For some time now, with the media barred from entry, people have been wondering what happened when hundreds of loyalists and key unionist figures such as Nigel Dodds and Rev Mervyn Gibson met in the Ulster Hall. Fortunately, one of my friends is a master of disguise and managed to penetrate the gathering, dressed as King William of Orange. He told me later that the adhesive keeping his head of curls in place ached terribly throughout, but this was balanced by the thrill of his form-hugging white tights.
The meeting, he said, was called to order by Rev Mervyn Gibson:
“O God, we know you are an avenging God, and will look with favour on all gathered here, who seek no more than to have our revenge on Boris Johnson and all the other scum who want to divide us from the mainland. O God we know you need our help. We must never be like the woman who prayed to God week after week that she’d win the lottery, until she heard the voice of the Almighty himself: “Work with me here: buy a ticket.” So with your help, friends, and with God’s help, we will have our revenge on that father of lies Boris Johnson. Our MPs if elected will confront him with his misdeeds and end his days as Prime Minister and the Whore of Babylon”.
My disguised friend tells me that at this point a youthful voice with a lisp was heard shouting: “ For fugh’th thake – that would leave uth with Jeremy Corbyn! He wath on the IRA Army Counthil!”
There followed a lot of shouting and counter-shouting from groups throughout the Ulster Hall,some in favour of the lisping person, some against, until a plump but authoritative figure mounted the stage:
“Friends, you all know me. You don’t need me to tell you I’m Nigel Dodds. We face a mammoth task. My experience of working with the Conservatives is that they are at heart unionists like ourselves. Yes, you get the odd rotten apple who says one thing and does the opposite, like Boris Johnson and everyone in the ERG. But believe me, friends, many Tories – the majority – have nothing but goodwill for us. If we send a strong team of DUP MPs to Westminster, with God’s grace we will defeat the hellish plans of Johnson and his pals!”
At that point there were several shouts from the audience, with my man William of Orange able to decipher just two: “Jacob-Rees Mogg is a Taig!” and someone else replying “So is John Finucane!” He thought the second comment might have come from Sammy Wilson, although he couldn’t be sure since there was a lot of people in the group overweight and with red cheeks. “Go to the chippy!” someone else shouted and the audience laughed for a full minute and good humour was restored.
“Now, friends, you know that John Finucane is intent on mortally wounding unionism and has offered personally to help build the border in the Irish Sea.”
There were shouts of “No surrender!” and “Finucane’s only a piss artist!” which drew more applause and laughter.
Nigel Dodds called for order and said “I have just one question for you here tonight, friends.Will you vote for me on Thursday and put that leg-cocking Finucane back in his kennel?” There was a roar from all assembled of “Yes we will, Nigel!” One small voice that appeared to come from a bewildered-looking clergyman with a Londonderry accent called “But what if we don’t live in your constituency, Nigel?”
“What’th that got to do with anything?” a lisping voice shouted , and the Hall erupted in laughter.
“These are dangerous time, friends” Nigel told them, calling for quiet. “Let’s focus on the truly crucial. On Thursday 12, remember to vote for your DUP candidate, especially if you live in North Belfast!.
“And even you don’t – you can thtill vote for Nigel!” came the lightning reply.
“ One last thing” Nigel called, as the laughter subsided. “I want to distance myself from the canvasser who mocked a person in my constituency whose home was attacked. This a terrible way to treat another human being.”
“Except this one was a rat!” shouted someone in the audience. There was then a spontaneous outburst of ‘The Sash’ in which everyone joined, and they’d moved on to ‘The Oul’ Orange Flute’ when someone yelled that the pubs would be closing in just over two hours’ time. There was a mad rush for the door in which three women dressed as Orange Lily suffered minor injuries.
My spy, William of Orange, made his excuses and left.
“It was awful” he told me, shaking his head as he set his ringletted wig on the kitchen table. “I was pinched by three women, and one man whispered that he’d always liked curly-headed boys and would I like to go back to his place?”
“How did you get away in the end?” I asked.
“I made my excuses and left” he said, peeling off his tights.