Friday, November 03, 2006
The last time I was in Ulster I was covering George Best's funeral. I wrote a slightly bleak piece - it was, after all, a bleak event, suffused with political cynicism. Subsequently I was asked to appear on BBC Radio Belfast to respond to calls for my sacking. I was baffled, nobody in England thought there was anything remotely objectionable about my piece. It was a phone-in show and the first caller, evidently drunk at 9 am, said he was going to come to London and shove my teeth so far down my throat that I would have 'to clean them with a bog brush'. Subsequent callers were equally deranged. Only a couple had the wit to defend me by pointing out I had written no more than the obvious truth. One snivelling politician - 'Sir' Reg Empey - appeared and agreed with the drunks. It was a picture of Ulster in a nutshell, a malign combination of sentimentality, violence and profoundly cynical politicians. All of which is a preamble to this. We are, apparently, planning to give Ulster a special payment of £50 billion over the next ten years if they settle down and agree to a proper, democratic government. That's £25,000 for every man woman and child. In England, Scotland and Wales, we have settled down, but we get nothing. We should, of course, save the money by giving the place to Eire, but they don't want it either.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:23 am