Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lost Lives

The historian ATQ Stewart pontificated in his work The Narrow Ground upon the fact that, for all its manifold similarities with other global events, the Ulster problem was just the Ulster problem.

In similar ways if one were to dissect the various factors that have contributed to the current stew of New British life it's so apparent that even one of the six or seven major historical components since 1939 would be enough to disassociate us as a nation from more stable and content liberal democracies on the continent.

Interesting article in today's newspaper in turn with the writer talking wistfully of the sense of irrevocable loss he feels looking at family pictures from the fifties and sixties - grandfather paddling in the sea with his braces on and trousers rolled up, family games of cricket on the beach etc. Ties in with so many feelings I get now when returning to Belfast - the afterglow of terrorism aside its the sheer scale of depopulation that hits me more and more.

Last week I saw the gargantuan scale of the Thompson dry dock where the Titanic was completed. That even outshone the bit of grotty tarmac masquerading as a three pounds a day car park that used to be the world famous Sirrocco works just across from the shipyard.

When I looked at another story today about a woman who had both urinated upon and then committed a sex act at a war memorial - and the view of her boyfriend giving Nazi salutes and shouting IRA slogans at protesting ex-servicemen - it really shines a light on the heart of the matter here in New Britain in my opinion. That essentially when the industrial base of our nation disappeared in the late Seventies and early Eighties we may very well have lost so much more than societal connectivity to our broad cultural heritage.

Indeed we may very well have lost EVERYTHING.