I need to chill , the daily grind of everyday life gets a little boring sometimes , esp after 53 years of many crazy highs and at times epic lows .But I’ve got to be grateful for what I have. I know my life although far from perfect is much better than many others . Thank god for small mercies.
Hospital appointment tomorrow morning for over active thyroid , I ain’t complaining about it but my god I didn’t even know it was a thing until they found I had it after some blood tests. I knew there was something not quite right , but took ages to diagnose. Caused me loads of problems , mostly with my eyes which is kind of scary ,chronic tiredness , weight …..
Wifey going to Goa on Friday to teach yoga and go to a yoga retreat. I was invited along but not my kind of thing,. To be sure I like the philosophy of it all , just not bendy enough to do most of the moves. Might take up tai chi , that’s more my style. hee he.
She’s away for nine days so I’ll be in charge of the kids, two cats , one with only three legs and two very nervous goldfish. Hope I don’t drink myself to death. I wonder if she’ll make me a curry before she goes.. Hmmmm…
Wondering if I can be arsed joining the local astronomy club , or should I wait until spring/summer ? Star gazing is something I really enjoy, I have a telescope and all the equipment , but when no one else in the family is interested in sitting in the garden in the middle of winter in the dark and cold it can become quite a lonely venture. .Tried to get son interested, but he’s a teenager now, thinks he’s a gangster and hates me at least five times a day at the mo.
Wondering if that big asteroid gonna destroy the Earth and when we’ll ever hear the end of the harry and Meghan debate. Snzzzz……….
Worried and anxious about my forthcoming book , its a massive thing for me and I’m about to go down the rabbit hole and have no idea what I’ll find down there.
Considering if it would be a good idea to have a gin.
And finally Im testing out some new features on my blog and wanted to see how they all worked and looked , hence this boring post!
Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Sunday 14 May 1972
A 13 year old Catholic girl was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries in Ballymurphy, Belfast.
Monday 14 May 1973
Martin McGuinness was released from prison in the Republic of Ireland having served a six months sentence.
Tuesday 14 May 1974
Beginning of the Ulster Workers Council Strike
There was a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on a motion condemning power-sharing and the Council of Ireland. The motion was defeated by 44 votes to 28. At 6.00pm, following the conclusion of the Assembly debate, Harry Murray announced to a group of journalists that a general strike was to start the following day.
The organisation named as being responsible for calling the strike was the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC). The action was to become known as the UWC Strike. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Sinn Féin (SF) were declared legal following the passing of legislation at Westminster.
Saturday 14 May 1977
Robert Nairac (29), a member of the British Army, was abducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside the Three Step Inn, near Forkhill, County Armagh.
His body was never recovered and he was presumed dead. He is listed as one of the ‘disappeared’.
[The IRA later stated that they had interrogated and killed a Special Air Service (SAS) officer. Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross.]
[McLaughlin was taken off the strike on 26 May 1981 when he suffered a perforated ulcer and internal bleeding.]
Wednesday 14 May 1986
The pressure group ‘Campaign for Equal Citizenship‘ was established at a meeting in Belfast. The CEC argued that British political parties, such as the Labour and Conservative, should organise and stand for election in Northern Ireland. The CEC was also in favour of the full administrative integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom
Saturday 14 May 1994
David Wilson (27), a British Army (BA) soldier, was killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a bomb attack on a permanent Vehicle Checkpoint, Castleblaney Road, Keady, County Armagh.
Sunday 14 May 1995
The Sunday Business Post (a Dublin based newspaper) published a report of an interview with Peter Temple-Morris, then co-chairman of the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body. He expressed the view that Republican frustration with the lack of progress on all-party talks might lead to an end of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.
Wednesday 14 May 1997
Gunmen tried to kill a taxi driver in Milford village, County Armagh.
The attempt failed when the gun jammed. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was believed to be responsible for the attack.
Betty Boothroyd, then Speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that the two Sinn Féin (SF) MPs would not be given office facilities at Westminster because they had refused to take their seats in the House.
In the Queen’s speech setting out the Labour governments legislative plans it was announced that the North Report on parades and marches would be implemented in 1998. In addition the European Convention on Human Rights would be incorporated into forthcoming legislation on Northern Ireland.
Thursday 14 May 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid another visit to Northern Ireland to continue campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum. During his visit he delivered a key note speech.
Friday 14 May 1999
There were further political talks in London involving the two Prime Ministers and the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF). Before the meeting Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF) expressed concern about the state of the ceasefires of the main Loyalist paramilitary groups.
He claimed that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) had co-operated with other Loyalist groups in carrying out attacks on Catholic homes.
At the meeting Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced an “absolute” deadline of 30 June 1999 for the formation of an Executive and the devolution of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Proposals put before the parties were thought to have been agreed by, David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Irish Government, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF).
[However the UUP Assembly party failed to endorse the proposals. The proposals would have seen the d’Hondt procedure for the appointment of ministers in a power-sharing executive triggered in the coming week, with full devolution achieved by the end of June, following a report on “progress” on decommissioning by Gen. John de Chastelain.]
Sunday 14 May 2000
Cyril Ramaphosa, former secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC), and Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, both of whom were appointed as arms inspectors arrived in Northern Ireland. The arms inspectors report to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).
Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles
Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die
– Thomas Campbell
To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever
– To the Paramilitaries –
There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.
10 People lost their lives on the 14th between 1972 – 1994
14 May 1972
Marta Campbell (13)
Catholic Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot while walking along Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast.
14 May 1972
John Pedlow (17)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died one day after being shot during gun battle between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Loyalists, Springmartin Road, Belfast.
14 May 1972 Gerard McCusker (24)
Catholic Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found shot on waste ground, Hopeton Street, Shankill, Belfast.
14 May 1973
John McCormac (34)
Catholic Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Died three days after being shot while walking along Raglan Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.
14 May 1973
Roy Rutherford (33)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb in derelict cottage, Moy Road, Portadown, County Armagh
14 May 1977
Robert Nairac (29)
nfNI Status: British Army (BA),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Abducted outside Three Step Inn, near Forkhill, County Armagh. Presumed killed. Body never recovered.
Unashamedly Proud of My Loyalist and British Heritage.
In fact I want the world to know that despite what loony lefties and followers of Corbyn think – its perfectly normal to take pride in our country and celebrate and embrace our long and glorious history.
Someone emailed me yesterday after visiting my website and praised me for writing about the history of The Troubles and commemorating the memory of all those who had died during the 30 year conflict.
So far – so good!
And then she asked me………..
“Did I hate Catholic’s and what I thought of a United Ireland ?”.
Well at this stage my antenna went up and I thought ” Here we go again “
Let me explain….
When I set up this blog/website last year my primary objective was to promote my Autobiography Belfast Child and hopefully attract some attention from the publishing world and maybe one day see my book printed and share my story with the world.
That was the objective anyways and the process has been long and full of disappointments – but I am now working with high profile ghost writing Tom Henry to complete the book and his enthusiasm for the subject is feeding my dream.
