Celtic Illumination, part 51, Finbar, Special Branch and bandit country.
So; if you’ve read all that has gone before you will now know that I have been set on a course of training by a secret cabal to become the greatest Master Candle Maker in the world. On top of that, I am the high Chief of the clan O Neill and the true King of Ireland, although as my young self I do not know any of these facts yet. All I do know is that the world is full of perverts, I have the loveliest legs in Ireland, I had been reunited with my bike and oh yes, and I had managed to get expelled from Violent Hell, twice!
The summer holidays were approaching and I was frustrated at the fact that I had been offered free passage to Europe, but there might be a price to pay, which I was not willing to entertain. I decided that if there were two of us, by sticking together we might make it to Rotterdam unmolested. I began asking about. I had plotted out a route on the map in my pocket diary, my bike was in top condition, I had a rucksack at home and was hungry for adventure.
They were not many takers, probably because they didn’t have as fantastic a bike as I had, however I was approached by one old school friend. Finbar Magee. Finbar was a lovely fellow, his family lived in the middle of bandit country, were farmers by trade and Finbar sported the most wonderful head of ginger hair you had ever seen. Finbar explained that he heard I was trying to find someone to accompany me on a jaunt abroad. We began to talk and I discovered that Finbar wanted to go to London for the summer.
I eventually agreed that I would go with Finbar to London. He had a brother there so we could spend a night or two on his floor until we got ourselves sorted out. Seemed like a plan so I accepted. This was a Friday night, so on the Saturday Finbar came to our house with his parents. Introductions were made and the parents gave permission. Finbar and myself went into Warrenpoint and went to see Mervyn. Mervyn was working in a travel agents office.
“Mervyn, we want to go to London.”
Mervyn amazed us as he flipped through all sorts of books and charts and time tables. I hadn’t really given it much thought and actually had to begin to think about the trip when Mervyn asked if we wanted to fly, or go by boat, and would we want to go from Belfast or Dublin?. We opted for the flying route of Belfast to London and waited as Mervyn arranged the process. Rather than pay the fare Mervyn gave us a letter which we were to hand in to the British Airways desk at Aldergrove airport.
That night I went to Finbar’s house, as it was closer to the airport, and the following morning his mother drove us to Aldergrove. We went straight to the British Airways check in desk and presented ourselves and the letter from Mervyn. The desk was about chest high so the staff probably didn’t see Finbar and myself count out the money and hold it ready. They presented us with tickets and as a small queue was forming asked us to move through to the departure lounge. We did.
We stuffed the money back into our pockets and began to wonder about this flying thing. We were two very clever fellows from Violent Hell so we should be able to work it out. We came to the conclusion that the aeroplane would be like a bus, we would pay as we got on, and there would be a conductor or something like that. The flight was boarding so we asked the stewardesses who were directing us to the bus if we should pay them. They smiled and laughed at us.
There were no stewards or stewardesses on the bus taking us to the aeroplane so we knew we wouldn’t have to pay the bus driver, we weren’t daft. The steward who welcomed us onto the aircraft smiled and ushered us to our seats. Once airborne we knew that someone would come along, like a bus conductor, and issue us with tickets so if someone was flying to London , like us, then they would pay x amount, if someone was flying to Paris they would pay 2x and so on. But what if someone got on the plane at London? We realised that this flying business was quite complicated so scoffed the nosh they offered us seeing as it was included in the fare.
We got off the aircraft in London and knew that we would pay as we entered the terminal. However we didn’t, we found ourselves standing by the carrousel waiting for our bags when two hands approached us in a northerly direction and were placed on our shoulders. They didn’t even say hello, not once, or twice, or even thrice!
“Peter Morris and Finbar Magee? We nodded as warrant cards were flashed in our faces and were not exactly delighted to be informed that Special Branch were going to take us away so that we could help them with their inquiries. This was just before the Guilford four, Maguire seven and Birmingham six incidents so Finbar and I knew that there was a good chance we could be locked away for a good number of years and all because one of us had ginger hair. We had tried to pay the fare on many occasions since arriving at Aldergrove so with the letter from Mervyn, and the cash we hoped we wouldn’t be in too much trouble.
Luckily they only tried to pin the burning down of a hotel in Warrenpoint the previous evening on us. They knew we were from Warrenpoint and that we had probably run away to hide after we had burned the place down, as you do. After my experiences with the priests and getting expelled for doing nothing, except telling the truth, I was a little bit worried. Luckily the story that we had spent the night in bandit country was backed up by a number of people, including the pervert priest, so we were allowed to leave although they very kindly informed us that they would be keeping an eye on us. It was lovely to know that for two young fellows from rural Ireland would be protected by a shady police group.
We came back out to the carousel to find our two bags still circling, looking very sad and lonely. We collected them and as getting arrested, or lifted, as we referred to it in Ireland was an almost every day occurrence we paid little attention to what had just happened and began to wonder where we would pay our fare. We left the arrivals hall and entered the main terminal building. We could see the exit doors where we knew we would have to show our tickets and pay the fare.
We still wondered where we should pay our fare as we stood outside Heathrow terminal and realised that we were quite some distance from home.