I was watching a witless BBC interviewer talking to Dwain Chambers yesterday, after he came fifth in the final of the European Men’s 100 metres. Old Dwain was trying to put the best face he could on his disappointment, saying he’d enjoyed every minute of the Games and it was good to be competing at this level, blah-de-blahety-blah. That’s when the thick-skulled interviewer said ‘So you don’t mind losing?’ For one glorious minute I thought Dwain might take him by the throat but it wasn’t to be.
Now the muscular Dwain isn’t a man you’d normally link with the DUP’s Nelson McCausland but there is a connection – trust me. Earlier yesterday, at lunch-time, we had Nelson visiting the Scoil Samhraidh Mhic Reachtain on the Antrim Road. That’s Nelson the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, who believes that Ulster-Scots is a language, as distinct from Ian Óg Paisley who thinks it’s ‘just bad English’. You’re both wrong, boys, ach sin sceal eile.
I missed Nelson’s little speech to the assembled Summer Schoolers, gathered like myself to learn Irish and other cultural and artistic skills. But I caught the last ten seconds and in it a smiling, affable Nelson told the assembled audience that he was delighted to be there, that he wished the Summer School every success and he was all for ‘such events as this throughout the province’. Just as the moron BBC interviewer felt the need to lob in a dumb and irritating question – ‘So you don’t mind losing?’ – old Nelson felt the need to inform us that he sees Northern Ireland as Ulster and pshaw, those other three little counties, sure they don’t really exist, Ulster we have and Ulster we hold. His audience, a tolerant and generous people, applauded him warmly despite the geographical misnomer. Me, I was wondering what response Martin McGuinness would get if he attended an Orange Order meeting and began talking about the Six Counties. But then, unlike the Scoil Samhraidh Mhic Reachtain, the Orange Order wouldn’t dream of inviting someone whose politics are radically different from theirs, so they’re safe from any such jibe. At the same time, I keep having this image of Dwain getting a headlock on Nelson – I know it makes no sense but I still keep having it. And, I’m ashamed to say, enjoying it.