I have always thought I had an interesting story to tell ( I would wouldn’t I ? ) and within weeks of launching the site I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was receiving a lot of visitors and people were commenting on my story. As of yesterday I have had more 100,000 visitors to the site and this figure is growing and increasing weekly by a few thousand and this I must say surprised me.
It had always been my aim to dedicate the book/my story to the memory of all those killed in the Troubles and off course to the memory of my beloved father John Chambers – who died way to young and left a wound in my soul that can never been healed or soothed.
So with this in mind I decided to use my website to tell the story of the Northern Ireland conflict and include an unbiased (mostly) comprehensive history of all major events and deaths in the Troubles. Due to my loyalist heritage and background this has not always been easy, considering I lived through the worst years of the Troubles among the loyalist communities of West Belfast and like those around me I was on the front-line of the sectarian slaughter and there was no escape from the madness that surrounded and engulfed us.
I blamed the IRA ( and other republican terrorists ) for all the woes of life in Belfast and I hated them with a passion – still do.
Growing up as a protestant in Northern Ireland is unlike life in any other part of the UK or British territories and from cradle to grave our lives are governed by the tenuous umbilical cord that reluctantly connects us to the rest of the UK and Westminster’s corridors of power.
Unlike most other communities throughout the UK we are fanatically proud of our Britishness and we have literally fought for the right to remain part of Britain and have Queen Elizabeth II as the mother of our nation.
Long may she reign
If you have read extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child ( It’s worth it – promise ) you will know that I was raised within the heartlands of loyalist Northern Ireland – The Glorious Shankill Road.
The UDA ( Ulster Defense Force) and other loyalist paramilitaries governed and controlled our daily lives and lived and operated among us. The loyalist community stood as one against the IRA and other republican terrorists and although there was often war between the various different groups , they were untied in their hatred of Republican’s and pride in the Union.
The definition of loyalist is :
a. A supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
b. A person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.
Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
A bit of history for you
A very brief outlined of the beginning of the modern troubles
Whilst the Protestants’ clung to their British sovereignty and took pride in the union, our Catholic counterparts felt abandoned and second class citizens in a Unionist run state. The civil rights marches of the 60’s & Republican calls for a United Ireland were the catalyst for the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups to take up arms against the British and feed the paranoia of the loyalist community.
Northern Ireland descended into decades of sectarian conflict & slaughter. An attack on the crown was an attack on the Protestant people of the North and the Protestant paramilitaries took up arms and waged an indiscriminate war against the IRA, the Catholic population and each other. Many innocent Catholic’s and Protestant’s became targets of psychopathic sectarian murder squad’s. Murder was almost a daily occurrence and the killings on both sides perpetuated the hatred and mistrust between the two ever-warring communities. It was a recipe for disaster and Northern stood on the brink of all out civil war.
Growing up in this environment it is hardly surprising to learn that I hated republicans and all they stood for. But that doesn’t mean I hated Catholic’s or Irish people and would wish any harm on them – I don’t and I didn’t.
It means I have a different point of view and democracy is all about freedom of choice and my choice is to maintain the Union with the UK and embrace and celebrate my loyalist culture and tradition. It also means I have the right to take pride in the union with the rest of the UK and I wear my nationality like a badge of honor for all the world to see.
Jason Mawer has been warned twice to remove his jacket in case it offends someone
The unique Mod-style jacket in red, white and blue was made a few years ago for a Who convention in London
Pub landlord Jason Mawer has twice been asked in public to remove his treasured Union Jack jacket – for risk of it being ‘offensive’.
He was told to take off his valuable Mod-style Barbour jacket – designed in honour of legendary rock band The Who – by officials who appeared to be council enforcement officers.
On the second occasion the female official warned him: ‘Would you mind removing your coat it might offend somebody.’
In recent years it has become almost politically “incorrect” to show any signs of pride in being British and mad lefties and their deluded disciples are always banging on about offending other religions and communities throughout the UK. The fact that the UK has such a diverse melting pot of different nationalities and religions and is generally accommodating to them – is lost on these do gooders and they ignore our country’s long history of religious and politically tolerance and instead accuse us of being xenophobic and this offends me no end.
Have they forgotten that it was our forefathers who fought and died for our great nation and our democracy is built on their ultimate sacrifice for our freedom – they did not die in vain.
…back to the email
If you had taken the time to have a proper look through my site you would be aware that I commemorate the deaths of all innocent people killed as a direct result of the conflict in Northern Ireland , regardless of political or religious background . I also cover the deaths of paramilitaries from both sides killed “in Action” as my objective to to give a complete picture of the history of the Troubles.
I receive lots of emails and comments about my site and although most of these are positive – a few ( normally from republicans ) accuse me of being a loyalist and somehow responsible for the all the deaths in Northern Ireland’s tortured history. Generally I ignore these emails as they are so far of the mark – if they had taken the time to read my story they would know a bit more about my history and know that I preach love – not hate!
Just because I am proud of the union and my British heritage does not mean I hate Catholics or Irish people or any others for that matter – in fact I judge no man on his colour , creed , religious or political background (apart from Republican Terrorists ).
I judge people on their humanity and empathy towards others and the world around us . Life is for living – so live and let live.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank
“Lola” is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by English rock band the Kinks on their album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. The song details a romantic encounter between a young man and a possible cross-dresser, whom he meets in a club in Soho, London. In the song, the narrator describes his confusion towards Lola, who:
“walked like a woman but talked like a man”
The song was released in the United Kingdom on 12 June 1970, while in the United States it was released on 28 June 1970. Commercially, the single reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
Since its release, “Lola” has appeared on multiple compilation and live albums. In 1980, a live version of the song from the album One for the Road was released as a single in the US and some European countries, becoming a minor hit. In the Netherlands it became #1, just as in 1970 with the studio version. Other versions include live renditions from 1972’s Everybody’s in Show-Biz and 1996’s To the Bone.
The “Lola” character also made an appearance in the lyrics of the band’s 1981 song, “Destroyer“.
The Kinks – Lola (Official Audio)
Lola was the lead single from the album “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” originally released in the UK and the US in June 1970 and reached number two on the UK Singles Chart nine on the Billboard Hot 100
I met her in a club down in old Soho Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola [LP version – Coca-Cola:] C O L A cola She walked up to me and she asked me to dance I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said Lola L O L A Lola la-la-la-la Lola
Well I’m not the world’s most physical guy But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine Oh my Lola la-la-la-la Lola Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man Oh my Lola la-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola
Well that’s the way that I want it to stay And I always want it to be that way for my Lola La-la-la-la Lola Girls will be boys and boys will be girls It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola La-la-la-la Lola
Well I left home just a week before And I’d never ever kissed a woman before But Lola smiled and took me by the hand And said dear boy I’m gonna make you a man
Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man And so is Lola La-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola Lola la-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola
As an old mod I have long loved the Kinks and everything about them and their iconic music legacy is embedded deep within my soul and still gives me much pleasure and joy. In my opinion they are one of the most underrated English bands of the 60s and although their music has always been well received and revered by their musical peers, they never had the commercial success of the Who or the Stones and to my mind that is a shame.
