There was a fitfully funny Belfast comedian called James Young who used to release LPs parodying the politics of the north of Ireland. During the 1970s one of his routines was based on the Norn Iron Tourist Board trying to market the place as a holiday destination. His influence lives on and not just among those comedians who think anything said in a strong Belfast accent is pure comic gold.
The following comes from the helpful hints section of Belfast City Council’s brochure for this year’s Orangefest:
“Please don’t walk through the procession whilst it’s in progress. If you would like to cross through just ask a marshall who’d be happy to advise when it’s safe to do so.”
I tried this once many years ago and it was the only time in my life I’d ever been relieved to have the RUC close to hand. There is no greater insult to the dignity of Orangefest than trying to get from one side of the road to the other when the brethren are marching down it and they preserve its majesty by pummelling anyone insouciant enough to try. That’s the sort of minor detail that’s going to stop it becoming a serious competitor to the Notting Hill or Rio carnivals. There are many others.