Celtic Illumination, part 147, With muffled drum.
Irene and I seemed to fit each other well, what I mean is that neither of us didn’t feel any compulsion to follow societies norms. It is quite obvious now that as a royal personage I should be the one setting the standards, not following them. I don’t think it even occurred to us that we should have had a honeymoon. It was a good while after we had been married that we decided to have a holiday which, as it was our first as a married couple, could have been referred to as a honeymoon.
We had no one to impress or keep up with, only ourselves to entertain so we decided that we should have a romantic break to Cornwall. The weather was a mixture of rain and sun but I loved it. For a literature lunatic like myself I was in my element. I embraced storms and foul weather and would sit for hours watching the waves and allowing my imagination to wander along the many lanes, cliffs and coves meeting my friends and hero’s, like Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, Billy Bones and dear old Horatio himself. There was an attempt to popularise certain aspects, like pirate themed pubs, but in the more remote areas it was quite perfect, untouched by the tourist coin.
When we got back to Watton I found a note from Jon Hampson asking that I call on him at his house. I did, and the moment Jon answered his door I knew something was up. Jon explained that a phone call had come through and my father was dead. This was a bit of a tricky one for I hadn’t communicated with anyone from my family since I had got married. Now I was expected to return to Ireland and mix with people who would not speak to me. I didn’t really know my father as they kept sending me away to Gaeltachts and boarding schools. On top of that they were always very keen to remind me that they had adopted me so I suppose it wasn’t a normal father son relationship.
I was happy that it was Jon Hampson who had broken the news to me, as he was a close friend, but I understand he was disciplined for this as an officer should have told me. Events seemed to be in control and the RAF had arranged everything for me as in transport and flights back to Belfast so I sort of followed along. It was while I was at Heathrow that I wondered who I could get to pick me up from Aldergrove. I wasn’t sure who in the family was speaking with me so I telephoned a good ol boy, namely Phelim Fegan, and asked if he would pick me up.
It’s an awful thing to admit that you could rely more on your friends than your family but such was the case. The aircraft was half empty and it sort of suited my mood. I wasn’t upset; I think I could safely say that I was numb. It wasn’t the funeral I was worried about but the reception, or lack of it, from the other members of my family. As I came through security at Aldergrove I looked about for the good ol boys. They spotted me first. There was a bar on the second floor and Peter Rogan and Phelim Fegan had settled themselves in for a bit of a session as they waited for me.
Most people may have expected their friends to adopt a sombre mood, given the situation. I was lucky enough to have total madmen for friends as they roared for me to join them, it was my fecking round. I made my way up to the bar to find that they had included me in their session and I now faced a line of half a dozen pints and vodka chasers. I managed to get them to drink a fair share of what they had amassed for me and then went off to find the car. Peter and Phelim were having problems walking so it was decided that I should drive.
We hadn’t got very far out of Aldergrove before we had been stopped by an army check point, and it all started again. “What’s your name?” “Phelim. What’s yours?” “Where do you live?” “Our house. Where do you live?” I brought out my air force identity card and showed it to the soldier. I was immediately waved through. I’m now attacked by Phelim and Peter who both want me to get them ‘one of those things’ as they had never gone through a road check point so fast in all their lives.
The remainder of the journey was uneventful, unless you consider a constant stream of abuse about my driving skills, or lack of them, all the way to Warrenpoint. Luckily Warrenpoint was still quite small and most people knew of each other. When we entered the town I went to drive up the Bridle Loanan and was surprised that the good ol boys were telling me to go in the opposite direction. They were amazed at how stupid I was not remembering that we had moved house. I didn’t have the time, nor the inclination, to tell them that I hadn’t spoken to any member of my family for some time and therefore didn’t know that they had moved house. I kept quiet and got out at the new house.
I could see that the house was full of people so I took a deep breath and went in. Carol was there and was the only person to speak to me. As you may expect she just called me a long list of names and offered insult after insult. How terrible I was turning up smelling of drink, I should have shown some respect. I excused myself and went upstairs where I saw a bedroom with all my furniture so assumed that this would be my room. I closed the door and sat on the bed feeling comfortable amongst all my old things, my pictures and holy statues.
The following day saw the funeral and I went through the motions. The pervert priest officiated at the funeral and I was pleased to see many of my friends in the congregation as I carried the coffin from the church. The solemn mood was broken outside the church when some young fellows shouted “Brit bastard!” at me. I had to smile for there were more members of the IRA inside the church than you could shake a stick at. I was a member of the British armed forces and therefore a Brit. I didn’t know who my biological parents were so was a sort of bastard. As the young fellows were theoretically correct in their choice of insult I didn’t ask that anyone ‘have a word’ with them.
There was a meal afterwards and I again attended, simply going through the motions, but I couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy so left. Luckily Phelim and Peter were in the public bar of the hotel and we escaped to a small bar in Rostrevor, Tinnelly’s. I couldn’t believe the pair of them. Once again I found myself sitting in an IRA pub surrounded by men in black leather jackets wearing dark sunglasses. I didn’t feel uncomfortable as I knew most of the IRA men from Violent Hell.
I decided that I should get back to Watton and asked the chaps if they wouldn’t mind running me up to Aldergrove. Of course it was no problem, so we returned to Warrenpoint where I went in to collect my bag. I liked the new house but did prefer the old one. Carol and my mother were in the living room and the pervert priest was in the kitchen. I could tell from the look on his face that he didn’t want to speak to me, a very Christian attitude, so I went upstairs and threw my stuff into my bag. As I came down all three of them were waiting for me.
Mum placed a suitcase in the centre of the hall and said. “That’s for you.” “Thanks,” I said. “I’m heading back now, the boys are waiting for me.” We simply nodded at each other and I made my way to the front door. “He was asking for you when he died,” said mum, as I opened the door. “Even though you killed him.” “Pardon?” I asked. “The stress you put him under with your heathen marriage killed him,” she said, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Despite the best efforts of Phelim and Peter I remained quiet for most of the journey, showing my identity card as and when required. I asked the good ol boys not to wait with me and waved them off knowing that it would be a very long time before I would be back in Ireland.