Thursday, 12 July 2007

The WhyNotSmile Guide To Orangefest

So now I am being mocked by an anonymous commenter ON MY OWN BLOG. How did it ever come to this? But this person is leaving clues and I will track them down. Ha! I am not resting on my laurels, oh no. I'm re-reading all my Famous Five books to pick up tips on solving such things, and I will find this anonymous person even (or perhaps especially, or only) if they are keeping secrets locked in a high tower which is accessible only by the circus acrobats who I am sure will happen by soon.

But enough of this. Let's talk about something else. So today is the Twelfth. For those not from Northern Ireland, millions of years ago there was a battle and the people called Protestants beat the people called Catholics at a river called the Boyne. This battle happened on 12th July, so every year, people called Orangemen dress up in bowler hats and suits and white gloves and march around Belfast singing songs about sashes so that nobody forgets that they won. It also has something to do with a man called Billy who had a white horse and spectacularly wavy hair, but fortunately it is not a sectarian day so we now call it 'Orangefest' and invite tourists along.

Of course, since today is the Twelfth, even the slowest among you will have figured out that yesterday was the Eleventh (although I admit you may not have thought to work this out consciously, but you'll hardly have come to a different conclusion, now that you've thought about it). The Eleventh is also a special day in the Northern Irish Protestant calendar, when we all light bonfires and put Irish flags on top and get very drunk and use millions of pounds of taxpayers' money by creating a mess. It is fortunate, of course, that the Eleventh and Twelfth happen to be on consecutive days, because the local off licences have special deals and it is best to take as much advantage of these as possible; if you buy a 48-pack of blue WKD and don't quite get it polished off on the Eleventh, well, there's always the Twelfth.

Now normally I avoid such things much as one would avoid falling out of planes or having one's intestines ripped out by tweezers (apart from last year, when we decided that Dozavtra needed the cultural experience of seeing the bands - but as Dozavtra has a degree in music, I'm not sure that The Rising Star of East Belfast Flute Band was really her 'thing'), but my parents (who happened to be staying with me last night, for horticultural reasons) decided that they'd like to see what happens on the Eleventh night in Belfast. I think they wished to compare it with what happens in Ballywalter, which is, surprisingly, quite a lot. I was initially reluctant, but they regaled me with tales of the olden days (that should have been a warning in itself) when they had big street parties and people brought gramaphones into the street and they all danced (yes, yes, I know, but I'd had a glass of wine and somehow it all sounded much more sensible and convincing when they said it). So I agreed that we could go down the Cregagh Road and see if there was a bonfire to watch.

Half way down the road I remembered that I have something of a phobia of fire, which surely wasn't going to add to my enjoyment of the evening, but by this point the parents were enjoying themselves and mum had revealed that she'd brought money for chips and really I didn't feel I could spoil the evening.

Anyway, it was hideous. All tracksuit bottoms and WKD and broken glass and small scary looking children. And palm trees, for reasons which didn't make themselves apparent. So we got chips and went home.

As my great granny used to say, 'Well, that's the Twelfth of July over for another year... I wonder who'll still be alive next Twelfth of July?'.


Anonymous said...

Your desire to turn this anonymous riddle into a full-length, real life version of a Famous Five book amuses me - even if it makes me a bit frustrated because I didn't want to start being a regular blog visitor. (Clue no.2)

I do concede, however, that it is more fun reading your thoughts on 'The Twelfth' (and Eleventh) than it is to actually take part in the 'festivities'. I was tempted to go out and watch the big fires myself (Clue no.3) as being a boy (Clue no.4)I love fires. I'm glad that I didn't, however, as I'm sure that your summary of the night's activities were probably quite accurate - Hideous.

I suppose, however, that many people do like this sort of thing (as evidenced by the fact that millions tune in to Big Brother regularly!). You could claim that you were watching the Eleventh simply to research the social interactions of a cross-section of the population - (as much of a cross-section as they have on Big Brother anyway!) - or that you were interested in the current political climate since the resolution of the N.I. Assembly. Or even a study into the distortion of Irish History (and British - King Billy was King of England & Scotland, maybe Wales too?).

Would any of these potential approaches entice you to give the 11th & 12th another go next year? I think probably not.

At least you got something out of it - chips! (presumably from the makers of the best chips in Belfast)(Clue no.5).

Have fun.

P.S. Hope we'll both still be around for the next 12th. You never know ... mwuahahaha!

whynotsmile said...

You see, I thought I'd figured out who you were, and all the clues fit to who I thought it was, but if it's you, you don't write how you talk. Hmmmm...

Anonymous said...

Take a wild stab in the dark

whynotsmile said...

OK... so you're a bloke and you also know Dozavtra (but not, apparently, anybody else on my blogroll). So I suspect we've narrowed it down to Mark, Dave and Stephen, all of whom received the address for this blog shortly before the anonymous comments began to appear.

Now, I don't think Dave uses computers often enough for it to be him.

Likewise, Stephen would be in work when a lot of the comments are left, and I can't see him being a blog surfer in working hours.

So that leaves Mr Marno.

Am I right?

Anonymous said...


Mark said...

Well deduced Enid. But now that you've guessed correctly I don't know that I'll be back or I may find myself becoming addicted. Perhaps I'll dip in every now and then just to brighten my day if I feel down.


P.S. I would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids!

zoomtaighe said...

Didn't the Protestants beat the Catholics with the endorsement of the Pope and an army of Catholic mercenaries...

wait! Sorry, I remember that the 12th isn't really about history.

whynotsmile said...

Zoomtaighe, I think you're right. I think that bloke Billy was the Pope. I think that's how it was, although I wouldn't swear to it. I don't know how the horse came into it, maybe that was before he had the Popemobile.

jools said...

no no no ....... he wasn't the Pope.

But he did get on very well with the Pope.

oh - who graciously decided to turn a blind eye to the cardinal sins surrounding questions of his sexuality ... and no, don't even bring the horse back into this comment ...

whynotsmile said...

This is getting more complicated. So where does the blue WKD come into it all?