From the first time I heard Lola spoke to me in a way few tunes do and the surreal theme of the lyrics and the haunting melody its in my top ten tunes ever!
Ray Davies has claimed that he was inspired to write “Lola” after Kinks manager Robert Wace spent a night in Paris dancing with a cross-dresser.
Davies said of the incident, “In his apartment, Robert had been dancing with this black woman, and he said, ‘I’m really onto a thing here.’ And it was okay until we left at six in the morning and then I said, ‘Have you seen the stubble?’ He said ‘Yeah’, but he was too pissed [intoxicated] to care, I think”.
It was a real experience in a club. I was asked to dance by somebody who was a fabulous looking woman. I said “no thank you”. And she went in a cab with my manager straight afterwards. It’s based on a personal experience. But not every word.
– Ray Davies
Drummer Mick Avory has offered an alternative explanation for the song’s lyrics, claiming that “Lola” was partially inspired by Avory’s frequenting of certain bars in West London.
“We used to know this character called Michael McGrath. He used to hound the group a bit, because being called The Kinks did attract these sorts of people. He used to come down to Top of the Pops, and he was publicist for John Stephen’s shop in Carnaby Street. He used to have this place in Earl’s Court, and he used to invite me to all these drag queen acts and transsexual pubs. They were like secret clubs. And that’s where Ray [Davies] got the idea for ‘Lola’. When he was invited too, he wrote it while I was getting drunk”.
Ray Davies has denied claims that the song was written about a date between himself and Candy Darling—Davies contends the two only went out to dinner together and that he had known the whole time that Darling was trans.
In his autobiography, Dave Davies said that he came up with the music for what would become “Lola”, noting that brother Ray added the lyrics after hearing it. In a 1990 interview, Dave Davies stated that “Lola” was written in a similar fashion to “You Really Got Me” in that the two worked on Ray’s basic skeleton of the song, saying that the song was more of a collaborative effort than many believed.
Writing and recording
I remember going into a music store on Shaftesbury Avenue when we were about to make “Lola”. I said, “I want to get a really good guitar sound on this record, I want a Martin”. And in the corner they had this old 1938 Dobro [resonating guitar] that I bought for £150. I put them together on “Lola” which is what makes that clangy sound: the combination of the Martin and the Dobro with heavy compression.
– Ray Davies
Written in April 1970, “Lola” was cited by Ray Davies as the first song he wrote following a break he took to act in the 1970 Play for Today film The Long Distance Piano Player. Davies said that he had initially struggled with writing an opening that would sell the song, but the rest of the song “came naturally”.
Initial recordings of the song began in April 1970, but, as the band’s bassist John Dalton remembered, recording for “Lola” took particularly long, stretching into the next month.
During April, four to five versions were attempted, utilizing different keys as well as varying beginnings and styles. In May, new piano parts were added to the backing track by John Gosling, the band’s new piano player that had just been auditioned. Vocals were also added at this time. The song was then mixed during that month. Mick Avory remembered the recording sessions for the song positively, saying that it “was fun, as it was the Baptist’s [John Gosling’s] first recording with us”.
The guitar opening on the song was produced as a result of combining the sound of a Martin guitar and a vintage Dobro resonating guitar. Ray Davies cited this blend of guitar sounds for the song’s unique guitar sound.
I remember going into a music store on Shaftesbury Avenue when we were about to make “Lola”. I said, “I want to get a really good guitar sound on this record, I want a Martin”. And in the corner they had this old 1938 Dobro [resonating guitar] that I bought for £150. I put them together on “Lola” which is what makes that clangy sound: the combination of the Martin and the Dobro with heavy compression.
– Ray Davies
Despite the chart success “Lola” would achieve, its fellow Lola vs. Powerman track “Powerman” was initially considered to be the first single from the album. However, “Lola”, which Ray Davies later claimed was an attempt to write a hit, was eventually decided on as the debut single release.
while the Dave Davies-penned “Mindless Child of Motherhood” was used in the US. It became an unexpected chart smash for the Kinks, reaching number two in Britain and number nine in the United States.
The single also saw success worldwide, reaching the top of the charts in Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as the top 5 in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland. The success of the single had important ramifications for the band’s career at a critical time, allowing them to negotiate a new contract with RCA Records, construct their own London Studio, and assume more creative and managerial control.
In a 1970 interview, Dave Davies stated that, if “Lola” had been a failure, the band would have “gone on making records for another year or so and then drifted apart”.
Although the track was a major hit for the band, Dave Davies did not enjoy the success of “Lola”, saying, “In fact, when ‘Lola’ was a hit, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Because it was taking us out of a different sort of comfort zone, where we’d been getting into the work, and the writing and the musicality was more thought about. It did have that smell of: ‘Oh blimey, not that again.’ I found it a bit odd, that period. And then it got odder and weirder”.
Mick Avory said that he “enjoyed the success” the band had with “Lola” and its follow-up, “Apeman“.
I wanted to write a hit [with “Lola”.] It wasn’t just the song. it was the musical design. It wasn’t a power chord song like “You Really Got Me“. It was a power chord beginning. It needed a special acoustic guitar sound … sonorous, growling, with an attack to it.
– Ray Davies, Radio 4’s Master Tapes
Originally, “Lola” saw controversy for its lyrics. In a Record Mirror article entitled “Sex Change Record: Kink Speaks”, Ray Davies addressed the matter, saying, “It really doesn’t matter what sex Lola is, I think she’s alright”.
Some radio stations would fade the track out before implications of Lola’s biological sex were revealed. On 18 November 1970, “Lola” was banned from being played by some radio stations in Australia because of its “controversial subject matter”.
The BBC banned the track for a different reason: the original stereo recording had the words “Coca-Cola” in the lyrics, but because of BBC Radio’s policy against product placement, Ray Davies was forced to make a 6000-mile round-trip flight from New York to London and back on June 3, 1970, interrupting the band’s American tour, to change those words to the generic “cherry cola” for the single release, which is included on various compilation albums as well.
Reception and legacy
“Lola” received positive reviews from critics. Upon the single’s release, the NME praised the song as “an engaging and sparkling piece with a gay Latin flavour and a catchy hook chorus”.
Writing a contemporary review in Creem, critic Dave Marsh recognized it as “the first significantly blatant gay-rock ballad”.Billboard said of the song at the time of its US release, “Currently a top ten British chart winner, this infectious rhythm item has all the ingredients to put the Kinks right back up the Hot 100 here with solid impact”.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic lauded the song for “its crisp, muscular sound, pitched halfway between acoustic folk and hard rock”. Ultimate Classic Rock ranked “Lola” as The Kinks’ third best song, saying “the great guitar riff that feeds the song is one of Dave’s all-time greatest”. Paste Magazine listed the track as the band’s fourth best song.
