Category Archives: Fiction

These are mostly reveries but some works of my conscious imagination.

new name for Trump


The Fake Tan Fuhrer. hubristic.

self serving bias . perceiving himself in the most favourable possible light. blowung hs own trumpet.

unabashed braggart. plugging his business. wine he does not drink. steaks. towers. vanity.

cannot cogitate. speaks in half sentences. cannot complete a thought.

what is the problem. what do we need to solve it? ventilators. isolation. how can we do it? pros and cons of each option? likeldhood of succes

level head. cool calculation. clarity of mind. crystal clear instructions. resolve. people can repose trust in him.

true self. false self. true self is a dim, incurious, graceless, morally bankrupt. cowardly. vulgar, unsophisticated. fork tongued, foul mouthed loon. maleficent ,

he is the greatest in one this. His capacious ability to deceive himself,

never apolgise. excuse me – wto meghan kelly

defeat is an orpahn. man enough to accept blame. JFK took it like a man

shift the blame. scapegating. economy,  immigration, coronavirus. ISIS. foreclosures. bankruptcies.

the deah of shame. clinton

slothful but an indefatibility self publicist.

self deception. clever, affluent, courageous. christian. so blatantly faking it . praying. acting a part very poorly.

you can fool some of the people all the time. a lie if told often enough will be believed by many

told brazenly and with sufficient panache acquires the ring of truth.

tirelessly self promoting.

poor competence


professors of epidemiology blown away by his profound understanding of the intricacies of virology.

ultracrepidarian – knows so much about ISIS. knows more about the bible. How to negotiate brexit.


impulse control. tweets. OCDC for self-laudation. self praise is no praise

boasting that Kim Jong On sang his praises. I would not want a paean from a tyrant. should be proud to be detested by evil men

to be glorified we must also be vilified

intolerance for reasoend criticism. take it personally.

muzzing the media. caustic against moderate republicans.

coruscating atatcks on FBI.

wider malaise. Trump uniquely immune from ethical or legal standards . divine sanction

God chose trump. so he chose Obama

cognitive dissonance. trump as far from jesus as can be.  meek and mild. magnanimous. unboastful.

modesty. worldly goods. lust. inciting violence.

mandate of heaven. Cyrus. Iranian?

maelstrom hubris. malice. mendacity. spiteful  , bears grudges. nurses resentment over decades.

illusory superiority. cognitive bias towards self esteem.

richest . smartes, big dick . best soldier, best doctor, tallest tower.

self esttem cultrure on steroid.

optimism bias. economy. drug prices. being the mightiest. winning wars. coronavirus.

america is where the optmists went.

attention deficit disorder


indifference to suffering. when 9 11 happened he felt it an apt moment to brag that hus building was tallest

environemental? Did not seem to affect him. alcoholism. his sister a judge. he is a lunker – self assurnace.

well known bromide that one president s the opposite of his predecessor.

obama has such elan vitale – trump a layabout. never brusque despite unfair press he had to put up with.

hypermnesia. but trump cannot remember meeting people




more ideas


we don’t need no education ————


torture ——————————

should not fight war 1939 ——————–

British Nazis —————–

what aboyt the commonwealth ———-

reparations for slavery ———————

black and tans – freedom fighters ———–

sarah ferguson———————–

shoigu president —————–

is charles suitable to be king ——–

peace in ukraine ———–

freedom going up in smoke ———

ireland superpower ———–

endgame in syria  ————-

where next for labour ———–

scotland ——————–


The Autobiography of a thief – a review



The Autobiography of a Thief is the self-explanatory title of Bruce Reynolds’ memoir. As the late Reynolds would like you to know he was the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery of 1963. 

This is a straightforward yet rewarding read. The prologue is from the most dramatic and memorable event in Bruce Reynolds’ regrettable life: the night he and his mates stole GBP 2.5 million from a train. That passage is one of the few that he seems to have put some work into. He wrote it with verve and colour. Thereafter the book becomes a chronological biography.  

The details of his childhood need not detain us. He was born into a Cockney ( working class London) family in 1931. His mother died when Bruce was 4. His father remarried and Bruce did not get along with his stepmother. Even then he was a miscreant – stealing from her purse. Bruce was evacuated to the West Midlands of England during the Second World War. The stripling got a hard time from the Brummies. 

According to Reynolds he performed creditably in school. His writing suggests he is a man of just above average intelligence. He certainly did nothing to further his education during his many years of incarceration. Bruce left school at 14 as was the norm. He did various odd jobs. As an adolescent an older boy led him into crime. His larcenies became bigger and more audacious. Reynolds was given a few chances. His first few scrapes with the law saw him let off. But he pressed his luck and ended up in borstal. This juvenile delinquent does not seem to be at all fazed by being locked up. He escaped easily enough. His accounts of running away from the young offenders’ institute repay the reading. He was idiotic as he was daring and was easily recaptured. His sentences got longer and his crimes became better planned and more lucrative. 

Reynolds was eventually called up for National Service – i.e. compulsory army service. He deserted from that a couple of times. He was so incorrigible that the army decided not to use him. He had made himself all but unemployable by the age of 21. Who would hire a young man who would be called up by the military at any point? He ought not have been set at liberty so soon. He was irredeemable and had evinced no intention of going straight. Had he been kept incarcerated then dozens or even hundreds of people would have been spared his depredations.

The author claimed to have been convinced by Marx. He also said he had left wing convictions. He certainly bore a grudge against the Establishment. This did not result in any empathy for the working class. He seldom stole from them but that was solely because they rarely had high value movables to steal. Reynolds never gave away any of his ill gotten gains to the needy. 

Some of his accounts of thieving are banal. This is not always a racy book. It is at times perfunctory in its description. There are other passages he has put more thought into particularly the highlight of the autobiography: the Great Train Robbery. There he endeavours to be literary.

The conditions in prisons in the 1950s seem severe by today’s standards. Yet these were not sufficient to put off a determined enemy of society like Reynolds. The cells were fairly cold in winter. They had slopping out. That meant they had to relieve themselves into a bucket it was emptied once a day. The stench was horrid. 

Bruce and his pals frequently used violence in their robberies. They whacked people over the head with iron bars. He never expresses remorse about this. Reynolds boasted that he and his gang never carried guns or ”shooters” as he calls them. This was not due to humanitarianism. If someone was murdered in the course of a robbery then the death penalty was mandatory for all concerned. Under the law of common purpose (”the law of parties” for American readers) any member of a criminal conspiracy which resulted in murder was guilty of murder. The Derek Bentley case was an example of his. Reynolds’ decision not to use firearms was entirely self-serving. 

Reynolds boasts about his womanising. He had a girlfriend named Rita. His relationship ended with her and he then embarked on a liaison with Rita’s younger sister Angela. This may have led to some moments of gaucherie at family events. When Angela became pregnant he was minded to demand an abortion. Because he had recently survived a car crash he chose not to ask for his baby to be killed. I suspect that on earlier occasions he had done that. He was sexually active from the age of 16 – according to himself. He became a father aged 30. It is hard to believe that no pregnancies arose from his relationships. He was often two timing. 

Bruce Reynolds describes his goals. He was chiefly motivated by avarice. He also craved recognition. Respect from his peers among thieves also mattered to him. He seems to have been driven by a horrific sense of inadequacy. This is what moved him to buy flash clothes and dine in swanky restaurants. These are not the things that would actuate someone who cared for the working class. He detested the upper class but strove to ape it.

The most scintillating aspect of the book is when he writes about his tactics. He strategised carefully. He would reconnoitre possible targets. Bruce used informants to fill him in on where to find high value chattels. The thief writes about when to steal, where to steal and how to sell stolen goods to a fence. Crime was his career so he devoted a lot of time to surveillance, counter-surveillance and planning. He is patently proud of the artistry and audacity of his crimes.

Bruce Reynolds is notorious as the brains behind the Great Train Robbery. As with all major thefts this required inside information. The operation was painstakingly planned. His meticulous planning paid off. The particulars of this heist are too well known to require repetition. The plan did not go off without a hitch. One of the gang hit the train driver Jack Mills twice over the head with an iron bar.  Reynold’s train driver could not drive the train. They had to use British Rail’s man Jack Mills to do so. 

Reynolds’ tried to minimise Mills’ injuries. A blow with an iron bar to the skull could kill someone. If Reynolds’ really felt sorry for his victim he could have given him some of his wealth. He could have surrendered to the police. 

One of the men arrested in connection with the Great Train Robbery was Mr William Boal. Reynolds’ had never heard of William Boal and claims that Boal was totally innocent. Despite this Boal was found guilty and given a long sentence. Boal died in prison. Reynolds’ said the Establishment was responsible for Boal going to prison. Boal was found guilty in a court and his conviction still stands. Reynolds’ confesses to hundreds of crimes in his book. It is hard to trust him but on the other hand why would he falsely claim that the long dead Boal was innocent? Without a Great Train Robbery there could have been no wrongful conviction for the crime. To spare Boal the other robbers could have pleaded guilty and then said that Boal was blameless.

Bruce had to go into hiding after the Great Train Robbery. This is one of the most fascinating parts of the book. How did he hide in a city where he was very well known. He only went out at night and even then in disguise. He was trapped inside all day. He ate tonnes and drank like a fish. His weight ballooned. His child had been left with the grandparents. Brucie on the run was one of the more enthralling episodes. He went through various aliases. He obtained a passport in the name of another man. At that time it was staggeringly easy to attain a passport in the name of another person.

He later made it to Mexico. He and his wife and child lived it up. He felt compelled to live in luxury. What was the point in stealing millions if not to enjoy oneself? Had he been sensible the money would have lasted a lifetime.

It was an insight to see how Reynolds’ felt about the police. He respected and even liked some of them. He was their quarry and saw evading them as an honourable sport. Tommy Butler was the main detective on the trail of Bruce. Reynolds wrote of T Butler ”I never had anything but the uttermost respect and admiration for Butler”.  Among the Criminal Investigation Department there seems to have been some regard for him. He noted the irony that petty thieves were treated with disdain and even brutality by the coppers but an elite thief like him was handled gently.

Money ran low in Mexico because Reynolds had lived an extravagant lifestyle. His wife was lonely and missed her own country. Reynolds then returned to the United Kingdom under a false identity. He contacted some of his old pals in the underworld. This was with a view to returning to ‘work’ which meant theft. He was involved in some minor thefts. The police were in touch with villains. The police had informants inside different firms. The law could only keep crime down by striking a deal with felons. The police would let some crimes go in return for being kept abreast of developments in the criminal fraternity. As in all areas of life one must prioritise. Reynolds’ had been the honcho of the biggest robbery in British history. He was therefore a top priority for the Old Bill. One of their sources among the villains told them where Brucie was holed up. The cops nicked Bruce in Torquay. 

When Tommy Butler arrested Bruce he said ‘long time no see Bruce’. Reynolds the criminal said ‘c’est la vie.’ As Bruce was led handcuffed through a police station car park Butler had a proprietorial arm around him. Bruce wrote ‘I had had my day of triumph and this was his. I would not deny him his day of victory.’ In public B Reynolds called Butler ‘detective inspector’ or else ‘Mr Butler.’

Butler told Bruce ‘You have got to go away for a long time and that is the way it has got to be. But your wife and boy do not.’ He exhorted Bruce to plead guilty. If Bruce did not then the police would charge his wife Angela with receiving stolen goods. Every time her husband bought her something she knew this was the proceeds of crime. She could have been sent down for several years. Their son could have been put in an orphanage. Bruce agreed to plead guilty. The beak on the bench awarded him twenty-five. Reynolds confessed he had hoped for only twenty.

The philosophical aspect of the book is how towards the end of a 25 year sentence Reynolds was content in prison. His life there was humdrum but being a large scale thief he was near the top of the pecking order in prison. He was released in 1978. That was only 9 years after he was incarcerated. He was then doing minimum wage jobs. His marriage had broken down.

After some years his son asked him to meet his wife again. Angela and Bruce met and got back together again. Bizarrely he and his wife felt happy with their meagre existence. It demonstrates yet again that money does not guarantee happiness.

Reynolds felt so sorry for himself due to his self-inflicted travails. His self-pity is one of the most loathsome of his characteristics. In public he strove to maintain a front – an image of being a hard man. He confessed to weeping in his cell. Yet he never spared a thought for all the anguish he had inflicted on others. The material loss, the stress, the injuries and the economic loss to society did not bother him one whit. He felt aggrieved at the way he was treated  in prison. Overall he seemed to get along well with prison officers and sometimes with the police. Even he admitted he deserved to serve 9 years for the Great Train Robbery. This means that in reality he deserved at least twice as long to actually serve – not just to be sentenced to.

Bruce was a contemptible and disgustingly selfish criminal. This fiend did not suffer half enough for all the harm he inflicted on others. There is no expression of remorse for all the grief he caused to other. Had he written of his contrition in his book it would presumably have been self-serving and disingenuous.

Reynolds avoided crime after the 1980s. He said he did not wish to see the inside of a prison cell again. This proves that sufficiently long sentences do deter recidivists like him. The likelihood of serving 10 years for the Great Train Robbery was not enough to deter him. The probability of serving 20 years or more will put off all but the most irrational criminal. 

The prose is sparse but lucid. This book has pace and verve. It is a more enjoyable and substantial read than How to rob a train by his accomplice Gordon Goody.

I have got a little list



An Australian Harris Rolf

and the gynaecologist

all muggers joggers buggers floggers

people who play golf

they never would be missed. (2)


chuggers bloggers  huggers doggers

rugger buggers  snoggers  butt pluggers

loggers   muggers   floggers  gluggers




people with pretentious names like justin trish and rolf

bishops who don’t believe in god

chief constables who do

all people who host chat shows

and the guests what s on em too

customs men who on fumbling through your underwear insist


Trump v the squad ================================================


tweets. foru congresswomen – three born in US

white immigrants are ok

what is difference between a Jamestown descendant or a mayflower and someone who became s citien today? No principle

trump has excelled himself. always striivn to outdo himself in illogic and spite. this is a personal best. tjhat is really saying something.

trump censured. when was last time? he is depraved. why such ado about vile remarks from him?

verbal burning cross. mordant comments

characteristically wrathful response to thee women defending themslves

go back. failing countries. sort them out. said they hate America. vile slur

defaming them. four horse women of equality

not substantiated. no evidence they hate the US. they care – they are striivnt to help

make life bettte for all. calumny from him/.

flagrant appeal to the basest prejduices of rsce and religion

wedge issues. culture wars. no socio economic issues. minimum wages. healthcare. cost of living. maternity leave. working hours. paid time off. ecological issues

what is racism?

pressley, occasion cortez, ilhan omar, tlaib. every right to be iun the United States

making life better – cleaner environment. healthcare, education . less murder. fewer people in prison. not so many innocent black people shot by police.

I do not agree with them on everythgig\

monstered by the gutter press. trump go back where you came from

but not to whites. yet he scorns elzabeth warren as Pocahontas.

he has no common decency . no bottom line. many politicians are ethically sub ompital

yet he has the ability to exterminate the human race.

trump is petrified of this quarter. women of colour in power. his worst nightmare

3 born in the US. one naturalized. as American as anyone else.

MAGA  was that hating America? Trump woith hate groups. Would not denounce KKK

trmp incited violence at rallies it occurred. trump lies daily. trump ignores subpoenas

trump exports jumps. trump marries forigners . enemies fi the people. fake news

trump adores America’s foes. confederates. very fine people.

might be censured by congress/

racist. xenohpbic

trump should go to germanya dn the UK. he says they have rubbksh governments

Puerto rico is a terriotyr. why not a state? republicans will not allows it

trump did not give a damn when people died in the hurricane. indifferent

Somalia faces problems. US intervention. ilhan omar not responsible. little she can do. no democracy . woimen have no rights. Somaliland

plaesitne. yes problems due to illegal occupation which the US backs and arms

robbery. land grabbing. racism. and mass murder.

if you wreck other countries people might choose to leave and move to your land.

methid to his madness

bifurcate opinion. precipitate a deterirotiation in race relations. strategy of tension

heighten white anxiety in run up to election

fire up his base. he needs to motivate his core supporters

demographic decline of whites and christians

their last stand

play to their fears and prejudices. terrify them – this is the future of the US. more power for ethnic and religious minorities.

publicly funded healthcare – petrifying

so scary that  I might be saved rather than die in agony

appeal to the past. reactionary sentiment. his agenda is dark

the same tactics of sotking racial animus and spewing invective that worked last time

cultura wars. identity issues. not bread and butter issues

kitchen table politics.

xenophobia. dislike of modernity.

divert from major issues lile healthcare, college, environment. decent wages. debt.

failing. healthcare. the wall. Syria, Iraq. Afghanistan. trade war

idea that some views are unamerican. house committee on unamerican activites

free speech – freedom of consciouenss. applies to Nazis.

Iran. damned if he does and if he does not

tucker Carlson told him not to. spike in oil prices. kcik his ass get the gas. 2003

marched his trioops to the preciepe of war. back off then he is a weakiling

a wimp. dust iran with canister. but no success

iran deal waer working. iran in its box. US admitted that. trump signed off on it

as trump shredeed the deal iran is absiolved of its commitments

it has now enriched uranisum as it s absilyle entitled to do. the US does the same

sotuaiton sow rose than before

someone bombed tnkers int eh gulf I do not know who. false gflag provide a pretext for war.

Israel egging him on. the mossad.

trump not a racisr tnot an anti racist

racist dog whistles pervade ehis discourse

his rhetoric is larded with warnings about the evil of immigration  – even legal immigration

there was a time when germans were detested in the US


he is uncivilised

has appointed bacl people. more anti latino

his party has not denounced his latesr nauseating outbhrst

gop is obtuse in using this to ginger up the base. might work in 2020

but soon a non white majority.  away down south in the land of cotton

bad old times are  not forgotten

stubborn republicans. stiff necked on racism.

does GOP approve? Affirmative silence. no moral compass

part of a wider malaise in GOP – to mollycoddle racism

no gop backbone. no bottom line.

mesalliance between hyper capitalists and racists

trump so haughty and hyper sensitive.

trump’s refractory period between incendiary outbursts is getting shorter

sought to keep te controversy aflame

his inflammatory racist screeds are losing their power to shock

public de sensistised to them.

paid dividends in 2016. might not work so handsomely for him this time

he heightens asperity. has degarded political debate

unashamed racist. unabashed racist. he delivers these rants with brio

but adding vim and vigour to the democrats.

democats must rise abive it

some republicans have distanced themselves from his dusvisie rhetoric.

set americans at each others throats. contrast that wth independent day.

more perfect union?


Loyalists chapter 6



Orange Lodge Meeting.

IRB meeting.




Lord Johnson sat in the drawing room smoking cigars with his father the Earl of Sperrin.

”I say, pater, have you seen this thing in the Irish Times. The Ulster Volunteer Force has finally been formed?”  asked Lord Johnson.

”Yes, they have been talking about this since last year. Jolly good show. We’ll show the Molly Maguires what for!” said Lord Sperrin.

”But pater we must form a company here and you should take command of it.” said Lord Johnson.

”Dear boy – I was only a subaltern for a couple of years. Finished Sandhurst bottom of my class I am not military man.’‘ said Lord Sperrin self deprecatingly.

”But papa – you said you served out in Fiji.” said Lord John.

”Yes, I did” said Lord Sperrin ”but that was the easiest post in the empire. These resplendently verdant volcanic isles. No fairer islands in any sea! These lubricious brown skinned comely damsels and the friendliest natives you ever heard of. It was a loaf! Fiji offered allurements such as can scarcely be imagined. Low hanging fruit and all that. The natives were a lot of idlers. They never had any need to work. That is why we had to ship in boatloads of Hindustani coolies to work the plantations. Indentured labourers do you see? Awful business.  ”

‘But all the same pater you have some military experience. You are the local peer. You are a mini king to the loyal people of the county. They look up to us for leadership. You were lord lieutenant of the county after all” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes, I was and high sheriff.’‘ said Lord Sperrin ”But my military experience does not exceed that of a long service sergeant.”

”We must fight Home Rule with all our strength. The situation is extremely dangerous – all the Home Rulers getting restive, then there are IRB talking treason so they say. There may yet be rebellion.” said Lord Johnson.

”Home Rulers are not all a bad lot. Some of them are full of civility and kindness. I have been glad to know a few take that physician – Mallon. A thoroughly decent chap.” said Lord Sperrin.

”He may be a decent sort pater but this may be war” said Lord Johnson. ”Personal affection will just have to be put aside. We all need to make sacrifices if Ulster is to be saved.”

”Now, now. You are  hothead. The last thing I want is war. There will probably be no need for fighting. I would that we did not shed a the blood of another Irishman in all this. But because we want peace we may need to be ready for war. Forming a company of the UVF might not be a bad idea.” said Lord Sperrin.

”The Home Rulers are a rotten lot whatever you say” said Lord Johnson. ”We will show them who’s boss.”

”Listen boy  – there are Home Rulers men, constitutional types. They are men of conservative character. Not Tories as such  mind but they are no radicals. Separate the sheep from the goats. As for what you say about the IRB, the rebels, they are rats. They must be extirpated. But don’t forget your average Home Ruler is a man of moderate opinion. I can live with him. They may talk a lot of hot air at the Orange lodge telling you that every Home Ruler is in the IRB. That is twaddle! ” said Lord Sperrin.

”What are the papists complaining about? Why can’t they be normal? Why can’t they accept that we are with Great Britain?” asked Lord Johnson in exasperation and puzzlement.

”The IRB with all their surreptitious schemes – they are always blaming the English for everything. Scapegoating the English – now there are bad Englishmen. They IRB are full of much complaining. Your grandfather told me of the Famine, mother’s father that is. Not the Famine here but over in Mayo where he was a land agent. They people there reached the limits of their physical endurance. The cottier class there were Roman Catholics to a man. Their complaining was too well founded. They were starved with swollen limbs. There were hollow and ghastly countenances.  This was all the melancholy presage of death – They were approaching their dissolution.  All that is monstrous. The Famine blight was not a plot cooked up in London! Why would the English want a million of His Majesty’s subjects dead? Makes us all poorer and weaker. Damned corn laws exacerbated the situation. At least Peel got rid of it then. The government sent over aid. When the first Indian meal was distributed among the starving Mayomen your grandfather said there was an excess of joy such as is not possible for us to conceive. But it was too little and too late. Some ordinary English folk had been sending money and comestibles. You know Quakers and other Dissenters – those Free church types. Protestants saving Catholics but the Catholics did not thank them for it. Anyway this horrid famine is laid at the door of the English by the IRB. Then you have some of the Roman Catholic priesthood fiercely agitating the Catholic laity against us.” said Lord Sperrin.

”Great Britain is one of the richest nations on the face of the earth. Look at her manufactories and her technologies. Why would the Catholics not wanted to be united with so puissant a nation?’‘ said Lord Johnson.

”They think they are a different nation and being British makes them somehow not Irish. Some say you must be Protestant to be British. Where does that leave the Catholics here? Besides Britain is not as she was. Look at the rising power of America. She is the master of industry now. It is not days of yore when Britain girded the world in iron. Look at the might of Germany? She will soon outstrip America in technological sciences. Mark my words!” said Lord Sperrin.

‘it is scarcely credible that Germany will do that. ” said Lord Johnson ”They are poorly provided with oil and America practically floats on the stuff. Oil is the fuel of the future.”

”Nonsense boy. They taught you this tripe at Oxford? Those dons are ninnies. I am glad you came down without a degree. Oil will never overtake coal. Everyone know coal is the fuel of all time.” said Lord Sperrin. ”Coal is black gold!’

”The Americans are very go ahead. But I saw such poverty when I visited last year. New York is shining with commerce and yet there are people lying in the street closely to dying. Begging out of desperation. Relentless mammon worship means that the bosses will not pay a brass farthing more than they have to.” said Lord Johnson. ‘‘They could not take tuppence for the lives of their workers. It is unchristian!”

”They are not all like that. They are some big hearted Americans. They sent succor to the poor here.” said Lord Sperrin. ‘‘In Mayo during the famine some of the people would not have survived but for aid sent by the Americans. ”

”But mark you pater Germany will soon leave America in the ha’penny place.” said Lord Johnson.

”You might be right. All depends if the conquer France and Russia. Then Germany shall unite their industrial strength to herself. ” said Lord Sperrin.

”A European war? That might make America gain by neutrality.” said Lord Johnson

‘It might make us gain by neutrality. If we stay out of it we shall prosper.” said Lord Sperrin.

”The IRB, the Fenians they shall try to get us into a German War. I have heard they say England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity. They rose when there was the Napoleonic Wars on. They wanted a war against France when Napoleon III was around. Now they see Germany as Britain’s next foe’‘ said Lord Johnson.

”That is drivel boy. You’re being a spalpeen. There shall be not war against Germany. The Prussians and Frogs may knock seven bells out of each other.  But happily Ireland and England shall stand aloof. Who owns Alsace-Lorraine? What the hell do we care? Might as well be Timbuctoo. I know that the Fenians would ally with the ant-Christ if they thought it would hurt England. But Asquith will not be so stupid to oblige them. Besides the Jerries are not a rum lot. They are very go ahead. Don’t we all love German opera and poesy? Their science is so impressive. Isn’t Queen Mary a German? And remember Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s mother. The royal family practically are Germans – Saxe Coburg Gotha. They open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Blood is thicker than water! The French covet our empire. We have much more in common with the Germans than the Gauls. The Teuton is our kith and kin. We shall not raise the sword against our kinsfolk. The king is honorary colonel of so many German regiments. The Kaiser is an honorary admiral in the royal navy. I read how he visited Eton last year – very well received. When he came over for King Edward’s funeral a couple of years ago he seemed like a nice chap so they say. And our people are going to Germany all the time. I read in the paper that Churchill was invited to observe German military manouevres lately. They would not do that if they had something nasty planned. And as for the Naval Race – we won that hands down. That Admiral von Tirpitz is no longer at the helm – crazy sea dog. A war against Germany? Never, ever. You must be drinking too much boy. I shall not hear such rot in my own house.”

