I first came to the Isle of Man on holiday with my family in 1962. I was five years old.
We came over on the new car ferry, Manx Maid, and stayed at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey. The Mitre was run by the long-suffering Mr. Midgeley and his formidable wife, Mrs. Midgeley.
Meals at the Mitre were accompanied by piano music on a loop tape. One of the permanent guests got into trouble when Mrs Midgeley overheard him say that the music was as repetitive as the menu. She said that it was classy.
One particular tune caught my attention. It lasted four minutes and was achingly beautiful. It came round every hour and a half.
I asked but nobody could tell me what this piece was. I was terrified that I would never hear it again.
It was several years before I heard it again and learned what it was – Chopin’s famous Nocturne in E flat major, opus 9 number 2. To this day it remains my favourite piece of classical music.
Today Ramsey is at a low ebb. The Mitre is still open as a bar, but the hotel itself lies empty. When you see the transformation effected in Peel by the new marina, the way forward for Ramsey seems clear.
Then perhaps another young child will hear and come to love Chopin’s Nocturnes in the dining room at the Mitre Hotel.