Cair Vie* by Deborah Clague

Moghrey Mie
Good morning in the Manx language

The next morning upon waking up from slumber, I made myself a cup of Cadbury cocoa and watched as numerous people strolled along Douglas Bay. My cab driver from the previous afternoon was correct; there was a different pace of life here. A slower, more personable one. It was a Monday but the Manx Museum and shopping district of the capital would not be open until 10:00am. The sun had risen but the roads were still nearly deserted. There was no hustle-and-bustle. There was no rat race. Just dogs chasing sticks in the sand. I could live here. 

I paused and enjoyed the view, thinking of bloodlines that had come before and imagining what propelled them to leave and settle elsewhere. From this jade jewel in the Irish Sea, I somehow came to being in Canada. 

Fastyr Mie
Good afternoon in the Manx language

I eventually checked out of my hotel and made my way to the Manx Museum. The 10,000 year history of the island is explored through film, galleries and interactive displays and, like all museums in London, has free admission. I did thoroughly enjoy the Manx National Art Gallery display, as well as the Viking and Victorian-era artefacts, but the non-linear flow of the museum was confusing. One minute, I was learning about the famous TT races. The next I walked into an exhibit on primitive man. The next I was learning about the Depression-era economy. I did pick up a "Pocket Manx" guidebook on the basics of the language, which was a neat souvenir. 

I didn't learn a lot about my surname at the museum but further research has informed me that the family name dates to ancient times, perhaps exceeding the Norman Conquest (11th Century). The name is patronymic in origin and is an anglicanization of the Gaelic name Mac Liagh denoting "the son of Liaigh", from the Irish word "liaigh" meaning "physician".

As late as 1986, Clague was the ninth most common name on the Isle of Man, although there weren't as many as I expected in the Yellow Pages. Perhaps a hundred or so. Clague is the original Manx spelling; "Clegg" is the assimilated English version. 

Our family crest is an eagle rising argent. 

Oie Vie
Good night in the Manx language

*Safe journey in the Manx language

Bine Beg Dy Ghaelg* by Deborah Clague

Satellite image of the Isle of Man 

Satellite image of the Isle of Man 

The main purpose of my recent excursion to England was to visit the Isle of Man, birthplace of Clague. Located in the Irish Sea, the small island is a self-governing Crown dependency known for its wealth, low crime rate and, ahem, money laundering schemes. At least these were the things my cab driver chose to inform me of enroute from IOM to Douglas, the capital. Taking taxis is always an interesting experience for me (Citation 1 and 2). I genuinely enjoy the conversation with someone who knows the streets like no other, especially those that demonstrate a genuine pride in their home (adopted or otherwise).

This particular cabbie was an Isle of Man citizen, born and bred. After explaining the purpose of my sojourn and telling him my surname, he immediately replied "Ah yes – that is a very famous Manx name. I know two Clagues actually ... both are artists." I thought this anecdote was interesting. Perhaps it's in our genes. 

He continued to tell me about how much I would love island life in comparison to the mainland. London was too fast-paced and unforgiving, he explained. The people didn't care about anything except getting ahead. 

"I don't mean to be rude" I said sheepishly after he completed his rant, hoping not to offend him by the bold statement to follow "but I actually feel that London has the rudest people I've ever encountered. And I've been all over the world".

"What do you mean, rude? You're not being rude, you're right. They are!!! Doesn't bother me any. I'm not English. You're not English either. You're MANX!" he bellowed, diverting his eyes from the roadway to warmly meet my gaze in the backseat. 

It became one of the most memorable moments of my trip. I had traveled 6,186km from my Canadian home to my ancestral home and was embraced as one of their own.  

I didn't have the heart to tell him I was also half French.

*The title of this post means "a taste of Manx" in the traditional language. 

