Brought up in the UK and still remembering as a child the days of the old valve wirelesses, ever tuned the ‘Light Programme’ which took time to warm up, hummed a great deal and slowly increased volume, so much nicer than the brash vulgar but effective iPhone alarm call I now wake to.
I look back with fondness to jumping onto my parent’s bed on my mother’s birthdays to be stirred courtesy of a huge mechanical time-switch by the sound of the radio clicking on and as it slowly warmed up the music playing was the Royal Anthem. I knew my mother was important, and as a young child took it as only being normal the BBC played the Royal Anthem for my mother’s birthday, to me she was every bit as famous and important as the Queen, indeed they had met, so another reinforcement of why we were greeted by the Royal Anthem on mother’s birthday, so nice of the Queen to remember my mum.
Today here in Umbria at Bellaugello Gay B&B I am still an avid listener to the BBC radio which I receive over the Internet. I regularly listen to the ‘Today Programme’ a morning round up of current affairs and news. Quite frequently I find myself getting all too wrapped up in things going on in the UK, and just manage to check myself before I start shouting at the radio – as if it could hear.
I shouted for joy when I heard of the forthcoming marriage of HRH Prince William to Kate Middleton, what a great couple, I am so delighted for them, fabulous news, a continuing dynasty, a real cause for celebration.
I also shouted, but this time in a mixture of horror, anger and joy as I learnt of parcel bombs being sent to the manager and prominent supporters of Scottish football team Glasgow Celtic. Now, do not get me wrong there is no joy whatsoever in sending bombs, I have an utter hatred of violence and war and in no way condone either, however as it says on the tin of Lyles Golden Syrup – yet another childhood memory “out of strength poured forth Sweetness”. Maybe finally this outrage will convince everyone in power to actually admit that sectarianism actually exists, and begin to tackle the abomination that blights Glasgow and many parts of Scotland. A recent police report identified a dramatic rise in domestic violence directly correlated with the occurrence of “the Old Firm Game” a football match played in Glasgow between Glasgow teams Celtic and Rangers, the former being catholic the latter protestant, that was the first real admission by the authorities that the problem exists. And yes, exist it does.
Glasgow is a city where they ask your surname first, to know which religion you belong to – and whether they will become friend or foe, a city in some areas where you cannot wear a green and white striped shirt as you will be physically abused, a city where you do not go to certain parts of the city centre on match days as the bars are overflowing with people trying to get as drunk as possible, and then looking for any excuse for violence. A city where fathers – depending on their religion will not let sons paint their bedrooms blue or green or even drive blue or green cars. A city where people have the emblem of their football team tattooed on their forearm not as a message of support but as a message of defiance, A city where at the end of services the clergy ask the congregation to pray for ‘their team’. Where despite proclaiming to the contrary, the football teams are happy for the sectarianism to continue as it boosts their support and thus their bank balances. Kids are brought up in an ongoing environment of intolerance, hatred and bigotry, and it is tragic to behold.
Just as with my mum’s birthday and the playing of the national anthem – it just happened to be also the birthday of the late Queen Mother Queen Elizabeth for whom the anthem was justly played, things are not always what they seem.
Glasgow does have fabulous architecture, a superb concert hall, wonderful museums with international paintings and sculptures, many superb restaurants and the most utterly amazing scenery within easy reach, all factors which make it a city of choice for holidays and should make it a city of choice to live in, but the ever-present sectarianism which up till now has been un-addressed and un-admitted, makes life in the city for many ordinary citizens quite unbearable.