The song was also well-liked by the band. Mick Avory, who noted the song as one of the songs he was most proud to be associated with, said “I always liked ‘Lola’, I liked the subject. It’s not like anything else. I liked it for that. We’d always take a different path”.
In a 1983 interview, Ray Davies said, “I’m just very pleased I recorded it and more pleased I wrote it”. The band revisited the “Lola” character in the lyrics of their 1981 song, “Destroyer“, a minor chart hit in America.
Since its release, “Lola” became a mainstay in The Kinks’ live repertoire, appearing in the majority of the band’s subsequent set-lists until the group’s break-up.
In 1972, a live performance of the song recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York City appeared on the live half of the band’s 1972 album, Everybody’s in Show-Biz, a double-LP which contained half new studio compositions and half live versions of previously released songs.
The single was a moderate success, reaching number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also released in some countries in Europe (although not the UK) in April 1981. It topped the charts in both the Netherlands, matching the number one peak of the original version, and in Belgium, where it exceeded the original’s peak of three.
It also charted in Australia, peaking at number 69 and spending 22 weeks on the charts. Although not released as a stand-alone single in the UK, it was included on a bonus single (backed with a live version of “David Watts” from the same album) with initial copies of “Better Things” in June 1981.
This live rendition, along with the live versions of “Celluloid Heroes” and “You Really Got Me” from the same album, also appeared on the 1986 compilation album Come Dancing with The Kinks: The Best of the Kinks 1977–1986.
Although it did not appear on the original 1994 version, another live version of “Lola” was included on the 1996 US double-album release of To the Bone, the band’s final release of new material before their dissolution.
Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style
Life during the Troubles
Here are the opening few pages of my bestselling book: A Belfast Child
As a child, I loved the housing estate of Glencairn. To my mind it was paradise. Cut into the hillside, and with unbeatable views of the city on one side and the Divis Mountains on the other, it was like arriving in heaven after the hell of living among the urban sectarian flashpoints of West Belfast. Here were trees, lush green fields, sparkling clear rivers and streams that rushed down from the mountainside and were filled with fish. Us kids spent long hot summers splashing about in the ‘Spoon’, a natural cavernous feature of the landscape filled with water, and feasted on wild berries, strawberries and nuts that grew along the banks of the river.
Here were our close family and friends, housed in the damp flats and maisonettes that had been hurriedly built to house those Protestants ‘put out’ of their homes in the city by avenging Catholics. They too were being burnt from their homes but back then my young Loyalist heart felt no sympathy for them; in my opinion they supported the IRA and had started the ‘war’.
Up in Glencairn we felt safe and free. As long as we all obeyed the rules, of course.
These rules were not the laws of the land. They were not enforced by police, army or government officials. They were not set down in any written form, but we all knew what they were and who had made them. And even as small children, we knew that a heavy price would be extracted for those foolish enough to break the rules. A heavy price, and sometimes a very public price too.
Our two-bedroom maisonette was situated at the bottom of a small grassy hill facing St Andrew’s church Church and the local shopping complex, which consisted of a Chinese chippy, the VG general store, a laundrette, a newsagent’s, a wine lodge and the local Ulster Defence Association – UDA – drinking club called ‘Grouchos’ . In fact, we could roll down it almost to our back door – a game my younger brother David and I played frequently. In the winter when the hill was covered in snow, we would make sledges out of old bits of wood and spend hours and hours going up and down the hill, never feeling the cold. Dad would have a go at us for all the mud and grass we trailed into the flat but his was a good-natured telling-off. The truth was that he was pleased to see us all happy and carefree again after the trauma of the previous few years, and the sudden and final disappearance of my mum.
One late spring afternoon I was revolving rolling towards our back door, Dad’s beloved Alsatian dog Shep (my best friend and constant companion) in hot pursuit. Dad called him Shep after the Elvis song and he was able to knock our letter box with his nose when he wanted to come indoors. The grass had recently been cut and was damp, meaning that it stuck to every part of my clothing. I came to a halt just short of our back wall, the sweet smell of cut grass filling my nostrils, before standing up to brush it all off my jumper. As I did, I noticed my cousin, Wee Sam, running up towards our house from the direction of the main road.
‘John! Davy! C’mon, hurry up! There’s summin’ going on down the shops!’
Wee Sam was red in the face and could hardly get his words out. ‘It must be good,’ I said, ‘cos you look like you’re about to die.’
‘Not me,’ he replied, ‘but there’s a woman down there looks likely to. C’mon, we gotta see this!’
He turned tail and without thought we ran after him. As anyone who’s ever grown up on a housing estate will know, if there’s a commotion taking place word gets around like lightning. In Loyalist Glencairn there was always something going on and it was violent as often as not violent. As we ran, it seemed that from every direction half of estate was also making its way to the shops from every direction facing St. Andrews church from every direction. ‘This must be big,’ I thought as I ran, my wee brother trying to keep up with me. On this estate, as in every area of Belfast afflicted by the Troubles, very few people turned away from troubledanger. The natural sense of curiosity found in spades among Northern Irish people was too strong for that.
In the few minutes it took us to run from our house, a large crowd had already gathered outside the shops. A gang of ‘hard men’, whom we all knew to be paramilitary enforcers, seemed to be at the centre of the action. Local women stood on the fringes of the crowd, shouting, swearing and spitting.
‘Fuckin’ Fenian- loving bitch!’
‘Youse deserve to die, ye fuckin’ Taig-loving hoor!’ (‘Taig’ is an offensive slang term for a Catholic).
I pushed in to get a better look. At the heart of the crowd was a young woman, struggling against the grip of the men holding her. Her cheap, fashionable clothes were torn and her eyes were wild and staring, like an animal’s before slaughter. She screamed for them to take their hands off her, spitting at her accusers and lashing out with her feet. It was no use. One of the bigger guys pulled her hands behind her back and dragged her against a concrete lamppost. Someone passed him a length of rope and with a few expert strokes he’d lashed the young woman against the post by her hands, quickly followed by her feet. She reminded me of a squaw captured by cowboys in the Westerns I loved to watch and then re-enact using local kids in games that could last for days.
Except this wasn’t a game. This was justice Glencairn style – all perfectly normal to me and my peers and we took it in our stride. Although she was still squealing like a pig, the resistance seemed to have gone out of the woman. Smelling blood, the crowd pushed forwards and the woman’s head hung low in shame and embarrassment. One of the men grabbed a hank of her long hair and wrenched her head upwards, forcing her to look him right in the eye.
‘You,’ he said slowly, ‘have been caught going with a Taig, so you have! Do you deny it?’
Now I recognised the woman. She was a girl off the estate. I ha’d seen her walking down Forthriver Road on her way to meet her mini-skirted mates. They’d pile into a black taxi and head into town for a bit of drinking and dancing. I guess it was on one of these nights out that she’d met the Catholic boy – the ‘Taig’ – who was at the centre of the allegations. Good job he wasn’t here now, because he might already be lying in a pool of blood, a bullet through his head.
The woman shook her head. There was no point trying to talk her way out of anything now.