First glimpse of the Isle of Man from my flight (©Deborah Clague)

First glimpse of the Isle of Man from my flight (©Deborah Clague)

Welcome signage at IOM (©Deborah Clague)

Welcome signage at IOM (©Deborah Clague)

View from my hotel room overlooking Douglas Bay. (©Deborah Clague)

View from my hotel room overlooking Douglas Bay. (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie at Douglas Bay, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie at Douglas Bay, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Victorian architecture lining Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Victorian architecture lining Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Douglas, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Douglas, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Victorian architecture lining Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Victorian architecture lining Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie on Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie on Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Memorial to Manx residents who died during the two world wars. There were several Clague names listed (under Royal Navy), Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Memorial to Manx residents who died during the two world wars. There were several Clague names listed (under Royal Navy), Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Joseph Clague and Thomas Clague, both members of the Royal Navy, are listed on a memorial to those who died during the two world wars (©Deborah Clague)

Joseph Clague and Thomas Clague, both members of the Royal Navy, are listed on a memorial to those who died during the two world wars (©Deborah Clague)

W.C. Clague is listed on a memorial to those who died during the two world wars (©Deborah Clague)

W.C. Clague is listed on a memorial to those who died during the two world wars (©Deborah Clague)

Streets of Douglas at dusk, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Streets of Douglas at dusk, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Streets of Douglas at dusk, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Streets of Douglas at dusk, Isle of Man (©Deborah Clague)

Changing of the Guard by Deborah Clague

I had no set plans one morning and decided to observe the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. It was a cold, drizzling day and while I thought I had a good vantage point, the majority of the action actually happened behind me and I couldn't see for all the heads in the crowd. Having said that, I did capture a few great pictures and got to befriend a horse named "Rasputin". It was also incredibly amusing to watch the London bobbies repeatedly, and with increasing annoyance, attempting to control the crowd of tourists.   

Also - I'm not sure what was happening during this moment but the James Bond soundtrack certainly added to the atmosphere: 

A post shared by Deborah Clague (@debclague) on

Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Rasputin patrols the crowds at his third Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Rasputin patrols the crowds at his third Changing of the Guard ceremony, Buckingham Palace, London (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie with Rasputin (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie with Rasputin (©Deborah Clague)

Swans in St. James Park, London (©Deborah Clague)

Swans in St. James Park, London (©Deborah Clague)

Pink pelicans in St. James Park, London (©Deborah Clague)

Pink pelicans in St. James Park, London (©Deborah Clague)

R.A.K. Clague by Deborah Clague

What makes London one of the greatest cities in the world for me is their support of the Arts and encouragement of learning. Nearly all museums and galleries in the capital offer free admission. During a previous trip I visited the massive British Museum, who's most famous object is perhaps the Rosetta Stone. It was amazing to see this 2200-year-old artifact up close and imagine myself in another era, in another world. 

On this holiday, I spent full days at the Natural History Museum, which housed amazing specimens of dinosaurs (including a few animatronic ones), as well as a cool earthquake simulator fashioned to look like a Japanese grocery store while replicating the 1995 Kobe disaster; the National Portrait Gallery, which showcased Britain's most famous citizens from King Charles II and his many (many!) mistresses to modern pop icons like Paul McCartney and Amy Winehouse; and, my FAVOURITE, the Victoria and Albert Museum which bills itself as "the world's leading museum of art and design". Indeed, it is. I was overwhelmed within 30 minutes of entering. I could have spent my entire trip exploring and learning from it's 7km of galleries housing everything to do with my chosen career path. Needless to say, I left reinvigorated and inspired wanting to create my own masterpieces that may one day be deemed worthy of archiving and preserving. I want to leave an imprint with my life. 


I am not religious but I love to visit old, historic European churches. The grandeur of the architecture is truly awe-inspiring and spiritual, and heck, on some level it is a miracle that I don't burst into flames upon entering them.

On this trip, I visited St. Paul's Cathedral and experienced a moment of serendipity that marked, yet again, a moment where I feel my father's presence was with me. I haven't even written about all of these experiences but maybe I will one day. I feel they've gone beyond coincidental and have strengthened my belief in the existence of an afterlife.

As always now, when entering any religious shrine, I say a prayer and light a votive for my beloved father. It may mean nothing, but I've always felt positive energy is exponential. I want what's in my heart, including all memories of loved ones present and lost, to be housed in good karma. To me, that means everything. After doing this in St. Paul's, I started to feel very, very sad to the point of fighting a losing battle at controlling my tears. London was my father's favourite city in the world and I just wished he could be there physically with me in that moment. I became too distracted to listen to the audio tour I was given and just roamed aimlessly for a bit in an attempt to clear my head. I eventually found myself at the North Quire Aisle. From the corner of my eye, I noticed my name. Clague. 

