[From The Manxman, #10 1913]

"Wanting to know, you know."

More Queer Queries addressed to the Board of Advertising.

From a previous Article you will recollect some samples of funny questions which arrive either verbally or. in writing, and now I think we might, with advantage, try a few more.

One of the arts which is not in the least dying out is the gentle art of asking questions. Members of the British House of Commons are supposed to be well versed in this respect, and it might be added, by the way, that members of the British Government are extraordinarily adroit in not answering them. It seems to have been just the same when Charles Dickens was alive. You remember the Circumlocution Department, and how one official said to another that "there was a fellow here, look here, who had come to their Department, and said that he wanted to know, you know, and that, look here, suppose he were to break out now, and say that he wanted to know, you know,"- etc. Well, there are plenty left yet who want to know, you know, and a good many of them come to the Government Board of Advertising in the Isle of Man, while the others, who don't come, write

.A. W. Tongue
Mr. A. W. Tongue

I believe that Mr. A. W. Tongue, the official secretary, learned a pretty good deal when he was at school, for he is a singularly urbane and well-informed man, but I fancy that was nothing to what he has learned since he was appointed to his present honourable and onerous position, for he has had to face the fellow who wanted to know, you know.

Advertising Board's offices Douglas, 1910
The Board's Offices, Coronation Chambers, Douglas

In a previous article I gave, you will recollect, some samples of funny questions which arrive, either verbally or in writing, and now I think we might, with advantage, try a few more. As you may have the erroneous idea that they all come from Manchester or Oldham, we will give some from a little wider radius.

Intin Lane, No. 5, Cape Coast.-Dear Sir,I am with much felicity to write you to ask your Tariff Booklet. Hoping you will not fail to bring it with best compliments to you and all.-I am, yours truly, Quakoe Ayausu.

As the Steampacket Co. could not spare the Ben-my-Chree to run down to Cape Coast, Mr. Tongue did not " bring it." It had to go by ordinary post, a sadder fate than such an enquiring gentleman deserved. The Isle of Man seems to be quite popular in Cape Coast. Here is another:

Alexander Lawson, c/o Attabra Mensab, Bentil Street, Cape Coast, Gold Coast, W. Africa. Will you kindly do me a world of good to send me your illustrated guides by next post. Hoping you will not fail with much love.

I think this would have been a far better letter if the Secretary to the Board of Advertising had been a lady. However affection in a distant correspondent is not to be despised. From Carlton, Carlton Co., Minnesota, U.S. America, the following arrived:

Ellen Vannin, Isle of Man. I see your letter, in the " Family Herald," you have 60,000 on your Island. How many churches have you on the island? and what kind? How large is the island? You say it is always mild, do you know if there is any small tracks of land for sale, say about five acres, and the price per acre. I am looking for a mild climate at present. I have been in Northern Minnesota for about 30 years. If you get this note please write me as soon as possible, give me the particulars about your island, if you please, and oblige yours very truly. P.S.-Sent your address in full and no if any and ob.

The last words are a little cryptical, but the mild climate is all right, and that's the main point. As for the " tracks of land," I believe that Mr. Thomson generally has a few for sale to the highest bidder. Back again to Africa, from Lagos came the following:

Having heard your name that you are good merchants among the others, I was introduced by one of your customers if you pleased send your illustrated catalogue to me I want to make large order from you and I will introduce my friends to you who will make order from you. Am anxious to get the same in time Because I want to send many thing on is because am not a small trader in Lagos. Hope you will not fail, me for the same. Nothing of importance. Hope to hear soon from you.

As they seem to be getting on so delightfully with the English language in West Africa, I expect that Mr. Tongue will be receiving a' few letters in Manx, by-and-bye. Besides the gentleman in Lagos, others, nearer home, seem to have an eye to business, as, for instance:

Gentlemen, 'Could you give me any information as to Marine Stores where they deal in old Fish netts or Brokers. Please oblige.

On one occasion a wanter to know, you know, sent a letter which, to print in full, would take, up about three pages of the " Manxman." It embodied fifteen complaints, all duly set forth. As it came from Dublin, let us have the one respecting Messrs. Guinness's Stout, being No. 9

Why the extortionate charges and the variety of charges for refreshments? At Groudle, at Port Soderick, and at Douglas Head, for instance, a small bottle of stout is fourpence, a 100 p.c. more than in Dublin. In very few places can it be got for less. In London, Liverpool, etc., you can get "Guinness " at 2d. or 2½d., and its only on the boats or at the railway station that this is exceeded. We Dublin people are used to Guinness, plain or draught, at 2d. per pint, but not a drop in Douglas. We have to take beer which we don't like, and that at 3d. or 4d. a pint, which in Liverpool is only 1½d. or 2d. In Dublin we don't extort our visitors. In one bar they refused me draught beer because I wasn't a labourer. They only want to sell bottles. I am writing to Messrs. Guinness about it.

It would have taken Mr. Tongue a year or two to have settled these fifteen complaints, and have required him to make about two hundred visits in the course of doing it. No doubt there are a few things in the Isle of Man-the same as any other place-which require amendment, and these he puts into the proper quarter.

I am sorry that space forbids my continuing, on this occasion, as I should like to have given in full a letter which painted the beauties â;nd glories of the Island in glowing colours, but the writer wound up with the announcement that, in spite of these advantages, he declined . to come again " till the law respecting compulsory vaccination was amended." I think the members for Douglas ought to look into this immediately. From another letter:-- There is no such word as 'monstre ' in the English language-possibly there is in the Manx. If you wish to thank me for pointing out what is apparently colossal ignorance, also to save you from getting the sack, do so in the Agony Column of the 'Daily Dispatch.' Yes, Sir." This seems to have come from a very candid friend indeed.

Mr. Tongue has done, and is doing, great service to the Isle of Man. He has organized the Department with great skill and good judgment, and has brought into it, what is equally necessary, that tact without which so little can be satisfactorily accomplished, and I hope the Island may long retain his services. T.E.E.

A typical Manx country village




Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2005