The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (the “TT”) is a motorcycle race – a time trial, actually – held on the public roads of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. It is phenomenally dangerous and wonderful, and in this month’s print edition of Roadracing World magazine, columnist Mat Oxley uses the TT as a window into modern life.
The TT is pretty impossible to defend. Some years ago I argued that it should be shut down. I’m no longer of that opinion. The TT is as insanely dangerous as it ever was, so perhaps it’s me who has changed, or the world itself.
The TT is a relic from an age when most racetracks were similarly lethal, roped-off public roads. But while dozens of other street venues have been shut down, the TT survives because it sits on a self-governed island which is very fond of the millions generated by the race. If anyone else was in charge – the British government in Westminster or the European Union in Brussels – it would be just another piece of bike racing history.
And perhaps this is where the world and I have changed (please excuse me while I enter Grumpy Old Man mode). It seems to me that the world has been taken over by puritan megalomaniacs and I don’t like it.
These crusading cretins pretend they care about people but they don’t, they want us to stop riding motorcycles (why else would the British government keep tightening the bike test?) and quit doing all kinds of other fun stuff, but they start wars. The TT is a wild anachronism in an increasingly controlled society, it’s barking at the moon, a big fingers up to those who want us all to lead safe, decent, mortgaged lives under the all-seeing eye of the CCTV camera, obeying the command of a dayglo-clad security gorilla with an IQ of 50 and tranquilized by the government’s mantra of “your safety is our primary concern.” Bollocks to the lot of them.
I had a similar moment of changing my mind when I watched “Thank You For Smoking”; I’ve always hated smoking – seen it ruin my father’s health – and was always happy to see it restricted in any way possible.
But as I watched the film, I realized that freedom was meaningless if other people aren’t free to do things I hate and things that are “pretty impossible to defend”…