”Lord Salisbury said splendid isolation. That is living in the past. We have to ally with the French and the Russkies.” said Lord Johnson.

”You are talking through your hat. There will be no European war – not that we involved in at any rate. The Germans never did us a bit of harm.” said Lord Sperrin.

‘And South Africa? Germans did us no bit of good there. The Kaiser saying we are mad as March hares. The Germans killed a quarter of a million negroes in South-West Africa. Slaughtered the lot of them – men, women and children. The rest they drove them into the desert to die of thirst.” said Lord Johnson gravely. ”German is a threat.”

”Threat my foot!” said Lord Sperrin. ”Only threat is all this twaddle from you about fighting our German friends. Germany is the industrial powerhouse. Germany is the workshop of the world not us. If we fought Germany I fear we would come off second best. I am glad we won’t. Anyway back to the point. I don’t think I should be head of the local UVF. We are not born to rule you know! People respect the peerage and the knightage but that does not mean we all have leadership qualities particularly of a military character.” said Lord Sperrin


Orange Lodge Meeting.

At the meeting in the Orange Hall the Worshipful Master Lord Johnson  who was attired in an exquisitely cut Savile Row suit and sporting his Orange Collarette  got to his feet. He spoke in his fruity tenor’s voice.

”Brethren, the meeting of this loyal Orange lodge shall come to order. We all wish success to the loyal orange institution. Brethren we have received a telegram from Dublin, The Grand Lodge of Ireland has a message for us which Brother Thomas Forshaw shall read out.”

Thomas then moved to the front. He held the telegram in his hands that were almost trembling. He gulped before beginning to speak, ‘‘ Dear loyal Orange brethren -you shall be aware that His Majesty’s Government is planning to bring forth Home Rule legislation.”

Thomas gathered confidence as he became absorbed in the text.

”We would that Home Rule could be prevented for the whole of Ireland. It seems improbable that the southern provinces can be saved from the threat of Home Rule. In the south and west of the country nine parts out of ten of the populace are Roman Catholic and pro Home Rule. In Ulster, however, Home Rule can easily be forfended. If we stand resolute and take apposite and timely action Home Rule can be defeated. We recommend to you the new militia known as the Ulster Volunteer Force or UVF. It is most strongly pledged to the same principles as the Orange Order and other fraternal loyal orders viz the maintenance of the Crown being Protestant and the Union. Make no mistake that Home Rule is not mere Home Rule. It shall lead inexorably to a republic. It cannot fail to dissolve the union and dethrone the monarch. It represents a mortal peril to our liberties, our prosperity, our faith and our way of life. The Home Rulers are purposing to assail our indefeasible rights. We urge you all to consider enlisting in the UVF. If it is threated that Ulster shall remain a fully fledged portion of the United Kingdom then the Home Rule party may yet abandon the object of Home Rule for the rest of Ireland. God Save the King. ‘

”God Save the King” a few muttered.

Thomas sat down. His anxiety returned.

Lord Johnson got to his feet. ”Well done brother Forshaw. Jolly good show. I could tell he was a touch nervous. Well played for reading that out. Now brethren we must all act manfully. My father and I are thinking of forming a company of UVF here. We can easily find at least 90 recruits surely – my house shall be the HQ. My father has spoken to some of the groundsmen and suchlike. We have a preferential hiring policy for ex-servicemen so we have plenty of ex-soldiers and ex-sailors. Several of those in our service have expressed an interest in joining including a Roman Catholic.”

”A Romanist?” said Conroy ‘‘Never, I would never allow a Catholic in. You cannot trust a papist. They suck the devil’s teets. If there is taig in it I am not joining.”

‘Now steady on” said Lord Johnson. ”Kenny is as a good a man as any. Bernardine Kenny was almost like an uncle to me if he had not been working class. He is a Roman Catholic and only a knave would hold that agin him. Now look here – just because of his religion does not mean he wants Home Rule. This man served ten years in the King’s Irish Hussars which is more than you or I ever did. Were you in the army?”

”No I was not” said Conroy crumpling temporarily. ”But I know that papists are rotten every last one of them. They may seem all right but they are meretricious. They pretend to be good but all the while they are scheming to betray you.”

Mark Walker piped up, ‘‘I am a deacon of the Church of Ireland and I say it is unchristian not to let a man join an organization because he is a Roman Catholic.”

”Are you proper Protestants at all?” asked Conroy  indignantly ‘‘You are half way to Rome. Only Presbyterians and Methodists are real Prods.”

Lord Johnson intervened ‘‘ Well Brother Conroy if that is your attitude there is no need for you to volunteer for the UVF.”

”Tell my lord” said Mark ”I am a bit concerned. This UVF thing how far does it go. Parliament passes a home rule act.”

”That can never happen” said Conroy.

‘It can. God forbid but it might happen.” said Mark

”The House of Lords will never dream of it” said Conroy.

”Haven’t you heard of the Parliament Act? Don’t you remember the People’s Budget? The Lords can only delay by two years now. Our protection in the lords is gone. The Liberals and the Home Rulers control the Commons. They can ram it through. Like it or not if they pass home rule it is the law” said Mark ”Is it not our duty to obey the law?”

”Yes it is but not this law’‘ said Lord Johnson

”Why ever not? Why is this one different?” asked Mark

‘This is a law to destroy us. All our forefathers fought for is in jeopardy.” said Lord Johnson.

”How? I know we do not want Home Rule but we will still be in the United Kingdom” said Mark

;”but it will lead to a total breaking of the Union to a republic which will ally with France or Germany and before you know it there will be French or German troops here and they will make Roman Catholicism the state religion. They will take back the church buildings, they will confiscate land, they will ban the Orange Order, they might make us speak Irish, our culture will be dead , they will put tariffs on imports and so Great Britain will put tariffs on our manufactures and then goodbye to our ship building and linen trade.” said Lord Johnson.

”Now come off it” said Mark ”That is just scare mongering. The Home Rule party does not want a republic. They never said that. They do not want to break the union. Parnell directly said no to breaking it. This is not 1798. 1798 was a Protestant rebellion anyway. Even if a republic did come by act of parliament that would be the law and we would have a duty to obey”

”You are sounding like a Home Ruler. Are you fool enough to believe those Home Rule mountebanks?” asked Conroy. ‘‘You rotten Prod”

”I am not a rotten Prod. I am as good a Protestant as the next man. I am a deacon for goodness sake” said Mark

”Don’t you deacon me. You putting on airs and graces!” said Conroy bitterly.

”Gentlemen – brethren please some decorum” said Lord Johnson ‘‘we are all Protestants here. do not cast aspersions on a man’s religion”

”I do not want a republic – not one bit. But you are scare mongering. It would not be as bad as all that. As for tariffs the Home Rulers are free traders. They shout that from the rooftops.” said Mark.

‘I hate papists. My sister Mavis was mugged by Catholics in Dublin” said Conroy. ”I hate their irreligion and their Jesuitical methods!”

”Well I am sorry for your sister but how do you know they were Catholics.” said Mark.

”I know. I just do” Conroy shrieked.

‘They may have been Catholic but how do you know.” said Mark.

‘I just do” Conroy ranted ”all Roman Catholics are evil’‘ He bared his teeth and then looked sour.

”Come on. Protestants must have done you a bad turn. Does not mean we are all bad. It is nonsense. Sheer illogic. Anyway back to the law. UVF proposes to fight Home Rule. They mean literally fight. I am not sure I can be a party to that.’‘ said Mark.

Lord Johnson chipped in. ‘‘I am afraid that brother Walker is right. We have to draw up contingency plans. That is the whole purpose of the UVF. There is a slim chance a Home Rule Act might be passed that does not exclude Ulster. What do we do then? That is why the UVF is there to defend Ulster from Home Rule were such an act of parliament to be passed.”

Thomas spoke ‘‘we should fight then. Fight whomsoever would impose Home Rule on us.”

‘This is where I part company” said Mark ‘‘we all oppose the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They have rebelled. That is against the law. We cannot very well rebel ourselves. That would be the height of hypocrisy.”

”We would be fighting for the Crown though” said Lord Johnson.

”But that is just it. The Crown is in Parliament. The king signs all acts. As soon as the words are said in parliament le roi le veult then it is law. Us rebelling would be worse than the IRB rebelling. We always proclaim our constitutional characters. We are always swearing loyalty and fealty to His Majesty. We cannot rebel just because we dislike a law. It would be a sin.” said Mark

”It is no sin to defend Protestantism” said Conroy

”I preach Protestantism every day’‘ said Mark. ”The Home Rulers never said they would take away our religion.”

”They will though. They are secretly controlled by the Vatican” said Conroy.

”That is plain silly. They won’t / There are Protestant Home Rulers” said Mark

‘I think you are one of them” Conroy yelled – he was quivering with rage.

”I am not” Mark shot back

”Brethren. maybe not the Home Rulers will take away our faith. It might be the IRB a clandestine organization/” said Lord Johnson

‘They had protestants in their ranks too” said Mark

”Not any more. sTOP speaking up for rebels’‘ said Lord Johnson.

”If Home Rule is signed by the king and we resist it would be his soldiers and police the UVF would fight. I will not be a party to that” said Mark.

”That is it the king will never sign the act” Lord Johnson felt he had had a brainwave.

”Every monarch since Queen Anne has signed every act no matter how they hate it. George III hated the India Act and still signed it.’‘ said Mark. ”He will sign it. We have no divine right of kings anymore. What was the Civil War all about? What was 1688 all about?”

”They were about Protestantism” said Lord Johnson. The other cheered

”They were not” said Mark ”Charles I was a Protestant. They were about the supremacy of Parliament. I will not rebel against my king. The law is the law. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. I shall campaign against Home but not fight”.

”I shall fight the papists. Home Rule is Rome Rule and don’t forget it!” said Conroy.

”You hate the toffs don’t you?” asked Mark.

”I do. Toffs always hobnobbing with the papishes saying we are to be nice to them. The aristos are rotten Prods. Some of them are secretly Romanists. Their sons going on tour to Rome. They would sell us out to keep their property!” said Conroy.

”You know who said that Home Rule is Rome Rule?” asked Mark.

”No. ” said Conroy, ”who said it?”

‘The Duke of Abercorn.” said Mark smugly.

Conroy’s face fell as the room erupted in laughter. ‘‘I did not say the aristos were bad. Not all of them are rotten.”

”Why do you hate Catholics so much?’‘ asked Mark ”They are people too. Their blood is as red as ours.”

”Blood is not red. Blood is either orange or green!’‘ screamed Conroy. The others were taken aback by his invective. ‘‘I would like to take a gun and shoot all them Romanheads! They are two legged beasts! They are vermin.”

Mark opened his mouth to rebuke Conroy. Conroy cut him off with aplomb before Mark could utter a sound ‘‘And don’t you tell me that not all Roman Catholics are bad. They are Fenians fiends every last damn one of them!”

”Pater always taught me that my blood is blue” Lord Johnson feebly attempted to lighten the mood.

‘But would you fight against the king?” asked Mark

Conroy quaked with fury. ‘‘We are Prods and British. We will fight anyone to stay British – even the British. Yes, I would fight against the king. If he would betray us. The King took an oath to defend Protestantism. If he wants to sacrifice us to the pope we can push him off. We did it before and we can do it again. I would take guns from the Kaiser. He is a prince of Protestantism. If the King would force Home Rule down our throats I would kick the crown, orb and scepter into the sea!”

Conroy them stormed out in a towering rage.

”Loyal brethren. There you have it. You may be joining the Ulster Volunteer Force but I shall not.” said Mark.

Lord Johnson chipped in. ‘‘You know that we would not really be rebelling against the Crown. The king only acts on the advice of his ministers. If his minister advise him evilly then he must be rid of those who would lead him astray. We can say ‘damn the government and God Save the King!’ ”

”Yes, that is what the Catholics said in 1641” said Mark.

‘We do not want a history lesson” said Lord Johnson

”When it comes to whether it is right to rebel then history is rather important.” said Mark.

Lord Johnson pretended not to have heard. ”Let the last entrenchment of liberty be our grave!”

”Hear, hear” they chorused and banged on their desks.


IRB meeting

In a barn outside the two the IRB foregathered.

‘Well brethren here we are” said twenty-five year old Henry Noble. Henry was a slim man just below middle height and had thick dark blond hair. His aquiline nose and thin lips hinted at a choleric and melancholic character. ”The time is coming to drive those English out – to drive those Protestants out!”

”Excuse me” said Liam Mee. This twenty year old was well above average height and well built. His dense dark brown hair surmounted a face that was distinguished but for an overly large nose. He had sparkling blue eyes that radiated intelligence. ”Excuse me – but we are not against Protestants. Protestants can be in our organization too.”

”The Prods are against us and if you cannot see that you are blind” said Henry irascibly. ”Now stop interrupting!”

”Liam” said John Orr. ”Just shut up will you! Prods are bad. We are going to push the Orange bastards into the sea. They are English!” John was over six foot in height – he had sable hair and small grey eyes. His face was strikingly handsome though his lips were thick and his ears were large. He was lean and energetic.

Henry felt like protesting but was glowered down.

‘Now fellas – the Prods are forming their own army. UVF they called it. It is high time we formed ours. Here we are – Irish Republican Brotherhood. But there are not enough of us and we have not enough arms. We need to fight those English scum. You see the harm they done? Their cruelties in South Africa? They took the side of black slaves against the Dutch – disgusting! Who would back a nigger against a white man? Only an Englishman would be so evil. We fight for the Catholic cause. Germany is on our side! We have suffered so many injustices.” said Henry.

”I am a Catholic!” said Gerard Mary Burke. Gerard was a tiny though portly man. His black hair was a little curly and his blue eyes spoke of dimness. He had a sallow complexion and was clearly simpleton. ”That is why I am Irish. I am Catholic. That is Irish. Prods ain’t Irish though. They is English.”

”Quite right” said Henry ” I have not a drop of English blood in my vains. We shall fight and win. We hate them. It is in my bones.”

Liam piped up ‘‘This is an issue of national independence. We have a separate identity and we can build a better future for Ireland – free form exploitation. What is in England’s interest is not necessarily in our interest. But to say we have no English stock – come on. That is plainly not so – it is ludicrous. This is not about some specious notion of unalloyed ethnicity…”

”Put a sock in it will you” said John ”we do not want to hear a raimeis from you. We are Irish. You Irish or not?’‘ he asked intolerantly.

‘I am Irish” said Liam meekly.

Henry continued ”there is talk of setting up our own volunteers. Not a secret organization like we have now but an open body. Irish Volunteers. A sort of Catholic version of the UVF.” He cleared his throat and continued, ” The priests will like it. As you know the hierarchy do not like the IRB. But if we have an Irish Volunteer Army then the clergy may bless our arms. Then we can free Catholic Ireland and bring back the faith of Patrick. No more English landlords and rent and alcoholism and all the horrors they have visited on us” he said with smouldering passion.

”Hear hear” they cried.

John fixed Liam with a death stare ”and we will have no more of your cleverality. Smart alec! Pontificating like a professor.”

Henry continued, ”Take back the holy places. St Patrick’s Cathedral in Downpatrick – that is our. St Patrick’s in Armagh – that is ours. The Prods and their alien ministers can get out of it. It is true we had Prods in our organization. That is why we never had a successful rising. We will not make that mistake no more. There is talk of forming our own army – openly like.”

”I heard there is some teacher fella – O’Neill or something. He it talking about founding an army. And John Redmond wants in on it. I do not trust those Home Rulers. MPs like. They are going to London hobnobbing with the English. Gone native. Start to think and talk like the English. ” said John.



UVF Parade

It was a fine late spring afternoon when Lord Johnson stood on a wooden dais outside his stately home in a military uniform and watched his little platoon parade by. The band of the Orange lodge played The Sash as the  Ulster Volunteer Force marched and countermarched inexpertly. The UVF men had no uniforms but wore their Sunday best with boots all spit polished.  They had no rifles and carried broomsticks instead. After a few minutes of drill with a sergeant barking out orders they were finally told to halt.

”Stand at …. ease!” shouted the wax whiskered sergeant.

”Well men” said Lord Johnson reading a list of names, ”Wilson, Richmond, Scarborough, Baker, Mackenzie, Yorke, Dunbar, Wiltshire, Daventry, Willshire, Squires, Wright, Wayne, Lee, Huyton, Cornwell, Townend, Richards, King, Trafford, North, Farmer, Fox, Cambridge, Redding, Kent, Porter, Rider, Earl and     Kenny. So good to see you all here. You did a fine job on parade men. Some of you are old soldiers or sailors so your drill is excellent. Some of you are new to drill. So your drill is not as it should be. Never mind all that for the minute. You shall improve with time. You are keen. You are men of spirit. Sworn to defend Protestantism.  ” he paused and cleared his throat ”Sorry Kenny. Sworn to defend Christianity. I am delighted to be your lieutenant. I served in the OTC at Eton for a few years. I know fine soldiers when I see them. Now men, some of you are Orange brethren I am very pleased to say. Others of you are not but it is an organization that I most heartily recommend. Now chaps, the good news is that we shall be getting rifles soon. Soon? I hear you ask. I cannot tell you exactly when. I wish I could. But it has got to be hush hush – the exact date that it. Until then we shall have a few splendid drill days. Oh to be in England now that April’s there!” he stopped and turned to the sergeant who was wincing. ”Now sergeant dismiss the men”

The sergeant had difficulty containing his discomfiture. The men had been almost groaning at Lord Johnson’s effete and inapposite speech. The ‘oh to be in England’ quotation had almost made a few laugh.

The sergeant composed himself and delivered the order in a stentorian voice.

The UVF platoon was shown into servants’ quarters and treated to hearty fare.

Lord Johnson retired to his own dining room for luncheon. His father came and dined with him.

”Now my boy” said the Earl of Sperrin, ”I heard your little pep talk to the men. Do you have any idea how to speak to hoi pello?”

”Well of course I do I give orders to the servants all the time. ” said Lord Johnson

”No, I mean a long speech. The servants are used to our ways. But most of the lower orders are not used to our way of speaking. You have got to speak to them about things they understand. Keep it short. Some simple ideas. Protestantism was right. But it has got to be the king, the country, family and jobs. Not so much poetry for heaven’s sake” said Lord Sperrin

‘Oh I am sorry pater. I shall remember that. We have a bit of a route march to Ginkel’s after this. Next Saturday it will be to Inwood. ‘‘ said Lord Johnson.

”Jolly good show. Perhaps have a church parade if you can get a clergyman to agree. Not sure they are staunch enough though. I have to admit I do have mixed feelings about this UVF business. If we have this won’t the Home Rulers have their own little army?” said Lord Sperrin

”But papa = they already do. Are you ignoring the IRB? Bunch of cutthroats and desperadoes. Like any class of Mexican bandits.” said Lord Johnson

”No that is the republicans. I said Home Rulers. Your average Catholic is a Home Ruler not a republican. We might be driving most Catholics to militancy. What you reap is what you sow, mind.” said Lord Sperrin.

”Oh aren’t they all the same?” said Lord Johnson

”No dear boy they are not. Home Rulers are decent sorts mostly. Some of our Catholic servants are Home Rulers. But I would never trust a republican. The IRB secretly run the GAA/” said Lord Sperrin

‘Gaelic Athletic Association? But that is just about Gaelic football and hurling and the like’‘ said Lord Johnson

”It is on the service but underneath all that they have something else. Ulterior agenda – revolutionists that is what they are. That is why no man who has been in the army, navy or police can join it” said Lord Sperrin.

”I never knew that” said Lord Johnson

”Your grandfather used to play hurling as a boy in Mayo. But about 30 years ago GAA was set up. Partly for sport yes but as an IRB front. A blind for IRB meetings. Such a bunch of bigots you never met. They won’t let their members play what they call garrison sports – footer and the like. No English dancing either – whatever English dancing is.” said Lord Sperrin. ”I won’t have a man who is in the GAA about here. Your average Roman Catholic is a good egg. But as for the GAA – I don’t trust them.”


Visit to a UVF man’s house

Lord Johnson wore a black mourning suit went by dog cart to Richmond’s house. ”MacPherson stop here” Lord Johnson ordered his driver.

MacPherson got off the front of the cart and ran around to open the door for Lord Johnson. The lord stepped out of the cart slowly. He grimaced as he looked at the moist grime in the road. As his foot touched the ground some mud splattered his trousers.

”Damn” exclaimed Lord Johnson ”Bloody muck!” He noticed MacPherson wince.

”Oh MacPherson you are one of those God botherers. You don’t like my salty language? Well to hell with you MacPherson. I speak as I please. Don’t look at me impudently”

”Yes your lordship ” said MacPherson subsmissively – he lowered his gaze.

Lord Johnson took a few steps towards the door of a ramshackle stone cabin. He rapped loudly on the bockety wooden door which was almost falling off the rusted hinges.

A gaunt woman looking forty years of age opened it slowly. She was drawn and her mid brown hair was streaked with grey and was worn back. ”yes” she hissed feebly.

”You must be Mrs Richmond” said Lord Johnson . He lifted his hat to her. ”I am Lord Johnson” he said proudly. ”Forgive me but I heard that you had been bereaved and I thought it only meet as officer commanding the UVF to call upon Richmond and commiserate with you over the death of your daughter.”

”That is good of you” said Mrs Richmond brightening just slightly. He noticed how jaded the woman looked. ”Would you like to come in?” she asked

”Yes, yes, I would. WHy not?” said Lord Johnson almost jovially.

In he stepped. He saw half a dozen haggard children dressed in ragged clothes. Each seemed to suffer from a different defect. The cadaverous children had leathery skin and irriatated skin – seeping sores and rashes. One of the feeble children seemed to have a belly that was almost distended. One of the little boy was almost as wrinkled and withered as his mother. Lord Johnson was filled with horror and could not help feel the deepest contempt for the children. He could deduce their ages roughly from their faces but noticed that phsyiques were not what they should be for their ages. One had the yellowish-white tinge of parchment. There was a child some way past toddlerhood whose sex he could not determine. They were listless though not slothful. They looked at him inquiringly but said nothing. Two of them were crouched on a pile of filthy straw.

The haggard mother said ”Will you have tea my lord?”

”yes, yes I will.” he sat at an ancient table. There was only one chair in the room. The only adornment on the wall was a portrait of Queen Victoria. He thought to himself that she died 13 years ago. But they do not have the money to buy a newer portrait.

The big wild eyes of the emaciated children still surveyed him. They were disheveled and their hair was lanky and greasy – as though matted for months.  It was as though they had not had sufficient nourishment to allow them to speak. Their pinched faces hardly expressed an emotion. They had long spindly limbs and were caked in filth. An infant got near its mother and the mother lifted the baby up which clung to her. This child was wasting away. The others in the corner huddled together for warmth though it was not a cold day. They looked faintly frightened of them as though he were a predator. They started scratching each other. At least that was some activity he thought. Lord Johnson wondered if he was too haughty towards them.

‘What a spectacle’ Lord Johnson heard himself say. He wondered if these half starved children would like to eat him. Would they fall on him ferociously? Or had they the energy? They were angular and bony – with their sallow complexions they seemed like a different race. He could hardly believe it. Were they natural idiots? Or had privation reduced them to this. He was repulsed by them but then felt a certain empathy for them.

Just then Mrs Richmond handed him a cup of tea in a cracked cup as old as herself.

”Ah thank you Mrs Richmond” he took it and sipped from it. She stood in front of him with a deferential and resigned look on her face. ”Is your husband here?” he asked. He saw there was a door into another room. That was the only other room in the house he deduced.

”No, my lord. He was offered a day’s work on a farm and he could not say no” said Mrs Richmond

”Ah I see. But the funeral’s tomorrow.” said the lord

”Yes, Lily’s funeral is tomorrow. But even a pauper’s funeral is ten pounds. And we desperately need the money.” said the woman

”Right. Well. An awful business this – a child dying.” said Lord Johnson

”Whooping cough my lord.” she swallowed hard, ” It was whooping cough. A son of ours died a few years ago of the same. If only we could afford a doctor.” said the woman.

”My word. Terrible. I believe outside an Orange lodge I have never had a conversation with a member of the lower orders. Goodness me!” said the lord

”Yes, m’lord. I have never spoken to a lord before” said the woman.

Lord Johnson realized that explained why the woman looked almost scared to speak to him – unsure of what to say.

”Well trust in God. I am sure reading the Bible will lift your spirits. To know that Jesus has called your daughter to his mercy.” said the lord

”wE don’t have a Bible. They are too expensive. We get our Bible teaching from the Gospel hall.” said Mrs Richmond

”Ah I see. Well you are just the sort of people who would go to Pastor Savage” said the lord ”can’t say I approve. Might prefer you be Catholics than go to Savage. Well it is your choice – religious liberty and all that”

The woman smarted but said nothing.

He finished his tea pensively and stood up. ”Madam – once again. I offer you my deepest sympathy.  I hold your husband in high regard. He is a fine contribution to the UVF. In good condition for a man of 40!”

”No my lord. He is 30.” said the woman

”30?” said Lord Johnson

”Yes, my lord 30. Same age as myself.” said the woman.

Then he realized she was prematurely aged. He was taken aback that the woman had revealed her own age – especially in front of the children.

He stood up and delved into his pocket. He then proffered a bank note. ”Please Mrs Richmond do me the honour of accepting this. Five pounds towards the funeral expenses it is the least we can do.”

‘My lord do not insult us by offering us money. Do not insult us by telling us not to worship at the Gospel Hall. We are as good Protestants as you.” she said sounding surprisingly exercised. She stood there struggling to contain her ire.

He stood speechless for a moment before putting the money back. ”Very well as you wish” he said. He was affronted. With that he stalked out of the house.

On the way back he said ‘MacPherson I have never been into a worker’s house before. Ghastly place. Now I see what those socialist johnnies at Oxford were on about.”








Loyalists. Chapter 4


Loyalists chapter 4.

Dinner with the priests

Masonic meeting

Dinner with Rev Jones

Revivalist meeting

Doctors speak

After the match




Duncan knocked on the door of the presbytery. A tall and hefty middle aged woman with the face of an ogress opened the door. Her facial features were over large and sagging

”Hello you must be Mr Self?” said the woman. She wore a faded blue dress with a floral pattern.

