The Isle of Man is a metaphorical kingdom that inhabits the poetry and fiction of Susan Sontag, Germaine Greer, Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, and represents the last bastion of male chauvinist patriarchalism in the world - it even names its capital Douglas. It is said that, when the Isle of Man changes its name to the Isle of Person, gender equality will descend upon all the world, and gay marriage will even be permitted in Tennessee and Tehran. It seems a long way off however. Inhabitants of this remote Viking colony still speak a language known as ManX – yes, even the designation of the male gene is incorporated at this level. Like Guernsey, the island operates as an off-shore tax haven, and has no other source of income, though there are a few sheep, the annual motorbike race, and it is a very nice place to make TV programmes and movies.
As yet there is no Isle of Woman, unless you count Greek Lesbos, though the Coral Sea Islands have declared themselves the Isle of Gay.
Once upon a time, in the mythological age before motorbikes ran riot all across the island, when the Isle of Man was known by its own choice of name as Ellan Vannin, the Manx people spoke a language of their own, a dialect of Celtic that was related to the Irish of Ulster and the Gaelic of the Scottish highlands, but today there are few who can even pronounce it properly and the last native speaker died thirty years ago.
As to the island's major contributions to human civilisation - well, there are not too many places that gave the world an entirely original breed of cat, albeit one by which there does not hang a tale. Go Manx! Purr!
Marks for: 1 for the cat
Marks against: 1 for the tax haven
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