I know, I’ve already hinted at this somewhere before, but let’s face it ,the way things are going in Northern Ireland , it could easily become an ongoing series, like a syndicated comic strip.If I pop my clogs , maybe some  other creator can take up the torch and roll out a few more ideas on to the twenty first century. We might get something sorted before the year  3,000, eh?

I think we’ve established beyond all doubt that our local politicians may individually be very nice lads or otherwise, but what they are not overflowing with, sad to say, is creative juice. I think we get the picture now .There.’s not going to be a “Great Moment” when they astound us with their  creative thinking .There’s going to be no Albert  Einstein, no Frank Lloyd Wright. We are not going to get a Buckminster Fuller  surge of  political or social creative thinking in Northern Ireland anytime soon. It’s going to be prevarication and lightly coddled mayhem in ever decreasing circles.

It’s with that sense of civic responsibility that I think it’s time to unveil another potential solution to our “Marching Season” problems. Remember that kite I flew several months ago about maybe building a “Marching Stadium”. The idea was to take the “heat” off the streets and therefore police the day’s events more precisely and safely ..and to give everybody’s head a bit of peace . ? Remember that?

Well , I  know some of you wise- acres out there thought it merited deep thought until next Tuesday and some of you quibbled that it should be called a “Walking Stadium”, because it was somehow almost blasphemous to call “walking”, “marching” or vice versa.. Semantics , you see.Lots of argument about the colour it should be painted, no doubt ; whether the” Cacklicks” should pay as much in their taxes as their Prod” neighbours as it wasn’t such a Big Deal for them anyway. Then there was the Awkward Squad who thought the whole thing should be banned and there should be martial law and complete lockdown on the streets  from just after Wimbleton Fortnight until  Halloween. That kite was fairly peppered with buckshot alright.

The figures for costs and the like for hosting this annual marching  jamboree are a bit vague , but some amazing money has been mentioned .It’s the kind of cash that could sustain a Third World country or at least provide clean drinking water for a lot of unfortunates. It’s being used to help the men and women  of our esteemed police force to add that new sun-room to their bungalows or at least take them all to Florida for their holidays…just like their mums and dads made a fortune during theTroubles. Security….It was called a “Cash Cow” back then and now that we are in peacetime , we really could put all that cash to better use.

 You didn’t feel the time was right for a stadium, okay.Maybe that was a bit radical , but we’re heading in a trajectory for Groundhog Day again and nobody has had any other ideas. {It’s so lonely , in here!}

What about annually transforming every contentious marching/walking route  into a “Funfair  Road” . it would work like one of those “Pop up Shops” or “Pop up Galleries” that have been so popular lately .In this case , all we have to do is hire fun- fair experts such as …”Barry’s of Portrush “….or maybe “Duffy’s Circus” would be available….

 You get the idea?The  “traditional route” could be transformed for a week or so into  a beautiful inviting  thrill ride. Anyone entering the route would be guaranteed a Magical Mystery tour of splendiferus thrills, spills and sunny gaiety .Each year could have a theme  …like Paddy’s Day  except in the sunshine and without the serious drinking…….and, crucially , all the locals would have input .There would also be catering and concessions.There would be local barkers and stewarts hired .It would work like those great old summer “fruitpicking”  or “Kentish hop picking” jobs of yore . Anyone working would take a “sickie” to work the rides and make a double- whammy wage. Meanwhile our marching friends would be welcomed with open arms {and wallets} and swept up in the undoubted hospitality that the residents would invite them into.

How could it miss ? It could be subsidised with all that saved money.We could then still have our Free Prescriptions and our Cancer drugs without making any cuts.It would get old Pootsie off the hook too. It would make a self-sustaining  annual wage every year  to boot and take the sting out the Marching Season.Everyone would win . Maybe the “Marching Standium ” was a bit isolating for some of you but I always thought it worked okay for music fans and their differing tastes …..

This would be more inclusive….Our marching friends who just have to get down that road, {Well…it takes all sorts}….would have a surprise every year. Light shows. Tunnels of Orange/Green love. water chutes and flumes  to cool the tempers  and ice -cream and candyfloss galore… There’s all that great CGi technology to tap into for schemas..

The police mightn’t like i,t as it will sadly cut into their annual overtime, but a little sacrifice for the common good might put a smile on our dour Northern faces for a change.

What’s not to  like?

20 Responses to THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX PART 2 – by Harry McAvinchey

  1. NorthMunsterman June 25, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    One marching day per year per community – unionist and Nationalist.
    Any Group which breaks the ban gets fined 1m EURO + any additional costs/damages..

    Way to go.

  2. John Connor June 25, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    You know, if the bands themselves, not just the OO were to pay for their uniforms, damages and policing costs, wouldn’t that go along way in forcing them to behave? Why hadn’t this been done? Think it was mentioned in the Haass talks but obviously Unionists weren’t happy with compromise, what to do.