‘Fuck you,’ she said defiantly. ‘Fuck youse all.’
‘Grab her hair!’ shouted a female voice from the crowd. ‘Cut off the fuckin’ lot!’
The enforcer produced a large pair of scissors from his pocket. Slowly, deliberately, he tightened his grip on her hair before hacking savagely at the clump below his fist. Amid cheers he threw it at her feet before continuing his rough barbering skills. Within minutes he’d finished and now the woman looked like a cancer victim. Blood oozed from the indiscriminate cuts he’d made on her head and as it ran down her face it intermingled with her tears and snot. She was not a pretty sight.
‘ back!’ demanded one of the enforcers. The crowd parted and someone came forward with an open tin of bright red paint. Knowing what was to come, and not wanting to be physically contaminated with the woman’s shame, the crowd moved even further back.
The UDA man poured the contents of the tin all over the woman’s head, allowing it to run the entire length of her body, right down to her platform boots. She looked like she’d been drowned in blood. Then a pillow was passed up, and ham-hands the enforcer tore a big hole in the cotton, exposing the contents – feathers, hundreds and thousands of them.
‘G’wan,’ said a voice, ‘give her the full fuckin’ works.’
Without further ado the man poured the white feathers all over the woman, head to toe. They clung to the paint, giving the impression of a slaughtered goose hanging off the telegraph pole.
‘That will teach ye not to go with filthy Taigs,’ said the enforcer. ‘Any more of this and youse’ll get a beating then a bullet, so you will. Understand?’
Through the paint and the feathers came a small nod of the head.
‘Good,’ said the man. ‘And just so ye don’t forget, here’s a wee something we made for you earlier.’
To laughter and jeers, the man produced a cardboard sign which he placed around the woman’s neck. In the same red paint used to humiliate her, someone had written ‘Fenian Lover’ across the middle of the cardboard.
‘Leave her there for half an hour,’ commanded the man to a subordinate, ‘then cut her down.’ The crowd dispersed, a few women spitting on the victim as they left.
‘Jesus,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed. ‘Did you see that? Looked like she’d been shot in the head and the feathers were her brain running down her face. Fuckin’ amazing.’
‘Course I saw it,’ I said. ‘I was right at the front, wasn’t I? The bitch deserved it. Imagine going with Taigs, the dirty whorehoor.’
‘Let’s wait round the shops till they chop her down,’ said Sam. ‘See where she goes.’
We’d been playing one of our eternal games of Cowboys and Indians recently and we’d got into the idea of tracking people down stealthily. So we waited until another paramilitary cut the woman’s rope and watched as she slumped to the ground.
‘I think she’s pissed herself,’ said Sam.
‘Ssh,’ I replied, ‘she’ll hear us. Wait while she gets up.’
We watched the woman slowly pick herself up from the pavement. She wiped her eyes and looked around. The area outside the shops was now completely deserted, as though nothing had happened. An angry mob had been replaced by an eerie silence.
As she stumbled off, we nudged each other. ‘Look,’ I said., ‘Look what’s happening. She’s leaving a trail!’
She was too, a trail of blood- red boot prints. We gave her twenty or so yards’ start, then in single file began to follow her, sidling up against walls and lamp-posts like the gang of Cherokees we imagined we were. We must have gone a good quarter- mile when she turned into a pathway leading up to a small, shabby flat. We saw her fumbling in her pocket for a key, noticing the relief on her face as she found it still there. The lock turned and she went inside without a backwards glance.
‘That’s it,’ said Sam, ‘fun’s over. Let’s go home.’
‘Wait,’ I said. I watched as the woman put on a light, looked in a mirror then drew the curtains tightly. Some part of me, the part that wasn’t screaming ‘Fenian bitch!’ with all the others, suddenly felt hugely sorry for her. She only looked about seventeen17 or eighteen18 – not much older than my sister Margaret. What had she really done wrong, other than meet a nice boy she liked? Did she deserve such brutal treatment? After this I never saw her around the estate again. She’d probably fled for her ,life, never to return. And who could blame her?
Something inside of me knew I’d witnessed a terrible thing, yet I knew I couldn’t even begin to think like this. It was against the rules; the same unwritten rules and code of conduct that this young woman had disobeyed. Fear of the paramilitaries created a culture of silence and where we lived this was a survival strategy we all lived by. We were all products of this violent environment and we were had been desensitised conditioned to events that no child should ever have to witness.
I shuddered, pulled my thin jacket close around me and with the others, headed for the safety of home.
Even now, more than forty years later, whenever I smell the sweet smell aroma of cut grass I am transported back to that dusky spring evening in the early 70’s seventies and the woman’s brutal punishment, and I can hardly believe the madness of my childhood in Glencairn.
Here’s my latest interview , as you can tell Im rather nervous and as a result I get a little muddled in some areas and stumble over some of the questions and answers as if I have no idea what Im speaking about.
This is simply the story of a boy trying to grow up, survive, thrive, have fun & discover himself against a backdrop of events that might best be described as ‘explosive’, captivating & shocking the world for thirty long years.
She was jailed twice for seditious speeches. After she was released from HM Prison Armagh, raids on her house by the security forces escalated, her health began to fail and she was admitted to the Mater Hospital, Belfast.
On 28 October 1976, Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed in a joint operation by the Red Hand Commando.
… Máire Drumm Life & death 22 October 1919 – 28 October 1976 Máire Drumm (22 October 1919 – 28 October 1976) was the vice-president of Sinn Féin and a commander in Cumann na mBan. She was killed by Ulster loyalists while recovering from an eye operation in Belfast’s Mater Hospital. Born in Newry, County Down, to a staunchly Irish republican family. Drumm’s mother had … Continue reading Máire Drumm: Life & Death→
Death of Robert Hamill Robert Hamill was an Irish Catholic civilian who was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Hamill and his friends were attacked on 27 April 1997 on the town’s main street. It has been claimed that the local Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), parked a short … Continue reading Death of Robert Hamill: 27th April 1997→
John Bingham Life & Death John Dowey Bingham (c. 1953 – 14 September 1986) was a prominent Northern Irish loyalist who led “D Company” (Ballysillan), 1st Battalion, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He was shot dead by the Provisional IRA after they had broken into his home. Bingham was one of a number of prominent UVF members to be assassinated during the 1980s, … Continue reading John Bingham UVF : Life & Death→
Dawn of the Troubles – August 1969 Northern Ireland History During 12–16 August 1969, there was an outbreak of political and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which is often seen as the beginning of the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles. There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising out of the civil rights … Continue reading Dawn of the Troubles – August 1969: Northern Ireland History→
Aberfan is a former coal mining village in the Taff Valley 4 miles (6 km) south of the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.
On 21 October 1966, it became known for the Aberfan disaster, when a colliery spoil tip collapsed into homes and a school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.
Aberfan The Untold Story
For many years, millions of cubic metres of excavated mining debris from the colliery were deposited on the side of Mynydd Merthyr, directly above the village of Aberfan on the opposite side of the valley. Huge piles, or “tips”, of loose rock and mining spoil had been built up over a layer of highly porous sandstone that contained numerous underground springs, and several tips had been built up directly over these springs.
