September 18, 2014
January 17, 2013
Never, never, never in doubt, Dr Paisley? Hard to believe, given what happened next.
Power sharing (never!), the tricolour over Belfast City Hall (never!), First Minister ofNorthern Ireland with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness as your Deputy (never!).
In the unsettling calm of the wee small hours, Ulster’s Big Man must have found belief increasingly elusive.
On such a night, he may have heard his faith falling by the wayside; the sound of a silk sash slashed (as worn by his father serving a century ago in Edward Carson’s Ulster Volunteer Force).
How else to explain the Protestant centurion no longer stentorian; the Sabbatarian, Presbyterian Moderator who became remarkably moderate?
For this was the conservative’s conservative, priding himself – no, that would be sinful – who made a point of never (never!) reading any book written after the year of his birth (1926).
But in recent years fighting talk directed at ungodly harlots, unnatural abominations, and the anti-Christ himself (Pope John Paul II), was reduced to a Corleone whisper – minus the menace.
How else to account for the unanimous paean to Ian in the days after his death aged 88 on Friday 12 September? Lost to the world and found to be a national treasure. Perhaps on a par with Joan Rivers: equally outspoken and ultimately harmless.
Paisley’s the name, of a life that became
Unexpectedly, appropriately decorative.
The boy crying because his Daddy is coming home but so nearly never did. The ginger boy who nearly did hold himself together in front of the TV camera but lost his composure at the last minute because for him it’s not at all the last minute of such a lengthy ordeal. After a sleepless night sitting up on the settee with the grown-ups, Dylan McFaul will have to wait hours, maybe days for his father Stephen to be brought home from North Africa to Belfast. The 36-year-old electrician escaped his Islamist captors when the Algerian army moved against them. Hostages including McFaul were being driven away from the Amenas gas plant when the five jeeps they were travelling in came under aerial bombardment. Four vehicles were bombed; McFaul’s crashed, and he managed to get away, the Belfast Telegraph reports. Unbelievable! And can son Dylan really believe that his Daddy is safe until he sees him walk through that door? The camera is still turning over, he has just about gathered himself up and put himself back in the box marked ‘young man’ when the wee boy perhaps remembers the day only a few weeks ago when Christmas had to end – abruptly, on Boxing Day, and his dad had to go back out to the blistering bloody desert, and he was sad anyway and to think it might have been the last time he saw him. You see, now he hasn’t lost his father, fear of losing him is redoubled and he crumples up and blurts out: I’ll never let him go there again, I’ll never let him go there again. A stout soul hands Dylan something to dry his blubbery eyes with. No delicate tissue – dab, dab, dab, but a clump of kitchen roll or perhaps they are tissues but Own Brand even Poundland rather than Kleenex Balsam. And of course that’s why your father keeps going out there, to get you and the family a bit of the right stuff, the decent Christmas present kind of stuff that you surely wouldn’t have much hope of if he stayed right at home. But where else will he go to get it? If not to some industrial plant strung out like an expensive piece of postmodern jewellery across desert the colour of a woman’s skin.