  3. ben madigan June 25, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Paddy I have one suggestion to make:
    What about a Civic parade preceding each OO march/walk – upfront right before the Orangemen –
    All sorts of civic associations – police, fire, ambulance, land-sea rescue services, sports clubs, school children, Brownies, Girl Guides, charities, social workers, and so on and so forth – colourful costumes, happy. foot-tapping music of all sorts (policemen and women walzing along the route, golf club members tango-ing along, GAA members hurling their way along, Balloons and streamers galore,
    Put a time limit on – so the Civic parade is finished before the rear guard OO men can get started or make the OO quick, quick march 8 abreast to get finished in time (none of the dreary 2 single files shambling along to stretch things out).

    2) We need to get some basic information and move on from that.
    What’s a parade? Why are OO marches/walks called “Parades”?

    According to the Oxford Dictionary a parade is
    1)A public procession celebrating a special day or event:e.g.a St George’s Day parade
    the festival began with a parade of the competitors

    NB 1 day only , 1 parade only. Non-applicable to the OO.

    2)A formal march or gathering of troops for inspection or display:a military parade – the men massed for parade
    NB – Non- applicable to the OO. Illegal unless involving the real Armed Forces which the OO are not

    3) A series of people or things appearing or being displayed one after the other:e.g.
    the parade of Hollywood celebrities who troop on to his show

    NB – Non- applicable to the OO

    4) A boastful or ostentatious display: e.g.
    a pompous parade of erudition
    NB- Possible designation if we accept the the example “a pompous parade of sectarianism”

    Perhaps if we ask the OO which box they would care to tick we could work out how to fit them into modern life in NI

    • paddykool June 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

      Now you’re getting the idea , Ben! Where are our politicians’ Thinking Caps”? This marching is serious business.. It needs some serious thought and some serious solutions. It needs to pay for itself too..Let’s see some radical thinking out there.

  4. Malachy O Neill June 25, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Why not have a multipurpose stadium, with fantastic transport links. It could be used to hold pop concerts, marching/walking competitions, soccerball and even GAA events.

  5. morpheus June 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    The answer is simple….

    Ten million billion people – or whatever the latest OO stats are – do not go out on the 12th to support the old men in bowler hats with ceremonial swords. Our Protestant friends, family and colleagues have turned away from that organisation in their droves and as a result it is thankfully dieing on it’s arse. Instead our Protestant friends, family and colleagues go out in their droves for the music, the bands, the spectacle, the pageantry – and I dare say the Catholic population would join in too for the same reasons if the sting was taken out of the whole thing so my suggestion is this:

    Every 12th why don’t the bands come together and rent a massive field, a-la-Glastonbury? They could charge a nominal entrance fee to cover costs and then set up stages, stalls and marquees to highlight local music, products, food, services and charities. With politics thrown out the window and the OO’s anti-catholic rhetoric a safe distance away all the bands could have competitions and play for the families who want to enjoy the music with a summer picnic in a safe, stewarded environment.

    Maybe they could hold it out of Belfast and close to the international airport. Somewhere near the motorway networks and – most importantly – within walking distance of a railway station so people from all over Northern Ireland can get there relatively easily.

    I think this could accomplish several things:
    • The 12th can turn into a family day
    • The bands are highlighted around the world for their music
    • The hard work of the band’s volunteers – who are keeping the kids off the streets – is showcased
    • Northern Ireland doesn’t come to a standstill
    • It can be policed much easier by the PSNI
    • No more flashpoints
    • Everyone can get on with their lives knowing they have a choice of going to the event or not
    • Northern Ireland is presented in a positive light in the world’s media
    • Tourists will come and spend their money in Northern Ireland helping our economy

    Maybe even in a few short years a Catholic or two may venture in for the music then bands could come from ROI, Scotland, England etc. for the competitions and before you know the people of Northern Ireland have and a cultural event we can all call our own

  6. RJC June 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    That’s far too sensible Morpheus. Protestant culture is being eroded don’t you see. NO SURRENDER!!!

    • paddykool June 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Hang on guys . Morpheus….that was” Last Year’s Big Idea”….all that Glasto vibe and that , with proper security and policing away from the streets…. …Remember ?….the Marching Stadium?… Remember ?.I brought that up last year……I laid it all out in great detail and it was thrown out of class.. They’re not going to look at that one again for another ten years or so ….this is the New Big Idea……C’mon now… KEEP UP!

  7. paddykool June 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    P.S. I think I said they could keep that anti-catholic vibe if they needed to get that stuff off their collective chests. It would be better than therapy and no one else would hear them , anyway unless they’d bought their ticket….Oh and bonfires would be optional too..

  8. morpheus June 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    That idea was copied from a post of mine on the BT forum from 93 weeks ago Paddy – so who should keep up? 🙂

  9. paddykool June 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    morpheus ; afraid not old son . That idea’s been rattling around in my addled brain for many more years than that I would say it’s been a stoned rant for some thirty odd years and more …going right back to my observations at various rock festivals . Not that i want copyright or anything morpheus …only too glad if they took it up ….but like i sad…. that was last year’s Big Idea” …This is the new one ….what’s next?

