Roundheads up against it
IT'S BEEN a thin time for Britain's Roundheads. This week Queen Elizabeth was a central figure in what was not just poignant drama but a diplomatic exercise with the most profound implications for Anglo-Irish relations.
When she shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland coalition and a former commander in the Irish Republican Army, this was the real deal in terms of reconciliation and new beginnings.
The IRA murdered Lord Louis Mountbatten, her much-loved second cousin who was also uncle to Prince Phillip. McGuinness could no doubt point to all kinds of British atrocities over the centuries. Yet they shook hands.
This follows Queen Elizabeth's highly successful state visit to the Republic of Ireland last year, where the crowds turned out in their thousands. Something very positive is unfolding here.
The Roundheads notably those of the chattering classes - appear to have been discomfited by the degree of public enthusiasm in Britain for Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee. But can they name any individual from the political classes of whatever party who could have played anything like the role the Queen has in restoring Anglo-Irish relations?
MEANWHILE, Private Eye magazine has a little fun with the chattering classes. "Britain salutes a national icon of dedication and service," declares a headline under a mock-up of the masthead of the Guardian. Inset is a figure waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
"For 60 years, this increasingly frail and isolated old lady has shown the people of Britain what it means to devote your life single-mindedly to public service and the good of humanity She is there to remind us all that we are one nation united in our support for the Labour Party, our contempt for the Monarchy and our firm conviction in everything that she and the Guardian stand for Never again will we see another Polly Toynbee."
Polly Toynbee is of course the veteran Guardian columnist and anti-establishment chatterer. The waving balcony figure is a photoshop job Polly Toynbee.
Yes, a bad time for the Roundheads.
Mick's Pie Cart
RECENT mention of Mick's Pie Cart, the late-night diner that used to operate from a spot near the old station, has triggered memories for 84-year-old Arthur Wilkinson, of Hillcrest.
In the 1944 matric class at DHS, he sat beside Mark Rathbone who became a good friend. Mark's father owned Mick's Pie Cart, which was housed in a large garage in a lane off Stanger Street.
"In late afternoon the staff would arrive and push the cart out of the garage and along Pine Street to its site near the old railway station. The Manager of the cart was named Digger and he regaled patrons with amusing stories while he served up fried eggs, hash, sausages and of course the soup sandwich.
"The cart would stay open until the early hours of the morning, its clientele being revellers on their way home after cinema shows, dances, and parties. They were joined also by patrons leaving the Railway Institute across the road in Pine Street."
Yep, them were the days.
MILITARY historian Peter Quantrill notes that in this week's piece on the deployment of field marshals, generals and major-generals on the police beats, I omitted the rank of lieutenant general
"Lieutenant generals outrank major generals. And when they reach that rank they are generally knighted.
"So - staying with the Gilbert & Sullivan theme - on the beat, fighting crime with baton to hand, strolling down Mahatma Gandhi Road on his own, we have Lieutenant General Sir Whatever Whatever, the very model of a modern, knighted lieutenant general."
THE IDLER'S famous July Beans will be back in action next week. They have been planted one for each horse in the race in the kind of lab set-up in which beans sprout and flourish, and their progress, day by day, will infallibly predict the race.
I hate to steal Greyville's thunder but this is actually more exciting than the July Handicap itself. And this year there will be a daily photograph of how the beans are doing. Great value!
Golfer: "Please stop checking your watch all the time. It's a distraction."
Caddie: "It's not a watch, sir - it's a compass."
Rules are just helpful guidelines for stupid people who can't make up their own minds.