Although local authorities had raised specific concerns in 1963 about spoil being tipped on the mountain above the village primary school, these were largely ignored by the National Coal Board‘s area management.
Early on the morning of Friday, 21 October 1966, after several days of heavy rain, a subsidence of about 3–6 metres occurred on the upper flank of colliery waste tip No. 7. At 9:15 a.m. more than 150,000 cubic metres of water-saturated debris broke away and flowed downhill at high speed. A mass of over 40,000 cubic metres of debris slid into the village in a slurry 12 metres (39 ft) deep.
The slide destroyed a farm and twenty terraced houses along Moy Road, and struck the northern side of the Pantglas Junior School and part of the separate senior school, demolishing most of the structures and filling the classrooms with thick mud and rubble up to 10 metres (33 ft) deep. Mud and water from the slide flooded many other houses in the vicinity, forcing many villagers to evacuate their homes.
What Happened At Aberfan? This Is The Full Story | The Crown
After the disaster the Mayor of Merthyr immediately launched a Disaster Fund to aid the village and the bereaved. By the time the Fund closed in January 1967, nearly 90,000 contributions had been received, totalling £1,606,929. The Fund’s final sum was approximately £1,750,000 equivalent to £32 million today .
The concerns of the village and donors grew about how the money in the fund would be used: some felt it should be used to compensate the bereaved, whilst others felt it should benefit the wider community. The funds paid for the memorial garden and cemetery along with other facilities to aid the regeneration of Aberfan both physically and emotionally.
The cemetery is where many of the victims are buried. The original Portland and Nabresina Stone memorials erected shortly after the disaster began to deteriorate, and in 2007 the Aberfan Memorial Charity refurbished the garden area, including all of the archways and memorials. The weathered masonry was replaced with polished pearl white granite, all inscriptions were re-engraved and additional archways were erected.
The Coventry Playground was built in 1972 on the site of the old Merthyr Vale School, with money collected by the people of Coventry. The playground was officially opened by the mayor of Coventry.
A memorial garden was opened on the site of Pantglas Primary School, which was destroyed during the disaster. The park was partly opened by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, on her visit to Aberfan in 1974.
The Aberfan Memorial Charity was founded in 1989 and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the cemetery and memorial garden
Place of worship
Bethania Welsh Independent Chapel was built in 1876 and rebuilt in 1885.At the time of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 the chapel was used as a temporary mortuary where victims were taken to be identified by relatives. The chapel was demolished in 1967 and a new chapel erected in 1970. By 2007 the chapel had fallen into disrepair and was closed; memorial items from the disaster were relocated to Cardiff Bay.
Aberfan Calvinistic Methodist chapel was built 1876, in an Italianate style. The foundation stone was laid by Sarah Griffiths, wife of the owner of the Aberfan Estate. It became a Grade II listed building in August 1999, for its architectural interest as a well-designed Victorian chapel with an unaltered stone facade; it was judged to be prominent in Aberfan, and had retained its interior with a good gallery.
After the Aberfan disaster, the chapel was furnished with a memorial organ by the Queen. After extensive renovation, the chapel reopened at Easter 2008, but dry rot quickly set in, destroying newly installed window frames and beams. The cost of repair was estimated at £60,000. In August 2012 parishioners were banned from attending the church after an inspection condemned the building, and in October it was offered for sale, with a guide price of £22,000.
A 27-year-old man was later arrested in relation to the fire
The village has two smaller chapels: the former Smyrna Baptist Chapel, built in 1877, which is now closed and is used as a community centre, and the Zion Methodist Chapel, originally English Primitive Methodist, located on Bridge Street and built in 1891
See below for details on how to order a signed copy:
The book is selling beyond my wildest expectations and the reviews are awesome , so good in fact you’d think I was paying for them ,lol
I have quite a few copies at home and if you would like to receive a signed copy they cost only £10.00 plus postage .
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Date 1st September 2020
Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.
Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.
Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.
However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.
Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.
Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?
I think not.
Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.
If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.
In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.
Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.
The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.
Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment
Read the introduction to my No.1 Best Selling book here:
‘Historically, Unionist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were first class citizens . . . and without question people believed them. Historically, Republican/Nationalist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were second class citizens . . . and without question the people believed them. In reality, the truth of the matter was that we all, Protestant and Catholic, were third class citizens, and none of us realised it!’
Hugh Smyth, OBE (1941–2014). Unionist politician.
Although I was raised in what is probably one of the most Loyalist council estates in Belfast, I was never what you might term a conventional ‘Prod’. Don’t get me wrong – coming from Glencairn, situated just above the famous Shankill Road and populated by Protestants (and their descendants) who fled intimidation, violence and death in other parts of Belfast at the beginning of the Troubles, I was (and remain) a Loyalist through and through. I was unashamedly proud of my Northern Irish Protestant ancestry (still am) and couldn’t wait for all the fun and games to be had on 12th ‘The Twelfth’, or ‘Orangeman’s Day’ (still can’t). Even after 30 plus years of living away from the place my dreams are populated by bags of Tayto Cheese & n Onion crisps, pastie suppers from Beattie’s on the Shankill and pints of Harp lager. I cheer on the Northern Ireland Football team (though I’m not a massive football fan I watch all the big games) and I bitch frequently about the doings of Sinn Fein.
I’m a working-class Belfast Loyalist through and through and very proud of my culture and traditions. Yet from an early age I sensed that I was somehow different. As a child I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and when I discovered the truth in my early teens, I was embarrassed, mortified and ashamed – but maybe not particularly shocked. I always knew there was something not ‘quite right’ about me. The secret was that I wasn’t as ‘Super Prod’ as I thought; there was another strand of Northern Irish tradition in my background, one that was equally working-class Belfast, but as diametrically opposed to Protestantism as you’re likely to get. There’s a comedy song that probably still does the rounds in clubs across Ireland, North and South, called ‘The Orange and The Green’, the chorus of which goes something like ‘It is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen/My father he was Orange and my mother she was Green.’ In other words, a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. This song could have been written about our family directly, so closely did it match our dynamic.
Now, if you’re reading this from the comfort of any other country than Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or Scotland, you’ll be (just about) forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. Catholics marrying Protestants? So what? No big deal, surely. No one cares . But in a country like Northern Ireland, where tribalism still reigns supreme and the local people can sniff out a person’s religion just by looking at them, theof the ‘mixed marriage’ is still cause for a good gossip, at the very least. During the Troubles period it was an excuse for deep embarrassment, banishment, a paramilitary beating, or worse. Those Protestants and Catholics who married and stuck it out either slunk away into some quiet corner of Northern Ireland, trying to ignore the conflict while hoping the neighbours wouldn’t ask too many questions, or left the place altogether, never to return.