”Yes, I am. I have been invited for dinner and you are?” said Duncan

”I am Mrs Philbin the housekeeper. Now come in” said Mrs Philbin

Duncan made great play of wiping the soles of his shoes on the doormat before stepping over the threshold

”Mr Self” said Boyle loudly. The amiability on his face was unmistakable. They shook hands.

”Thank you for inviting me father” said Duncan.

The house was small but well furnished and spotless. He was brought into the drawing room that also functioned as a dining room. On the walls there were images of the Infant of Prague, a Pieta, St Anthony of Padua and of St Patrick.

Fr Forrester dressed in black silk jupes rose to meet him. ”Ah Mr Self so good of you to come. We have been so looking forward to it.”

”Thank you father” said Duncan ”I never thought I would have dinner with Roman Catholic priests”

”Catholic clergy have often got on well with Protestants” said Forrester ” I was reading about the bishops of Derry. They often had a good relationship with the Church of Ireland.”

”With the Church of Ireland? But the Bishop of Derry is…Oh of course. You mean your Bishop of Derry. There are two bishops of Derry” said Duncan

”We believe there is only one Bishop of Derry. Another man may style himself Bishop of Derry” said Boyle seriously.

”Now now – let’s not talk about that” said Forrester.

They all sat down and the housekeeper served tea.

”Tell me Mr Boyle about this new man in town – this pastor Savage as he calls himself. Leading his flock astray so far as I can see. Preaching anti Catholic invective all the time” said Forrester.

”Yes” said Self ”I am proud to say I have never heard his rants. All fire and brimstone and denouncing Catholics as Gog and Magog. It is very worrying. Some of the dimmer boys are taken in by him. His sons are at our school – Wycliffe, Tyndale and Coverdale they are called. Savage is always talking about Protestants martyrs.”

”Only fair I suppose. We are always talking about Catholic martyrs” said Forrester.

”there can be no comparison between dying for the truth and dying for a lie” said Boyle.

”Fr Boyle – you forget yourself. We have a Protestant guest” said Forrester. ”Find something pleasant to say to this man.”

”Mr Self I admire the Protestant choral tradition and music. Even Orange bands are good to listen to.” said Boyle

”That is better” said Forrester.

”Thank you father Boyle. I am not an Orangeman though” said Duncan

”Yes we know” said Boyle ”I do wish some Orangies would not say kick the pope and all that.”

”You architecture is the best. People have told me some cathedrals in France are sublime” said Duncan.

They moved to the dining table. Fr Forrester said grace and they then chorused amen.

As the housekeeper served the food she said ”there you go monsignor”

Later Duncan inquired, ”Excuse me Fr Forrester why are you called monsignor?”

”Because I am the senior of the priests here” said Forrester ”It is Italian.” Then he took a bite of potato.

”Mr Self” said Fr Boyle ”It is so strange but nice to break bread with a Protestant. I can see you do not have horns after all! I remember when I was little my sister Fionnula had a Protestant friend. She did not know it at first. After a while Fionnula found out that Mildred was a Proddy and said ‘Is it true are you really one of them? A Prod?’ and Mildred said ‘Aye but I do not have horns’ ” he giggled.

”I know it is amazing people can think we are so different. We look just the same we live just the same” said Duncan.

”We both venerate Patrick the saint of our isle” said Fr Forrester ”He founded the Catholic Church in Ireland.”

”Fr Forrester – with respect he founded the Church of Ireland. We own all the sites associated with him Down Cathedral, Christ Church in Dublin. St Patrick’s Dublin etc…” said Duncan.

”Once we have Home Rule we shall get them back – depend upon it” said Fr Boyle not trying to be menacing.

”Mr Self surely you know that Patrick was sent to Ireland by the Roman Pontiff.” said Fr Forrester

”I have heard that. I have also heard that that is a mediaeval invention. The Church was not very united in the 5th century. Besides there was only one church in the world then all that from Portugal to Palestine. Western Christianity was united with the Eastern Church. We might as well say that Patrick founded the Orthodox Church here.” said Duncan.

”Let’s agree to disagree” said Fr Forrester.

”All right then.” said Duncan

”Funnily enough we get on better with the Church of Ireland and with the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Russians are very hard on the Poles –  they are Catholics you see. In Russian Poland they suffer severely” said Fr Forrester. ;”The odd thing is that Orthodox worship is so beautiful – so ritualistic and so iconographic. A Polish priest told me. I have never seen an Orthodox church”

”Goodness me. Well I have heard about it. A sailor I knew visited Asia Minor many times – went to Greek churches there” said Duncan.

”Ireland is a Catholic country and always has been but despite what I said about Home Rule we shall not harm you. Just take back the ancient sites and you may then worship unmolested.” said Fr Boyle.

”Fr Boyle I am a keen student of history. When the King of England first came to Ireland we were saying mass in Irish. That does not really suit you or the Orangemen to acknowledge that. The English brought Roman Catholicism. The pope even ordered Henry II to come here to bring Catholicism. You may have heard of the papal bull Laudabiliter.” said Duncan

”Now Mr Self I shall deal with that” said Forrester. ”I loved history when I was at Maynooth. Yes, Henry II made us start saying mass in Latin, changed our monks’ tonsure, ended clerical marriage, those abuses, changed the date of Easter – all that is true. But politically that is of no consequence today. He was not given any mandate to do so by His Holiness. Laudabiliter is a Protestant forgery. There is not record of it in the Vatican library. I am aware of the Laudabiliter myth. But you are right that the English brought us back to Catholicism when we had lost our way. Must be hideously embarrassing for the Orange Order. ”

”Fathers – it is so good that we can discuss all this in a civilized fashion. As for the Orange Order – they only look back to the Plantations. They do not care much about Ireland before then” said Duncan.

”Mr Self we shall be holding a ceilidh at the parish hall on Saturday. Perhaps you would like to come along.” asked Duncan.

”A ceilidh? Like Irish dancing and music? I have been to a few dances but never a ceilidh. Will you be dancing yourself father?” asked Duncan.

”No” said Boyle in amusment more than irritation. ”It would be unbecoming for a priest to dance.”

”Then why do you attend?” asked Duncan.

”Fr Forrester and I attend to superintend the morals of young people. We are to see that the music and dance does not excite their passions to much – it can be an occasion of sin. We do not want any concupiscence. ” said Boyle.

Duncan was bemused. ”I see. Well fathers I am flattered to be invited. I will have to consider it. But should I go. Would it be wise?”

”Why not?” asked Forrester amicably.

”I remember my mother saying we are polite to Roman Catholics but not too friendly. We can be civil but not friends. It could be awkward. She would say what if you have a Catholic friend and you fall in love with his sister or he with yours. What are we going to down then? It would be very difficult. They want to get married. Can they? If so in which church? If they get married in the Catholic Church then the Prods will say he is a lepor. If they get married in the Protestant Church then he will be an outcast among the Catholics. And as for the child – neither fish nor fowl. The children grow up all confused. Rejected by both communions. ” said Duncan.

”With respect Mr Self it need not be that way at all, at all. They couple can we in the Catholic Church. The one true church if you do not mind me saying so. The Protestant need not convert but it would be very much appreciated if he or she came back to mother church. Your ancestors were Catholics till only four hundred years ago. Protestantism is a very new thing. What is four hundred years in eternity? All Protesants will return to the fold in time. Mark my words! See the error of your ways. I do not blame you. You are not a bad class of men. If I had been brought up in it I might not see the light either. But anyway if you married a Catholic girl you could stay a Protestant so long as you promise that the fruit of your union would be raised in our church.” said Forrester.

”Father – that is generous of you. But I am not sure it would be a good idea. No church would be happy for its children to be going over to the other side. I am not against your church or anything. In fact it is a lot better from what I hear than that awful Gospel Hall. But my children being brought up in the Roman Church? That is a big step. ” said Duncan.

”Not even married yet. We shall have you married off by Christmas” Father Boyle quipped.

”All right – I shall come!” Duncan  heard himself say. Had that been a rush of blood to the head? He had second thoughts but dared not voice them. That would be discourteous.




One afternoon Duncan having tea with his niece.

”Uncle Duncan are we Scottish?” asked Jane.

”Well no we are Irish. We are a little bit Scottish a long time ago.” said Duncan.

”Morag McAllister said that Protestants are Scottish.” said Jane. ”Her family came from Scotland.”

” A lot of people came from Scotland to this part of Ireland about 300 years ago. So she is kind of right. But English people came here too. The Scots and the English intermarried there because they were both Protestants and English speaking. We married the native Irish too but not so much because they are Catholic and back then they did not speak English.” said Duncan.

”So we are Scottish and Irish.” said Jane

”Yes and English. Just Irish now really. They used to call some people Scotch-Irish. Roughly speaking the Scots were Presbyterians and the English here were Church of Ireland. But then the Scots and English married each other so much nobody could really be called totally Scottish or English. We Ulster Protestants are the most British of all! A perfect mix of English, Scots  and Native Irish too and some Welsh!” said Duncan.

”Aine McIlkenny said that Prods are British and not belong in Ireland. We should go back where we came from. Is that right? She said we have no right to be here.” said Jane.

”Jane some children here a lot of nonsense form their parents. Just ignore it. Aine maybe heard some horrible things from her parents so we try to forgive her.” said Duncan.

”But she says you can be British or Irish but not both – never. We love the King so we should get out. That is what she told me” said Jane. ”The Catholics are Irish and the Prods cannot be.”

”Jane well that was a nasty thing to say. You can be both” said Duncan. ”As for the Scots thing well the Scots were an Irish tribe from this part of Ireland. We moved to Caledonia a very long time ago.”

”Caledonia that is what the Romans called it.” said Jane

”Jane I can see why you won the history prize in school. You will be a headmistress one day.” said Duncan.

”I want to be a Professor of Everything!” said Jane gleefully.

”I cannot fault you for ambition. University! Only for posh boys really. Very, very few girls go to university. With a mind like yours I wish you could. But it is not going to happen. Sorry.” said Duncan. ”But as for the Scottish thing. The word Scotland does not come from Scotland funnily enough. We defeated the Picts – you know Pictii ‘painted ones’ in Latin that is what the Romans called them.”

”I have not started Latin yet” said Jane.

”You soon will do. I am no great shakes at it but I can help you with it a little. As a professor you would not far well without it! So we went to Scotland. After 1 000 years the  Scottish Protestants coming to Ulster were really the same people coming home after 1 000 years” said Duncan.

”Was that not unfair on the Irish who were always here. Native Irish who spoke Irish and were Catholic?” said Jane

”Well kind of it was but they had rebelled against the king. In those days if you betrayed the king you did not just lose your land you lost your life. So the king was lenient just to take the land. There was a lot of fighting in Scotland and England between this king and that king. Those who lost had their land taken away. Remember almost everyone was a farmer till almost a hundred years ago.” said Duncan.




A few nights later Lord Johnson was in the front hall of Sperrin Hall. He wore a dark suit complete with a Masonic apron. His father came down the stairs similarly accoutered.

”My dear boy you are in camouflage. Hardly recognized you without a drink in your hand” said the Earl of Sperrin.

”Pater, do leave me be. I am trying to hard not to drink before the masonic meeting” said Lord Johnson.

”Jolly Good show, my boy, good show.” said Lord Sperrin.

”How are things in town?” asked Lord Johnson.

”Oh wonderful. Bit too crowded. Keeps getting bigger. So many Poles, Russians and all sorts. I saw a few Chinamen. Lots of Indians too. But Clarisse – she is my elixir of youth. I am a young man again! London is splendid. A capitol capital!” he quipped. ”This Home Rule business is bloody though. ” said the earl. ” I wish to go back to Dublin some time. It is like London – only chummier” he harrumphed.

Just then the doorbell rang and a footman showed in some masons who had alighted from a carriage.

Dr Mallon walked in.

”Ah Mallon!” said the earl. ”How good of you to join us.”

”Thank you m lord. I told my wife I was making a house call. She does not approve of the Freemasons” said Mallon

”Well I know Catholics don’t – apart from you. You are a very brave and broadminded man.” said the earl

”Thank you m lord. I would not like Monsignor Forrester to find out about it or he would denounce me from the pulpit.” said Mallon

”Mallon you are such a thoroughly decent chap it is a pity you are not an Orangeman. It is just like the Masons – so many words and symbols the same. The founder James Wilson was a Mason you see.” said the earl.

”M lord I consider it a compliment but the Orange Order would be a bridge too far. I am not prepared to convert. ” said Mallon

”There was a chap in Scotland converted from Roman Catholicism. Because head honcho of the Orangemen in Scotland. We do not hold his birth against him” said the earl.

The earl then glad handed the other guests.  There were twenty Protestants and one other Catholic – Rory O’Flynn a Catholic gentleman farmer. Soon Duncan arrived.

They filed into the ballroom for their ceremonies. Before they started the earl remarked to Dr Mallon, ”Where is McAllister?”

”Dr McAllister is on duty. What if someone falls gravely ill m lord?”

”He is as good a Mason as any. Well he shall be here next time.” said the earl

”Yes, your lordship. We take it in turns.” said Mallon

Lord Johnson then addressed his father ”I am so looking forward to the cricket season properly starting. Only thing that helps me cut down on drink”

”You had better move to warmer climes my boy. At this rate the demon drink will kill you by 30. I know I have plenty more sons. If you go somewhere warmer then you can play cricket year round” said the earl.

”I had thought that pater but we must stop this beastly Home Rule business” said the lord

”No politics once inside a masonic meeting ” said the earl ”remember – any man may join the craft whatever his politics or religion.”

Duncan was sworn into the craft.

After the meeting they dined.

Lord Johnson asked Mallon, ”Will you be playing cricket this summer? We shall be practicing soon.”

”Yes, m lord. But I shall be playing for Armagh this year.” said Dr Mallon.

”Armagh? Kai su teknon.” said Lord Johnson.

”Forgive me” said Mallon sheepishly.

”Oh I shall. It is only a sport I tell you. Bloody good fun though. Thinking of going back to Varsity soon. Just finish one last cricket season. I am bored silly with learning. Too old for school! I am twenty. I am thick as two short planks so why bother with a degree. I shan’t graduate. Who cares? A peer does not need a degree” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes, your lordship. You are quite right.” Mallon smiled falsely. It struck him as wrong that someone so unbookish and indolent should have higher station than himself.

”An aristo can be an army officer. Never a naval officer!” said the lord. ”Royal Navy is a bit too hands on, a bit too dangerous if you ask me. Look at Nelson son of a penniless parson. Royal Naval officers are middling sorts. The tars are the roughest scrapings of the dockland bars – brothel born bastards. Only people have tattoos are sailors and tarts. I wonder what the connection is between those two groups!”

”I was in the Royal Navy for years m’ lord.” said Dr Mallon.

”Oh yes so you were. I heard. Ships’ doctor on Duke of York. Sailors were as I said I s’pose. Rough sorts. Scrapings of every gaol and  teeming slum. Then they are consorting with ladies of the night I don’t doubt. Have of them had VD I shouldn’t wonder.” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes my lord I am afraid you are right. Not all bad men. Just poor – born poor. ” said Mallon knitting his brow in anxious solicitude, ‘‘A family for those who never had a family. Join the navy at twelve. At least that way these poor boys had a full belly for the first time in their lives, a roof over their heads, clothes. New clothes. Some of them could not believe it when they got new clothes I had to the medical on them when they wanted to take the Queen’s shilling. So many with rickett’s – you know bow legs. Had to turn down so many bantamweights. These seldom fed boys. Some of them were pleading crying for me to pass them anyway. Navy was their only meal ticket. I saw men of 20 who could not write their names. And you are right – some of them are the son’s of strumpets. I saw some born syphlitics. Had to turn them down for the navy.”

”My word Mallon – almost enough to turn a man into a socialist! But I remember what Salisbury said – socialism is beyond the pale of human tolerance. We cannot have surtax. They call it ”sir” tax. Only baronets and above have to pay it! Why should the blue blooded have to pay for the lower orders? Hoi pelloi are happy with their lot. Aren’t they? I give of my time to judge the school declamation competition. I have seen the Prod boys badly dressed.  But Roman Catholic boys are in rags! But that is the way providence ordained it. That is what the chaplain said at school. I remember that hymn by Mrs C F Alexander ”The rich man in his castle/ The poor man at his gate/ God ordered their dominion/ He ordered their estate.” It is God’s will. I tell you  -You can’t argue with God! Tell me Mallon – what was the ghastliest thing you ever say in the navy?”

”Well my lord. One time I saw a man hanged.” said the doctor

”Really” Lord Johnson gasped.

”My word what was it like?”

”A pirate my lord” said Dr Mallon, ”Captured him in the Persian Gulf. He was some class of Turk. I still remember his name. Samir Valiyev. Short, podgy ugly little toad. A real gargoyle with bug eyes. Not a swarthy chap – as white as a Christian. Anyway, he had been terrorizing the shipping lanes. Sunk a few fishing smacks. Enslaved the fishermen – fellow Mohammedans mind. He had attempted to ravish the women. They say he could not manage to sustain an erection – so obese he was. He had killed the women in a manner so gruesome I shall not even describe. Anyway drumhead court on board. Sentenced to hang. He exuded a real air of sheer evil. He was shouting oaths and threats. Then the curses died away and he was weeping like an infant – pleading with us. He nastied himself. His legs gave way. He to be carried on deck to be hanged from the yardarm. The hangman was a sailor who said he knew what he was doing. Had not read his Marwood.”

”Marwood – what on earth is that?” asked Lord Johnson.

”Marwood. You know – William Marwood. ” said Dr Mallon, ”Fully licensed public executioner. You know the ditty – ”if pa killed ma who’s kill pa? Marwood. ” Marwood wrote that table of drops. Tabulate the drop for the condemned’s weight so you break the vertebrae.  As the only medical officer on board I had to witness execution – I was going to have to certify the man dead. I thought I would just turn away the moment he dropped down – have a cigarette for five minutes. Then come back and find a nice limp corpse to pronounce dead. Hangman did not know what he was doing. To short a drop even for that fat little ogre. So Valiyev hung their twisting and twitching. We had no hood for his face. His face, his purpling face and eyes bursting out – well I shall not even say. I am a medical man. I have seen some sickening sights but that was the worst of the lot. I started to feel sorry for the old imp.”

”Well I say! My word –  so he died then?” said Lord Douglas.

”Oh yes he died. I even spoke to the hangman. We even considered cutting him down just so we could string him up again and do a clean job a minute later with a longer rope. But no – we could not bear to go through it again. Just get it over with. He expired all right. Took half a bloody hour of him gurgling. I vomited over the side. That was that. Thank God that was over. I was able to put my stethoscope to his chest and pronounce life extinct. Since then well – I have been against the death penalty. I could not ask another doctor to have to see what I have seen. I am hear to heal and not to kill. It is not killing a man in battle. This does not need to be done. If the sailor had dropped the pirate off right then he would have been snuffed out light a candle. ” said Dr Mallon

”My word it is quite a tale you tell – you old saltie. You not spinning me a yarn are you?” asked Lord Johnson jovially.

”No my lord I am not” said Dr Mallon. ”Old sea dog though I am  – I am not spinning you a sailor’s yarn.”

”No, I s’pose not. Did not seem like much of a tall tale. Tell me –  that sailor who hanged the pirate wrongly. Did he ever work as a hangman again?”

”Yes, my lord he emigrated to Australia and is an assistant hangman there. He runs a pub there called ‘Help the poor struggler.”’ said Dr Mallon.

Lord Johnson laughed raucously. ”He should have called it – the last drop.”

”Well I wrote to him. Is he liking his other profession? He said – it is nice work if you can get it.” said Dr Mallon

”I ‘d wager he has never had a complaint from a client!” said Lord Johnson.

”I asked him what hanging was like he said – it is a pain in the neck” he guffawed.

”Indeed” said Mallon. ”Odd thing was on the ship some of the sailors rushing forward to touch the pirate’s hand when I finally said he was dead. They are a superstitious lot mariners.”

”Touch his hand? WHy did the mariners want to touch a dead man’s hand.?” Lord Johnson was perplexed.

”The hand of glory. There is that old folk tale that a hanged man’s hand can cure certain maladies. The man must be dead before you touch it. Some say left hand only. Others say either hand. The hand does not need to touch the affected part of a man’s person. Just anywhere on the body will cure the affected organ. ” said Dr Mallon

”How very peculiar. Macabre!” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes it was. A rating wanted cut it off and boil that left hand. The fat from it is said to make a candle with magical properties. But the captain of the ship would not hear of it. We are not having any necromancy on a Christian ship he said. Quite right too. The pirate was buried at sea within ten minutes of me pronouncing him dead.” said Mallon.

”Great Caesar’s ghost! A frightful business. Attempting witchery on one of His Majesty’s ships.” said Lord Johnson.

”I was aboard Duke of York in Queen Victoria’s time” said Dr Mallon.

”I see, I see but still a frightful business, what? Tell me was there any sodomy among the other ranks?” asked Lord Johnson.

”Yes my lord, occasionally. If we found out that any bastard was a bugger we just shipped him off to the frog navy.” said Dr Mallon.

As the evening wore on more drink was taken. The Earl of Sperrin remarked to his son. ”Is that Sheffield over there?”. He indicated a middle aged man of 5’6” with a bald bonce but dense black hair around the rims of his head. He had a melancholic manner and very pallid skin. His morose brown eyes were topped by very bushy eyebrows and shifted shiftily in his drooping face that looked as though it has never once smiled.

”Yes m lord that is Sheffield.” said Lord Johnson.

”What is that Valkyrie doing here?” asked Lord Sperrin.

”Pater he was sworn into the craft whilst you in town.” said Lord Johnson.

”You should have written to me by Jove! An undertaker in the craft. Whatever next? I shouldn’t wonder if the Roman Catholic priesthood is asking to join next. That fellow was born with an undertaker’s face.” said Lord Sperrin.

”Type cast he is papa, type cast. Undertakers – they are seldom the fun sort. It wouldn’t do to have a chap as an undertaker if he is also in music hall.” said Lord Johnson.



Duncan dined with Reverend Jones. The clergyman spoke in his gentle and almost banal tone, ”Duncan you are doing so well teaching Sunday school. You are a man of such faith.”

”Thank you Rev Jones. Trouble is I am not a man of much faith more a man of doubt. That is why I was unsure about teaching Sunday school at all.” said Duncan.

”I see” Jones was stumped for a moment. ”Well a young man, a man with an inquiring mind should have some doubts. I was plagued by doubt as an undergraduate. But you must suppress them. How do you know that the devil does not put such heretical thoughts into your mind?”

”Well I am not sure that he does not” said Duncan

”There you are!” said Jones smiling for once.

”But Reverend Jones – the thing is about Abraham being told by God to sacrifice Isaac. How did he know that it was not satan putting those thoughts into his head? Thought projection. I read a psychiatric manual. Seemed like that” said Duncan/

”He knew. Oh – he just knew. That is what faith is” said Jones – doubt spreading across his face.

”There are other things. We broke away from Rome nigh on 400 years ago. We go by the word of Jesus. But where in the Bible does it say we need priests? Let alone deacons, archdeacons, canons, bishops, archbishops and all that jamboree? I know that many of the clergy are good and sincere men. Some of them are very giving. But some of them are takers. Some of the clerics are not there for the right reason – more concerned about the colour of their robe than helping the suffering.” said Duncan

”You are right I have been troubled by this myself sometimes. A simpler church a church that is not so proud and worldly would be good.” said Rev Jones. ”But we need some sort of order. We need to know who is who. Otherwise you get completed buffoons like Savage. A rabble rouser with his unbiblical ranting. ”

”The church buildings are so expensive. Think of what we could do with that money and those man hours. Decent housing for the poor, food for the starving, fire wood and coal for the cold. It seems immoral.” said Duncan.

”I agree some clergy are greedy. This is the fight that Jesus was fighting when he whipped the money lenders out of the temple” said Jones.

”Yes, I realise. But the same corruption has crept back into the church” said Duncan. ”What did we have the Reformation for if we are only a pale imitation of the Roman Catholics?”

”Anglicanism has its failing but it is still better than Roman Catholicism. We brought the Bible in a language understanded for the people. Men died for that. We do not have nepotism and so on. We do not have bishops living in such opulence. The Catholic Church has the pornocracy and such scandals – cardinals with mistresses and murder plots. The Church is human not divine. We try to serve the Lord and we all fall short. The clergy are sinners too. Who told you that clergy are sinless? I admit the sin of pride is one I have noticed in many clergymen. Some of them like the sound of their own voice too much” said Rev Jones.

”Yes, Reverend Jones” said Duncan relieved at the clergymans’s reaction. ”I am glad that you recognize that. This is what puts the average Joe off. All the thing about calling a man reverened , right reverend, very reverend, lord bishop and all that. Where is all that in the Gospel? Jesus was humble and some clergy are so haughty. I know that Roman Catholics are worse – treating the pope like he is pharaoh. They call their cardinals princes of the church. They want earthly power.”

”The thing is your average Christian is a simple minded sort. He does not understand the theology but he does know a splendid church when he sees one. We need the colourful robes and the handsome buildings and the fine titles. Even a simpleton then knows that the church is important and our message is vital. You said it yourself – extreme Protestantism is ascetic. It takes the colour and the joy out of life. Jesus wants us to celebrate the wonders of creation” said Jones.

”Rev Jones – where do you stand on this whole Home Rule business?” said Duncan.

”I am basically against but I do not talk politics. You know those who are episcopally ordained are not supposed to have politics – cannot be elected. ” said Jones ”We are not an established church, not since 1870. But there is still this notion abroad that we ought to be linked to our kith and kin in Great Britain. I want to keep things the way they are now. Probably because that is what I am used to. I am not against Home Rule for the rest of Ireland. They want it down there. Have to admit it. Even in Dublin 8 out of ten want it. So let them have it. But not in Ulster if you please. But do not go telling people that. There are even a couple of Protestants who want it. But half my congregation would be against me for not being staunch enough against Home Rule!”

