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 Reynold’s 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 Reynold’s 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. He 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 as incorrigible 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 of 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 bu today’s standards. Yet these were not sufficient to put off a determined enemy of society like Reynolds.

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 but 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. He used informants to fill him in on where to find high value chattels. He 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 operations 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 Boal. Reynolds’ had never heard of 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 of 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. 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. 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 on 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.

The philosophical aspect of the book is how towards the end of a 10 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. He was then doing minimum wage jobs. 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. 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.

His prose is sparse but lucid. This book has pace. 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?”