I did a double-take. I was staring at a large memorial to choirists of St. Paul's Cathedral who had perished during World War II. One of the dozen or so names on the memorial was an "R.A.K. Clague". 

I was shocked. 

And then elated. Here was a Clague (related or not) who had left an imprint with his life. Here was a Clague memorialized in one of the most historic, iconic buildings in the world.

I have no interest in war and believe that I wouldn't have even noticed this had my father's spirit not guided me to the back of the church to view it. My mood changed on a dime. I could not stop smiling afterwards. I have contacted the church to find out more information about them. 

On the walk back to my hotel, a street musician played "Once Upon a Dream". Life is indeed like this at times. 

Escalator to upper gallery at Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Escalator to upper gallery at Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Stegosaurus at Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Stegosaurus at Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

My favourite animatronic dinosaur at the Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

My favourite animatronic dinosaur at the Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

The extinct dodo bird, Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

The extinct dodo bird, Natural History Museum (©Deborah Clague)

National Gallery, London (©Deborah Clague)

National Gallery, London (©Deborah Clague)

Small, narrow historic building near St. Paul's Cathedral (©Deborah Clague)

Small, narrow historic building near St. Paul's Cathedral (©Deborah Clague)

St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

View from the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

View from the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie from atop the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

Selfie from atop the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral, London (©Deborah Clague)

View from atop the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral (©Deborah Clague)

View from atop the Golden Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral (©Deborah Clague)

Street artist juggling fire, London (©Deborah Clague)

Street artist juggling fire, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Renaissance Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Sculpture Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

The Sculpture Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (©Deborah Clague)

Rude by Deborah Clague

I have a love/hate relationship with traveling to extremely populous cities. At the start of a trip, I loathe the experience of crowds and traffic and the general vulgarity of having to prove oneself worthy of inclusion in a megalopolis society. But after day three, my personality kicks in. My Aries, only-child, center of the universe personality kicks in and reminds me that I am so worthy. I deserve to be here as much as anyone else. No one need grant me permission because I am capable of seizing it. 

My epiphany on this trip to London, England, came, as predicted, at the 72-hour mark. My initial days in the capital had gone well. I had an amazing room at St. James Court, a beautiful hotel located so close to Buckingham Palace that I could claim the Queen of England was my neighbour for two weeks - literally. I had experienced great food and drink. I had only once narrowly escaped death or dismemberment when I failed to look the correct way when crossing a street. All things considered, that was pretty good. I was learning the rhythm of the city fast. 

Or so I thought.

The sidewalk was a different story. 

I spent the majority of day three at the Tower of London, a truly fascinating (albeit macabre) attraction wherein one gets to learn about King Henry VIII's God-complex and see the Crown Jewels up close and personal. Returning to my hotel, tired and with achy muscles, I took a slow, meandering walk back along Southbank while admiring the Thames and the reflection of the iconic architecture lining its banks. As I strolled, I noticed a group of five people walking towards me side-by-side. There wasn't room for all of us on the promenade, but I made my way to the far left hoping one of the group would do the same. Nope. We came closer. Nope. A collision was imminent.

"Fuck this", I thought and braced for the person on the end to bump into me.

She did. Hard.

I continued walking, keeping any ill-thoughts of the unmannerly individual to myself, when I heard them yell at me from behind:

"YOU'RE RUDE!"

I refused to look back and give them the satisfaction of acknowledgement. This minor incident though was all I needed to change my thinking from that of tourist to "I belong". 

This is the big city. This is London. You fight for a seat at the table here. 

Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Me in front of Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Me in front of Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Security fence surrounding Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Security fence surrounding Buckingham Palace (©Deborah Clague)

Westminster (©Deborah Clague)

Westminster (©Deborah Clague)

London Eye (©Deborah Clague)

London Eye (©Deborah Clague)

Security at No.10 Downing Street, residence of the British Prime Minister (©Deborah Clague)

Security at No.10 Downing Street, residence of the British Prime Minister (©Deborah Clague)

The moat surrounding the Tower of London features zoomorphic statuary of creatures that once called it home (©Deborah Clague)

The moat surrounding the Tower of London features zoomorphic statuary of creatures that once called it home (©Deborah Clague)

The White Tower, former palace and prison (©Deborah Clague)

The White Tower, former palace and prison (©Deborah Clague)

Interior hallway at the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

Interior hallway at the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

Medieval wall carvings left behind by prisoners in the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

Medieval wall carvings left behind by prisoners in the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

Students learn about the infamous scaffold site, where prisoners (and some Queens) were executed on the Tower of London grounds (©Deborah Clague)

Students learn about the infamous scaffold site, where prisoners (and some Queens) were executed on the Tower of London grounds (©Deborah Clague)

The Scaffold Site, where prisoners (and some Queens) were executed at the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

The Scaffold Site, where prisoners (and some Queens) were executed at the Tower of London (©Deborah Clague)

The Jewel House which houses the Crown Jewels (©Deborah Clague)

The Jewel House which houses the Crown Jewels (©Deborah Clague)

Security at front of the Jewel Tower (©Deborah Clague)

Security at front of the Jewel Tower (©Deborah Clague)

The Royal Armouries Collection in the White Tower (©Deborah Clague)

The Royal Armouries Collection in the White Tower (©Deborah Clague)

The Royal Armouries Collection in the White Tower (©Deborah Clague)

The Royal Armouries Collection in the White Tower (©Deborah Clague)

Street mosaic art, London (©Deborah Clague)

Street mosaic art, London (©Deborah Clague)

Tower Bridge (©Deborah Clague)

Tower Bridge (©Deborah Clague)

Tower Bridge (©Deborah Clague)

Tower Bridge (©Deborah Clague)

Dog playing on the bank of the Thames River (©Deborah Clague)

Dog playing on the bank of the Thames River (©Deborah Clague)

Some of London's iconic telephone booths have been converted to wifi spots (©Deborah Clague)

Some of London's iconic telephone booths have been converted to wifi spots (©Deborah Clague)

Yum! (©Deborah Clague)

Yum! (©Deborah Clague)

England Gallery updated by Deborah Clague

The gallery of images from my recent trip to England and the Isle of Man has been updated. You can view them by clicking here

The streets of London at dusk (2017). ©Deborah Clague

The streets of London at dusk (2017). ©Deborah Clague

The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London, England (2017). ©Deborah Clague

The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London, England (2017). ©Deborah Clague

St. Paul's Cathedral graces the skyline for those crossing Millennium Bridge, London, England (2017). ©Deborah Clague

St. Paul's Cathedral graces the skyline for those crossing Millennium Bridge, London, England (2017). ©Deborah Clague

The statue of Winston Churchill looms over the House of Parliament, London, England (2017) ©Deborah Clague

The statue of Winston Churchill looms over the House of Parliament, London, England (2017) ©Deborah Clague

Descent by Deborah Clague

This view of London's skyscrapers piercing through the cloud top gave me chills as I descended into London, England on January 23: 

The Shard, at 95 storeys, is the tallest building in the United Kingdom. 

The Shard, at 95 storeys, is the tallest building in the United Kingdom. 

🇬🇧 by Deborah Clague

As I visit the motherland, I reflect upon things I love about Great Britain: 


ACCENTS: There are a number of regional accents one encounters while traveling throughout the United Kingdom. The scouse intonation of Liverpool is a sharp contrast to the posh cadence of London's uppercrust. I love it all, even though I might not always understand it. I recall an incident from the last time I was in England, 2007, when my father and I went into a restaurant in Lowestoft, a small coastal town on the easternmost edge of the country. As the waitress warmly greeted us, with what I suspected were the daily specials, my father turned to me, puzzled, and whispered "I have no idea what she's saying." 

Well, neither did I. But I turned to her and ordered the safest bet "two fish-and-chips, please" (which ended up being delicious).

On this trip, I am most looking forward to hearing the Manx accent, as my ancestral home is the Isle of Man.


