place as the "Road Racing Capitol of the World" Remove that from the Isle of Man and you have torn the heart out of its people and let its soul float off into obscurity and anonymity to become just another large rock in an ocean of despair. Pay the money to the Steam Packet and count your blessings. Those who complain are not worthy children of the TT God. Book your tickets.

When will they tell us the TT is going to be on?

Real soon!!! Yes real soon. In fact this year. There will be no waiting for the last minute. None of this" We will not be forced into a hasty decision until all parties have been clearly informed and all the facts presented and weighed up so we are satisfied that the process was correct in terms of correctness and clarity and balanced opinions of all parties have been taken into consideration in due course according to the information received when and not before it is received by those persons who undertake to supply this advice in accordance with the terms and specifications of the advisory panel whose decision shall remain final on an interim basis" The days of that bullshit are over now. The double talk is falling on deaf ears. In November its time on the Island to vote. The TT will not be a political football during the hustings. Too many heads can roll. The subject will be avoided like the plague that cancelled it. The decision will be made to run the TT before the elections so it cannot be kicked around like some rag doll.

Its bigger than that. Bigger than many people thought and assumed. Big enough for the real thinkers, the real shakers and movers on Monas Isle to crack on at full throttle and prepare for the rightful return on the worlds most famous and longest established road race for motorcycles. Any other course of action is political, financial, social, moral, and soul breaking suicide for thousands and thousands people on and off the Island. Book your tickets.

November seems like a huge lead in time. Not really. The teams must get the 2002 race programmes sorted out very soon. Bikes, riders, contracts and preparations start now.

Organisational preparations for the actual race must start now. Commitments to the event of many many varieties must start now. Overseas competitors, spectators, fans, visitors the whole nine yards of it---must start now. Confidence in the future must start now. Planning for the best TT you have ever had the good fortune to attend, the next one, must start now.

November is the time to make the announcement, anything later and the decaying organisms that eat away at freshly killed carcases establish their dominance, and the point of no return is passed in terms of healthy consumption.

The event will be oversubscribed in every respect. The TT drug is so strong that more people will be searching for their fix than the structure can support. All aspects of the event will be in serious overload. But for me, I have got a head start on the rest. My tickets are booked. My bikes are ready. My time off work is carried forward from last year. My accommodation is waiting. My TT is so bloody organised, I keep looking for odd things to take care of that have been done ten times already. All I have to do is figure out if I will get drunk for the first time in Douglas or Ramsay. The rest of you, before its too late---book your tickets.

John Shand

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