Sunday 14 June 2015

Last Sunday was not a day for murder, yet I managed it...

Last Sunday was not a day for killing. Not a day for violence. A peaceful Summer Sunday that was not crying out for murder. Last Sunday did not want its air ripped asunder by the crashing roar of destruction.

The sun was shining bright through the edges of my bedroom blinds and as I rolled them up I saw that the gravel on the drive was dry.

A perfect morning to mow the lawn. The sooner I get it done the sooner my voluptuous backside can be melding with my living room chair.

There was Ireland v England on the telebox at 1:00 and I wasn’t going to miss it. Equally, I suspected I was unlikely to enjoy it. For once the football was secondary. As long as the day passed without riots, injury or ignorant behaviour all would be good ... and that was just the players.

But seriously folks, it’s great to be able to offer that quip. Both nations and their people have moved on since the debacle of 20 years ago.

Admittedly, this time both FAs and police forces worked closely together, so as not to get caught out like last time. Sadly, it’s impossible to believe that the ignorant fascists of England's extreme Right have all disappeared, just as it is now thankfully wholly plausible to expect them to be known to and forbidden by the relevant security forces.

Of course there was a bit of whistling during God Save the Queen, but it was as likely from any lovers of rousing anthems as a Republican faction. Beyond that the whole affair was benign and wonderfully boring.

Were it an important competitive game I’d have to support the English, but on that sunny Sunday I didn’t give a damn. I was curious to see how the England team played, and watch every game both teams play as a matter of course. In any other fixture I’d support the Boys in Green, such is my love and affection for this country, but last Sunday?

Last Sunday I was on the side of peace.

As they say in football, at the end of the day the best team won. A goalless draw in which the Irish showed more desire and urgency, the English more poise, lovely jubbly, keep it calm.

No need for madness, not today.

A 5 year-old french oak grown from a twig in a 4-inch pot 
and the the lovely calla lily, 3 years old this year...

20 years ago there were bigots and bastards. There was a game cancelled and a host of people injured. I was at that time sitting at the bar of a pub in Dundalk. Given that I was with a friend who was attending a Sinn Fein meeting in the pub’s back room, I reckoned it was pretty safe to assume that I was the only England fan in that pub that night. 

So just for the craic, to make my life harder but allow me the chance of openly supporting my own team, I raised my arms to the lads before kick-off:

“Old Oppressor over here! England fan at the bar! Come on lads, give me your worst!”

Something like a firebreak, my little attack on myself seemed to temper the verbal assaults I received that evening, and when the riot broke out in the stadium I felt so very sad; deeply embarrassed; pained.

As an Englishman who has lived more of his adult life out of his native country than in it, I’ve become used to bearing the cross of the British Empire, finding myself on innumerable occasions repeating:

“It wasn’t me. I wasn’t there.”

After years of such defensive behaviour I’ve ended up creating something of an infantile reaction, whereby I’m actually more proud of being English than I would be if I was living in England.

But not that night, in that pub in Dundalk.

That night I watched Englishmen behaving like ignorant fools and I saw Republican Irishmen casting concerned glances in my direction, as they watched and understood the agony I was enduring.

As ever, it was with wit that we all recovered from our anger. A longhair around the other side of the bar suddenly yelled out:

“Ah, that’ll be it. That’ll be the front page headline of the Sun tomorrow then lads: ‘IRA THUGS DRESS UP AS ENGLAND FANS!’

We all roared with laughter, because like all good jokes it had a seam of truth running through it. Rescued from my masochistic reverie I protested to myself just as I had in the past to others: it wasn’t me. I wasn't there.

Last Sunday felt a million years and several continents from that night, save for the fact that I still watch football.

It was not a day for destruction. Yet there was murder. There was pure carnage and I was the deliverer of the killings, the perpetrator of the crimes.

After the recent winds that howled and rains that fell, the daisies and buttercups had grown unmown for weeks, forming a heart-stoppingly wondrous carpet of colour and life all over our lawn. 
 ... here come the foxgloves...

As I shattered the divine silence of last Sunday morning, donning my noise-reducing headphones so as not to suffer the sound of metal and combustion that others now had to, I realised how incredibly easy it was going to be to see where I had mowed.

The machine laid bare a blank canvas of killing. All the daisies and buttercups disappeared, agents of their own death, by virtue of their prolific beauty.

If only they had grown in irregular places, some might have survived, but instead it was like stripping paint.

So easy to see, not one inch of them would live beyond my rush to mow, to sit and bite my fingernails as two nations I love go to battle once again.

I wanted a day of peace and sunshine, a football match that passed without incident and I did not want to spoil it, so I made an offering to universe, my own plea for peace. There is now a small smiled-shaped clump of long grass and daisies left on my lawn.

©Charlie Adley

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