Before the six counties of Northern Island
had civil rights, when some subjects had two votes
and some had none, and our constitution
permitted such injustice, I was woken,
in my third floor student digs on Newsham Drive,
Liverpool, early one summer Saturday
by pipes and drums and accordions.
The city’s Orange Lodges were having
their family day out in Newsham Park –
more than ninety Lodges each with a band
of swagger and lilt: ‘The Sash My Father Wore’,
‘The Orange Maid Of Sligo’. By mid-day
children and wives were picnicking round the Parks’
two boating lakes – the bandsmen aleing
in and outside pubs along West Derby Road.
Through the afternoon there were intermittent
outbreaks of song: ‘…the shutting of the gates…’,
‘…when you’re marching down the Shankill…’. Later
the soft night swooned with swaying revels, stray notes,
oaths, and the hollow noise of empty bottles
rolling on pavements.