  10. paddykool June 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    PS .. morpheus…..what’s the “BT forum” when it’s at home?….. I seriously have not a notion…British Telecom?,,…..Burnt Toast? …Bloody Tortoises? Britvic Tonic?….nope?

  11. morpheus June 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Belfast Telegraph 🙂 Used to be good – gone to crap now that they changed it, ripped the arse clean out of it.

    I will bow to your 30 years of experience on our Orangebury event – maybe great minds like alike.

    This year’s big ideas are:

    1. make each and every band/lodge who wants to parade fill out their own 11/1, complete with names of those who will be up on charges if things go belly up – watch how quickly the trouble makers are shown the door

    2. make each and every band/lodge who wants to parade pay a deposit which is refundable if things go peacefully and legally – watch how quickly the trouble makers are shown the door

    • paddykool June 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      Aaah the Tele !! I’m afraid I haven’t read that in years … Great minds then, I’ll go with that …. We just need another few thousand with a bit of imagination, morph. yes , i think we should reduce this whole marching thing to the pros and cons of economics and good sense..
      I’d like to see us all lightening up a bit too. If we’re ever going to be a “united ” community in any sense …even before we talk about united countries …, we’d need a bit of a laugh now and again .We only go through this way once so we’d need to realise damn quick how absurd we really are. I like the idea of injecting a bit of a laugh into it all. i think that’ll upset the po-faced brigade even more than a kick on the shins…..

  12. drmtstbgn June 26, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Guys, I think you are missing the most important aspect of orangism. If this festival was relocated to a field, which I don’t believe it will ever be, it would fade away very quickly. The entire raisin d’être for marching is to display in front of the other side. As loud and offensive as possible. Now there may be some of the more rural brethren who have a less abrasive attitude than their urban counterparts, but the order from its existence has thrived on antagonism, division and controversy. These elements are the lifeblood of the organisation. Without displays of supremacism, triumphalism and overt sectarianism, the purpose of the order would cease to be. Because of the one-party system in place here with the Orange Order having such a position in society, they have been able to walk were they wanted. This has been turned into “tradition” as after so many years of unfettered access to walk the roads, the modern Orangeman in the shape of the DUP’s William Humphries now sees it as his human right to march along these roads. Not for republicans though. Maybe, they are not as human as he is.
    I would love to see a moratorium on this type of behaviour but can’t see it happening any time soon. The unionists are not willing to budge sadly. I believe, although am open to correction, that marching was suspended during the forties as it wouldn’t be seemly to be engaging in militaristic demonstrations while not volunteering to take on the Nazis. Loyalty only stretches so far it appears.

    • paddykool June 26, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      So laughing at them won’t work then?…

      That’s why the proposal this year is to laugh with them. If they are really intent on getting down that” traditional route”…the idea is to drop that pop-up funfair right there , slap bang, dunk onto the route for the required length of time and make anyone who wants to negotiate it have all the fun of the fair/assault course in doing just that.

      For god’s sake we’ve had road works holding up roads for longer than that ..!…now there’s another idea for Next Year’s Big Idea…just popped into my fevered brain….A Permanent Road Works Scenario On Any Dodgy Traditional Routes..

      ..Maybe Jude’ll remind me to bring that one up in 12 months time …. It’ll take two men digging a Big Hole across the road and stopping for a nice cup of tea every five minutes. …A little workman’s hut …a kettle …endless quantities of good old Builder’s Tea…..Cheap as Chips….Traditional route ,me arse!!.

      • RJC June 26, 2014 at 11:47 am #

        There’s definitely something to be said for pointing and laughing. Subversion and creative protest. The emperor has no clothes.

  13. ben madigan June 26, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    paddy – The roadworks scheme had crossed my mind too. but then I thought -Nah, not a hope!!
    Just think of the benefits – new surfaces, no potholes, perfect white and yellow lines,top level signage, work opportunities for surveyers, paint firms, road workers, sign-makers – all done when most people are on holiday. ODC (ordinary decent citizens) come home to perfect roads and streets!
    Admittedly at a little inconvenience to those who insist on walking/marching along the Queen’s Highway –

    Please remember- note to all – we can no longer use the verb “to parade” unless we know what option the Orange Order chooses from those offered by the Oxford Dictionary!

    While the roadworks are on-going, surely an isolated stretch of road that nobody ever uses anymore could be designated the Queen’s Highway where the orange order could march/walk to their heart’s content and whoever wants can go and watch them.

    Another tourist attraction – tickets to be sold – hot dog stands, candyfloss, cuppa tae! Can’t you just the Japanese and the Americans
    “Say, Hank, what are they doin’ heah?”

  14. ben madigan June 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    sorry – verb missing in last sentence!

    Can’t you just hear the Japanese and the Americans
    “Say, Hank, what are they doin’ heah?”

    • paddykool June 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      Never mind the verbs ..Ben …i think we’re getting out of that damn box!!!…we only need a bit more help and we’re off!!….we’ll leave all these mad bastards in our dust…c’mon now…1…2…3…push!!!!