The Tale of the Third City

Untitled Document

The Peel Show

To fully understand what that feeling was like, you would have to come from here, but as you don’t, well…. You will just have to take my word for it when I say, the last thing that I, we wanted to happen at that particular moment in time. Was to have any kind of disruption to come along and cause me, us the kind of distractions that could and did put my, our role in the band in jeopardy.

Let me try and explain how it all works here.

This opportunity had been a long time coming for all three of us and I am pretty sure that I can speak for the other two when I say. We could hardly contain ourselves with excitement. You see; we got to walk in Orange parades that we never knew existed. Parades such as the Whiterock. Which I can honestly say, is designed for the mentally insane, and only those who have ever walked that route, at the height of the troubles, will fully understand what I mean. The rest of you……. Will no doubt find it hard to believe, as did I my first time out? The only difference being, of course, we were there to witness it with our own eyes.

You got to understand; this wasn’t just any auld Orange parade where you would walk past a Catholic area, as we had done on many other occasions. Oh…… no…… This was an Orange parade that walked right through the Nationalist heartland of West Belfast, right through 'bandit' country, right through the middle of an IRA stronghold. Whatever you want to call it I can tell you, it’s an area where most Protestants wouldn’t want to find themselves day or night.

I guess the easiest way for me to explain this parade in simple laymen’s terms; would be for me to say, it’s pretty much like a white power movement marching through Harlem or the National Front forcing their way down Coal harbour Lane, Brixton. If you can imagine that, well then you should be able to imagine the Whiterock parade in all its full glory but don’t forget to multiply by at least ten fold and remember to add....The readymade arsenal of AK47 for that added bit of spice.

I kid you not, this is where the excitement began for real. For the next twenty – twenty five minutes or so, you almost come face to face with the hard core republican element who live on the Springfield Road. Angry people, who had been penned in like a herd of sheep by the British Army. Who had placed thirty ton trucks at the end of each and every side street. Each truck had at least, what, a twenty foot high screen attached to the side. Their plan was simply, to keep the navies at bay, and it worked but still their anger could be heard and their hatred felt.

Believe me, it was frightening but at the same time it was exhilarating but there again, on the down side, there was nowhere to fucking run, if things were to go horribly wrong. Not with Republicans on one side of the road and to the other. In full view for all to see, you had that famous old landmark which still stands today and is known to the local, as the West Belfast peace wall. A crude, yet an effective method, used by the Belfast city council to divide the two rival fractions and there we were, right smack bang in the middle....

Before I continue I would like to make it clear that I am not ashammed to say this. Although I am pretty sure that the majority of people who have ever walked this route won’t actually want to admit to it, but you are shitting yourself. From the moment you pass through those peace gates at Ainswoth Avenue, the point when the crowd following you are stopped dead in their tracks by the security forces. Honestly; from then on in, even though this may sound a little silly, because you’re not really but still, you somehow feel alone.

Believe me, that feeling stays with you untill you see the protestant people of the Highfield estate clapping and cheering, as if they are welcoming you home with open arms, so to speak. That’s when you know you’re safe, but before then, those twenty five minutes or so leading up to that moment believe you me. You are well aware of your surroundings as well as the dangers that surround you. Now knowing that, would you believe me if I was to tell you, it's one of those adrenaline rushes you most definitely don’t forget in a hurry, because you really don’t.

The Whiterock was then followed by a weekend away in Glasgow for the Scottish Twelfth; again it wasn’t until that year that we found out such parades existed in Scotland. Yet another surprise; yet another childhood experience to tell the grandkids I suppose, and it was. If only you could see it through my eyes. I was fifteen years old and on the piss for three days, with no one telling me what to do. I – we, the whole fucking band were being treated like Royalty by the locals and on top off all that, we had young girls throwing themselves at us. Now tell me: what normal red blooded male in their right fucking mind wouldn’t want to be in a Loyalist Flute Band, answer me that question for fuck sake? To say the summer holidays of that year were unbelievable would be the understatement of a life time but to take your mind away from these sectarian stories. Let me leave you with a thought, it’s what followed those summer months that really fucked my head up and at the same time turned my life around!

These extracts have been taken from first dratf chapters, even though they are displayed on this site they may not necessarily appear in the book, but I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever, they most certainly are part and parcel of the "Trilogy Story"! So if you buy the Book, you like it and want to read the Chapters that are not included, they will be available from this site! Remember its 40 years of memories and 5 years of research!

I would also like point out, that we are in search of photos of the era, so if you can help please send copies of whatever you have to, don't forget to leave your details so we can credit you. Thanks