”I see. I do not want it either. As you say the South is a forlorn hope. They want it. Let them have it – fair enough. But does it have to be so bad there? They say they may bring in tariffs. Ruin the economy. Tories wanted tariffs – imperial preference. Home Rulers were against it but maybe just to cosy up to their Liberal allies” said Duncan. ”Redmond says he is against tariffs but not so sure he believe them.”

”I know on the face of it Home Rule does not have to be bad. Just a return to what we had prior to the Union. But things have moved on. Times have changed. The Catholics did not get much of a say back then and now they do. Of course it is their right. Home Rule in itself is tolerable but where will it lead? A republic? A confessional state? They might form an alliance with France or Germany. Bring foreign troops into the country. Most Catholics consider the English to be foreign you see. Daft isn’t it? The British Army is our army. The Royal Navy is our navy. The army is more Irish than English. ” said Jones.

”Quite right. England would never have won anything if it were not for us.” said Duncan. ”We have achieved so much. The Empire is Ireland’s empire.”

”We brought civilization to whole continents. My uncle was a missionary out in India. He brought the Bible to the heathen there. Oddly the district commissioner would only let him prosyletise to the untouchables.” said Jones.

”The untouchables? Forgive me Rev Jones I do not know what you mean.” said Duncan.

”The untouchables are a cast of people they are outcasts like lepers in days of yore. Not that they have leprosy. They are shunned by their own race. It is the Hindus or is it the Mohammedans they are? Anyway they are spurned like rabid curs.” said Jones, ” My uncle brought the blessings and the light of the Gospel to those poor dark unbelievers. And now they are Christian.”

”Very good.” said Duncan. ”He was like St Patrick. ”

”Indeed. The flag follows the cross. It was English missionaries who go to India before the East India Company. ” said Jones. ”Our imperialism makes me so proud to be Irish. Only thing makes me ashamed is Oscar Wilde.”

”Oh yes well I have had Englishmen rib me about him” said Duncan.

”I know. When I was a boy people said only Englishmen were guilty of that sin. But there we have it. Still he was a very gifted playwright. I saw a few of his plays before the scandal broke. He was a splendid raconteur. My aunt’s husband knew him at Trinity.” said Rev Jones.




Out of curiosity Duncan went along to a meeting at the Gospel Hall. It was a midweek evening. Many working class people were there for free entertainment. They wore ragged clothes and some children were discalced. Pastor Justin Savage sat at the side of the edge with his arms folded and scowling. The congregation were all seated. They muttered. Savage then cleared his throat significantly. The hubbub slowly subsided. He then glowered at them a moment before rising to his feet.

Pastor Savage walked to the wooden podium with dramatic slowness. The tension mounted. He paused again and frowned. His stormy face scanned the congregation. His flaming glance had them waiting for his first utterance. What was he going to say?

”Fellow Protestants! ” he roared. It came as a relief to the congregation to hear him speak at last. ”We have the devil in our midst.”

The people gasped in horror.

”The spectre of popery haunts us. Make no mistake – be’elzebub is in this district and active – very active. His band of followers are the papists. The nuns are his witches and the popish priests are his warlocks. I have it on good authority that only last week papists in Cavan kidnapped a Protestant baby. They cut the babies arms and legs off and watched the poor child bleed to death.”

A woman fainted.

”That is the savagery that typifies popery. It is the mass – their satanic ceremony. We must stand firm against the pure evil that is Romanists. Have no truck with the RCs. The Rat Catchers. We call them that because they catch rats. They use to the rats to try to spread pestilence among the clean living Protestant folk. The taig is a rat himself. You have seen them crooked and filthy – papists living in sewers.” he spat out the words.

Savage note the trust in the congregation’s eyes.

”Good Protestant people – arm yourselves. We must be on our guard and ever vigilant. We must be unsleeping for the papist means to do us harm. There are those among us who are weak willed and feeble minded. They say – oh but the popeheads are Christians too, they pray to the same lord. Let us go easy on the papishes. Let us show forbearance to the papist. Treat the papist with compassion and he will be decent.  There are some who sell to papists, who buy from papists, who hire papists or who work for papists. I say it is a fool who would trust the romanists. The papist cannot be trusted. He only ever plots and plans our downfall. Do not let the treacherous papist complete his dastardly plan. He would stab us in the back the minute he gets the chance. Never trust a papist. We shall not slumber or sleep. For the sick minded the fiendish romanist is forever schemeing to slaughter us. You shall not do any trade with any papist. You shall not make the acquaintance of popery. Some of ye in moments of weakness have been kind to the papist. Would you trust the devil himself? If a papist seems nice to you it is a Judas kiss! There are some that has sisters and brothers who have walked out with a papist. There is one who has a sister married to a papist and another has a brother married to a papist. It is an abomination in the sight of the lord. Ye shall not suffer your children to marry satan’s spawn! If you do a good deed to a Romanist then you spit on the graves the many millions of Protestant that the papist murdered not twenty miles from here!”

The audience cheered its approval.

”This is God’s own country. The Lord gave it to us! This is British Israelism. We have replaced the Jew as God’s own people. He commanded us to drive out the Canaanites. Like Joshua we shall knock down the walls of Jericho. We shall not suffer them to worship their false gods. We shall hew down their statues. We shall rent in sunder their idols. We are mandated to take their land and their chattels.” said Savage. ”We shall reduce the papist to the vilest  servitude that he so richly deserves. ”

The audience hooted and stamped their feet.

”When the Rat Catchers are reduced to slavery we shall be masters over them. They are white negroes. We shall teach those lazy niggers to work. No wonder the papist is so poor – he is a loafer. The Lord of Hosts shall strengthen our arm. He shall remember how in former times he favoured the righteous over the wicked. Let us smite the ungodly a deathly blow. The papist practices the foulest Satanism worshipping gog and magog. They have goblins and hobgoblins in their mass houses. That is why the most sickening acts of debauchery take place in the mass houses every day. The papists have the nerve to call those mass houses ‘churches.”’

A cry of approval went up.

”There are those who say go easy on the RCs. As I said this is misguided at best. Never trust as RC. Those who want to compromise with the rat catchers are pusillanimous. They are limp wristed and lily livered. We are no yellow bellies. We recognize that to survive we must fight. Remember the siege of Derry. The papist hoards had us trapped in Londonderry. Like rats in a trap so they thought. The English ships came over. But the captain of the ship was a weak willed man – the kind that today would try to meet popery half way. That damnable coward would not save the suffering Protestant people of loyal Derry. The blood poured out from the noble hearted defenders of the city. The lion hearted people of Londonderry defended their home. The papists and their French allies used devilish cannon to bombard the city. What a cowardly and uncivilized tactic. But they could not break the spirit of the proud Protestant people of Londonderry. They suffered some terrible persecution. They were starving but not subjugated. The people ate cats and dogs. Many saw their children grow wan and pale and slip away. The limp and wasted body of an innocent babe was lowered into the damp clay. That was all the papists’ doing! Yet still the cowardly English would not rescue us! We poured out our life’s blood for King William. Till finally our Lord God put steel in the soul of an English captain. The ship Mountjoy broke the boom and lifted the siege. The cowardly Fenians fled as fast as their cloven hooves could carry them. Bog trotters back to the bogs. Croppies lie down! There are faithful Englishmen – faithful to their trust. There are good Scotchmen and Welsh. But more than a few English are wishy washy. They are like Lundy – too eager to sell us out. Look out for Judas. He wants his thirty pieces of silver. We are loyal to the Crown of England. We reject the demon drink. The papists make it to poison us. Be like Samson – fight for the Lord. Do not be beguiled by a papist Delilah and her potions. Temperance is the source of England’s might. ” said Savage.

A round of applause broke out. He lapped up the plaudits.

”The papist is poor because he is an idler. Some of you are poor because you are conned by papist. The Romanist is a thief. He send the gold to Rome to buy guns to slaughter us Protestant people. We are good and they are evil. It is them and us. The papist has horns under his skull. They come out at night when he sups with the devil. The Rat Catchers are responsible for all manner of crime and villainy. Every misdemeanor, mischief and felony has a papist behind it.  Popery is evil – sheer unadulterated evil. It is false Christianity. It is polytheism. They make a mockery of Christinaity. Remmeber how they tortured and burnt so many brave Protestant martyrs. The papist is a sadist.  So if you are poor you live in honest poverty. No shame in that. It is the Romanist who has made you poor. They laugh at our suffering. Let us laugh at them – have a ball as the Bible tell us too. Read the good book. We believe in using private judgment to understand the Holy Bible. The papist believes the stinking lies of the priests and prelates. Read Maria Monk – this woman revealed the sickening crimes and orgies that go on in mass houses.  ”




Dr Mallon and Dr McAllister had just opened their surgery on a quiet midweek morning. No patients had yet arrived.

They sat smoking in the waiting room.

”These woodbines really are the finest” said Sean Mallon.

”Yes, you are so right Sean. They clear the lungs like nothing else. So good for opening the throat.” said Kyle McAllister.

”I know Kyle” said Mallon ”I never feel healthier when smoking these. Better than navy cut.”

”I recommend cigarettes to all my patients Sean” said McAllister ”not enough women smoke. I find that cigarettes have a most therapeutic effect on nervous conditions – hysteria and on night starvation, TB – you name it.”

”There is so much malnutrition in this district that is the trouble.” said Mallon.

”That’s right. SO many children brought into the world who the families cannot feed. I delivered Priscilla Woodham’s child last week – her fourteenth.” said McAllister.

”Well I was called to Nuala O’Prey’s last month and it was her twelfth. So you Prods beat us in that!” said Mallon. ”Mrs O’Prey is the most fertile Catholic woman in the parish.”

”The O’Prey’s are a fecund brood.” said McAllister. ”It is curious because people are always saying that Roman Catholics are more philogenerative than us. I found it a myth. You know I am a man for statistics. I register the births, marriages and deaths. Protestant women in this parish bear 4.9 children per capita and Roman Catholic women 4.7. So no significant difference. ”

”Of course the O’Prey’s did not ask me over the birth no need. Childbed is not an illness. The family can handle her confinement on their own. By God they have had plenty of practice!” Mallon chuckled. ”The O’Prey’s could never afford the fee. I waive the fee sometimes. But I am no charity. Haven’t I children of my own to educate? The O’Preys are tatie hokers so how could they ever afford to pay me a farthing never mind a guinea! Anyway they called me over because the infant was gravely ill. Meningitis. Don’t they live in a filthy kip. But by the time they called me in their was nothing to be done. I ‘d say they expect half their children to die. Haven’t they laid half a dozen of them in the earth. The one that was born to her last year was born to die. I could see it. A boy and very week. He did not last out the month God bless his wee soul.”

”What gets my goat” said McAllister ”is when the father pleads poverty. Says he cannot afford to pay an ob. Then don’t I see him tottering out of the pub that very night much the worse for wear. He has drink taken. ”

”I know,  I know Kyle. There are so many chancers and hard luck stories. But something must be done for the wee folk. Some of them are as poor as church mice. It is not the children’s fault. A third of the children are malnourished. Even if they have enough praties they have nothing else besides. So bandy legged they grow up no meat or milk inside them. ” said Mallon

”You are not proposing socialized medicine?” said McAllister in a tone of horrified judgment.

”No, Kyle what do you take me for? Those socialist types with red ties and brown shoes? I am not want of those Labour Party clowns.” said Mallon. ”But Labour men are not entirely wrong when they say that the working man gets a bad deal for it. If he was decently fed in childhood and had a desk to study at – at home after school then he might come out able to write a half decent composition.”

”Well too true – we need a bit of Christian charity. ” said McAllister.

”Think of those Harley Street men on a thousand pounds a year. I met one of them once. He had been a missionary doctor in the slums of the East End. He said there he saved lives every single day. But on Harley Street he mostly saw patients who were only a trifle indisposed.” said Mallon.

”Such a waste of talent I know. But that is where the money is – buttering up rich old widows, malingerers and your hypochondriacs. Tell them to buy all the cocaine and heroin they need for their nerves.” said McAllister.

”those drugs ought to be controlled they are terrible dangerous.” said Mallon.

”Controlled. Come off it. Cocaine is a medicine – invented by a German ophthalmologist.” said McAllister. ”Control it indeed! This is a free country. A man has the right to walk into a pharmacy and buy whatever medicine he sees fit. What will the world come to if we put inspectors everywhere and will not allow people to purchase what they please. You will be banning alcohol next.”

”I am a drinking man too. No, I do not want a law against it. But some restriction on alcohol surely. You see a father drinking his week’s wages in an hour. Then his children starve. It cannot be right. Have some limit to drinking hours.” said Mallon.

”Well I agree with you on that. But that Father Mathew was wrong – take away are liberty. We are Irish  – a free people. We have the right to drink.” said McAllister

”We do. He was not saying that a man who drinks should be made a felon. He was only inducing his followers to take the pledge.” said Mallon.

”That is not so bad then. Tell me  – did you hear this rumour about Edward Scrope?” asked McAllister.

”Scrope – who is Scrope now?” asked Mallon

”Scrope , you know Scrope. Edward Scrope the doctor over in Shortisle.” said McAllister

”Ah yes rings a bell. Yes I met him a couple of times” said Mallon a lightbulb going off in his mind.

”You heard the rumours about him molesting women?” said McAllister.

”Yes, I did. It is coming back to me now. I had a few anonymous letters last year saying he was up to no good. He was molesting his female patients.” said Mallon.

”I had some too. More recently a man came to see me about his spinster sister being touched up. Unnecessary internal examinations. The pervert is drooling over theM. Touching them up . Making them totally undress. In a nude state for such a thing as a cough. Taking photos and saying it is ,medically necessary. He is wise enough not to do it to a married woman lest her husband take vengeance.” said McAllister.

‘I heard a girl’s father took exception. Gave Scrope a shiner. so he did.” said Mallon.

” I heard so too. The man punched Scrope’s lights out. But he kept doing it.” said McAllister.

”But can we believe this? Could these not be just malicious rumours.” said Mallon

”Who would false accuse. In all my years I never heard the like of it. So many anonymous letters. All by different hands. Graphology is a hobby of mine. There are quite a few complainants. People have had a word in my ear about it. That is why women are walking ten miles to be treated by us” said McAllister.

”I suppose you are right. Who would false accuse a doctor? The most respected man around. We are the authority. We are the educated ones. And we are still the richest in town after Lord Sperrin. ” said Mallon.

”I think this is credible. I have met Scrope and you can just tell he is a sex maniac. That defeated little mouse of a wife he has.” said McAllister.

”So what do we do? Nothing much we can do. It is bringing the profession into disrepute.” said Mallon

”It is good for our practise. More patients but women are being molested by that fiend.” said McAllister.

”If these women go to the RIC they can say there was indecent assault. It is up to them” said Mallon.

”We could go to the General Medical Council. But perhaps not. They would do nothing – say it is unproven. Should they even do anything?. Close ranks. He is one of ours.” said McAllister.

”Maybe you are right. He has done me a good turn now and then.  Deserves another good turn” said Mallon.

”It would just cause a panic if it all came out in the open. Women would never come to use with their gynaecological issues. The female parts are most complex. Mons veneris is the trickiest anatomy I ever studied. ” said McAllister. ” The profession must not be left with egg on its face.”

”I suppose you are right. We are all physicians after all. Birds of a feather stick together! I have heard of women qualifying. I cannot believe a woman could make a decent doctor. They are not born to it. They cannot stand the sight of blood. ” said Mallon.

”Just bury the whole thing. Forget it. If women go to him they consent to it.” said McAllister.

”Least said soonest mended” said Mallon. ”Oh blow. I am out of woodbines. My daughter will be here in a minute. She always looks in before school. I will send her to the tobacconist. Get her to buy more cigarettes from O’Reilly’s.”

”Yes, good idea” said McAllister. ”You know this Children’ Act thing last year was it? I heard there are some shops will not sell cigarettes to children now.”

”That is madness. Have we become a dictatorship?” asked Mallon. ”We are not saying the children should smoke them just fetch them for their parents. Even if the children smoke – does them no harm. ”

”I agree. Healthiest thing in the world. Never trust a medical man who does not smoke.” said McAllister.

”Come to think of it I have never heard of a doctor who did not smoke” said Mallon ”Proves that it is essential. Tobacco has such health giving properties.”

”I agree – so salubrious. There was some doctor in England talking twaddle. Said cigarettes are bad for people. Never heard such horse cobblers in my life. The man ought to have been struck off the medical register” said McAllister.

”Hear hear. Cigarettes – I can never deliver a baby without smoking. Always helps performing a surgical operation to have a cigarette on the go.” said Mallon.

”No wonder people died young before Drake or was it Hawkins brought tobacco back from America. ” said McAllister.

”Trouble is there is this new talk of a law against people buying cocaine and heroin. Whatever next? People need to be able to take these drugs. Cocaine is just a pick me up.” said Mallon.

”I know what is the world coming to? Where will it end? I despair” said McAllister.

”You are so right. We must get more women smoking – cures their nervous diseases and hysteria.” said Mallon.




Duncan’s team had been thrashed by Strabane Rovers. Duncan and his teammates met at O’Kelly’s Pub that night.

They sat sipping pints when Denis said ”Why is Jude not coming?”

”Ah he refuses to drink in any place owned by a Catholic” said Duncan.

”What a bigot” said Denis.

”There are some who think the way he does.” said Duncan.

”There are some Catholics think the same way” said Denis. ”I think it is going to get worse with all this Home Rule stuff.”

”Home Rule” a man ginger shouted. He was facing away from Duncan, Denis, Alan and their mates. He turned around. The very pale and blue eyed man glared at them. ”Home Rule? Are you saying we are not to have Home Rule?” he ranted. The bar had gone silent.

”I was not saying that I was just saying…” said Denis shyly.

”You are a Prod and you dare to come into a Catholic bar and say we are not gonna have Home Rule? Well I am telling youse different” the man gritted his teeth and lifted a bottle of beer menacingly. ”We are going to have Home Rule and we are going to kick you Orange scum into the sea. Do youse hear?”

”Um that is not what he was saying” said Duncan awkwardly.

”Shut up when you speak to me!” said the ginger man.  A few of the ginger man’s friends gathered beside him and nodded threateningly.

”Kevin – please calm down I brought these lads in” said Alan.

”Alan you brought Prods in here?” said Kevin Maguire.

”Yes, Protestants come in from time to time it is normal” said Alan.

”It is not fucking normal while I am alive. You are an Orange loving traitor are youse?” said Kevin.

”Er… no… These lads are not Orangemen.” said Alan

”How do you know? How do you know so much about the Orange Order. You been going to the Orange Hall?” asked Kevin

”No, never.” said Alan.

”I am giving you and your Orange bastards pals ten second to get out of before we beat you black and blue. ” said Kevin.

”I will take a warning” said Duncan. ”Come on Denis” he pulled at his sleeve.

One of the team was minded to fight but the others pulled him out.



That Saturday evening Duncan put on his finest suit and trilby. He had spit polished his black brogues. He walked to the Catholic parochial hall.

A few youths stood by the door chewing the fat and smoking. Alan was among the knot of youths.

”Duncan – what are you doing here?” said Alan sounding anxious.

”Here for the ceilidh of course.” said Duncan smiling.

”This is a Catholic ceilidh. You do know that?” said Alan knitting his brow. Most of his crew were neutral but one scowled at Duncan.

”I know but the priests asked me along. ” said Duncan.

”The priests? Are you pulling my leg.” asked Alan confused.

”Not at all.” said Duncan nonchalantly.

Alan could see that Duncan spoke the truth. ”Then you will be as right as rain.”

Duncan has taken the precaution of fortifying himself with a few beers before he left the house. He noticed that most of the youths had done likewise.

On the door a 40 something man stood guard. The bouncer had dark brown hair around the side and rear of his head. Atop his pate he was bald as a coot. He had a slightly wide and long nose. One eye seemed a little dull but the other shone. He eyed Duncan unflinchingly. It was clear even with his shirt on that this man was musclebound. There was a no nonsense expression about him. Duncan stiffened as he approached.

”Evening wee lad” said the man firmly.

”Good evening” said Duncan self-consciously. The bouncer pointed to a sign stating the admission charge and Duncan handed it over.

He could heard the band playing tiddly idly eye music. The bodhran and accordion diddled away. Duncan stepped in. Once inside he was astonished to see that girls outnumbered boys ten to one and every boy there was was partnere and dancing. As soon as the crowd saw him a yelp of female glee went up.

Some girls chatted behind their hands pointing to him and giggled. They egged each other on and pushed each other forward. A buxom raven haired but non -pulchritudinous girl grabbed her friend by the hand. The friend was slender but hippy and had brown hair. The raven haired one almost dragged the brunette by the arm and bounded up to Duncan.

”Hello now this is my friend Aoife and you are going to dance with her.” said the chubby raven haired one.

Aoife was blushing and looking away. Duncan looked at her faded purple dress and noticed her disproportionately small chest.

”Ah all right yes” he said taken aback.

”Good” said the hefty one and forced Aoife’s hand into Duncan’s.

”And what is your name miss?” asked Duncan of the plump raven haired one.

”Philomena” she answered. ”You are to give my friend a good spin on the dance floor and no wandering hand” she glowered gravely.

Duncan noticed on the stage with the band the two priests. The glanced at him momentarily and smiled in approbation. They then continued scanning the dancers to see that no couple was getting carried away.

Duncan then started to dance with Aoife. ”I am not much of a dancer” he said trying to overcome his inhibition.

”Neither am I” said Aoife lifting her head up and making eye contact for the first time. He noticed she had plenty of acne on her pale skin especially around the mouth. She had brown eyes, a narrow nose and slightly high cheekbones – she was almost boyish but not bad looking.

Duncan felt eyes boring into him. Sometimes he caught the eye of others – they were looking at him questioningly.

”How come I never seen you here before. I have seen you around town” she shouted over the din.

”I never come here before. I am a Protestant.” he said.

”A Protestant!” she paused and her grip on his slackened. Then she resumed it. ”Wow I never danced with a Proddy dog before.” He should tell there was no malice in her words.

”So you do not mind do you.”

”Not really” she said. he deduced that she did – really. ”Bridie MacBride ran away with a Prod and married him. Her family never spoke to her again” she said parabolically.

”Well I am sorry for it. ” he said philosophically.

”But you are a handsome boy and good clothes. Do you have a job?” Aoife asked.

”A job? Of course I have a job . I am a schoolmaster.” said Duncan

”A schoolmaster” she swooned. ”I would love to be a schoolmistress. But I am in service. Had to leave school at 12. My parents needed my wages” said Aoife

”Why are there so few boys here” asked Duncan

”Because they go to the pub get drunk. No alcohol served in here. Lucky to find myself a fellow who is not drunk but you smell like a brewery still. some lads are blind drunk not allowed in – fighting in the streets. Many of the boys in the town are unemployed.” said Aoife. ”A girl is lucky if she can find herself a fellow in her who is not full of drink in him.”

The dance ended. They held hands and stared each wistfully. He could tell from her touch that she did not want this to end. But she tore herself away.

”You have to dance with Philomena now” she said

”All right then” said Duncan

He danced with the agriculturally proportioned Philomena without gusto. After that Philomena had taken a shine to him. He noticed that she was very forward.

”Dance again?” she asked.

”Ah no thanks. I would love to but I can’t to be honest with you” he lied embarrassedly. ”You danced the feet off me.” He did not desire her.

Duncan had twirls with several other maidens. By the end of the evening his knees were laughing. Then Kevin Maguire came along. ”Get out of here you filthy Proddy dogged or I will punch your lights out” he slurred drunkenly.

Duncan said ”I will take a warning” and walked out but not too hastily. He wished to retain some dignity.

”And don’t come back” shouted Kevin ”Or I will break your face for you. Do you hear?”

Chapter 3. Loyalists



Arrival of Goldie-Scot

tutoring Theophilus

Rev Kirkwood

Goldie Scot exposed by Lord Johnson

Doctor explains Goldie Scot

Another lesson with Theophilus.

meet the priests



One day Duncan walked out of his classroom. He had a free lesson for preparation. He went into the staff room.

Mr Goss, the headmaster, was there. ”Ah Duncan. Good that you are here. We have a new teacher arriving – Matthew Goldie-Scot. Arriving any minute because of the train timetables. He has an excellent CV. So lucky to get him since Nicholas Fassnidge had that heart attack last month we have been a teacher short. So lucky to get a teacher in the middle of the school year. This man Goldie-Scot went to Oxford. Amazing that he would want to teach at a little poor boys’ school like ours. He has been out of teaching for a while – ill. Anyway will you greet him when he comes in a few minutes. I have to run to a class now. All right?”

”Certainly I will greet him – show him the ropes. ” said Duncan.

”I am off now.’‘ said Goss and hurried off to a class.

Duncan busied himself with marking essays on Religious Knowledge.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the staff room door. ”Enter” Duncan called out.

The short, bald and wiry janitor stepped in wearing his midnight blue overalls and carrying a suitcase. The janitor spoke in the soft yet hoarse monotone of an academically subnormal peon, ”Mr Self-  there is a gentleman here.” And he put down the suitcase.

In strode a 6’4” young man in a three piece navy blue pin stripe suit with an academic grown trailing behind him. He had chestnut brown hair that was severely parted and laid down with a dense layer of hair gel. His narrow brown eyes blinked incessantly in his very fair skinned face.

”Ah headmaster” said the man extending his manicured hand ”I am Matthias Goldie-Scot” his voice boomed out conceitedly.

”Hello Mr Goldie Scot. I am not the headmaster. I am Duncan Self. The headmaster is otherwise engaged right now.” Duncan was taken aback by the bluster of his gigantic new acquaintance.

”Ah very good. Headmaster is busy. Well just got off the train from Belfast. Traveled first class of course. I am very pleased to be in this little school” said Goldie Scot ebulliently. Duncan only now noticed the man’s upper class accent.

”Well we are delighted you are here. We have been short staffed since our colleague had a heart attack” said Duncan

”Yes what a bit of rotten luck for him. Still you have me now” Goldie Scot. said with a great big belly laugh. Duncan did not perceive the mirth.

