Guaranteed to turn marmalade toast to bitter gall

The Sunday Times misses the mark, by lang Scots miles.

Murdoch’s Sunday Times is a nasty, vicious, trivialising thing. In that it is the reflection of its master, now “best mates” with Alex Salmond.

My previous post was a jotting after being in Edinburgh yesterday. I’m not Orange. However, I do have to appreciate the viewpoint: even Gerry Adams and Máirtín make that leap. That is a recognition of the importance of the Orange sympathy across protestant Northern Ireland. Nor should it be scorned in lowland Scotland.

Yet the Orange don’t read the Sunday Times, do they? So it’s always Open Season when the Boss is calling the shots. And, I’ll lay odds, Camilla Long’s piece didn’t get the same page 2 prominence in today’s Scottish edition:

ON A small square of emerald behind Edinburgh Castle a furious Hobbit army gathers.

Nearly 15,000 Orangemen and women — none more than 5ft 6in — pour into the park, clutching fancy caps, braids, straps, pompoms, feathers, actual flutes of war and swag upon swag of militant polyester.

Even the mobility scooters seem ready for battle, pimped with “naw” slogans and fluttering Union flags.

One man, next to a burger van, has the pin of a “no” badge jammed through his ear.

And to help our mockery:

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Oh, how droll. Definitely not one of us, say the ladies congregating at Moningside Parish Church. But sisterhood pervades under the skin, and I suggest a jerk of cross-class recognition. Good on you, love!

Even if your threads come from Primark, and not Jenners, you can still be Bonny Jean, and a lass o’ pairts. And your mother could well be buried under her maiden name, in the fine tradition of till death us do part. Some of us take pride in those differences.

A generation or so earlier …

Let us remember where these Scottish Orangemen come from. Some of them, those in the mobility scooters … ready for battle, are old enough to have laboured in the shipyards, the steel-works, the collieries that Margaret Thatcher’s government left derelict.

As for the Hobbitry, let’s look at a better writer than Ms Long, who went Down the Mine:

There is the heat—it varies, but in some mines it is suffocating—and the coal dust that stuffs up your throat and nostrils and collects along your eyelids, and the unending rattle of the conveyor belt, which in that confined space is rather like the rattle of a machine gun. But the fillers look and work as though they were made of iron. They really do look like iron hammered iron statues—under the smooth coat of coal dust which clings to them from head to foot. It is only when you see miners down the mine and naked that you realize what splendid men, they are. Most of them are small (big men are at a disadvantage in that job) but nearly all of them have the most noble bodies; wide shoulders tapering to slender supple waists, and small pronounced buttocks and sinewy thighs, with not an ounce of waste flesh anywhere.

[For the record, Ms Long’s privileged background includes the Dukes of Newcastle: coal-magnates of Nottinghamshire and beyond.]

That’s not the case with the younger generation — the thick-set, bellied ones swinging the drum-sticks. But anyone with an eye notes the ex-service types who have seen it a’ in Basra and beyond. Ms Long heard:

A “yesser” from Leith calls them “a***holes” and “filth” in “ridiculous wee outfits” and “stupid hats”. They would “s***’ their pants if they actually had to pick up a rifle”.

The “yesser” and Ms Long should have looked more carefully. They must have missed the large Lee Rigby banner carried by one Lodge.

Those British Legion badges in the lapels, the poppy symbols, the Help for Heroes stickers are there by conviction, and from experience. A lot of rifle-picking-up has been done by these types. The majority of those 15,000 Orange marchers worked or work in “hobbit”-like manual trades. Nothing as challenging as the heavy-industrial phone-tapping, photo-shopping and text-inputting needed at News Corp, right? So what do they know of work, who only work at it?

If Camilla Long represents the effete Murdoch tendency, Jim White is more real for the Telegraph:

The drumbeat hammering through Edinburgh on Saturday morning rattled the rib- cage. Dogs within a fifteen-mile radius cowered as the shrill chirrup of the pipe band cut the air. Surely no one could have seen batons thrown so high, with such a flourish, along the streets of the city before.

For this was the Loyal Orange Order of Scotland thumping its noisy way through Scotland’s capital, determined to demonstrate its opposition to the very idea of an independent Scotland. This was the sound of the No campaign on a very noisy, very colourful march.

“There’s no doubt the Nationalist campaign has shown more pizzazz; it’s appealed to that part in the Scot that is passionate, proud, romantic,” admitted Ian Wilson, a past Grand Master of the Scottish Orange Lodge, who had helped co-ordinate the march. “But there’s nothing dispassionate about this organisation. We’re putting the passion back into the No campaign.”

As he spoke, the march was thumping on, led by the Black Skull band of Glasgow, in their full Scots Guards regalia. Behind them some 15,000 people snaked through the city, yelling out their desire to say No.

There were endless lines of men in black suits with orange sashes marked LOL (that stands for Loyal Orange Lodge, not Laugh Out Loud). There were women in vivid orange dresses, children waving Union flags…

This was the Orange Order, founded in 1795 to protect Protestant interests in Ireland and celebrate the memory of William of Orange, who defeated the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

It is best known for its annual march on July 12, celebrating William’s victory. Although most prominent in Northern Ireland, it also has lodges across the Commonwealth and the US as well as the significant presence in Scotland that it demonstrated yesterday. The Order in Northern Ireland has insisted it will stand with its Scottish counterparts to protect the Union.

This was democracy in action. Bands lined up as far as the eye could see. Groups of women in their Sunday best marched alongside them, carrying banners reading “Proud to be British, proud to be Scottish”.

Why did nobody notice the symbolism, especially important this day? Each Lodge is preceded by a member carrying the open Bible and a Crown: more than the sashes and the banners and the bands, the two unifying symbols of Orangism. And not to be scorned.

Later on Saturday, the Lady in My Life and I, filling in time before the evening train south, took drinks in a clubroom overlooking Princes Street and across to Edinburgh Castle.

At the next table were three archetypal Scots ladies, several classes different from those Camilla Long took time out to mock. Their sisterhood was in sympathy with the swag upon swag of militant polyester. I wonder what is their reading of Camilla Long.

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1 Comment

Filed under bigotry, Britain, broken society, Daily Telegraph, Military, Murdoch, Northern Irish politics, reading, Scotland, Sunday Times

One response to “Guaranteed to turn marmalade toast to bitter gall

  1. Pingback: A study in Natural History | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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