Celtic Illumination, part 24, I’m the only Catholic on the Shankill Road!
Despite the fact that I am perhaps the only remaining Master Candle Maker in the world, and a Royal one at that, the organisation that found me and enabled my training still exists and continues to search high and low for the next Master Candle Maker to make an appearance. As I explained before, the Tibetans copied many of the techniques used to locate Master Candle Makers to find the re-incarnation of the Dali lama. They go and stare at a lake for a while but the secret society that is behind Master Candle Makers refuses to release any information about their methodology, but I can reveal to you some of their training methods which you may want to subject yourself to in order to become a successful Master Candle Maker.
Even as a child in Belfast I was constantly put under threat to enable my training to take on a more realistic edge. Like at my boarding school, Violent Hell, where I was made to stand out as being the only boy in the school to wear short trousers in Belfast, as a youngster, I was also made to stand out. You may wonder how this was at all possible. How can you make a small child stand out in a large city where people were more interested in figures like George Best or Van the Man? I was brought up in the Catholic tradition, so, if you wanted to train a child to Ninja standards of self-defence, where would you make that child live, especially if they were Catholic and they lived in Belfast.
Correct, and a very popular comedian from Northern Ireland, James Young, actually sang a song about me, “I’m the only Catholic on the Shankill Road!” Life was certainly interesting. My father who drove to and from school each day refused to allow me to travel with him in the car in case the other boys discovered who I was and subsequently picked on me. My school day journeys would make events such as the running of the bulls in Pamplona child’s play compared to what I had to endure.
Normally it would be after school when the action would take place. I, to get home, would have to walk up the Crumlin Road to the Ardoyne and then down the Woodvale Road. Walking up the Crumlin Road meant that I would have to walk through the hundreds of boys from Saint Gabriel’s, Catholic, intermediate school on their way home. I would often find myself held against a wall, usually the wall that surrounds Holy Cross church and questioned. “Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” they would ask. “Catholic,” I would reply. “Say the Hail Mary,” “In Irish, Latin or English?” I would ask. “Say feck the Queen.” I would oblige and would be allowed to continue.
On the Woodvale Road I would be walking along with hundreds of protestant boys on their way home from Somerdale, Protestant, secondary school. Held against another wall but normally still the wall surrounding Holy Cross church in Ardoyne, I would again be asked if I was a Catholic or a Protestant. “Protestant!” I would say. “Sing the sash!” they would demand and then their coup de grace, “Say fuck the Pope.”
As with all forms of training reality plays a big part in how effective and significant the training can be and it was one day, I must have been complacent, I was stopped by a rogue group of Catholic boys. Being on the Woodvale Road I announced that I was a Protestant and received a beating I would remember for the remainder of my life. By the way I wouldn’t remember that encounter for the rest of my life because of the severity of the attack. No. I remember it because I defended myself with my badminton racquet which didn’t fare too well and I received a beating from my father for allowing such an expensive piece of sporting equipment to become damaged.