Duncan regained his composure to study Goldie Scot up and down. The man was perhaps 30 years of age and inclined to corpulence. He had dark brown hair and pale skin and blinked incessantly. He wore handmade Church’s leather lace ups. An expensive watch was on his wrist. Duncan noticed cufflinks on Goldie Scot’s shirt – they had the coat of arms of what Duncan took to be a Varsity college. The man also had his initial MGC monogrammed on his cuffs.  Goldie-Scot wore a black tie with a thin Cambridge blue stripe pattern on it.

Goldie Scot  took out an oversized pipe with a theatrical flourish. He then carefully stuffed some tobacco in and continued ”Care for some fine shag?” he profferred the bag of tobacco. Duncan wondered whether this man’s accent was a trifle contrived.

”No thank you I do not smoke a pipe” said Duncan.

Well you should, my good man, you should.” said Goldie Scot ”When I was at the House everyone smoked. Where did you… school?”

”I went to this school. I became a pupil teacher and that was it.” said Duncan.

”Ah no good. I went to Harrow. I am afraid that I am incurably sentimental about the old place. What, what! ” Goldie Scot began puffing on his pipe. ” Won a scholarship but turned it down because I gave it to a boy needier than I.  I was head boy. Then I went up to Oxford aged only 15.  I won a major open scholarship. Christ Church is the college for the well got. I am out of the top drawer I shall have you know. Blue blood and broad acres. I have a title but I do not use it. I am far too modest for that! So I read Literae Humaniores. I took a double starred first. I was President of the Union. I got my blue for weightlifting and the seventy -five yard dash. When I went down I became tutor to His Exalted Highness the Gaekwar of Baroda. I don’t mind you knowing that he is the noblest prince in India. So I acquired absolute mastery of Hindustani and half a dozen India tongues. After a year I was fed up with India and came home. ” He expatiated, ” My family has been going out to India for a century. Come home and go to Edinburgh University and qualify as a surgeon. Then out to the subcontinent to save lives. I was born in Lesotho though but brought up by Aboriginals in Australia. But anyway once I came home to Blighty  enlisted in the Territorial Force. I soon got His Majesty’s commission as a brevet major. Retired from the active list last year as a brigadier. Frightful bore really! Then I saw this job and I thought I have always wanted to come to Ireland for a spell. Well here I am. Hello Ireland! It does not quite compare to Winchester College. I taught there for a while. I had to thrash the whole school on one occasion. I got tennis elbow.”

Duncan went slack jawed at the scale of Goldie-Scot’s achievement. At first he found this man gripping. But doubt crept into his mind. Could this man have achieved all that at his age? And if he was so superbly educated what was he doing teaching at a humble school like this. But people do not lie about such big things. Or do they? As for that tie – was that an old school tie? Duncan resolved to look up what an Old Harrovian tie looked like.

”Well that is most impressive” said Duncan still scintillated.

”It is nothing really. I am planning to be called to the bar. A gentleman should be called to the bar without the least intention of ever practicing. It is all part of a liberal education my good fellow. I have thought of taking holy orders. I was a church warden at St Mary’s Westminster. but since Horne Tooke a man who has been episcopally ordained cannot enter Parliament. A man of my most exceptional talents should enter the forum of public life. But both parties are such rotters. A plague on both your houses. Almost enough to turn a man socialist. ” said Goldie Scot compellingly.

Duncan was bowled over by Goldie-Scot’s boundless self-assurance. Surely no one would have the impudence to tell such gargantuan lies. There must be some truth to all Goldie Scot was saying.

”Well you certainly have speaking ability” said Duncan.

”Yes, yes – I played the romantic lead in numerous operas. I excelled at acting. I had rave reviews in the Times for my Othello. I also played the title role in the Scottish play. The trouble is the West End is so louche and I am an ultra respectable married man. My good wife is the finest poetess since Sappho.” said Goldie Scot with verve. ”Our daughter Aphra is only two years old but she is already conversant in High German, Amharic and Mandarin. I shan’t be satisfied with her erudition until she can hold forth with perfect correctness in Akkadian, Sabatean and Chaldean with perfect correctness. It is the very least one can do as a father is to furnish one’s progeny with a bog standard education. ”

It was at this point it was all too much for Duncan. This man had to be a fantasist. He did not wish to indulge Goldie-Scot’s exhibitionism any longer.

”I see” Duncan said with a deliberately skeptical expression.

”Now Mr Self” Goldie Scot continued ”As I am in Ireland I wish to join the Orange Society. I shall have you know that my uncle Bertie was Grand Master of the Imperial Orange Council of the World. He was also a champion at equitation. So how do I go about enlisting in the Orange Society>?”

”I do not know” said Duncan firmly.

‘Ah more is the pity. Well I do not mind you knowing that Uncle Bertie was a major general with the Gurkhas. He has retired to Eastbourne now and he has taken his little Nepali batman with him. The little heathen is fiercely loyal and refuses to leave my uncle. The Nepali does not spake not a word of the Anglo Saxon tongue so they converse in Gorkhali. Uncle Bertie has the absolute command of that language. I thought of becoming Regius Professor of Old Norse at Oxford but I am not sure I could survive on the salary. How does one get by on a thousand sterling annum?” said Goldie Scot.

”Well sir it has been fascinating. I must do some marking now.” said Duncan tiring of these eye poppingly outrageous lies.

”I do not wish to detain you” said Goldie Scot bowing as if he were Japanese.

Duncan sat down at his desk and got on with his task. What was Goldie Scot’s non stop blinking all about? He seemed to be a lunatic.

Later Duncan walked down the corridor to a class. He humped into his colleague Ken Adams. ”Hey Ken I just met the new man”  Duncan said in a half whisper.

”And is he nice?” asked Ken

”Barking mad. Absolute fantasist. Bore and show off – talking through his hat”, said Duncan

”What tall tales?” asked Ken

”Yep. Just the sort of thing Goss would swallow hook, line and sinker.” said Duncan sotto voce.

”Goss is such a social climber. He is gullible enough to fall for it I suppose.” said Ken Adams.

When Goldie Scot was ushered into a lesson the class was awestruck by his enormous presence both physical and psychological. He was the only teacher to wear a gown. Within minutes he had them eating out of his hand – as it were.



Duncan went to Sperrin Hall one morning to tutor Hon Theophilus Johnson. As he was shown in he was ushered into the drawing room again.

Lord Johnson sat with a tumbler of sherry and gestured to Stirling to pour Duncan a glass.

”No thank you” Duncan attempted to decline it with the palm of his right hand.

”Nonsense man. A schoolmaster cannot teach unless in a crapulous state!” said Lord Johnson. ”That is how Eton works. You are not one of those teetotalers are you?”

‘No I am not.” said Duncan shyly.

”Get it down you man” said the lord.

Duncan did as he was bade and took the drink.

”Now Self – good to see you here. Oh it has been a week. By Jove! My sister has got her coming out soon. You know debutante. It is the biggest headache since the little one was presented at court. Anyway a pity I have to hold the fort. Missed the Derby. Still it is no loss since those bally suffragettes keep stuffing it up.  We have no such bother at the Irish Grand National. Makes me proud to be Irish. I want to go down to Leopardstown again and Fairyhouse” said the lord taking another drink. ”Are you a sportsman you race yourself?”

”Well I have been to the horse races not big ones. ” said Duncan.

” A man should lay a wager. I am as good a Prod as the next man but I am not a puritan. Have a flutter. You only die once! I am not as into the gee gees as Uncle Hubert. Uncle Hubert got himself into queer street. Had to self off his estate on the pampas in the Argentine. He disgraced us all with his bad debts. Pater bailed him out on condition that Uncle Hubert go off to South Africa and never return. So he is out there . Left his wife and bairns behind. He has taken up with some negress so I hear” said the lord ” now drink up you are drinking too slowly. Have you only got on testicle man!” said Lord Johnson.

”Sorry m lord” said Duncan.

”I forgive you old boy” said the lord. Duncan was surprised a man of twenty would call another man of twenty ‘old boy’.

Lord Johnson took another swig and continued, ”Now aunt Ariadne’s husband has been convicted for soliciting a whore. It really is infra dig. He has done what a Briton should do when in sexual disgrace. He has run off to France.”

”Goodness me” said Duncan thinking he had better not comment further.

”Oh Lord I should not be telling you this Self. You are plebeian but I have no one to talk to.” said the lord. He tried to pour more sherry and over topped the glass. As the liquid spilled onto the table the peer swore ”Blast! My cup overfloweth” he giggled.

”Oh goodness” Duncan felt obliged to comment.

The peer dealt with the mishap by downing the glass in one.

”Right go off now and teach the boy.” said the lord.

As Duncan was leaving his saw the lord signal to Stirling for more sherry.



As people filed out of the Anglican Church Rev Jones in his plain white surplice shook hands with his flock.  Jones had treated them to another sermon of purgatorial tedium. The infinite boredom on the face of every child had given way to relief only as the last hymn rang out. They milled around outside.

Mr Goss hurried over to Lord Johnson. He doffed his homburg ‘‘My lord, if I may be so bold.”

”What is it Cross?’ said the lord impatiently. An hour without alcohol had not agreed with him and communion wine did not count.

”You hired Self as a tutor – perfectly competent as a tutor I am sure.” said Goss.

”Yes, Coss he is all right with my brother.” said the lord. He was nursing a hangover.

”But we have a new fellow. He is a Harrovian and an Oxonian. Much more your type m lord. Officer in the Territorial Force. He was tutor to His Majesty the Agha Khan’s sons.” said Goss excitedly.

”Was he now?” said Johnson raising an eyebrow.

”Yes my lord – a superb schoolmaster. His name is Goldie Scot” said Goss.

”I see. Seems fantastic. I cannot imagine what such a person would do teaching at a contemptible little school like yours. But send him over on Monday morning, will you?” said the lord.

”Yes, m lord. I shall!” said Goss.



One evening Duncan was invited to a gala singing evening at Rev Kirkwood’s house.

The slender Presbyterian minister greeted Duncan at his door. Rev Kirkwood wore a mid grey jacket and trousers with a pale blue shirt and dog collar. A thick thatch of silver hair sat on a bronzed face. Kindly emerald eyes twinkled from behind his little round glasses.

”Good evening Duncan. I may call you Duncan?” asked Kirkwood as they shook hands.

Yes, Rev Kirkwood you may.” said Duncan instantly relaxing.

”Do come in” he said.

Duncan was brought into a sparsely furnished drawing room. A dozen people sat around the room. Water colour painting adorned the walls. Duncan admired them.

‘My humble work” Kirkwood simpered. ”The creation is what gives me faith. I want to bring people into the glory of God’s kingdom. ”

”They are very handsome. I thought ministers do not like art.” said Duncan.

”Some do not but I do. There are people who say we do no drink either but that is not true. I have a wee dram at Christmas and so on. Nothing against it in the Bible” said Rev Kirkwood. ”Everyone says we are dour but I like theatre as much as the next man.”

”Yes, I have heard you have been seen going to the theatre in Omagh.” said Duncan.


”I know. A few parishoners are against it. Nonsense! I wish I could go more but funds are right now I have adopted two more children” said Kirkwood.

”But you have four children of your own” said Duncan

”Yes that is why funds are tight’‘ Kirkwood made light of it. ”Fr Forrester even gives my children presents. Not that he gets much of a stipend. But do not tell people that Fr Forrester gives them presents. He says some of his parishoners would not like it.”

”As I walked by on Sunday I saw your son playing with toy soldiers” said Duncan.

”Yes. I let them play on Sunday. I get some grief for it from a few of my congregation. Organised sport on Sunday is wrong. But if a child wants to play with toys or adults want to play cards or chess so long as there is no wager riding on it then it is no sin. When I was a child we were allowed to play in the back garden but not in the front in case the neighbours might see. The hypocrisy of it was beyond belief.” said Kirkwood.

”Can’t they invoke scripture against you?” said Duncan..

”They can try but the Bible says not to work on the Sabbath. And it says common humanity must come before Sabbatarianism” said Kirkwood. ”I revere the Bible above all else. I know what it says.”

They then sang various parlour songs. They canticled some Percy French, several Gilbert and Sullivan numbers and operatic arias.  There was a rendition of Soldiers of the Queen.



Lord Johnson came to hear of Mr Goldie-Scot’s presence in Dunmore. Presently his lordship sent word for Goldie-Scot to take the morning off school and come to his lordship’s seat for an interview. Mr Goss readily agreed to Goldie-Scot being given a morning off work. The headmaster was ever eager to keep himself in the good graces of the local aristocracy.

The landau drew up on the gravel outside the ascendancy house. Stirling opened the door of the landau for Goldie-Scot. Goldie Scot was invited into the house and he handed his black silk top hate to Stirling. The butler then  brought  Goldie Scot to the study.

Lord Johnson sat at his desk wearing a silver silk dressing gown it being nine o clock in the morning. He had a tumbler of sherry in his hands. Goldie Scot blustered into the room wearing a charcoal grey chalk striped suit with brown brogues.

”Ah Goldie Scot – welcome” said Lord Johnson not bothering to rise. Goldie Scot bounded up to him. The lord did not stand but offered Goldie Scot the most perfunctory of handshakes.

”Good morning your lordship. It is good of you to see me.” said Goldie Scot effervescently.

‘Yes, it is rather” said the lord tartly.

”Now Goldie Scot – got a bit of a problem with my younger brother. That you can put right. Cross sings your praises.” said the lord languidly.

”Does he now?” said Goldie Scot. He was minded to correct the lord and tell him the headmaster’s name was Goss but thought the better of it.

”Oh God isn’t life insufferable” said the lord apropos of nothing. ”There was another perfectly horrid dinner last night. The local squires showing me their daughters wanting to marry them off to me. Mr Hunter showing me his three daughters. the youngest of them isn’t yet 14. Not that he wants me to marry her now but in a few years time. I can hardly stand it in our county. How does a man of breeding and education stand it here? What brings you to Ireland and to Tyrone of all places, Goldie Scot?”

”Well I want to see a bit of Ireland. I have got to know India and China. I have traveled all over France and conquered Mont Blanc. I have walked the Romantic Road in Germany. I have hunted buffalo with the redskins of British North America so it is high time I came to Hibernia.” said Goldie Scot.

”Is it now? I am staggered that a man of your prodigious talents should lower himself to teaching in such a school – trying to knock a bit of an education into those seldom fed plebeian lads.” said Lord Johnson.

The lord paused – he looked more closely at Goldie-Scot’s tie black with the turquoise blue stripes.

”Say, Goldie Scot you went to Harrow didn’t you?’‘ asked the lord with a dubious expression on his physiognomy.

”Yes, m’lord I did. I was head boy” said Goldie Scot uncertainly.

”What on earth are you doing wearing that? – that is an Old Etonian tie.” said Lord Johnson sceptically.

”No it is not. I am afraid you are mistaken m’lord.” said Goldie Scot blushing.

”It is an Old Etonian. I may be a sot but I am not blind. ” said Lord Johnson his tone turning nasty.

”It looks like one but it is not.” said Goldie Scot crimsoning.

”I never heard such balderdash. That is an OE tie. By the way which house were you in at Harrow?” said the lord angrily.

”West Acre” said Goldie Scot.

”Well that is a real Harrow house” said Lord Johnson. ”I know because cousin Diogenes went to Harrow.” He narrowed his gaze. ”Were you a wet bob at Harrow? You have the bulk for it.” he asked slowly and suspiciously.

”Yes, m ‘lord I was. I was in the 1st VIII.” said Goldie Scot.

”At least you know what a wet bob is. But funny that you claim to have done aquatics at Harrow. Harrow does not row.” said the lord firmly.

”No, m’lord Harrow does row.” said Goldie Scot almost stammering.

”Do not talk rot. There is no river within ten miles of Harrow.” said the lord decisively.

”No, Harrow rowed in my day but I left there some time ago” Goldie Scot laughed nervously.

”I smell a rat” said the lord with slow aggression. ”Goss says you were at the house.”

”Yes, I was” said Goldie Scot. He wondered what it signified that the lord had finally got the headmaster’s name right.

”So who was the head of house when you were there.” said the lord menacingly.

”I cannot remember I went down a long time ago.” said Goldie Scot reflectively.

”It cannot have been that long ago. You are not that old. A man never forgets the name of his head of house. Very well – what was his title?” said Lord Johnson disbelievingly.

”He was Master of Christ Church” said Goldie Scot. His bluster was long gone and he crossed his arms.

”Goldie Scot you have made a fool of yourself. It is Dean of Christ Church.” said the lord in an aggressive tone.

”But m lord the dean is in charge of discipline” said Goldie Scot – embarrassment engulfing him.

”No you silly fool. Dean is in charge of discipline at every other college. At the House the dean is head of house. ” said the lord triumphantly.

”No, m lord you are mistaken.” said Goldie Scot.

”I may have failed mods but I am not stupid. I am in statu pupillari at the moment. I remember these things.” said the lord. ”You were a brigadier in the Territorial Force? A likely story. Which regiment?” he said in a tone of interrogation.

”The Royal Greenjackets.” said Goldie Scot diffidently.

‘Royal Greenjackets – a fine body of men. So what was your year of commission?” said the lord with his arms folded.

”Nineteen hundred and one.” said Goldie Scot.

”You must have served with them out in the Transvaal then.” said the lord.

”Um… yes I did.” said Goldie Scot hesitantly.

”Funny that you never mentioned it before. You are not one to hide your light under a bushel. Who was the colonel in chief?” asked the lord. There was mounting dissatisfaction in his tone.

”Colonel in chief was … I do not recall” said Goldie Scot feebly.

”An officer would never forget his colonel in chief. I am in the OTC at Varsity. I know these things. Shall I look up your regiment in my military directory?” said the lord gesturing at his books behind him.

”Yes m lord please do’‘ said Goldie Scot meekly.

”Which regiment was it again?” said the lord getting up and ambling to the bookshelves.

”The Green Howards.” said Goldie Scot shyly.

”A moment ago you said Royal Greenjackets. Can’t get your story straight can you?” said the lord angrily. ”Is your name even Goldie Scot?” he fixed the man with a withering scowl.

Goldie Scot was left speechless. His 6’4” frame appeared to sink into the highly polished floorboards.

”How queer that you eloquence should suddenly desert you at this precise moment! You have been playing me for a fool. I am not carrying on with this charade. I knew you were a fraud the moment I spotted the tie. Oh what a web we weave when first we venture to deceive. I have half a mind to summon the game keeper and have him thrash you to within an inch of your life. You are like a poacher. How are you claim to be a Harrovian. How dare you claim to have been to Varsity and how dare you claim to have had the king’s commission. I would deal with you harshly if I had my way.” said the lord with quiet menace. ”Stirling” he hailed his servant.

There was a look of self-lacerating recrimination on Goldie-Scot’s face.

The butler came in. ”Yes, m lord”

”Show this man out. He is not a tutor he is a fraud. He is to walk off the estate and never come back.” said the lord.

”Yes your lordship” said Stirling.

”And Stirling – you are to go to the RIC barracks. I need to file a report with the sergeant” said the lord grinning at Goldie-Scot. He then took a determined swig of sherry.



Goldie Scot was in his lodgings that night. He sat at his desk in his bedroom writing a letter to his bank manager asking for a loan.

Just then there was a series of gentle but anxious knocks on his door.

”Mr Goldie Scot” an elderly male voice wobbled.

”Yes, Mr McGuinness?” Goldie Scot called to his landlord.

”Yerra will you please come out here. There is some gentlemen here to see you” said Mr McGuinness.

Goldie Scot came out of his bedroom wearing a camel coloured tweed three piece suite. He started back to see three officers of the law there staring hard at him.

”Mr Goldie Scot?” said Sgt O’Flaherty challengingly.

”Er… yes” said Goldie Scot wondering whether to deny that identity.

”Or should it be alias Goldie Scot?” said O’Flaherty. He then grabbed Goldie-Scot’s wrist and clamped a handcuff on. He expertly twirled Goldie Scot almost like a partner on the dance floor and in a trice hand both wrists handcuffed together. The sergeant had sensed that this man was not the type given to violence.

”Manacles must be no stranger to you!” said O’Flaherty. The other two policemen chortled.

Goldie-Scot composed himself. Despite what Lord Johnson had said he had somehow not expected to be arrested this time. He mentally kicked himself. He could have made tracks! Got a jarvey to drive him to the nearest railway station. Get a train – abandon his luggage in the lodgings. A new town, a new name – start afresh. He had not tried to con anyone in Dunmore.

”Might I know what the charge is sergeant” said Goldie Scot

”Attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage by deception. And bad taste in clothes” said O’Flaherty. His underlings laughed raucously as they man handled the man downstairs and into the front hall where there was a portrait of the pope and of the Blessed Virgin.

”Unhand me sergeant. I shall have you know I am a close personal friend of the viceroy.” said Goldie Scot.

”Oh really” said the sergeant ”what is his name?”

”His name is … lord… somebody.” said Goldie Scot affording the police more mirth. ”His name escapes me as I am a little discomposed at the moment for reasons you might surmise.”

They were now out on the street.

”So what is your real name” said the sergeant as they walked him down the street.

”All right I shall tell you. One does not like to blow one’s own trumpet but I am Brigadier Professor Matthias Goldie-Scot of that Ilk Laird of Camster” said the suspect.

”Gets even better” said the sergeant laughing till tears ran down his cheeks.

Once in the station Goldie Scot was stripped and given prison clothes. O’Flaherty then questioned him gently.

”What is your real name?” asked the sergeant.

”I shall have you know I am the Laird of Camster”

”Don’t give me that” said the sergeant looking away for a moment in disgust. ”Your real name”

”I told you my good man. Sergeant O’Flaherty I am a laird.” said the man

”A real gentleman never calls a lowly police sergeant by his rank. Lord Johnson only ever calls me by my name. You gave yourself away again” O Flaherty taunted. ”Now where were you before you came here?”

”I was in the Holy Land. I had been there for a year dwelling among the Ishmaelites and riding camels. I accompanied them on many raids. I read the Al Koran because I can speak the Turkish tongue with perfect correctitude.” said Goldie Scot.

”Correctitude indeed” O Flaherty mocked.

”I shall have you know that I disguised myself as a Mohametan and was able to penetrate Mecca. I was the first uncircumcised there since Burton.” said Goldie Scot. ”I know all the deeds and sayings of Rasul Mohamet.”

”Very impressive” said the sergeant ”now come on. What is the truth. Help yourself.”

”Sergeant your life has been in a very small compass and I have roved this wild world o’er” he said unctuously.

O’Flaherty’s friendly face slipped. ”I have not got all night. Come on give me the truth. I could put the boxing gloves on and get the truth out of you!”

”Sergeant – the Al Koran is a most moving text its unexampled symphony moves the pious to tears.” said Goldie Scot.

”You shall get no food or water till you tell me your name. We can have you stripped stark naked and spend the night in the cold” said O Flaherty.

”I shall have you know my great aunt Mildred once played lacrosse against the suffragan Bishop of St Albans’ goddaughter” said Goldie Scot

”You are a loony. But even though you are doo lally you are still a low down thief.” said O Flaherty.

”Your vulgarity does not lend point to your invective.” said Goldie Scot. ”Even the slowest mind would perceive me to be a most exalted personage!”

Just then Constable Byrne came in ”Sarge we have his name – on his clothes.” showing him a jacket with a label sewn into it.

”Ah so Mark Scot” said O Flaherty in satisfaction.

”I don t know him” said Scot.

”So you fraudster – tell us the truth. It will be better for you. You want us to tell the prison to put you in a cell with the sodomites?” said O Flaherty.

”What spirit of enquiry is that? Soon I shall return to de Oranje Frei Staat where I wrestled wildebeest.” said Scot.

”Mark Scot. We have you now!”

”That is a fallacy. May I have some reading material? The poems of Dickens please.” said Scot.

Oddly there seemed to be no self doubt.

”Dickens wrote no poems. You idiot” said O Flaherty

Scot’s face changed colour faster than anyone O Flaherty had seen. Calling him an idiot had hit home.

”I don’t mind you knowing that I rode a black stallion across Wallachia. I must say their quince jam is capitol.” said Scot.

”Scot – don’t give me this nonsense. You have committed fraud. Trying to defraud the school and Lord Johnson of hundreds of pounds. Best way you can help yourself is by telling the truth.” said O Flaherty. He was beginning to wonder when Scot’s resistance would peter out. Faced with incontrovertible proof of their crime the malfeasant usually crumbles. Scot’s resistance to reality made O’Flaherty doubt the man’s sanity.

”My good man” said Scot in a phrase borrowed from Lord Johnson. ”I shall have you know when I was Governor of Rajputana Agency I once bullied off for a chukka with the Nawab of Pataudi.”

”Have you lost your reason?” said O’Flaherty in exasperation.

”My word you are bold sir! To say I have lost my wits! I should have you clapped in irons you guttersnipe. I am the Grand Panjandrum of Trivandrum. I shall have you know that when I was in Constantinople I was graciously pleased to grand an audience to the Grand Turk. When the descendent of the Prophet beseeched me to grant his humble submission I took pity on him and agreed that he may yet reside at the Sublime Porte. I availed myself of his harem and made free with his odalisques. I must have sired two score infants by his stable of negresses, Circassians, Ishmaelites and suchlike.”

”You are a kook!” said Flaherty.

”I shall have you fettered in a fetid dungeon you jackanapes!” said Goldie-Scot captiously.

”You are a hoot” said Flaherty unable to control his laughter.

”My good fellow – you are a papist are you?” Goldie Scot asked impetuously.

”Catholic yes, last time I practised” said Flaherty.

”I shall have you know I have received the red hat and you shall address me as Your Eminence. ” said Goldie Scot in an imperious tone.

”Your Eminence” Flaherty giggled but felt almost blasphemous about indulging such fantasy.

”When the Roman Pontiff is called to his reward he shall reach the Pearly Gates of St Peter. Then the conclave shall meet. When the white smoke issues forth you hall hear the cardinal secretary of state utter the immortal words annuncio vobis gaudeam magnum. Habemus papam – eminentissisum ac reverendissimum cardinalum sancatum romanum ecclesiam dominium marcuium cardinalum scotum qui sibi nominee imposui petrum secundus!” said Goldie Scot solemnly.

