Street antics in ‘Nrn Irn’ are no walk in the park

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - '27th July 2013 ''Nigel Dodds MP with Orange supporters pictured on the Woodvale Road in Belfast afternoon during a protest marchup to the police lines.''Orangemen made a new application to the Parades Commission adjudication body to march the disputed Crumlin Road section of the route today at Ardoyne. TThe Order said it applied for Saturday's event to complete a return parade they were banned from making on the Twelfth of July.''Order members have continued to hold protests in the area throughout the week.''Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - '27th July 2013 ''Nigel Dodds MP with Orange supporters pictured on the Woodvale Road in Belfast afternoon during a protest marchup to the police lines.''Orangemen made a new application to the Parades Commission adjudication body to march the disputed Crumlin Road section of the route today at Ardoyne. TThe Order said it applied for Saturday's event to complete a return parade they were banned from making on the Twelfth of July.''Order members have continued to hold protests in the area throughout the week.''Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Did you see the “Family Fun Day” (as it was officially called) in Belfast’s Woodvale Park on the TV news?

Normally we whinge when Belfast has something we don’t have but in this case we’re grateful. We seem to have caught ourselves on.

The antics in Belfast are either a parody of themselves or they’re beyond parody.

Which is it? And, by the time this is in print we’ll know how events panned out in Castlederg.

Wasn’t it great ‘fun’ altogether with the Shinner on the Shankhill? It was the Shankhill’s adaptation of an old fun day favourite.

The longer established version involves a celebrity being clamped into stocks while people pelt him with flour or water.

In Belfast the celebrity, in this case Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir had a walk in the park while people tried to punch, kick or spit at him. To even things up slightly, he was escorted by a phalanx of police officers.

What a fun-filled summer they’ve had up there! First they had that game where Gerry Kelly tried to push a PSNI jeep backwards as the driver tried to drive it forward.

Of course the jeep won. That’s the whole point of fun day games. The celebrity’s task has to be hopeless.

Next up, it was Nigel Dodds’s turn to face the music. Unfortunately, Nigel didn’t sustain the game long enough. The lads would have to provide their own fun. Well, it was Orangefest after all.

No need to worry, they rose to the challenge superbly with an impromptu jig on the PSNI jeeps.

Gerry’s antics on the jeep had taught them well but the ‘Protestants’ took the party to a whole new level.

Skinny young fellas and men with middle-aged spreads stripped to the waist, clutched their tinnies and danced on the jeeps in the hot sun until they were soaked in sweat. The PSNI kindly provided free, cooling showers.

There was enough blue tattoo ink along with red sunburn and white flesh to make a Union Jack for the City Hall, if only it were needed!

The highlight was provided by a blonde girl on a jeep wearing only a Union Jack too short to cover the bare essentials.

So it was that the evening’s entertainment provided a glimpse of the Promised Land, so to speak, for unionists.

But the fun didn’t stop there! All such big days are endlessly reprised at Stormont and in the media. Life begins to imitate art.

It’s like a huge TV talent competition. Politicians provide the jury. They have to argue the toss for ages to help us to decide who won.

Bad behaviour doesn’t matter. There are no rules. Did the crowd win? Did the police win? Did the celebrity win? In the end, it’s up to us to decide.

Meanwhile, Belfast and other places have been hosting the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG).

It’s a huge event, drawing visitors from around the world, but it seems to have passed Derry by. Still, we have plenty to be going on with. We’ve all that culture and the big one with the fleadh.

The WPFG is a mix of competition, friendship, holidaymaking and fun.

It’s ironic then, with all that going on, that the real ‘fun and games’ happened in a more impromptu form on the streets and parks of Belfast.