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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Once An Orange, Always An Orange*

Yesterday we had the Orange Lodge marching through Southport as they do every year around 12th July, the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1688. I wonder how many Orange folk realise that when the Catholic James II was beaten by the Protestant William of Orange, the Pope held a celebratory mass (James II was an ally of Louis XIV of France, who was an enemy of the Pope ~ it always boiled down to politics, even with Pontiffs).

Anyway, the immediate result of the march is that half our town centre pubs are closed and the other half are full of people dressed in orange, some with Union Jacks emblazoned with "No Surrender" around their shoulders, while the bandsmen were sweltering in thick military-style uniforms and the hordes of police were happily adding up their overtime. I found the Guest House wasn't scheduled to open until 5.00 p.m., so I went to the Lakeside Inn, the smallest pub in Britain, and had a surprisingly nice pint of Fullers London Pride while sitting on the balcony overlooking the Marine Lake.

Southport people aren't really keen on these Orange Scousers taking over their town, but it does bring in a lot of trade, and if we're being honest there is very little trouble considering the numbers involved. As a Liverpudlian of mixed origin (my father's from the Orange and my mother's from the Green), I have no specific allegiance, although I can find nothing in the Orange cause that I can identify with at all. The Orange man who shouted abuse at two harmless buskers and a Big Issue seller did strike me as a complete pillock, and two Orange girls fighting in Chapel Street did no favours for my home city, but these are the extremes.

There seem to be fewer Orange people in Southport every year, so perhaps the commemoration of this 321-year old battle in a war that is no longer relevant is losing some of its resonance, especially as power-sharing in Northern Ireland is now a reality. I hope so.

I finished my afternoon with a fine pint in the Guest House ~ once it had finally opened. It's nice to get our pubs back.

* This is the title of an Al Stewart song from the 1972 album, 'Orange'.

2 comments:

  1. With the exception of Glasgow, and perhaps parts of Edinburgh. I didn't think that this out-dated religious bigotry was exported across the Irish Sea.

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  2. I was in Glasgow on the 4th July and was shocked to see 8,000 people on an Orange march. I was warned by Scottish Comrades not to go out into the city that night (and certainly not to mention my Catholic and Southern Irish heritage!). There was an air of malevolence about and I was most disappointed to have to stay in the hotel bar that night rather than seeing the delights of the big Glasgow!

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