The marriage of my own parents, John Chambers (Protestant) and Sally McBride (Catholic), fell apart in the late 1960s as Belfast burned in the early days of the Troubles. The ferocity of hatred between the city’s two warring communities scorched many people desperately trying to find sanctuary in a country heading towards allout civil war. As we’ll see, my parents’ marriage was among these early casualties. Their lives, and the lives of their four children, would change forever and were shaped by the sectarian madness that tore Belfast and all of Northern Ireland apart and brought us all to the brink of an abyss that threatened and ruined our daily lives.
This isn’t a book about the day-to-day events of Troubles. There are plenty of excellent histories available detailing the period in all its gory glory, and from all viewpoints. If you need deep context, I’d recommend reading one of these, or even visiting Belfast. It’s safe now and as a tourist you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere on this earth. As we say, Northern Irish people are the friendliest in the world – just not towards each other.
Although I love history I’m not a historian and I don’t intend this book to be a dry run through the events of 1969 onwards. As I child I learned the stories and legends of the Battle of Boyne and the Siege of Derry at my grandfather’ and father’s knees, becoming immersed in the Loyalist culture that would shape and dominate my whole existence.
I just happened to be there at the time – an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation made even more complicated by the secret of my dual heritage. This is simply the story of a boy trying to grow up, survive, thrive, have fun and discover himself against a backdrop of events that might best be described as ‘explosive’, captivating and shocking the world for 30 long years. I’ve written this book because even I find my own story hard to believe sometimes, and only when I see it on the shelves will I truly know that it happened. In addition, it’s a story I would like my own children and grandchildren to read.
I want them to live in peace, harmony and understanding in a multicultural world where everyone tolerates and respects each other. I suppose I’ve always been a dreamer….
When they read my book, which I hope they will, they might understand what it is to grow up in conflict, hatred and intolerance, and work towards a better future for themselves and others. When I was 20, 21, I knew that if I didn’t leave Northern Ireland soon, I would end up either in prison or dead, or on the dole for rest of my life. This was the brutal reality I was faced with. My own personal journey through life and the Troubles had lead me to a crossroads in my life and I made the monumental choice to leave Belfast and all those I loved behind and start a new life in London.
I would hate to think my son, daughter or nephews and nieces back in Belfast would ever have to make the same drastic judgement about their own situation.
My Loyalist heart and soul respects and loves all mankind, and providing theyou worship or the political system you follow is peaceful and respectful to all others then I don’t have a problem with you and wish you a happy future. Just because I am proud of my Loyalist culture and traditions doesn’t make me a hater or a bigot; it just means I am happy with the status quo in Northern Ireland and wish to maintain and celebrate the union with the UK and honour our Queen.
As a child growing in Loyalist Belfast during the worst years of the roubles I hated Catholics with a passion and I could never forgive them for what I saw as their passive support of the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups. However, unlike many of my peers around me I was never comfortable with the killing of non-combatants, regardless of political or religious background, and I mourned the death of innocent Catholics as much as innocent Protestants. In my childhood I looked up to the Loyalist warlords and those who served them and when they killed an IRA member I celebrated with those around me. As I grew older and wiser my views changed. I no longer based my opinions and hatred on religion, but on politics and the humanity shown to others.
I’m a peace-loving Loyalist and therefore want everlasting peace in Northern Ireland. We do exist, despite perceptions from some quarters, but our voices are rarely heard, drowned out by the actions of the few, and certainly nowhere near as frequently as our Republican neighbours who are very much ‘on message’ with their own take on events. I hope this book goes some way to redressing that balance, and that whatever ‘side’ you might be on (or on no side at all) you will enjoy it, and that it will make you stop and think.
Finally, the story you are about to read is my own personal journey through the Troubles and my perception of growing up in Loyalist Belfast. In no way am I speaking for the wider Loyalist community or Protestant people and the views expressed here are my own. For reasons of security, some names have been changed.
On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Antarctic Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. On the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, less than five weeks after Amundsen’s South Pole expedition.
The deadly race to the South Pole
A planned meeting with supporting dog teams from the base camp failed, despite Scott’s written instructions, and at a distance of 162 miles (261 km) from their base camp at Hut Point and approximately 12.5 miles (20 km) from the next depot, Scott and his companions died.
Scott’s Last Letter
I want to tell you that I was not too old for this job. It was the younger men that went under first.
“I want you to secure a competence for my widow and boy. I leave them very ill provided for but feel the country ought not to neglect them. After all, we are setting a good example to our countrymen, if not by getting into a tight place, by facing it like men when we were there.”
Race to the South Pole-The Terra Nova Expedition Documentary
When Scott and his party’s bodies were discovered, they had in their possession the first Antarctic fossils ever discovered. The fossils were determined to be from the Glossopteris tree and proved that Antarctica was once forested and joined to other continents.
Before his appointment to lead the Discovery expedition, Scott had followed the career of a naval officer in the Royal Navy. In 1899, he had a chance encounter with Sir Clements Markham, the president of the Royal Geographical Society, and thus learned of a planned Antarctic expedition, which he soon volunteered to lead.
Having taken this step, his name became inseparably associated with the Antarctic, the field of work to which he remained committed during the final 12 years of his life.
Following the news of his death, Scott became a celebrated hero, a status reflected by memorials erected across the UK. However, in the last decades of the 20th century, questions were raised about his competence and character. Commentators in the 21st century have regarded Scott more positively after assessing the temperature drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) in March 1912, and after re-discovering Scott’s written orders of October 1911, in which he had instructed the dog teams to meet and assist him on the return trip.
The Terra NovaExpedition, officially the British Antarctic Expedition, was an expedition to Antarctica which took place between 1910 and 1913. It was led by Robert Falcon Scott and had various scientific and geographical objectives. Scott wished to continue the scientific work that he had begun when leading the Discovery expedition to the Antarctic from 1901 to 1904. He also wanted to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole. He and four companions attained the pole on 17 January 1912, where they found that the Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had preceded them by 34 days. Scott’s entire party died on the return journey from the pole; some of their bodies, journals, and photographs were found by a search party eight months later.
The expedition, named after its supply ship, was a private venture, financed by public contributions and a government grant. It had further backing from the Admiralty, which released experienced seamen to the expedition, and from the Royal Geographical Society.
The expedition’s team of scientists carried out a comprehensive scientific programme, while other parties explored Victoria Land and the Western Mountains. An attempted landing and exploration of King Edward VII Land was unsuccessful. A journey to Cape Crozier in June and July 1911 was the first extended sledging journey in the depths of the Antarctic winter.
For many years after his death, Scott’s status as tragic hero was unchallenged, and few questions were asked about the causes of the disaster which overcame his polar party. In the final quarter of the 20th century the expedition came under closer scrutiny, and more critical views were expressed about its organization and management. The degree of Scott’s personal culpability and, more recently, the culpability of certain expedition members, remains controversial
Robert Hamill was an Irish Catholic civilian who was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Hamill and his friends were attacked on 27 April 1997 on the town’s main street. It has been claimed that the local Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), parked a short distance away, did nothing to stop the attack.
