A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Troubles

Truth…..Anecdote…..we all have a story. Or Three. Or Four. Just ask my sons. They have had to listen for years to what Daddy did in the War.

In a way, I cant tell the story of Bloody Sunday without telling the story of Bloody Friday. I cant tell the story of the Ballymurphy Massacre without telling the story of Claudy. Or Teebane and Loughinisland. I dont think Truth should be like that.

And I dispute that personal memory is “folk memory”. I prefer to think of History being from the bottom up. If I was running an archive it would be about anecdote but nobody would be allowed to talk about their pain without talking about one other event where they or their side caused the pain. Maybe two for one…..that I can tell the stories of Ballymurphy and Kellys Bar but only by speaking about something which made me uncomfortable or worse. …..Shankill Bomb, Kingsmill. No Whataboutery. Or at least limited Whataboutery.

But a peculiar thing about the Troubles is that we talk about the serious side and end up with the funny side. I must have bee 22 years old when my Auntie Sheila tackled the big Paratrooper telling him “I have every hair on that childs head counted”.

But my mind goes back to a morning at the height of the Troubles. The “Brits” were raiding about 5am ……and it was big raid. Seemed to go on for hours. Actually it did go on for hours……long enough for me to phone my employer to say “I cant make it in today…..security alert” the all purpose excuse for the workshy like myself…..better than any snow day.

Then a very unfortunate thing happened. The “Brits” stopped raiding and left the area. Damn!. If they had stayed maybe half an hour longer, I could have stayed in bed. Talk about “inconsiderate”!

Anyway I got up and dragged myself down to the local black taxi stand. Two in the front and six in the back in those days. So sitting in the back……..in that “whatever you say …..say nothing” mode a man who I considered elderly (he was probably younger than I am now) got in.

“Did you see all that this morning…….British Bastards!” Raided our house…raided every fxxkin’ house in the street. …….looking for…..XXX XXXXXX……hes been staying in XXXXs house………and the Brits show up today. Thats the trouble with this place…..some bastards have been talking too much”.

Er quite. Apologies for the industrial language.

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