The pride of Ulster’s manhood was ‘on parade’ recently by courtesy of the Apprentice Boys. It wasn’t a pretty sight. No, surprisingly enough, it wasn’t during the worthy defenders’ march through the streets. It happened in the morning, before they even arrived in the city. Maybe there wasn’t an awful lot to make a fuss about but many people would have been annoyed by their unseemly display.
The media focus was understandably on the riot after the march when vehicles were hijacked and burned in the Bogside. Some thought the trouble was “sectarian” but it was also ritualistic. It was regrettable but this other, anti-social behaviour deserves some attention, too.
I had the misfortune to drive from Derry to Limavady and back on the Saturday morning. In many places along the road, buses obviously en route to the parade had pulled in on the hard shoulder. Literally scores of passengers were relieving themselves. A few had the relative decency to ‘go’ behind the bus or a hedge but others, bold as brass, just lined along the roadside in full view of passing cars. Eight or nine buses were stopped in different places with their phalanxes of men in brightly coloured uniforms extending out in front and behind. Quite a few flutes could be seen!
It was an affront to public decency. Surely the men could have enjoyed a more comfortable journey had they limited their liquid ‘refreshment’ intake before setting off, or en route. We’d hate to think that stalwarts belonging to the marching orders could possibly be suffering from bladder weakness with a long walk ahead of them.
Unless the old memory is playing tricks, didn’t children on bus journeys used to sing a song with the words, “Stop the bus, I want a wee wee?” The other old favourite about the wheels on the bus going “round and round” and the wipers going, “swish, swish, swish” could help to divert attention from the pressing call of nature. Maybe not, on second thoughts, “swish, swish, swish” could make things worse.
Read more from Norman Hamill in the Journal every Tuesday