The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
Loyalism RUC Robert Hamill
Hamill and his friends were attacked by a group of loyalists while walking home from St. Patrick’s dance hall at about 1.30 a.m on 27 April 1997.
After walking along Market Street from the dance hall, they came to the intersection of Market and Thomas Streets in Portadown, where they were attacked. Hamill and his friend, Gregory Girvan, were kicked by the crowd while their attackers shouted abuse at them and Robert Hamill was knocked unconscious almost immediately.
Girvan’s wife and sister, Joanne and Siobhán Garvin, respectively, called for help from four RUC officers sitting in a Land Rover about twenty feet away from the attack, but they did not intervene to stop the attack. The assault lasted about ten minutes, leaving both men unconscious. Just before the ambulance arrived, one of the RUC men got out of the Land Rover and told Garvin to put Robert into the recovery position.
Robert Hamill never regained consciousness and died of his injuries eleven days later on 8 May 1997, aged 25. The cause of his death was recorded as
“Diffuse Brain Injury associated with Fracture of Skull due to Blows to the Head”.
Six people were arrested after Robert Hamill’s death, but only one was eventually tried for his murder.
Trial of Paul Hobson
Paul R. Hobson was charged with murder, but found not guilty, though he was found guilty of unlawful fighting and causing an affray and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. The case under which Hobson was prosecuted is questionable as the main witness,
Constable Atkinson of the then RUC, was at one stage a suspect in conspiracy to cause murder in the same case. His solicitor also did not use crucial evidence in the case to cross-examine witnesses. Mr. Justice McCollum said during his verdict that the killing was a sectarian act, with a very large number of loyalists attacking a small number of nationalists, but that he could not decide whether the RUC men had left their Land Rover or not during the attack.
Allegations of police collusion
The RUC have been criticised for initially claiming in press releases that there was a riot between two large groups; then afterwards claiming it was a large group attacking a group of four. Rosemary Nelson was solicitor for the Hamill family until she was assassinated by a loyalist car bomb in Lurgan
There have been allegations of collusion between the RUC and suspects. A public inquiry is currently being held on the recommendation of Cory Collusion Inquiry
In December 2010 it was announced that three people, including a former RUC officer, were to be charged in relation to Robert Hamill’s death.
In September 2014 District Judge Peter King, sitting at Craigavon court, ruled that a key witness was entirely unreliable and utterly unconvincing. The case against the three, ex-policeman Robert Cecil Atkinson, his wife Eleanor Atkinson, and Kenneth Hanvey, was not sufficient to try.
Man acquitted of Robert Hamill’s Murder in Portadown, March 1999
Bingham was one of a number of prominent UVF members to be assassinated during the 1980s, the others being Lenny Murphy, William Marchant, Robert Seymour and Jackie Irvine
– Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
Ulster Volunteer Force
John Bingham was born in Northern Ireland around 1953 and was brought up in a Protestant family. Described as a shopkeeper, he was married with two children. He lived in Ballysillan Crescent, in the unionist estate of Ballysillan in North Belfast, and also owned a holiday caravan home in Millisle, County Down.
He was a member of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge of the Orange Order. On an unknown date, he joined the Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the UVF, and eventually became the commander of its “D Company”, 1st Battalion, Ballysillan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
He was the mastermind behind a productive gun-running operation from Canada, which over the years had involved the smuggling of illegal weapons into Northern Ireland to supply UVF arsenals; however, three months after Bingham’s death, the entire operation collapsed following a raid on a house in Toronto by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December 1986.
Bingham was one of the loyalist paramilitaries named in the evidence given by supergrass Joe Bennett, who accused him of being a UVF commander. He testified that he had seen Bingham armed with an M60 machine gun and claimed that Bingham had been sent to Toronto to raise funds for the UVF.
These meetings opened contact with Canadian businessman John Taylor, who became involved in smuggling guns from North America to the UVF. As a result of Bennett’s testimony, Bingham was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of committing serious crimes.
He publicly denounced the supergrass system before live television cameras outside Belfast’s Crumlin Road Courthouse when he was released in December 1984 after his conviction had been overturned, having spent two and a half years in prison.
On one occasion, Bingham allegedly placed a loaded pistol inside journalist Martin Dillon‘s mouth because of the latter’s offensive words he had used against him. In an attempt to make amends for his threat, Bingham invited Dillon to visit him at his home in North Belfast.
Dillon accepted the invitation and after several whiskeys and brandishing a pistol, Bingham offered to show him his racing pigeons as he was an avid pigeon fancier. He then told Dillon that he shouldn’t believe what people said about him claiming that he couldn’t harm a pigeon. As they said farewell at the front door, Bingham reportedly murmured in a cold voice to Dillon:
“You ever write about me again and I’ll blow yer fuckin’ brains out, because you’re not a pigeon”.
IRA Belfast Brigade, shoot & kill UVF Inner Council memember John Bingham 14 September 1986
In July 1986, a 25-year-old Catholic civilian, Colm McCallan, was shot close to his Ligoniel home; two days later, he died of his wounds. The IRA sought to avenge McCallan’s death by killing Bingham, the man they held responsible for the shooting.[
Bingham was also believed to have been behind the deaths of several other Catholic civilians.
Ballysillan, north Belfast, where John Bingham lived and commanded the Ballysillan UVF
At 1:30 am on 14 September 1986, Bingham had just returned to Ballysillan Crescent from his caravan home in Millisle. Three gunmen from the IRA’s Ardoyne 3rd Battalion Belfast Brigade, armed with two automatic rifles and a .38 Special, smashed down his front door with a sledgehammer and shot Bingham twice in the legs. Despite his injuries, Bingham ran up the stairs in an attempt to escape his attackers and had just reached a secret door at the top when the gunmen shot him three more times, killing him.
He was 33 years old. He was given a UVF paramilitary funeral, which was attended by politicians from the two main unionist parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Members of his “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Orange Order (OO) Lodge formed the guard of honour around his coffin, which was covered with the UVF flag and his gloves and beret. Prominent DUP activist George Seawright helped carry the coffin whilst wearing his OO sash, and called for revenge.
In retaliation, the UVF killed Larry Marley, a leading IRA member from Ardoyne who was also a close friend of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. The IRA in their turn gunned down William “Frenchie” Marchant the following spring on the Shankill Road. The deaths of three leading UVF members caused suspicion amongst the UVF leadership that someone within their ranks was setting up high-ranking UVF men by passing on pertinent information to the IRA; therefore, they decided to conduct an enquiry.
Although it was revealed that the three men, Shankill ButcherLenny Murphy, Bingham, and Marchant had all quarrelled with powerful UDA fund-raiser and racketeer James Pratt Craig prior to their deaths, the UVF did not believe the evidence was sufficient to warrant an attack against Craig, who ran a large protection racket in Belfast.
Craig was later shot to death in an East Belfast pub by the UDA (using their “Ulster Freedom Fighters” covername) for “treason”, claiming he had been involved in the assassination of South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael, who was blown up by a booby-trap car bomb planted by the IRA outside his Lisburn home in December 1987.