Recently my friend , Dingle, took me to see my first rugger match at the fortress of Ravenhill.
There we met Dingle’s friend, called Alec Adoo, who is passionate about rugby union and helps out at his club, removing the corner flags and clearing up vomit.
There were many people at this great venue and at the start they all sang “stand up for the Ulstermen”. This song has no more words than the one sung by the white men at Twickenham. Then a pretend person , called Sparky, danced. There is a rumour that inside is a retired judge.
The first half was most exciting and the crowd was especially pleased when violence was at its peak. Alec Adoo shouted things like “get stuck into him” and “bury him”.
At half time we visited the Tent of Entertainment. The large and hearty men who were there all seemed to know each other. I asked Dingle to explain. He said that they had been pupils at about six Ulster schools. I asked Dingle did that mean that they ruled the province. He said that while they were all the sons of great cattle owners and growers of crops, they preferred to be doctors, dentists, bankers , headmasters and such like. He said that ruling was beneath them and very messy. It was left to quacks and witch doctors.
Many pints were drunk and spilled at half time.
In the second half, Alec was much quieter and the game was won by Ulster without his encouragement. Sparky clapped and the crowd sang their song again.
After the match, we went to Dingle’s favourite pub, named after Chelsea football team. There we met his lawyer friends.
What a sad bunch of fellows! They made no jokes and sang no songs. They were morose. Several told me that “it was all shite”. Many said that they can no longer afford homes in three lands and that their wives are displeased at the lack of new beads and have withdrawn conjugal permissions. It seems that a great economic drought has struck the lawyers, like a plague of locusts. It was a sorry sight to see these great legal warriors in such melancholy. But as I heard that immense jurist Lord Justice Weir say; “the days of wine and roses are over at the Bar”.
I digress from my sporting theme. It was good to see that , as in my country, young males are blooded by watching such violent rituals. They are given a special place, by the pitch, so that they can observe the finer points up close. As they grow up, Dingle tells me, their mothers will come to observe them playing rugger and exhort them to do great violence to the opposite chaps.
This would have been great preparation for Empire, when they became officers in regiments which came and mowed down my ancestors but was it relevant in the modern world I asked Dingle.
“No Surrender” , he said. This is the first time I have heard this expression.
“If you stay much longer it won’t be your last”, he said with a knowing smile.