How could these stories not leave the listener affected? At every stop on our way around the tunnels and underground platforms Paul informed us not only of the stories of the places and the events, but of the people – the ordinary working people of Glasgow, the ordinary working people of the Highlands who came, cleared from their homes, to work in the city, and the ordinary people of Scotland and elsewhere who passed through the station.
It would be all too easy for me to sit back here in Dublin and comment on social media that this is what’s needed, expecting someone else to answer the call and hit the road. But that would make me part of the problem, another keyboard worrier unwilling to actually act. I don’t want to be that person and I know I don’t need permission: If not me, then who? If not now, then when? So, I have determined to hit the road – to do what I can do to convince people the time is short, to empower people to get back into formation, and to persuade others to do the same.
Why, for example, would a people so utterly besotted with sugar and fatty foods – as many Scots have been (myself included) – reckon that only millionaires would slap a layer of caramel and chocolate atop their shortbread?
Today, leaving Ireland, for the first time I feel like I am leaving home and as I was looking back over the waves and the rises of Carrickfergus I found myself longing to turn back. In a few more years I will have lived in Ireland for as long as I have ever lived in Scotland, and I can’t see me returning home before that Rubicon has been crossed.
Well it’s that time again. It’s the day before the day before Christmas Eve and every diaspora is on the move, like Mary and Joseph of old, back to the homeland. I’ll spend the day packing and doing a bit of hectic last minute shopping and gift deliveries (and pet deliveries) before setting off across the sea to Scotland.
We’re not talking about the merely well-off, the comfortable, or the rich here; we’re talking of the grade of wealth that is stratospheres beyond earning potential, the sort of inherited wealth and power that comes from vast estates and the crème of imperial spoils.
Without a valid passport or any other form of photographic identification, I travelled from Dublin to Brussels. I made the journey by coach because neither Ryanair nor Aer Lingus would permit me to travel with an expired passport, and unable to wait for a new one to be sent to me I made the decision to take the bus.
Remembrance is the lifeblood of modern Ypres. Every night of the week military and paramilitary style bands flock to the Menin Gate to pay homage to the dead. In many respects this is a noble gesture, and few can pause beneath the lists of the butchered engraved on the panels of the gate and be unmoved by the scale of the slaughter.