Well, it’s July, so it’s July Holiday time, and back to wee Northern Ireland.
July is probably my most family of months. For a start, it’s Da’s birthday on Bastille Day (that’s the 14th of July for those of you Francophobes), and this year it’s touching 59 for the first time. It’s funny, Dad has always been Dad… he works, he goes over the fields to hunt, he digs in the garden, he enjoys his football… but perhaps this year, for the first time ever, I’ve actually considered his age. 59 is middle aged IMHO… but it’s only one short of 60. That’s a bigger age… and whilst I understand that there’s only one year of difference, suddenly it’s a big age.
But don’t worry Da, I don’t expect you to start slowing down over night and forgetting where you put your glasses… it is just that it’s a milestone. I remember for Da’s 55th birthday, I asked him about the single most important global event of his life time. For him, it was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which he said "up until that point, you really did think that nukes were going to fall out of the sky." That’s pretty interesting, given that I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall on TV, and I also know that in the years before that, NI wasn’t a safe place to be.
As well as Da’s Birthday, July is also the parade season, and on the 12th is the annual celebration of the Battle of the Boyne. Now, the 12th has a repuation for being a trouble day. It has a repuation for being not so friendly or welcoming. Yet for me, down in Fermanagh, it’s always been a family day. I’ll see all my grandparents, I’ll see all my aunts & uncles, and I’ll probably see most of my cousins. I’ll see ones I’ve not seen since the last parade, or in some cases since school. Fermanagh is a small place, so most of the county will come out to watch or take part… the chatting will be fierce. The weather, the farming, the job, the quality of the burgers, the din of the pipes, the chirpiness of the accordians… the last 12 months, and of course, mention of the receding hairline or increasing waistline will all get mentioned!!
I hate that in the more urban areas, the parades are viewed as something sinister… I can understand why though, as people have abused their positions to use it as a chance to mark territory or gloat. That’s really sad. Down our way, pretty much everyone will have a nosey, whether part of the event or merely in the place at the time. Neighbours will talk to each other about it, regardless of their views on it. It’s what I would call stress free.
Diversity is not about stopping one person or another from doing their thing… it’s about allowing them to do their thing without creating a fuss, as long as their thing is decent and unharming. You don’t always have to take an interest, nor even approve, but sometimes, just letting people be people is a big step in being able to live beside each other & remember that it’s OUR place together, regardless of labels & ideologies.
This year, as our local parade is in Lisbellaw, it’s an after BBQ at the Grandparents place with all the Hetherington aunts & uncles. No doubt there’ll be pictures and chat of what’s going on since the Wedding of my brother… I may even get to see my speech on the wedding video!! Who knows!! In the evening, there’s a catch up at the house with all the lads & lassies we ran about with as kids… it’s sort of an annual event since we all became too old to run about (somewhere about 25 in my case)!!
It’s been a busy wee break, with Dinner with the family on Friday. Catching up with Uni friends Nicola, James & Baby Chole in Kilkeel and Catherine & Louise in Belfast. Catching up with the Neighbours & Granny Armstrong today before the parades on Monday & back to porridge on Tuesday.
And of course, like all good things, it’ll come to a quick end as I’ll travel back to England on Tuesday night before travelling to India on Wednesday morning. It’ll be a quick break in before heading off to Delhi on Sunday evening for a few days. Delhi is some spot… very warm, but very dry. It was 45 degrees and 18% humidity the first time I went. It was really quite nice. I thought it would hurt more, but actually, it was pretty pleasant. I’m not saying I’d want to spend all day in it, but it certainly wasn’t nasty or anything.
Mumbai on the other hand is in Monsoon… the rains are pretty heavy this year, but as with last year, pretty sporadic. It’ll be interesting to see how I cope when I get back.
Anyways, whatever your doing, have a happy & a family friendly July.