A strike caused the TT to be postponed from the usual May - June dates to late August, just before the Manx GP. So when June arrived, the bodyclock, finely tuned after years of going to the Island, still woke me up early each morning as if for practice. We wandered round in circles, totally lost. However we rebooked for the new dates, aiming for two glorious weeks of practice and racing, food and drink. I was enamoured of a nurse at the time and was trying to get her to come over with our group to the romantic Island........(I, er, refrained from mentioning the motorbikes of course !) We all worked at the same hospital but most of our hurriedly formed TT party belonged to different departments.
However, as we neared August my bosses wife announced that the imminent birth of her first baby could be slap-bang in the middle of the newly dated TT period...
So we decided to go for practice week but, in turn, promised to be ready to return at short notice so the boss could be present at the birth if this darned woman produced. I would also have to be in charge of the lab in his absence.
On a glorious Sunday morning, we took off from Newcastle Airport and had a lovely flight during which we could see the Irish Sea far below.
Well, for a Dakota it was "far below" in 1966 !
(...and it was through the gaps in the floorboards, if I remember correctly !)
I had booked our group into a super sea front hotel with a view across the bay and good food. We had actually taken over the whole hotel in other years so our host (Mrs Gawne) was pleased to have us again.
We went to every practice and every function that first week and then the girlfriend, a nurse, had to return for night duty. We flew back on the Saturday and made a phone call to be told that there was no sign of the stork---yet !
I was sitting in the flat alone after delivering my girlfriend to her ward duty, when two friends called in to see if we had enjoyed the practice week.
They stated that they were packed and were going over for a "long weekend" to see Mad Sunday and some racing--
Did I want to go with them ? I grabbed some clean underwear and leapt into their car. Over to Carlisle then down to Liverpool, and I arrived back on the Island for a SECOND TIME before most of my pals had missed me. Luckily the hotel could allocate us a room where we could shower and change but it was a bit small fot three blokes !!
We returned after the Mondays racing and I was back to work on the Tuesday. The girl friend had been on nights and had not missed me either !
Still no sign of a baby so I put five days work into three because I had been notified that the local Motorcycle Club which was running a bus trip had had two last minute cancellations. We would set out on the Thursday night to go and see the Fridays races and we would return after the racing to be back on Saturday in time for breakfast. So on Thursday at 7pm on the dot, I, and a friend who I had drafted-in at the last minute, one who had never seen a motorcycle race ever, boarded the hired coach. I was on my way again, this time across the moors and down to Liverpool, to catch the midnight boat, for the THIRD VISIT to the TT in a fortnight....
We watched the 50cc and 500cc races from the top of Bray Hill and returned home during the night, arriving home for breakfast, a soak in a hot bath and then take a short but welcome kip before being dragged out to help with the weekend shopping !
We all went out to a big evening 'do' on the Saturday and it was a real struggle to stay awake ! The friend I had persuaded was a drummer in the band that was playing at the club.
The baby eventually arrived on the following Tuesday, so it was quite a close call
1966 will forever be remembered as the year of the seamens strike but I bet there were VERY few people who made the trip three times in one year !!!