Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another World

Who says we didn't have diversity in the UK long before the Windrush docked?

Oft have I reflected on the differences, say, twixt the Central Belt of Scotland and a Banffshire or Aberdeenshire village.

I was in Manchester in 1974 on the day Glasgow Rangers played United in a friendly. At Victoria Station, I saw a strange sight - all the United fans, as they got off the trains, took off their scarves and put them in their pockets, or zipped their jackets up to the neck to conceal their United allegiance.

This should have been posted last night really, for the 12th. A small fraction of the Rangers support make their way past (I think) the Arndale Centre in Manchester, taking the pretty route to Old Trafford for the 2008 UEFA Cup final (what a pity Tommy Ducks is no more - I think they'd have liked it). Now there are some pretty wild boys in that city - but this is something else :

Admit it, for good or ill, you don't see a sight like that every day in an English city.

The tune is the mid-70s Fields of Athenry*, the words I think are a Loyalist song called "A Father's Advice", accompanied by disparaging references to the late Bobby Sands. Great drumming. It may be an optical illusion or a piece of dust in my eye, but I could have sworn I saw someone with a "**** Catholic Schools" banner...

* composer Pete St John is also responsible for another instant classic - The Rare Old Times, perhaps the only Irish political song that isn't about the English. You really would think there'd be more, given recent events.


Yaffle said...


Hats off to your knowledge of sectarian arcana.

What do all these guys do on election day? Harthill is in Airdrie & Shotts consitutuency - trad Old Labour heartland, but which voted in an SNP MSP, Alex Neil, with over 50% in April. (The Tories got less than 6%.)

Whaur's yer Unionism noo?

Snowman said...

I was in Manchester that day for a job interview. Twas quite hectic.

Sgt Troy 11th Dragoons said...

Hail the Union and our glorious market state

Jobs indigenous people can't do

Part 98765

"Boston East councillor Mike Gilbert said: "I'm very anxious to find out exactly what's happened. It's a lot of people dead and a great tragedy."

Mmmmm well....

Anonymous said...

Here's a good one. I was in Liverpool on Tuesday for a day out - yes its a city with a unique history and atmosphere. I saw an amazing sight. I'm pretty attuned to certain phenomena having lived in Northern Ireland for 5 years in the 80s. I saw a whole family dressed in Orange obviously in celebratary mood careering around near Lime Street Station. Mum had an orange headband on saying 'No Surrender' and the kids had orange marked tracksuits on. Then in that old pub opposite Lime Street I glanced in and saw some female revellers with orange party hats on. I thought - hello a celebration of OUR HISTORY. I nearly went over and said hello but I'm Catholic and care but in slightly different way! But we're all british and not living in the multi culti moment. I know what youre gonna say. What do you want - logic?

Edwin Greenwood said...

I didn't realize "The fields of Athenry" was written so recently.

Tiresomely popular on the jukeboxes of the now largely gone Oirish pubs of Woolwich, so it was, alongside some extremely dubious Republican songs about the H Blocks and suchlike.

Martin said...


There are few experiences akin to being woken up by the Johnstone Sons Of The Somme Flute Band walking the Queen's highway beneath your bedroom window.

This year, my now local mob (not, I hasten to add, the JSSFB) were out en route to the local grand walk, always held on the Saturday in July immediately preceding the Saturday of the big walk in Belfast. I did a double take at one point, convinced they were playing 'I'm Popeye The Sailor Man'. And given the number of bum notes being hit, one has to ask whether the grand masters are properly monitoring the commitment and fidelity of some of their charges.

Laban said...

Martin - just as I'm convinced that there are few songs which can't be improved, at last temporarily, by the addition of "Oi!" at the end of every line (try it), there are few tunes which can't be livened up by the flute and drum treatment - or indeed pipe and drum.

There really should be some music software to enable the unskilled to produce instant Orange or Highland music.