MEN'S FASHION: Men in London dress well. Really well. It's as though they believe meeting the Queen herself at the supermarket is a possibility and therefore must always be donning a clean pressed suit. It's glorious and a huge contrast to the much more relaxed land of flannel and denim that is North America. 


IDRIS ELBA IN A SUIT: On that note, take a moment to appreciate the most handsome British male wearing the shit out of this suit. Sigh. 


CORGIS: When I'm having a bad day, I image search corgi puppies. INSTANT mood elevator. I am so thankful to live in a world with dogs. 


MUSIC SCENE: There's something in the water when it comes to British musicians. Some of the most iconic, influential artists have come from the island nation. Their songbooks – ranging from a variety of genres – have played much of the soundtrack to my life. Even part of my name is derived from "Beatlemania"; my mother was/is a HUGE Beatles fan (and is probably still in love with Paul McCartney to this day, tbh). Her own background is French and wanted one of my names to reflect this heritage. Enter my first connection to the Fab Four and their 1964 track, "Michelle", off the Revolver album which my mother chose as my middle name. 

Secondly, the name of my creative services business was obviously an ode. It is the perfect nonsensical life mantra. Life goes on. 

And while they may not be direct family lineage, two individuals with the surname Clague have, in turn, influenced The Beatles. John Lennon's mother, Julia, was unfortunately killed in a vehicular accident during the former Beatles teenage years by an Eric Clague of Liverpool. Her passing is considered by many to be the catalyst that led to his expression of emotion through song and the eventual formation of the beloved group.

Then, while doing genealogy research last week, I came across this

Who knows if it is something but the interconnectivity of it all and possibility that a family member may have indirectly influenced the creation of some of the greatest songs in modern history makes my imagination run wild. 


LEMON CURD: I don't even really know what curd is but it's delicious and one of my favourite desserts is to stir it into vanilla-flavoured yogurt. 


CADBURY: And on the dessert note, Cadbury is FAR superior to Hershey's. Like ... 


LITRATURE:  It is of course a result of history being written by the victors (or perhaps the more controversial term "oppressors") that our language and educational system in the west is heavily influenced by England and the artists, poets, and scribes that called it home. The older I get, the more I invest in learning about world literature but the magical, transcendent works of Shakespeare, Austen, Doyle, Rowling and numerous others still resonate the human experience across time and space. 


Just one more for good measure: 

Book Recommendations by Deborah Clague

Bad Girls Throughout History
Written by Ann Shen

Between recent world events and my own personal history, I have been in need of female inspiration. This book details, through brief but impactful biographies and whimsical illustration, the lives of one hundred women who dreamed and dared to go beyond what was expected of them to change the world. From warriors (Ching Shih) to queens (Elizabeth I), actresses (Dorothy Dandridge) to adventurers (Amelia Earhart), "Bad Girls Throughout History" documents a different side of human existence that is all too often cast aside in favour of the male gaze. My new goal in life is to make the second edition.  

Favourite line: I appreciated the introduction to journalist Nellie Bly and Disney artist Mary Blair. 


The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
Written by Amy Schumer

I bought this book for my best friend who is obsessed with Amy Schumer. She read it in two days and then passed it back to me with an enthusiastic review. I also devoured and absolutely loved it. In this collection of essays (billed as a "non-memoir"), Amy shares moments that shaped her life in a frank, confessional style of writing that is entertaining, insightful and empowering. I was surprised to read that the seemingly brash comedian is a workaholic introvert at heart who values solitude. We'd probably be friends.

Favourite line: "So much has changed about me since I was that confident, happy girl in high school. In the years since then, I've experienced a lot of desperation and self-doubt, but in a way, I've come full circle. I know my worth."


Alexander McQueen: Evolution
Written by Katherine Gleason

For Christmas, my best friend got me this beautiful coffee table book on the life and work of one of the greatest designers of the past century, Alexander McQueen. It includes a condensed biography on the man, myth and legend and focuses more on his output and the theatre of his collections. The themes of life, death and sex are a common thread throughout his complex, visually stimulating art. 

Favourite line: my favourite fashion show of all time is 2004's "Deliverance".