As everyone knows, Norn Iron is a bit mad.
At this moment, for example, there is a group of about 30 fully grown men walking past The Parents’ house, wearing decidedly weird, braided uniforms, banging on drums and playing flutes, behind a group of men in suits and bowler hats, who have orange sashes draped across them and are carrying a large cloth banner featuring a picture of a horse. All the neighbours are out to watch as they march towards, erm, a big field. It is 9am. Nobody seems to be perturbed by any of this, apart from me, obviously – I have been hiding under my duvet for a while and eventually had to get up to take painkillers for the headache and grumble in annoyance from behind the curtains as the windows vibrate.
As I’m aware that many of my readers have never had the pleasure of being in Norn Iron over the Glorious Twelfth, I am going to venture out when the parade starts and take some pictures. I’m trying not to think unhelpful thoughts such as “This time last year I was living in the South of France”. Still – I went out to see their festivities, and got pickpocketed. That’s not likely to happen here. At the worst, I’ll get hit by a flying paint bomb.
Anyway, I shall set aside my own issues with this day, and aim to provide a useful, informative, and entertaining report about the 319-year-old tradition of intimidation and sectarian gloating cultural celebration of national identity.
I just wanted to get the grumbling out of the way first.