Celtic Illumination, part 135, The Big Stagger
Quite an important blog today so before we start I’d like you all to smarten yourselves up, sit up and pay attention. Good. That’s better. As you are all aware I am the world’s leading Master Candle Maker, the High Chief of the Clan O Neill and the true King of Ireland. Perhaps there may have been a slight blurring in the way the story has been told. You see I knew nothing of this as I was growing up and can only now reflect on what has happened to me and why. I was born in Belfast and was told that my mother had died giving birth to me and I was given to the nuns. What we know now, as in what actually happened, is that when I was born it was noticed that I had a small deformity on my left hand. I was born with six fingers on my left hand.
This, because I was an O Neill from County Tyrone, was the mark of God to indicate that I was a candidate for the position of Chief of the Clan O Neill and King of Ireland. I say candidate because in Ireland we used the Brehon Laws which meant that the King would be chosen, by the people, from a well-established and strong Clan, the O Neill’s of Tyrone. God helped out by marking certain individuals of that Clan at birth, with a small deformity on their left hand, which brought about the red hand symbol. And I wasn’t given to the nuns; I was taken by a battle hardened snatch squad of Carmelite nuns.
So any decision regarding my life has been made by the double top secret cabal; who have organised my life, in preparation for me to take back the throne of Ireland. Those of you who had read this blog from the beginning have already seen the parallels with other royal personages who are being trained for similar positions, although the throne of England and the throne of Ireland are two very different situations. Now we have arrived at another point in my life, which proves beyond a doubt, that my life was nothing more than a training scheme for Kingship.
For many years the aristocracy of Europe and England, and some people from North America, engaged in what was known as The Grand Tour. It began somewhere around the middle of the seventeenth century when the aristocracy, nobility, landed gentry and royalty would send their young men off to travel around Europe on a cultural tour. It gave them an exposure to the fashionably polite society of Europe, to music and art and classical antiquity. A grand tour could last anywhere from several months to several years.
My twenty-first birthday was charging towards me. In the UK the two important, formative, birthdays were the eighteenth and the twenty first. As I had spent my eighteenth birthday in a military police cell I decided that it might be a good idea to not repeat such an experience and decided that I should go to Venice for a couple of weeks. The other guys at Watton couldn’t understand me, why not just stay at Watton and get hammered. I of course was not in control of my life; the decision was quite natural, seeing the training and guidance I had already received. I, without being aware of the significance of my decision, must undertake my own form of grand tour, which I should call The Big Stagger.
As you may expect I was facing a slight dilemma. I had met a new young lady and we were becoming inseparable. Irene, who had connected with me at the annual football club dance, was living with her sister in law at Watton as a companion. Irene’s brother Peter was a sailor on board the Ark Royal. I was also involved with the young lady, Karen, from Warrington. Now many of you out there will be saying what’s the problem? As any young gentleman should now do, you would explain the situation to Karen and you should stop seeing each other and this would allow you to continue your relationship with Irene.
Easier said than done, because I had already invited Karen to accompany me on, The Big Stagger. I had invited her before I met Irene. She was quite looking forward to spending a couple of weeks floating along the Grand Canal in a gondola. My birthday was almost upon me so I very generously asked Irene if she would like to go to Venice with me and she declined. So I understood that the most gentlemanly thing to do was not say anything to Karen, or Irene, as there was no point in upsetting anyone unnecessarily.
Some of you may remember the name, but I was flying with Freddie Laker. Freddie was the fellow who introduced the concept of cheap travel to the UK and I for one was certainly going to available myself of the opportunities it opened up. The return flight was ninety eight pounds per person and I most generously paid for both tickets. I suppose I should have booked a hotel or guest house or something, but these tiny details were always looked after for me by someone else. I’m not talking double top secret cabal here; but between the nuns and the priests, boarding school and then the armed forces, I had never really had to do anything for myself before.
Karen and I flew from Heathrow to Venice and I have to admit she was pretty excited about the upcoming adventure. I however was thinking about our accommodations as she had enquired as to the name of the hotel we would be staying at, and my flight to Venice was spent thinking about this small inconvenience. But I knew everything would sort itself out when we got there. I mean what could possibly go wrong?
Venice mesmerised me. The weather was perfect; there were so many people, both locals and tourists. It was just one huge assault on the senses, the noises, the colours, the smell, and I just don’t mean the tourists. I loved the hustle and bustle and we soon found ourselves in Saint Mark’s square. Karen wanted to check in to our hotel and freshen up, whatever that was, while I was running through my mate Willie Shakespeare’s, Merchant Of Venice. I don’t know why, but occasionally you would see figures, in what I think was historical costumes, move about and for a literature lunatic like myself I was in seventh heaven. Karen of course wanted to be in a hotel room so I decided that I should address that specific problem.
I did as any young gentleman would in such a situation, I telephoned my sister. Luckily Carol was working at a university somewhere in Italy and I asked her for some advice. Most of it I simply cannot repeat here, but one of the things she advised was that we go out to Lido di Jesolo and find some reasonably priced accommodation there as Venice, in her opinion, was one huge tourist rip off. Lido di Jesolo is where Italians stay when visiting Venice. Once settled I should telephone her and await further instructions.
So, I’m sure you all now agree that I have never been in control of my life and that everything has been planned out for me. And again I shall apologise, for I actually captured my Big Stagger on cine film, which is still languishing in the loft. I promise you, I’ll dig them out, have them converted to DVD, and provide even more proof, as if I need to, of the life and times of the world’s leading Master Candle Maker, the High Chief of The Clan O Neill and the true King of Ireland. You can relax now.