Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Another year, another Honours List. It’s like a kind of mating call that goes out annually from Buckingham Palace , summoning to service pliant subjects who then hurry to the lawns of Buck House and do the needful. Strong Labour men and women, who’ve preached the gospel of equality and class solidarity for a lifetime, trot forward to grab the broken bits of mirror and the cheapo glass beads. Companion of the British Empire, Order of the British Empire, Order of the Bath? Oh, be still my beating heart! Well yes I did spend a lifetime preaching that imperialism was abhorrent and that the British people had much, historically, to answer for – but look, this’ll get me to the garden party and I’ll be able to take the wife and put the letters after my name when I sign into a hotel! … In this little north-eastern corner, of course, unionists respond with retriever-like rapidity to the call of their sovereign – as do people who would describe themselves as nationalist. I’ll have to kneel before the monarch? I’ll have to back out of the room in case the sight of my arse would give offence to HM? No problemo. I’ll walk on my hands and knees if that’s what’s required. Sure all this oul’ nonsense about England and Ireland and being a subject or being a citizen, being ruled by Britain or ruled by ourselves – the whole thing’s a cod. It’s my firm belief that these nice letters after my name will do more to hasten the day of Irish unity than thirty years of political violence. Remind me to explain it all to you sometime.