”Now that is sacrilegious!” said Flaherty in ire.

”I shall don the white robes and red shoes, I shall don the fisherman’s ring and ascend the throne of St Peter. I shall be borne aloft on sedia gestatoria.” said Scot in a serious tone.

This was too much for Flaherty who fell on Scot and gave him a good thrashing with his baton.

Scot soon went into a fugue. Only hours later did he snap out of it.


Goldie Scot was loquacious to the point of lunacy. His verbiage got the better of O’Flaherty who called for the doctor. He thought that the suspect may well have lost his reason.

Dr Mallon came along. Goldie Scot was in a cell on his own. He had taken off his red socks and carefully folded them and placed them on his head as though they were headgear.

O’Flaherty unlocked the cell and let Dr Mallon in. Goldie Scot sat bolt upright on his bed and stared intently at the wall. He did not react in the least to Mallon entering the cell.

”That is a nice hat you have got there” said Mallon in a chirpy tone – indicating Goldie Scot’s socks on his head.

”I shall have you know it is my cardinal’s hat. The pope gave it to me this morning.” said Goldie Scot.

Mallon drew up a chair and sat opposite him. ”A cardinal I see.” said Mallon urbanely. ”Well I never. I have met kings and queens in this line of work, a prophetess, Elijah, St Patrick, the King of the Belgians, Geronimo but no – never a cardinal.”

”I shall have you address me as your eminence.” said Goldie Scot. ”Are you not a faithful child of the church?”

”Which church would that be?” asked Mallon tranquilly.

”The Universal church – why of course. The true religion. The holy Roman Catholic and apostolic church” said Goldie Scot. peevishly.

”Yes, I am.” said Mallon guardedly.

”I shall have you know I went to Cambridge. Peterhouse College if you must know. When I was there I read all the poesy of Dickens. I passed the Mathematical Tripos in a year. It was May week. I was the wrangler that year. They carried me shoulder high. I was then one of the heaven born – a civil servant. I was a mandarin to the mandarins. I was in charge of Chinese customs. But it was a frightful bore. I did not care for the Analects of Confucius. So I took ship and returned to Blighty by way of Bombay. I can tell you those union castle steamships do serve a good tiffin. When in Egypt I rode a camel to the Great Pyramids. I was able to wrestle a recalcitrant bull camel to the ground. They are most refractory beasts. So I came home. I just sort of hung around on the family estate – Chatsworth if you must know. It it better than Bowood. His Majesty the King did not know what opulence was until he saw my pile. ”

”I have seen quite a few piles” the doctor chortled.

”Shut up man can’t you see I am talking? I am edifying you with my disquisition.” he said petulantly shooting Mallon a look of disapprobation.

Mallon pretended to be chastised.

Goldie Scot continued his tone still testy at first. ”I was university orator at Oxford. It is not a patch on Cambridge. Anyway, I was in the blue boat – captain of boats. I won the Newidgate. I composed a very free English translation of the Odyssey in didactic hexameter. But my Latin is not much good. ”

”That is fascinating” said Mallon. He noticed that Goldie Scot was no longer hypomanic. He got out a pack of cigarettes. Mallon lit one and offered it to Goldie Scot.

”Thank you my good man” said Goldie Scot. ”When I get out of this hotel I may offer you employ as my manservant”

Goldie Scot lit a cigarette and used it to ignite a tightly rolled piece of newspaper. He put it into his mouth and started smoking the tightly bound piece of newspaper about 6 inches long.

”What on earth are you doing?” asked Mallon in genuine consternation. ”Smoking paper?”

”Are you fucking stupid? Can’t you see it is a cigar. Cohiba supremos. So much better than a King Edward” said Goldie Scot cantankerously. He took a decadent puff . He started to look placid.

Mallon winced to imagine what newsprint tasted like when smoked.

”Anyway boy” Goldie Scot continued ”as I was saying. I may hire you as a manservant. The remuneration shall be most liberal – half a crown per leap year. It shall be payable only at the completion of the same. Should I dismiss you before


Later he lapsed into a trance.




A few days later Dr Sean Mallon called up to the big house. Stirling showed him in to the study.

”Ah Mallon. Good of you to come” said Lord Johnson. ”Sit down.”

”Thank you m lord” said Mallon.

”Stirling – pour this man some sherry.” said the lord. Stirling obeyed.

Mallon took the glass and partook of the liquor. ”It was a nice ride over. I have a new gelding.” said Mallon.

”I see. Now Mallon – message from the police is you got to the bottom of this Goldie Scot character. He is a bounder!” said the lord.

”My your lordship” said the physician. ”After the man tried to trick you then Sergeant O’Flaherty arrested him at his lodgings. Goldie Scot was taken into custody at the station. Kept changing his story. He was Laird of Camster and a Rear Admiral in the Navy – Lacanian Professor at Cambridge. They wondered if this fella was a lunatic so they summoned me for a psychiatric evaluation. ” Mallon took out his woodbines and lit one up. He gestured towards the peer who declined a cigarette with a patrician wave of the hand. ”He over reached himself with his confabulations.”

”And?’‘ said Lord Johnson.

”The man has delusions of grandeur. These are prestige lies. Narcissism. Personality disorder certainly. Psychiatric disorder I am unsure. There is a certain method to his madness. He knows when he is lying and finds out about the things he is lying about. Sometimes he gets it wrong and trips up. Told me he wanted to join the Orangemen because he is as a good at Catholic as any!” Mallon laughed. So did the lord.

”How did you take that as a Catholic.?” said the lord.

”Quite well” said Mallon. ”While I was relaxing him getting him to blabber his mouth off they looked through his thing. He had a spectacle case with the name Malcolm Scot in it and a prescription for Malcom Scot. Some clothes with the name Macolm Scot sewn in. A variety of different names in other items. The police sent to HQ all his names and his fingerprints. Came back positive on a few of them” said Mallon.

”So who is this charlatan?” said the lord.

”That is his real name. Malcom Michael Scot. Born in Berwick upon Tweed 1892. Son of a publican. Joined the Grenadier Guards at 17. Queen’s Company.” said the doctor.

”Of course he has the height for it.” said the lord.

”Served five years. Then was a porter at an Oxford college.” said Mallon

”That is how he knows so much about Oxford.” said the lord

”Precisely. Then tried his hand at acting. He married had two children. Walked out on then. Married a Danish widow for her money. They say he really wanted her daughter. Gaoled for bigamy. Then he began impersonating colonial officials home on leave. Opening bank accounts. Writing bad cheques under an assumed name and disappearing. He served another spell in prison for that. So he has been charged with  dishonestly attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage.” said Mallon

”Well he is a decent actor!’‘ said the lord. ‘‘Some tales were almost a masterpiece of deceit.”

”Yes, my lord he is. If only he had stuck to the stage. He was released from Mountjoy a month back for his latest fraud and then came here.” said the physician.

”So where is he now?” asked the lord.

”Cooling his heels in Derry Gaol. He is on remand.” said Mallon.

”Londonderry Gaol” the peer corrected him. ”How is McAllister?” asked the lord.

”Dr McAllister is doing well. Just got back from Antrim today. His mother died you see. He is taking over the surgery tomorrow. It is my day off” said Mallon.

”I should have know that that Scot was a bounder the moment I saw his brown shoes. Gave himself away. ” said the peer.

”Sergeant O’Flaherty said he gave himself away with the wrong tie.” said the doctor.

”Yes, that was the first thing that aroused my suspicion. Then there were other things he could not answer. One mistake after another’‘ said the peer.  ”He prided himself on being able to talk on any subject so it seemed to me. Rabbiting away. Till he suddenly clammed up. Then I knew I had the blackguard.” Then Lord Johnson changed the subject abruptly as though he had suddenly become bored of the Goldie Scot affair. ”Now, Mallon, marching season may be a bit different this year. What with the Home Rule nonsense and all that. The Catholics are all for Home Rule so I hear – 19 out of 20 of them anyway. The Catholic wants Home Rule. I accept that. The Protestant does not. You probably want Home Rule, Mallon. Nothing wrong with that. But I am a trifle worried that there may be some kerfuffle this marching season. Ruffians might try to start fights. So you and McAllister should be on hand to patch anyone up.”

”Yes, m lord. Unfortunately I was having the same thought. There are some hotheads who say they want to stop the Orange boys marching. The Orange are trying to stop Home Rule so we must stop them – that is what I have been hearing.” said Mallon.

”Yes, I can imagine. Well I shall use my good influence to make sure nothing untoward comes to pass. But the real hooligans on our side are not Orangemen. Orangemen are the respectable working class. The ruffians are the day labourers, tatie hokers and the like. Now between you and me they say that I am shoe in for the next Worshipful Master of our lodge. The Order likes to have peers high up in the hierarchy and quite right too. If I am made Worshipful Master I shall have a bit more influence over the Protestant lower class but I cannot be held answerable for all of them.” said the peer.

”Yes, I see m lord. People on my side are getting their hopes up. But I have counselled some hot heads not to get too excited. I am not sure we will get Home Rule even though this is the third time we are trying for it.” said Mallon. ”Will England ever stand for it? They are Protestants and you are Protestants so England may well say – we cannot abandon our Protestant cousins. Not in Ulster anyway. The rest of Ireland will probably get it.”

”Well Mallon – your average Englishman is a bit thick. He knows nothing of Irish history much less religion. Your Englishman will say – I am a Protestant. Yes, I am C of E. But it does not mean much to him. I am not so sanguine. I know I have to pretend to be in the Orange lodge. I must not let the other ranks down. They look to me for leadership don’t you know?” said the peer.

”M lord, the Liberals have a wafer thin majority in the House of Commons. Might be another election before long. Look at the House of Lords. Packed with Tory peers all on the Orange side.” said Mallon. ”they will help your lot out.’

”Mallon, we Ulster Prods have not forgotten the Siege of Derry. I had an ancestor there. Don’t go telling anyone but I am descended form one of the Apprentice boys. It won’t do for hoi pello to know that the local aristo has common blood in his veins. Anyway – my point is the English let us starve for months. The ship Mountjoy lay in the mouth of the Foyle for weeks. Too damn yellow to break the boom for ages. In that time half of us starved. If James has not been such a poltroon the Jacobites could have stormed the walls and put us all to the sword – then goodbye to Protestant Ulster. Lucky for us that James turned out to be an even bigger coward than the English.” said the peer.

”I see m lord. We all have to start somewhere. My father was a shopkeeper. Both my grandfathers were cottiers. ” said Mallon.

”Well Mallon, you are a medical man. A cut above a farrier – I grant you. How odd it is that the Roman Catholic doubts we will have Home Rule and the Orangeman doubts that we won’t. No more wishful thinking” he chortled.

”That is a fine joke” said Mallon smiling fa  lsely.

”There is this absurd notion that all Orangemen hate you Roman Catholics. One of my best pals at Oxford is a Catholic. Graf Renatus von Seilern und Aspern. Austrian, you see. In Austria I would not count as an aristo at all. Got to have all sixteen great great grandparents of armorial ranks. Too many bloody quarters on the escutcheon” said the peer. He looked away wistfully. ”Oh Oxford. Full of Liberals and even socialists now. I might go back for the cricket season. Then that is it. I am too old for school. I can come here and play for Tyrone. ”




Duncan turned up at Lord Sperrin’s house. He was shown into the oak paneled study. It being nine bells Lord Johnson was sipping sweet sherry and dressed in a silk Japanese dressing gown.

”Morning there Self!’‘ said the lord as he folded away a copy of the Times.

”Good morning m lord.” said Duncan.

”News not too good I am afraid. Asquith is hell bent on this Home Rule nonsense. A rotter like that fraud Goldie whatever we had here last week. If Asquith came to Ireland we would show him! We are Irish and we shan’t stand for Home Rule!” said Lord Johnson.

”Quite” said Duncan trying to mock his interlocutor subtly.

”Tell me Self – you are a Prod aren’t you? Why aren’t you in the Orange Order?” asked the peer.

”It is not really my sort of thing” said Duncan.

”Not your sort of thing? You are intelligent man. You value what we stand for – religion, the monarchy, the Union, charity. Now between you me and the wall I am probably going to get Worshipful Master very soon.” said the peer.

”That is a high accolade m lord.” said Duncan

”Yes, indeed quite a feather in my cap. That charlatan last week claimed to have carried off all the glittering prizes at Oxford. Made me call to mind Nero awarding himself 300 prizes at the Olympics including poetry. But even Goldie Scot did not have the temerity to say he was a worshipful master. ” said the lord. ”Now come on why don’t you join?”

”Well my lord I like to watch the parades. Everyone likes them Catholics as much as ourselves. But I would not like all the practicing. And I am afraid to say that some bad men have joined your organisation’‘ said Duncan

”Well that is true we allow any Tom, Dick or Harry in. Some scum need to be booted out.” said the peer.

”My lord some of your members discriminate against Catholics.” said Duncan.

”Well I have heard some of them bad mouth our Roman Catholic friends. But that is not most of us. I am not anti Catholic. I have enough Catholics around here. Half my staff is Roman Catholic. The butler Stirling is a Prod and the Mulhearn is a Catholic. Of the cooks let me see Quinn is a Catholic and the other one Barns is a Prod. Who else is there? The gamekeeper Lang is a Protestant but Wilson is not. Then there are the footmen. Daventry is a Protestant and so is Woodrow. We have the coachmen.  Pilkington is a Catholic – funny name for a Catholic that. Joyce is the other coachman – also a Catholic. As for the grooms let me see – O’Donnell is a Catholic and so is Crean. Trying to think of the maids – Mini is a Catholic. She is Crean’s sister. Mairead is also a Catholic. She is married to Wilson. Again such an English name for a Roman Catholic. There are scullery maids – Bridie is a Roman Catholics but Rhiannon is not. Among the underservants – Kirsty is a Protestant but Orla is a Catholic. That must be half and half. We employ the best people whatever their religion. In the lodge some have said I should only hire our own. I tell them to move on!’‘ said Lord Johnson.

”I am pleased to hear it m’lord.” said Duncan.

”Self – I can tell you I like some Roman Catholics very much. Very much! No do not go telling anyone. I had a little paramour here – Oonagh Mulqueen. I have a daughter with her – Concepta. Oonagh wanted the child baptized in the Catholic Church. Her family were not best pleased that she has a love child. But Oonagh and the baby still live in servants’ quarters. I was not having her sent to a Magdalen home – even though I am at Magdalen!” he quipped.

”I see my lord. I can assure you my lips are sealed.’‘ said Duncan.

”Do you know that silly girl Oonagh thought I might actually marry her? My cousin Themis married a Roman Catholic and the family was not best pleased. I do not mind people marrying Roman Catholics. Of course as an Orangeman it is unthinkable. Well maybe if she converted. But her family would not hold with that. For her to have a child outside wedlock was one thing but to then cross the Tiber – that would be the end. She would be dead to them. So I see my natural child almost daily” said the lord.




Duncan went over to Blessed Oliver Plunkett School to meet Fr Forrester. He felt a certain trepidation as he knocked on the door. He had never set foot in a Catholic school or Catholic chair.

The school was made of rough grey stone. A white statue of a tonsured monk stood by the door with his right hand up in token of benediction.

Fr Forrester came to the door. ”Mr Self? Do come in. How good to see you again” said the diminutive man.

”Thank you father” said Duncan. It felt distinctly odd to call a man ‘father’ who was not his father or the father of any.

Duncan was brought into a small office. A pot of tea was ready on the tatty desk. The white washed walls there was a portrait of the pope and of Jesus holding open his tunic to show his sacred heart burning and surrounded by a crown of thorns.

”Mr Self I am so pleased that you are here. Your suggestion of football between the schools is a lovely idea. Boys together! The trouble is that some people in this town are very bitter in spirit. So I hope sport will bring them together. ” said the priest.

”Yes father it is a nice idea. father – you are not headmaster of this school, you are…?” asked Duncan gauchely.

”I am the manager. Sort of head of the board of governors. That is the way in every Catholic school in Ireland just about” said the priest.

”Ah that explains it.” said Duncan

Just then a  swarthy priest in his late 20s standing   6’2”  and well built came in. He had thick rimmed glasses and dark blond hair.

”Good morning Mr Self” said the lanky cleric.

Duncan was taken aback to see a macho priest. ”Good morning Father”

”I am Father Boyle’‘ he said softly. His voice was very placid for one so imposing.

”I see — well please to meet you Father Boyle.” said Duncan.

”This football idea is a good one. Our GAA club will not like it but that cannot be helped. I am chaplain of the local GAA and the Gaelic League. We are teaching the boys the Pater Noster in Irish” said Fr Boyle.

”I see” said Duncan rather surprised, ”I thought Roman Catholic worship was all in Latin.”

”The liturgy is in Latin. The hymns, the homily and so on can be in any language” said Fr Boyle.

”Oh I see” said Duncan adding ”You know I have never met a Roman Catholic priest before.”

”Please” said Boyle ”We call ourselves Catholics not Roman Catholics. We are not Italian.”

”Forgive me” said Duncan.

”Te absolvero –  when you become a Catholic” said Fr Forrester cheekily.

”I have never had a conversation with a  Protestant before” said Boyle. ”Can you believe it! But then I did grow up somewhere else where there were almost no Prods around” he said in a Southern accent.

”Is it true you all take a new name when you become priests?” said Duncan

”We have names in religion. My name is Evaristus” said Forrester ”but my birth name is Daithi.”

”Evaristus. Where did you find that one?” asked Duncan

”An early pope” said Forrester. ”Daithi is the equivalent of David.”

”My goodness I am learning so much.” said Duncan.

”You should come to the presbytery over in Knock for dinner some time we would teach you. You should join the Gaelic League” said Boyle mischievously.

”I would like that very much” said Duncan. ”Not so sure about joining the Gaelic League. I know only a bit of French and I want to concentrate on that. I dream of visiting France.”

”Now do you know what Knock means?” asked Boyle

”Knock on the door, of course” said Duncan ”Is that a trick question?”

”No, not a trick question. It means hill as a toponym – in Irish.” said Boyle.

”I never knew that” said Duncan

”It is amazing that an intelligent man can live in Ireland his whole life and not know that. You are so full of questions. I thought you would have wondered. These places names are not just sounds. They must have meaning” said Boyle.

”My word. It is amazing.” said Duncan

”By the way my name in religion is Mario since you were asking” said Boyle

”Mario? Like Mary? But that is a woman’s name” said Duncan his brow knit in perplexity.

”Well this is the masculine equivalent. Come on we can turn John to Joan so we can turn Mary to Mario. It is very popular in Italy” said Fr Boyle

”This ecumenical dialogue is fascinating” said Fr Forrester. ”But I wonder if we should get down to brass tacks. Football match against your lads on Saturday would be fine. But one thing – do you intend to sing God Save the King at the start?”

”Yes, it is the national anthem of course we always sing it.” said Duncan

”Mmmm” said Fr Forrester, ”It does not bother me one whit but some of our boys would not like it. Half of them would join in. Others would be silent. A few might be tempted to sing God Save Ireland instead.”

”Ah I see.” said Duncan

”Situation would have been all right last year but this year with this Home Rule thing in the newspapers – it has got people talking less say” said Forrester

”I see – a tricky situation” said Duncan.

”So if you could agree not to sing it then it would avoid some difficulty on our side.” said Forrester.

”To be quite frank I would prefer if you did not sing it” said Boyle.

”Why is that?” said Duncan

”I am Irish. I am not English. That is the national anthem of England and that is that. I know some people in Ireland consider themselves English or Scots or whatever and that is up to them but we are Irish. We do not feel respect or loyalty to George V. That is that” said Boyle firmly.

Duncan was taken aback. ”I have heard of people with this attitude. It is the national anthem of the United Kingdom.”

”Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom” said Boyle.

”I think you will find that it is. The Flag over Dublin Castle is red, white and blue. Have you heard of the Act of Union?” said Duncan. ”You might know it was the pope who told Henry II to bring Ireland into the Catholic fold.”

”How do you feel about that as a Prod?” asked Boyle.

”Does not bother me one iota. There was not Protestantism then. I am not against Catholicism. You are free to worship as you wish.  All the kings and queens were Catholics until 1533. There is a lot admire about your church” said Duncan

Boyle was disarmed by the answer.

”Gentlemen please” said Forrester ”We are all Christians here. How does you hymn go ‘we must be united/ All one body we/One in faith and doctrine/ One in charity.’ ”

”Not all doctrines are true” said Boyle.

”I could say the same but I won’t” said Duncan

”Please Fr Boyle we must be polite to our guest. ” said Forrester ” We can agree on helping the needy. Fr Boyle did such good work bringing the Gospel to the benighted heathen in the Gold Coast.”

”Yes” said Boyle ”I was a missionary there for two years in the white man’s grave/”

”Very impressive” said Duncan genuinely.

”Thank you.” said Boyle.

”Now gentlemen – we are separated brethren. We can all agree on empire” said Forrester ”the flag follows the cross. We need empire it is the only way to spread the Christian faith. The Spanish did so much for the savages of America when the Spaniards brought the light of salvation. they freed those barbarians from their brutalism. They brought them to Jesus. In Africa and Asia we are saving souls for Christ. I dislike it when people call it the English Empire. It is the British Empire. Those colonies are Ireland’s too. We have fought to bring the faith to the black men. We are the soldiers, the sailors and the governors too. We have shed our blood in Africa and in India to free the poor heathen from ignorance, superstition and devilry.”

”Yes, we can agree on that” said Duncan.

”Yes, here I have to agree. The English have brought Christianity to the Africans and the Asiatics. Protestantism is not as good as our religion but it is still Christianity of a sort. I still believe nul salus ex ecclesia. I am not anti English. I pray on bended knee each night that the English will see the error of their ways and come back to Mother Church and the Protestants in Ireland too.” said Boyle.

”Well that is good of you” said Duncan nonplussed. ”I cannot say I pray for you to become Protestants. I would not mind if you did. I do not object to you being Catholics. Never really thought about it whether you should cross the Tiber/”

”Apostate? Never” said Boyle.

”Mr Self we know you are one of the reasonable ones. Not an Orangeman” said Boyle.

”Not all Orangemen are bad.” said Forrester. ”Our landlord was an Orangeman and a good fellow too. Let us off the rent when times were tough. My brother in law employs an Orangeman in his shop”

”Ah well but more than a few of them are hooligans” said Boyle

”I am afraid that is true.” said Duncan.

”Anyway as for empire the French , the Belgians and others have done so much to bring Jesus to the poor unlettered African” said Boyle.

”I am not to happy with France. Not since they removed Catholicism from the state. France is a Catholic nation. Everyone knows it. How dare those radicals say France has no faith. I think it is those Dreyfusard – conspirators” said Forrester.

”My goodness I had no idea about that” said Duncan.

”Now Mr Self. When you come to ours for dinner  there will be no alcohol I am afraid” said Forrester.

”but I thought the Catholic Church was not against alcohol. You drink wine in church.” said Duncan

”No sir. We drink the blood of Christ in church. ” said Forrester most sincerely. ”Now we are both pioneers” pointing to badges on their lapels. ”There will be no meat either I am afraid.”

”No meat. You are vegetarians?’‘ said Duncan.

”No sir. We have the budget for it but we have told the housekeeper to give all our meat to the poor of this parish.” said Boyle.

”My God. Well – it is so good to meet clergy who really live as they should. Really follow the example of Jesus.” said Duncan.



Some days later Duncan was conveyed by horse and coach to the Earl of Sperrin’s seat. He was shown into the ballroom. Lord Johnson was in a suit and sitting at a table swigging sherry.

”Ah Self. How are you my good fellow?” said the peer.

”I am very well thank you my lord. How are you?” said Duncan.

”I am top hole. My good man – won’t you have a sherry?” asked Lord Johnson.

Duncan knew better than to decline. He accepted a glass and sipped it. ”Sit down” the peer commanded. Duncan obeyed.

”Been reading every Fleet Street newspaper” said the peer ”Cannot find good news on Home Rule. Asquith is going for Home Rule. Bit between his teeth. Alea iacta est, I am afraid.” said the peer.

”I am sorry to hear it m lord.” said Duncan.

”I wish Churchill was on our side. He would stiffen our spine. But the blackguard is a Liberal now. To think his father was on our side. Turncoat. Churchill does not believe what he is doing. But would not believe it if he were on our side either. Pity this bloody Home Rule thing. My grandfather was a Liberal. Was a great one for Gladstone. Then Gladstone declared for Home Rule. Grandfather died within a month. A broken heart they say” said the peer.

”Yes my Lord I knew the Liberals were strong in Ireland 30 years ago” said Duncan

”So they were. Then my family became Liberal Unionist. That is the same as Tory now” said the peer. ”Now my good chap. You will have noticed the marble floor – chquered black white.”

”Yes m lord I did.” said Duncan

”A clever chap you are. Now you will be aware what this is for?”

”People say the Freemasons meet here.” said Duncan

”Spot on. So how about joining us? You do not like the Orange Order. Maybe Masons is more to your taste. No ruffians. We do not let just anyone in and it is not political.” said the peer.

”Not really my thing m lord. But as you are the local worthy m lord it would be wrong to refuse. I defer to my superiors.” said Duncan

”Excellent choice” said the lord. ”We shall see about admitting you to the first degree. Pater shall be back from town soon. What a splendid city our capital is. Have you been to London?” said the peer.

”No m lord. I have only been to Dublin a couple of times. When you said our capital I thought you meant Dublin. ” said Duncan

”Well it is a common mistake. We are Irish. That makes us British” said the peer.

”yes my lord. You are quite right.” said Duncan

”So looking forward to the marching season. The music as the Orangemen march – makes the blood race. Nothing is more Irish than an Orange march” said the peer.




Loyalists . Chapter 2.


Gospel Hall.

Dinner with Rev Jones.

Meet the police sergeant.

book club – new priest.

Lord Johnson judges declamations

invitation to tutor Lord Johnson’s brother.


April 1912.


The congregation had taken their pews in the Gospel Hall. The walls of the former barn were unadorned. A large cross stood against the back wall. It was a cross and not a crucifix. The bare stone walls of the building had only a few windows in them. Some candles burnt on the table at the end of the room furthest from the door.

The people in the pews were young and old but all wore ragged clothes. They wore grey, dun, navy blue, black and white. Some wore coarse leather shoes and a few children were barefoot. Many had done what they could to make themselves respectable – combing their hair. A few men smelt of tobacco but non of alcohol. Every seat was taken and over 100 people were crammed into a room not ten metres by ten. Jude Conroy sat on the front row slumped forward and scowling yet happy to be about to hear some hate.

Pastor Justin Savage walked in wearing a black suit, black tie and a white shirt. His mid brown hair was geled back. He was 5’10” and had a soft and almost weak face. His nose was a little too small for it. Vindictive light blue eyes scanned the crowd. His complexion was slightly swarthy and he stood a little stooped.

The congregation fell silent as Pastor Savage walked up to the pulpit Bible in hand.

”My brothers and sisters”, he began in a high pitched voice, ”Thank you for coming to the house of the Lord. We are here for a revivalist meeting. For we need the revival of our faith – our Protestant faith.” He spoken in a distinctively Ulster accent. His voice was loud but steady and almost bland.

”I am here to remind you good people that a danger stalks the land. That danger is Roman Catholicism. The Roman Catholics believe in counterfeit Christianity. They are led by a devil dressed in a white robe – the Pope of Rome.” He warmed to his theme and his voice gathered feeling. There were audible gasps from the congregation.

”I know that day follows night. I also know that if there be no evil there be no good. The Roman Catholics are poor dupes really. They actually believe that they are Christians. They are not Christians. They are devil worshippers!’‘ He screamed it out. The audience gasped again

”Be’elzebub is among us and very active. He lays his nefarious little schemes. He plots and he plans and he seeks chances to attack the good Protestant people of Dunmore! Be ye on your guard! In a moment of weakness some of you may take pity on the Roman Catholics in this wee town. But do not. The Roman Catholic will exploit your Christian charity.” He spoke more tranquilly.

”Do not let your guard down. Satan works in mysterious ways. He has his minions and his confederates. They are called the Home Rule Party. They are called the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They are called the Roman Catholic Church. They are called the Gaelic Athletic Association.  Some have even weaseled their way into the Royal Irish Constabulary and even the army. There are many fine men in the RIC but there are also some of the devil’s disciples. ”

The congregation muttered its approbation.

”People of Dunmore – we know that the devil exists. We are all believers in the Bible, aren’t we?”

‘We are”, the cried .

”The good book ”, he held up the Bible and looked at it contemplatively for a moment. ‘‘The good book”,he continued ”has all the answers. This is the word of the Lord. Every word of it is perfect. We believe in verbal inerrancy. Every single word of the Holy Bible is absolutely truth. We say Gospel truth and we mean it’. Our Saviour himself wrote the Bible.” he spoke placidly once more.

”The Holy Bible tells us that satan exists and so we know it must be true. The Book of Revelation tells us that the Number of the Beast is… six six six. And do you know when the pope was born? Do you? Do you know when the pope was born?”

”No. When?” some of the congregants said.

”He was born on the sixth of June 1866!” ,he said with relish.

The people cried out in horror and one woman fainted.

”The pope is the beast!’‘ he screamed. The audience roared its approval.

”The Pope of Rome is Jezebel of the painted lips. The pope of Rome is the whore of Babylon. He preaches Satanism!”

”To hell with Satan!” one man shouted.

”And to hell with the Roman Catholics”, squeaked Pastor Savage.

”Damn the lot of them”, said another man

”That is their destination – damnation. Yes, fire eternal and fire infernal. That is what those satanistst deserve” said the pastor. ”It says so in this good book” and then he kissed the Bible.

”Did you know that the Pope of Rome has his own infantry, cavalry and navy? The papists are armed to the teeth. They plan to invade and subjugate Orange Ulster”, he spat out the words.

”But be on your guard. The pope is a necromancer. He has sold his soul to satan! He wrote his covenant with the devil in the blood of Protestant babes. The popish priests are warlocks and wizards. The nuns are all witches. Popery is no more than black magic. There is a danger that the Pope will weave his wicked magic over the king and government. We are loyal to His Gracious Majesty King George of that name the fifth.  We are decent, law abiding Protestant people. But the time may be coming when the pope may cast a diabolical spell over the king and government! The king may yet be bewitched. This vile Home Rule conspiracy might even prosper. But we need the prayer of Bible believing Christians to resist the dark schemes of the devil and his band of followers – the Taigs. If every Protestant pledges himself to resist this evil plot than the Lord of hosts shall strengthen our arm. With the help of the Almighty as in former we shall defeat the pope and all his demonic powers. ”, he cried.

”Do not trust the Roman Catholics. They are rebels who would cut your throat. Never trust a rebel. Do not trust his word for he is a traitor. The Roman Catholic is taught by the popish priests that it is his bounden duty to trick and cheat the Protestant.  Many times the Taigs have tried to take our land – our beautiful Ulster. This soil is ours! The Protestant stands for truth and justice. The Romanhead stands for double dealing and priestcraft. In the mass houses those bachelor priests get up to all manner of villainy. The most disgusting acts of vice are regularly performed in mass houses. Yet they have the cheek to call such a den of iniquity a church. What takes places there would turn your stomach. These are acts of debauchery so foul that I shall not describe them. There are children present. The popeheads are the scum of the earth. They are low down filthy villainous and criminous. The papists are stupid. The popish priests preach their popery in Latin. The Roman Catholic is so stupid that he cannot even speak English properly. How on earth is he to understand Latin? Popery is a mindless religion. It is not even a religion. It is irreligion. It is a worldwide conspiracy against the liberty loving Protestant. Roman Catholicism is evil – pure evil. Nothing but evil. It is the papist invented the demon drink. It is the papist tries to get the Protestant drunk to steal from him.  The papist invented tobacco. In moments of weakness some men have smoked tobacco. Even though it is good for you I urge you to turn away from tobacco. It is a papist con. It is a sin to smoke. No one is perfect and the Lord forgives those who come to this gospel hall if they are generous in the offering plate. ”, he spoke with equanimity.

”Some have been seduced by the earthly glory of the papacy. The huge buildings and the scarlet robes. But they are like scarlet women. The popish priests are sodomites and sots. Popery is fashionable Satanism. Always be on your guard against its temptations.”, he said gravely.

Pastor Savage continued, ” The Romanhead is guilty of all manner of miscreancy and malfeasance. The papist is guilty of sloth, drunkenness, pride, envy, lechery, gluttony and murder.  ”

Some nodded eagerly.

”The papists have hatched a plot. They have hoodwinked some well meaning Protestants into joining them wicked schemes. The papists have a Home Rule conspiracy. Do you know what that means? Loyal Ulster severed from Mother England!”

they gasped in horror.

”It would be like ripping an unborn child from its mother’s womb to dash the helpless babes precious little head against sharp rocks. This is a vile plot hatched in Rome. The pope has signed a compact with satan!” he shrieked!

”If the papists succeed in this plot you know what they plan to do?” said Pastor Savage

”What?” they asked.

”they plan to complete their murder campaign of 1641. The papishes will murder us as they murdered the good people of Portadown. The foul cruel papists will murder even man and ravish every women before murdering them too. they will no spare the child or the aged. Will you let that happen?” he shouted in an ectasy of rage.

”No!’‘ they screamed as steam rose from them.

”Will you let these papist ghouls befoul loyal Ulster?” said Savage

”No!” they cried rabidly.

”No, no, I say no!” yelled the red faced pastor.



It was mid morning break. Duncan was out in the schoolyard supervising the boys of Dunmore School. He heard them chanting

Slitter Slaughter/Holy Water/ Sprinkle the papishes every one/ Cut them in two/ That’s what we’ll do/ And the Protestant boys’ll carry the drum.

One of the boys came up to him. Alex Saddler was blond haired youth with glasses. He was slim and had an inexpressive round face with faintly rabbitish teeth.

”Please Mr Self” began Alex, ”I was at the Gospel Hall last night. Pastor Savage said that the Pope of Rome is the devil. He said the Pope was born on the sixth day of the sixth month of 1866. Six six six – it is the number of the beast. It says so in the Bible. Is that true?”

”It is not true Saddler” said Duncan smiling indulgently. ”The Pope is much older than 48. I will look up his exact age but he was over 50 when he was elected and that is a few years ago now. If he was born on the sixth of June – I do not know. I shall look it up in Encyclopedia Britannica. \”

”Ah so Pastor Savage is a liar.’‘ he said with a surprising lack of verve.

”No. I did not call him that. Please do not go around saying that. It would not be good for me or you if you went telling people that Mr Self said that Pastor Savage is not telling the truth. By the way even if someone was born on the sixth of June 1866 that is not triple six. That is quadruple six.” said Duncan.

”And Mr Self – why do people always say the Pope of Rome?” said Alex.

”Well there is a Pope of Alexandria in Egypt. The Christians in Egypt follow him.’‘ said Duncan.

”But I thought that Egypt was a Mohammedan country?” said Alex

”Yes, Saddler it is mainly. It is mainly but there are religious minorities. Look at Ireland. The Catholics are three-quarters of the Irish. If you look at Ulster only the Protestants are the majority but only just. If you look at the United Kingdom as a whole the Protestants are four-fifths of the population.” said Duncan.

Alex Saddler was no longer listening but gazed into the distance repeating softly ”Pope of Alexandria. The Pope of Alexandria. ”

”You see there were other popes. There was a Pope in Avignon under the Protection of the King of France for a hundred years. At one time there were three popes. They used to battle it out. Then Protestantism started 400 odd years ago and we decided we would not be part of all that any more.” said Duncan/

”Mr Self – is the pope a bad man? I was playing with Connor Maguire last year and he is a Roman Catholic – a very nice boy. My dad found out and he will not let me play him any more. Connor said the pope is a very good man and chosen by God. Connor told me what their priest said Father Boulton. He said that Protestants are wicked and all going to hell.” said Alex.

”No we are not bad and the pope is not bad. Alex – do not believe every word religious leaders tell you. Keep that quiet now. You are a very bright boy – one of the brightest. Just think for yourself sometimes. There is a  good lad. And for goodness sake – never let your parents known we had this conversation.” said Duncan.




It was a midweek evening when Duncan rapped on Rev Jones’ door. His door was pained a bright green and the brass handle was polished to a sheen. Hydrangeas stood in flowerpots on the windowsills. The handsome grey stone two storey rectory was half a century old.

Rev Jones housemaid came to the door. She eptiomised middle aged dumpiness. The plain faced woman opened the door. ”Hello” she said circumspectly, ”who shall I say is calling?” she spoke in a strong Tyrone accent and wore a black and white maid’s outfit..

”Duncan Self. Rev Jones is expecting me.” said Duncan.

”All right. Wait there a moment please.” she went back into the house.

A minute later Rev Jones was at the door wearing his grey clericals complete with dog collar.

”Duncan how good to see you – do come in.” he spoke almost animatedly. A hint of a smile was on his inexpressive face. He turned to the maid ”Eilis I did tell you that Mr Self was coming and to admit him immediately.”

”I am so sorry Rev Jones.” said Eilis.

Rev Jones and Duncan sat down in a drawing room. It was lined with leatherbound volumes. The room was conservatively furnished and everything was of a dark hue.

”Won’t you have a cup of tea?” asked Rev Jones.

”Yes, please” said Duncan

Rev Jones nodded at Eilis who went off to the kitchen.

‘Well Duncan it is good to have you hear and to get to know one of my most active parishoners better. As a clergyman I have to tread carefully. Not socialize with anyone who might not be entirely respectable. ” said Rev Jones.

”Ah I see” said Duncan cautiously.

There was a pause as Duncan thought of something to make conversation. ”Rev Jones” Duncan began ”Judging by the name Jones you must have Welsh ancestry.”

”Well ‘‘ said Rev Jones blandly, ”yes we must be Welsh somewhere along the line. But my brother trace the geneology. The Jones side – we came over with Cromwell. But before that we were in Wiltshire so near Wales. As for my mother’s side. They are other English  and Old English. You know those English people who were in Ireland since Henry II’s time. We are a bit Irish too. You know Native Irish. So that is what being Irish is I suppose. Being Native Irish and English – a blend. Like the tea!”, was his best effort at mirth.

”Ah – I see”, was all the comment Duncan could manage. He felt it would be a long evening. He regretted that he had not contrived some excuse not to come.

”How about yourself Duncan. Are you Irish through and through?’‘ said Rev Jones demurely.

”Well not really. Like most people in Ulster – well Protestants in Ulster – I have half Scots and half English. My mother is a MacTavish. Been here since before Cromwell on both sides. That is why I was going to the Presbyterian Church as well as the Church of Ireland. Because the Presbyterian Church is a carbon copy of the Church of Scotland as you know,” said Duncan.

”Yes, I do. I am fascinated by ecclesiology. I am so pleased that you opted for the Church of Ireland in the end. There are no bad feelings between us and the Presbyterians.” said Rev Jones.

”You have never been attracted to the Presbyterian Church yourself?” asked Duncan.

”Well I have attended worship there a few times – the Lord’s Table and suchlike. It was in a spirit of ecumenical fraternity. But it was not right for me. It seems they throw the baby out with the bath water. I am proudly Protestant as much as the next man. We do not believe in venerating the Virgin Mary though we accept the virgin birth of course. No need to be invoking all the saints like mad. I am not sure about sacraments. But Catholicism is not all bad. Maybe there are sacraments but not even of them. The Church of Ireland is a broad church. Look at our sister church – the Church of England. They have room for Anglo-Catholics as well as evangelicals and everything in between.” said Rev Jones.

”What is an Anglo-Catholic?” said Duncan in puzzlement.

”It is a man who believes he can practice Catholicism within the Anglican tradition. He does not look to Rome for leadership but apart from that keeps to the Catholic tradition of sacraments, saints, calling priests father, having monks and nuns and so forth. They are Anglo-Catholic they are not Roman Catholic.” said Duncan.

”Yes, seems very strange to me. ” said Jones, ”Roman Catholic in all but name. But the Catholics do not accept these Anglo-Catholics. They say – why not go the whole hog? Why not cross the Tiber? Anyway we have none of that Anglo-Catholicism in Ireland. I do not really mind Anglo-Catholicism but I realise that many parishoners would. One must tread carefully. You know, a rector I knew – an Englishman – was sent to be a rector in Enniskillen – made the sign of the cross and some of his congregation objected. ‘The first step to Rome’ they said. Silly of them! Some Presbyterians do not even like bowing to the cross. Idolatry they say. Goodness me!”

”Yes, I cannot see why anyone would object to bowing to the cross.” said Duncan.

”Yes, I know. It is an over reaction. They are the other end from the Anglo-Catholics. I have met some Anglo-Catholics. The fellow said to me he was an Anglican but not a Protestant!” said Jones.

There was a pause in conversation as the maid brought the tea tray in. The Rev Jones thanked her sincerely. Duncan noted the clergyman’s decency in genuinely appreciating the maid’s work.  Once she was gone and tea was poured Duncan thought allowed

”Eilis – an unusual name” said Duncan.

”Yes, I believe it is the equivalent of Elizabeth.” said Rev Jones.

”Elizabeth. I see.” said Duncan.

”Irish language name. She is a Catholic you see.” said Rev Jones.

”Yes, I had guessed that” said Duncan ”Very Christian of you to employ a Catholic. I know some very prejudiced people who will not hire Catholics.”

”You are right” said Jones ”And I know some Catholics who would not hire Protestants. When we lived in Dublin we had wonderful neighbours – Catholics both sides. A civil servant and his wife on one said and a solicitor on the other. We had dinner parties sometimes. Mr O’Duffy – the solicitor – said his brother’s firm would not hire Protestants. Mr O’Duffy was telling me his brother’s firm said ‘Well the Prods do it to us so we must do it back to them and help our own sort.’ I can’t deny there is some logic to it.” said Rev Jones raising his eyebrows. ”The thing is we have to get beyond this – us and them. It takes me back to the epistles. St Paul is saying that there was strife in the early church with one faction saying we are for this leader and the other lots saying we are for that leader. We are all children of God.”

”It is a terrible attitude and I know a few around here who think like that” said Duncan.

”Yes, my sister married a Catholic. He is a dentist and my father thought that Abigail was marrying beneath her. Anyway, the children go to both churches. I cannot say I approve of them going to the Catholic Church. It is all right but the Church of Ireland is the best. I know I am biased! Any Protestant church is something. But any church is better than none at all.” said Jones.

”Was your brother-in-law’s Catholicism not an issue?” said Duncan.

”Ooh no, not for us. We do not mind that sort of thing. As for him being a dentist – I would not mind if he were a docker so long as he was a good Christian who treats my sister well and he is a very good man. I am no snob!” said Rev Jones.

”I am pleased to hear it. The last rector we had here – Reverend Good – he was a crashing snob. Only wanted to kowtow to the Earl of Sperrin. Was unwelcoming to the poor.” said Duncan.

”Yes, I heard. But I shall not say anything against him. We must make the poor feel more welcome. As for the middling class – they come to church. The respectable working class they mostly come. But as for the very poor – they do not come so much. I was talking statistic with Rev Kirkwood, the Presbyterian minister. There are 5 000 souls in this town. Half are Catholics. Of the Protestants 700 come to me on a Sunday. More for matins than evensong. 700 go to the Presbyterian Church. There are 100 or so go to that ghastly Gospel Hall. Full of that man Savage spitting hatred. Then there are almost a 1 000 people who call themselves Protestant and do not go to any church at all. It is shocking!’‘ said Rev Jones.

”Yes, I know it is. ” said Duncan.

”I was naïve. I grew up quite well off. Father was an accountant and my eldest brother followed him into it. We wanted for nothing. Only when I was at Dublin High School did I notice poverty. I have seen it here in Dunmore. The poor Protestants are badly dressed but the poor Catholics are in rags! There are children who have no shoes in winter. The church should do something about that.” said Rev Jones. ”That is why I have elected not to touch alcohol again in my life. I estimate that will save two pounds a year. I did not drink much. So I give that money to the Poor Box.” said Jones.

”Very generous of you Rev Jones” said Duncan.

”Well it is the least I could do. Practise what you preach.” said Jones. ”I am trying to reach out to the working class – the lower working class. You know those who do not come to church much. That is why I started the Boys Brigade here. In Dublin there is that and the Anchor Boys. You know fun activities on a Saturday. Not too heavy on the religion. So they know that God can be interesting. But also keep them away from mischief. They have no work and they have no money for leisure. That is why I am coaching football and hockey on a Saturday. I am trying to find my flock. But so many of them have no shoes as I said. Difficult to play football without shoes. So I am buying shoes for the shoeless ones. Just one pair per week. I am not a rich man. I have my own three children to think of. Do not tell anyone please – lest they think me a Pharisee.” said Jones.

”That is very good of you Rev Jones.” said Duncan.

”Thank you. Now Duncan I wonder if you might help out with Boys’ Brigade?” said Jones.

”Well so long as it does not clash with my own football I can do it. ” said Duncan.

”Good man.” said Jones smiling.

”Now Rev Jones I would like to introduce rugby. I am no great shakes at football. I have two left feet but I like to play. Rugby was the only sport I was decent at. I have the size for it! Shoving other lads out of the road. ”, said Duncan.

”Well we could see about that. But clothes may be torn and parents angry.” said Jones.

”Ah I see they could not afford rugby jerseys. There are not many play here. They think it is a posh boys’ game you see.” said Duncan.

”That is right. At Dublin High School it was all the rage. They thought it far superior to football. A gentleman’s game they said!” said Jones.

They sipped their tea.

”Duncan the other thing is Sunday school. Have you had any more thoughts about that? I have my spies in your school! The boys say you are an excellent and very lively teacher of Religious Knowledge. ” said Rev Jones.

”Rev Jones – I am honoured but I am not sure that I am the right man for the job. To be honest with you, Rev Jones, I have my doubts about the Bible.” said Duncan.

”Oh” Jones said gravely.

”We are to love our enemies. The devil is our enemy. Am I to love him?”, said Duncan.

”Come come, my good man, you take the Bible too literally sometimes”, said Jones lightly.

”Are we supposed to take it literally at other times?”, said Duncan.

”Well yes . You must know what sort of literature it is. History, poetry, wisdom and so forth.” said  Jones. ”Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day. That is absolutely literal. Of that there can be no doubt.”

”It is hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. You know the commandments forbid are. ‘Thou shalt make no graven image of anything that is on the earth or in the waters beneath the earth’. ” said Duncan.

”Yes but that commandment is only about idolatry.” said Jones.

”With respect Rev Jones it does not say that in the Bible. It says no graven images. Full stop.” said Duncan.

”Well we know the church has always taught that art is allowed”,  Jones smiled.

”The church can be wrong. The church has been wrong before. And you tell me the Bible cannot be wrong.” said Duncan.

”Duncan your zeal for biblical rectitude is admirable.” said Jones. ”But it was revealed in Acts that we do not have to follow all of the Old Testament – not the dietary laws.”

”Thank you.” said Duncan ”but Jesus did not come to throw out most of the Old Testament. He did not come to throw out the law but to complete it as he said himself.”

”You are quite the biblical scholar”, said Jones. ”For me an ordinary man even if he is a day labourer who loves his Bible is as good a Christian as a Professor of Divinity.”

Duncan sensed that he had stated his views perhaps too candidly. He sensed that he needed to move on.

”Do the parishoners know the scriptures well?” asked Duncan.

”It varies. None so well as you do!” said Jones.

”I read the whole thing. If I am to believe in the Bible I must know what it says. As a schoolboy I read the whole thing. Took me three and a half years. Reading it very carefully every Sunday. As a pupil-teacher one of the first things they did was to give me Religious Knowledge. You know those Mohametans? My cousin was in the army out in India he told me. Some Mohametans memorize the whole of the Koran. Of course it is much shorter than the Bible. I do not think anyone could commit to memory the whole of our Scriptures.” said Duncan.

”Indeed not. Not even you Duncan” said Jones. ”Back to your question. Well it is almost funny what people say to me. On Sunday shaking hands with people as they leave church. An old woman said to me ‘If Jesus heard what young people are doing today he would be spinning in his gave.’ I thought – does this woman not know that Jesus is not in his grave? That is the whole point. And she missed it.” , said Jones.

”’Yes, it is amazing how people do not absorb the fundamentals.” , said Duncan.

”Christianity is about compassion, kindness, forgiveness and so on. Then some people said I should only employ a Protestant housemaid. I just ignore them. I chose the best maid around.”, said Jones.

”Well done you” ,said Duncan. ”I wish more would follow your example. The Bank of Ireland here has Catholic bank clerks. The old manager Mr Gifford was a bigot. Would not employ bank clerks. But he died last year. ”

”Well that is good that now they show some common decency. The problem is this man Savage. I am not one Christian minister speaking ill of another. But I have spoken to some parishoners who have been to his Gospel Hall. I won’t go. It would be unbecoming. I have met Justin Savage as well. Reverend I shall not call him. The man is preaching irreligion. It is all fire and brimstone. Saying that Catholics are destined for hellfire. Many people believe it! They swallow his nonsense hook, line and sinker. There is nothing there about the love of Christ and love thy neighbor. It is sickening. ‘‘ said Jones.

”Do you know what Savage used to do before he set up his Gospel Hall?’‘ asked Duncan.

”No, I don’t” ,said Jones.

”He does not want people to know this but he used to be a clown.” said Duncan.

”Well that takes the biscuit. It all makes sense. I am unsurprised. He is a clown. The man is biblically unlearned. In the old days a man needed a licence to preach. I can see why” said Jones ”Religion is a gift from the Lord. ‘

”Surely as it is more people hear the Good News because people do not need licences to preach. ” said Duncan.

”Well the trouble is licences to preach were used against good men. John Bunyan for example. It is shameful to think the Church of England had him locked up. Now his book is read by every clergyman in Ireland and England. Or look at George Fox. The Quakers are very honourable people – do a lot of good work for the poor. Fox was locked up. It would use preaching licences laws against demagogues like that Chaucerian fraud – Justin Savage. Hoodwinking the lower classes into giving him money. ” said Jones.

”They at least get some sort of Christianity. If we restricted the right to speak your mind about religion then fewer people would know about Jesus. ” said Duncan.

”Well Duncan as soon as I was ordained I did a spell

Eilis came into the room.

”Gentleman – Mrs Jones said that dinner will be served.” said Eilis.

”Very good Eilis thank you”, said Rev Jones. Eilis left the room.

”Well once we go through to my family we had better not talk shop any more”, said Rev Jones.



One evening people gathered at the town hall. A legendary fiddler was to perform. Duncan milled around chatting to friends – not yet keen to take his seat. He was a fidget and did not wish to be seated longer than needs be.

”Good evening Mr Self” Duncan heard  a Cork accent behind him. He turned around to see Sergeant O’Flaherty there in civilian clothes. O’Flaherty was a man of about forty with very pallid skin, thin red hair, pale blue eyes and a winsome manner. He was 5’10” so not tall for a police officer but powerfully built. They shook hands.

”Sergeant O’Flaherty – you know who I am.” said Duncan a little surprised.

”Yes, I do. Isn’t it my job to know everyone in this townland” he chuckled. ”We have never met but I know about you Mr Self”

Duncan took an instant liking to the sergeant.

”Have you had a good day?” asked Duncan

”Oh yes I have. I was in Omagh Crown Court giving evidence. Remember those two perverts we caught last month? Paul Connor and Ian Lovet? They kidnapped a boy and performed unnatural acts on him. I had to testify in that case. Anyway – the two wretches were sent down for ten years penal servitude. Serves them right” he said firmly.

”Yes, I remember sergeant. It was a shocking case.” said Duncan. ”So good to know that justice was done.” He decided to change the subject to something lighter. ”How does Cork compare to Tyrone?”

”Ah well Cork – we think we are kings of Ireland, like. I can hardly help it if I say Cork is better. I know you are a Tyrone gossoon like. What I most like about Cork is the food. I am missing tripe and drisheen.” said O’Flaherty

”What on earth is that?” Duncan asked.

”Tis lining of a sheep’s stomach cooked with milk and onions.” said O’Flaherty ”I cannot get my wife to cook it. ”

”I cannot say I am tempted” said Duncan gurning his face.

O’Flaherty chuckled ”There is few that are. You should try half a smile.”

”What is that?” Duncan enquired.

”That is what we call in Cork half a pig’s head, like.” said O’Flaherty.

”Cork is a different planet.” said Duncan

”We are the largest county in Ireland. Not in number of people in land and it is the land that counts. We have a very special way about us a bit different. I hear over in England the people of Yorkshire are the same – biggest county. Know they are special. York is the English Cork!” O’Flaherty smiled mischievously. ”We are a fierce proud people the Corkmen.”

”So Cork is different.” said Duncan..

”We do not have too many Orange marches either like” said O’Flaherty chuckling.

”They say you are a Home Ruler, Sergeant O’Flaherty.” said Duncan

”Well I do not talk politics” said O’Flaherty demurely.

”Come on tell me. Are you a Home Ruler?” asked Duncan.

”Well I will not say that I am not! But a police sergeant should not talk politics” said O’Flaherty. ”Now – Mr Self. Have you met Fr Forrester? ”he said turning towards the parish priest.

”No, not so far” said Duncan.

”Father – I would like to introduce you to Duncan Self – schoolmaster in Dunmore School.” said O’Flaherty.

”Good evening father” said Duncan diffidently as he shook the priest’s hand.

Fr Forrester was 5’2” and had short, tidy white hair and wire glasses. He had a middling complexion and warm blue eyes. The priest was slim and effeminate.

”Good evening Mr Self” he said purringly. ” I have heard you are an excellent schoolmaster. I only wish that we had men like you teaching at Blessed Oliver Plunkett School.”

”Well thank you father.” said Duncan. ”How do you know about my teaching. We have only Protestants at my school.”

”I know and we have only Catholics in ours. But this town is not that big. And there are some who have a foot in both camps. You would be surprised which of your schoolboys come to mass sometimes.” said Fr Forrester mischievously.

” That Michael O’Kelly? Catholic on his father’s side – Protestant on the other. I have not known him be bullied for being Catholic thank God.” said Duncan.

”Well sadly there are some boys in our school bullied Noah Wood for being half Protestant.’‘ said the priest.

”Ah well what a shame.” said Duncan

”So are you a fan of fiddle music?’‘ said Fr Forrester.

”A little. I like music generally.” said Duncan

”This fella we are about to hear Caoimhin O’Sullivan is great. I heard him play at a Gaelic League convention.” said Fr Forrester.

”The Gaelic League? My uncle Bobby was in that. But then it seemed to get too political. Full of people talking Home Rule or even about a republic. Uncle Bobby said he reckoned there were IRB men in it! A Protestant was no longer welcome in it. He was there because he was fascinated by the language you see. But he left.” said Duncan.

”Well it is a bit political now I grant you.” said Fr Forrester. ”But he should rejoin. There are Prods in it. And what is wrong with being a bit political? In my last parish I was chairman of the United Irish League.”

”United Irish League – what is that please? ” asked Duncan

”That is the Home Rule Party – constituency organisation of the Home Rule party. ” said Fr Forrester. ”I have addressed enough Home Rule rallies in my time. Why not? Protestant clergy speak against Home Rule so I should speak for it.” said Forrester.

Just then the master of ceremonies came on the stage to announce the fiddler.



It was the school declamation competition. Lord Johnson had been invited to judge it. One evening Lord Johnson was in the staff room sipping tea before going to the school hall to hear the best boys declaim.

Duncan whispered to his colleague Adam Kendry ”What have you got this mutton head judging debating for? I doubt he can read.”

”I know . It is just because he is a peer of the realm.” said Adam.

”Don’t I know it. Rhetorical question!” said Duncan almost annoyedly.

Lord Johnson chatted to the headmaster Mr Goss. Goss was a middle aged man, 6’2” and spare. He had light brown hair that was dense and unusually curly. Mr Goss had a long and fleshy face despite being athletic – he jogged five miles each morning. He spoke in a quavering and booming voice. His bulging blue eyes radiated sycophancy. He was clearly in clover to be taking tea with a lord.

”Your lordship it is so good of you to deign to come to our humble school. I am sure it does not stand comparison with Etonsaid Goss.

”’Well Coss – it is not an intolerable little school this place.”,  said Lord Johnson. Goss brayed with laughter.

”M’lord, it is Goss actually.” said Goss.

”Very well Cross. That is what I said. As for Eton – you mentioned Eton. My brother Jago has been made house captain of games. The little Theophilus is going there in the Michaelmas. And as for little Montacute – he has not even started prep school yet. My sister Juno is at some place called Heathfield a most acceptable school. As they are girls they do not bother them with too much learning. My elder sister Lydia is doing the season this year. A debutante, do you see? Then there is my baby sister Edith. She is still at home with the governess.” said Lord Johnson haughtily.

”M’lord it is a singular honour to hear about your most distinguished family, m’lord. You do so honour us with your presence Lord Johnson.” Goss laughed nervously.

”I see Coss”  said Lord Johnson seemingly profoundly bored with his interlocutor’s comment.

”Your lordship – if you would not mind my surname is Goss not Coss.” said Goss.

”Now will you be so kind as to stop interrupting Cross!” said Lord Johnson impetuously.

”Oh forgive me” said Goss almost inclining his head.

”Cross ” Lord Johnson began again ”your little school is not so bad. Do they play rugger here?”

‘No, not very much” said Mr Goss ”mainly football I am afraid.”

”Ah well perhaps you are right. I have never cared for Rugbeians. They ought to play the field game. I was known as a blade on Sixpenny’s” said Lord Johnson, ” Lysander Shillingworth was in my house and he was superb at the field game. He furked a bit but got away with it. He once knelt on the ball and we had to give away a rouge for that.”

Goss was nonplussed by all this Eton jargon.

”I see – fascinating’‘ Goss did his best to conceal his incomprehension.

”Do your boys play cricket?” asked Lord Johnson.

”No, we do not I am afraid.” said Goss.

”Ah wet bobs are they?” asked Lord Johnson.

”I am sorry your lordship. I do not follow you – what is a wet bob?” said Goss embarrassedly.

”My God you are ignoramus aren’t you Goss. A wet bob is someone who rows. Don’t you know anything?”’ said Lord Johnson. ”My word – who would have thought a schoolmaster would know nothing?”

”No your lordship we do not row. we are not near a river. And Lough Neagh is nigh on twenty miles from here.” said Goss agitatedly.

”Well I do not call this much of a school. A Protestant boys’ school should row! My Lord – you are like Harrow. I was a dry bob myself but there should be acquatics as an option. Just put the boys in their motorcars and drive over to Lough Neagh. Better still – dig a rowing lake here my good man. ” said Lord Johnson. ”I am wearing my Ramblers Club tie. Old Etonian Cricket Club you see. Isn’t it a beaut?”

”Yes, your lordship it is most handsome. ” said Goss bowing.

There was a lull in conversation. The lord sipped his tea and stared out the window.

Goss thought carefully about his next conversational gambit.

”Your lordship – if I may be so bold. I was looking up your genealogy. You have a most illustrious family tree. And that is why it is such an august occasion that you should deign to grace us with your most distinguished personage The name of Johnson is illumined in perpetual splendour” , said Goss.

”Yes, Goss. I know, I know. ” accepting the base sycophancy as no more than his due. ”It is a frightful bore. My mother is English you see. Her father was the duke of somebody. Uncle Osbert Helmsley was the governor-general of some class of savages. My godfather Pericles Easingwold was a lord of appeal in ordinary. Yes, his son Tarquinius is a bit short on the grey matter. Thicko Tarquinius went up to Cambridge. He is reading Land Economy – the drinker’s degree!” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes my lord. That is what I was driving at. I was so profoundly impressed that you come from such an exalted family. You are a most exalted personage. You are of the royal rod. I traced you back to Charles II. ” said Goss.

”Yes Goss that is right. On mummy’s side we come from Charles II. Wrong side of the blanket I am afraid but we are of the blood royal nonetheless. Very handy if you have scrofula Goss” Lord Johnson roared with laughter at his own joke.

Goss forced himself to titter in a courtly fashion.

”My lord,’‘ Goss began once the laughter had ceased, ”You go to Magdalen isn’t that right?”

”Yes, I do Goss. I remember a couple of years ago I was chatting to my housemaster the Reverend Freake. He asked what I would like to do after school? Could come home and run the estate. Could go into the family firm. My uncle owns a bank , don’t you know? But I should never sully by hands with trade. No I am not a lowly bean counter or counter jumper. As for the army – what are generals but overgrown schoolboys. No, I said I rather liked cricket. Reverend Freake said if you like cricket then you ought to go to university. So he wrote to his old tutorial partner. Turns out his chum Jared Attwood is a don at Magdalen. I thought about Christ Church but seemed a frightful bore. So I went to Magdalen. Only been there a year and a bit. I might not go back in the Michaelmas. I failed mods you see and I do not really fancy doing penals again. They won’t send me down because uncle Asaph is the Bishop of Clogher. Getting a bit bored with education. No need to get a degree. Then I shall sort of hang around at home. Mother always said a man of my social class must never work. It would be beneath my dignity. I have a certain station in life. It is my duty to provide leadership for hoi pelloi. My cousin  Athelstan is doing really well. He is at Balliol. He is really clever  – might get a fourth. He can then go and be a district commissioner in British Bechuanaland.   ” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes, m lord. You are quite right!” said Goss.

”Goss – this staff room looks like the bike shed at my prep school. Awsbottom the prep school was called. Ought to have been called Rawsbottom. The headmaster was Mr Canning. We called him Mr Caning. Absolute flagelomaniac. He quoted Scripture to us. The Bible says ”spare not the rod or spoil the child,”. Should have been the school motto ”spare not the rod.” Still did me a power of good. I hope you beat these boys when they are uppish.” said Lord Johnson.

”Yes I do chastise them when necessary.” said Goss.

”Goss I remember when I went to Switzerland with a governor one summer. Mr Sheard took my brother Jago and I. We were in the Berner Oberland there. Visited some strange school that Sheard’s brother-in-law was working at. Anyway they did not beat the boys! They had girls and boys together in the school. Very, very queer it was too. They were speaking Swiss so I did not understand a word of it.” said Lord Johnson.

Just then a teacher came into the staff room.

”Excuse me your lordship” he bowed ”the boys are all assembled in the hall. If you would find it convenient to come in now?”

”Well your lordship shall we?” asked Goss.

”Yes Goss. Now lead on” commanded Lord Johnson.

They walked through to the hall. It doubled as the dining room. It was a plain store floored room with a  few high windows and bare stone walls.

Over 100 boys were sat there. Most sat on the floor. The tables were pushed to the side. There was a raised platform with chairs for the teachers and a desk. The Union Flag acted as a tablecloth. A portrait of George V was one of the only images on the wall.

As Lord Johnson entered the boys all stood. They parted like the Red Sea and the headmaster led the lord through. The boys were in awestruck silence.

The head and the lord stepped onto the platform. Goss then said. ”Please be seated.”

The boys sat. As they settled Goss continued ”Boys we are honoured to welcome a most distinguished and exalted man – His Noble Lordship Lord Johnson. His Lordship is taking time from his busy schedule as a … from his busy schedule to come to judge our declamations competition today. We are eternally grateful to his lordship. His lordship is no slouch academically. He was educated at Eton and is currently at Magdalen College in Oxford University. He is cordially welcome. We shall now show our appreciation in the traditional and time honoured fashion.”

Goss applauded and so did everyone else. Lord Johnson accepted it as no more than his due.

The clapping subsided. Lord Johnson then spoke with poise.

”Boys I am not unhappy to be here today. I was going to go for a spot of shooting today. Not strictly legal in April. But who gives a monkeys. Sergeant O’Flaherty does what we jolly well tell him. And so he ought. My father owns more acres of this county than he has had hot dinners. Boys – some of us were born to higher station. It behoves me to provide you with an example of rectitude. It is a heavy burden indeed and I deserve much sympathy. And as for ye of the lower orders – yours not to reason why. Yours but to do and die. I look forward to hearing a few poems being recited. But do not make them to long or it shall be a frightful bore. So lets make this poetry recital or whatever it is short and sweet, hey? By the way you may have heard of this ghastly man Asquith with his Home Rule twaddle. We shall give the blighter what for – a taste of our Irish spunk! So when you boys are a little older I do hope you shall all join the Orange Order. And make sure you all go to Oxford too. This school here is not that bad. But you would do better to go to Eton. It is not that expensive. And I do wish you had dressed properly for my visit. Me coming here is only one down from a royal visit!” with that he sat down.

Goss was stunned for a second by the speech. then he led the audience in perfunctory applause.

Duncan laughed inwardly at Lord Johnson’s singularly inapposite speech. He turned to his colleague and whispered. ”Not properly dressed. He is so stupid he does not realise that these boys are in their Sunday best. They cannot afford to dress like him.”

”I know – no tact. He has No idea how rich he is. The bastard.” said his colleague.

There followed a lust chorus of God Save the King in which Lord Johnson sang off key.

After five minutes of poetry Lord Johnson did not attempt to conceal his ennui. His look of infinite boredom embarrassed Goss. Goss made hand signals to the boys to rattle off their poetry.

In the end Johnson was asked whom he wished to award the prize to. Lord Johnson stood up.

”Boys, I have not the slightest hesitation in awarding the prize to Melch Melchizidech McCallum for ”The Charge of the Light Brigade.”

There was ample applause

”There’s not to reason why” said Duncan ” I heard him quote that before. That must be only poem that Johnson ever heard. That is why he gave wee McCallum the prize.’

‘Too true” said his colleague.

His lordship continued to speak, ”I am awarding the prize to this little ginger boy because his rendition was soulful and he spoke with a clarity of diction that is unusual in one of his social class. And as for the proxime accessit – I award that to Albert Taylor for ”Scots Wha hae wi Wallace bled.” It was an excellent choice of poem – nice and short.”



Duncan was dining with Rev Jones again.

”Abigail has taken the children to her sister’s place in Wicklow” said Rev Jones.

”Ah I see.” said Duncan.

”You should meet my sister Prudence. She is coming to visit in July when the school hols are on. She is a schoolmistress at Alexandra College. We are trying to get her married. She might be a bit old for you. Prudence is twenty-six now. Mother despairs of ever having her married off. Mother was married at 19. A bit young perhaps. We have tried to introduce her to suitable gentlemen on a couple of occasions. Prudence met them – perfectly nice chaps but she did not like them one bit.” said Jones.

”Yes, it can be difficult. Women can be so particular.” said Duncan.

”Yes, I am afraid Prudence is a bit of a fusspot. A schoolmarm ! They are like that. The worst kind of overgrown schoolgirl !” he chuckled. ”Introduced her to the organist of Tuam cathedral because Prudence is musical. No – she would not hear of meeting him again. Then there was this insurance chap – very wealthy. He was a widower with three teenage daughters. I know he was twenty years old than her but Prudence is about twenty years older than herself. Prudence met him a couple of times but then decided she did not like him. Mother is at her wit’s end.” said Reverend Jones. ”So perhaps Prudence shall remain a spinster. Nothing wrong with that. St Paul said it is a superior spiritual state. Some women chose to consecrate their virginity to the Lord. I think perhaps the Catholics have this right. The Anglicans over in England have nuns. Just a few. But some people are happier that way. Matrimony is not for everyone. As for me I think a clergyman should be married. How else can one understand women and family life? Catholic clergy not marrying and then they advise people on marriage. What do they know?”

”Yes, and it was not always this way. The Roman Catholic Church allowed clerical marriage until the 11th century.” said Duncan.

”Good man” said Rev Jones ”You are a man after my own heart. You are into ecclesiastical history. I used to know all the early popes. I wish and Irishman had ascended the Throne of St Peter. I came to Divinity by way of Philosophy and I cam to that by way of History. But anyway – marriage. It is lunacy that the Catholic Church does not permit clerical matrimony. It leads to all sorts of unnatural vices. A man has his natural urges implanted by the Almighty. These generative urges must be given their outlet in holy matrimony. If not then good shall turn to wickedness. I have heard from more than one police officer that they have arrested Catholic priests for engaging in unnatural acts.” 

”Unnatural acts? You mean sodomy?” said Duncan.

”Yes” Rev Jones gulped ”sodomy. Remember that notorious catamite Shane Conneely? The RIC arrested him in Omagh last year. He was in flagrant delicto with a Catholic priest. They had to let the priest go of course. The police simply cannot charge a priest with a crime even if they are certain that he did it. It would cause the most tremendous scandal. The Catholic community would be up in arms about it. They have caught priests up to no good in places where abnormal men go to meet each other for vice. The Catholic priests wear ordinary clothes – lay dress. They do not wear clericals when they do this. But please do not misunderstand. 9 out of 10 priests are as good a Christian as you or I. But there is that 1 in 10 indulges in this sinful and unnatural lust. It is a revolting vice – lower than animals. Fifty years ago men were hanged for it. Now, I do not agree with hanging them for this crime but prison is certainly right for that revolting crime. ”

”My goodness that is shocking.” said Duncan.

”Indeed it is – repugnant. ” said Rev Jones. ”I was chatting to Fr Forrester. He told me that when he went to that Catholic seminary Maynooth they did not allow two seminarians to be in a room together at a time. It had to be at least three at a time. If only two of them were there then the two might use this privacy to engage in an act contrary to the order of nature. It is nauseating.”

”My word. Well I hope to marry before long.’‘ said Duncan

”Good for you. Well meet Prudence. I doubt she will be to your liking but hope springs eternal in the human breast.” said Jones.

”I would be happy to meet her Reverend Jones but as you say we should not be too optimistic. ” said Duncan.

. ”I have a friend from Trinity – Birney Waters – he is a missionary out in India. He told me that the Mohametans and the Hindus they always have arranged marriages. Maybe we ought to do the same. Who could known what is best for you more than your mother and father? The decalogue says honour they mother and thy father. When Ruth, Naomi and Priscilla are grown up if I could find them husbands it would save a lot of bother. But that is not the way things work in Ireland.” said Jones. ”As for Prudence  – mother says it is the girl’s last chance. That is too despondent. I have known women to marry over the age of thirty.”

”Rev Jones I am not from the same class as you. I grew up working class as you know. Perhaps I am sort of middle class now. But where does a respectable Dublin woman find a husband?” said Duncan.

”Well Duncan – there are tea dances. No alcohol must be served. A respectable woman would never attend a dance where drink is taken. That is for the working class. Prudence is a bit dry. She would never go to a dance of any sort. Very buttoned up and hair back in a tight little bun. Nothing bad about that. She is highly respectable.” said Jones. ”Last year she was walking out with a Catholic chap. An army officer in the Dublin Fusiliers. I thought he was a sterling fellow. Mother would not hear of it. She was horrified. I said it did not matter much so long as this man makes Prudence happy. But oh no. Mother said – what will the neighbours think? If they marry the children would be brought up Catholics. I said that is not ideal but it is not so bad. Come off it. Mother said that is Prudence married that Catholic boy then she would not attend Prudence’s wedding. So Prudence called the whole thing off. I am only telling you this now because I know you and trust you. Don’t go telling the whole parish. Mother also said that if Prudence married a Catholic it would not be good for my career. What a lot of nonsense. A clergyman’s sister can marry a Catholic and that clergyman can still become an archbishop.”

”My cousin married a Catholic. His wife Brid is as nice as pie. The children are all brought up as Roman Catholics. That is four so far and there is another one on the way.” said Duncan.

‘I see and did it cause comment?” said Rev Jones.

”It did a little but not on our side. Our family was all right with it. Her family was not happy. Absolutely insisted that any children must be raised as Catholics. ” said Duncan.

”It is that wretched ne Temere decree. The pope issued this bull a few years ago. In mixed marriages the children must be baptized into the Catholic Church. It is twaddle of course. One is baptized into the Church of Christ whether Catholic or Protestant. ” said Rev Jones.



Duncan was finishing his school day. He entered the staff room to do so marking. There stood a 50 year old man in a morning suit with his silver hair slicked back in oil. The man stood 5’10 and was spare. His brown eyes were a little narrow and his face was reddish though unblemished by wrinkles as were his clothes. He was absolutely immaculate and stood bolt upright.

”Mr Self?” he inquired in an Ulster accent.

”Ah, yes” said Duncan who started back to see this strange figure. Who would wear a morning suit in a state school on an ordinary day.

”I have been dispatched by Lord Johnson. I am his butler. My name is Stirling.  His noble lordship humbly requests that you tutor his younger brother from time to time. Honourable Theophilus Johnson has been rusticated from prep school. So His lordship requests and requires that you tutor the infant Johnson. The remuneration will be most liberal. His lordship asks that you come straight away to discuss this matter, if you find it convenient. The landau is waiting outside. ” said the man.

”Yes, Mr Stirling. I have a bit of marking I was going to get down to. But I can do that later. As Lord Johnson requests that I come to the house all right I shall do so. I will leave the copybooks here and return for them later.”

”Very good Mr Self” said Stirling.

They walked outside and Stirling opened the door of the landau for Duncan to step in.

”Excuse me Mr Stirling don’t you have a Christian name?” said Duncan.

”Mr Self – I am Stirling please. My Christian name is of no consequence/” said Stirling.

”All right Mr Stirling” said Duncan.

Stirling got onto the front of the landau with the driver and turned around. ”If you please sir it is Stirling and not Mr Stirling. I am a butler. You are to be employed as a tutor and it will not do for a butler to be putting on heirs and graces when addressed by the tutor to his lordship’s brother.”

There was not a word of conversation on the landau ride.

Twenty minutes later the landau drew up at the  Palladian grey stone Georgian Pile that was Johnson Hall.

The door of the landau was opened by a liveried manservant.

”Please Mr Self this way” said Stirling with a slight bow.

The door was opened to black and white chequered marble floors. Duncan thought to himself that he had never been to such a place.

A wooden door was opened to a drawing room lined with leatherbound books.

Lord Johnson sat on a green leather armchair with a mahogany table in front of him. A tumbler of amber liquid stood in front of him and a large bottle was on the table too.

” Mr Self” said Johnson jovially as he rose. As the lord approached Duncan there was a whiff of alcohol off the aristocrat.

Lord Johnson gave Duncan an energetic handshake.

”Do sit down Self – good of you to come. Now got a slight problem. It is an awful bore. My little brother Theophilus has got himself into a spot of bother at prep school. Been rusticated for a while. We are concerned about him. Got to go up to Eton. So we want a tutor for him. We want a decent chap. But it will take a while before a decent man can be found. In the meantime you are a quick fix. I know you are not quite our sort. You are of below stairs class. Even though you plebeian I hear that you are a good egg. We asked your headmaster Goss who is the best schoolmaster you got. He said Self without a doubt. Very popular with boys – very entertaining. A real raconteur – a comic actor. Right so you got to teach the boy. Theophilus has not got much between the ears. A laggard at Latin. His Greek is not up to much. And do not get me started on Hebrew. So you come here after school each day. You get a five shillings an hour. Goss said there is one morning a week you are free so we have you then too all right?”

”Yes, Your lordship that is very generous.” said Ducan.

”Yes I thought you would find the pay most acceptable.” said Lord Johnson ”Won’t you have a sherry?”

”Ah well my lord I tend not to drink in the day” said Duncan.

”Nonsense man have a drink.” said Johnson pouring a tumbler and thrusting it into Duncan’s hand.

”As you wish m’lord” said Duncan.

”This sherry is sweet. I cannot stand dry. I never knew a beak who did not like to wet his beak” Johnson roared like a speared ox at his own joke.

Duncan forced himself to feign laughter.

”Well chin chin” said Johnson as they clinked glasses. Johnson then downed his.

”Thank you so much” said Duncan as he sipped his drink.

”God there is not much intelligent life this side of Lough Neagh” said the lord. ”Self – I am bored rigid. We have little society here. All the other aristos are such bores. They ride to the hounds and shoot. That is a bit of fun. But they talk such rot. I do not care that much for politics but this Asquith chappy is such a humbug. Home Rule indeed!”

”Yes, I am against it too” said Self.

”Good man. By Jove we will give Asquith what for it he tried to bring it in. Pater is over in London at our town house. Sperrin House – you must see it some time. If you are in London then Belgravia is the only place to live!”

”I see your lordship. But is a bit expensive.” said Duncan.

”Oh God sorry. I keep forgetting that you are a pleb.” said Lord Johnson.

”And your lordship about languages. I learnt a bit of Latin but I was bad at it. I never learnt Greek let alone Hebrew.” said Duncan

”Hebrew – don’t bother with that. Greek does not matter. But give him a good grounding in Latin” said the lord.

”I see” said Duncan.

”Another drink” said Lord Johnson pouring another tumbler and topping up Duncan’s glass. ”I should not be telling you this but the real reason pater is over in London most of the time is he is tupping his mistress. This Belgian soubrette. Her father’s a cardinal. But don’t tell anyone. Pater’s got a daughter with her. Another one on the way.”

”Oh my goodness.” said Duncan.














Anne McElvoy had an affair with Boris Johnson


Around 2002 Anne McElvoy had a affair with Boris Johnson. Johnson was married to Marina Wheeler then – he still is. At the time Bo Jo was MP for Henley. He was also editor for the Spectator.

I have this on good authority from someone who worked with Boris every day. Miss McElvoy has reported on Bo Jo and never declared and interest. In 2008 when he stood for the mayoralty of London she questioned him in front of an audience. This was no grilling. Could it be due to the tenderness of an old flame?

The odd thing is the media did not publish news of this adulterous affair. It bothers me not one whit if Bo Jo had a hundred affairs. But when he had a liaison with Petronella Wyatt it was front page news. This is perhaps because Miss Wyatt became pregnant with Johnson’s baby and then aborted the baby. Petronella Wyatt’s mother told the press the whole sordid tale.

People say that Alexander Boris de Pffefel Johnson is like Trump.