In a Word . . . Orange

One of the very first messages Teresa May received was from the Portadown Orangemen

Ah yes. July 1st. We’ll never feel till Christmas. You think I’m joking? Six months of 2017 gone. Six to go. If they pass with the same stealth as the recent six I had better wish you “Happy Christmas” now.

But time can crawl. When you're young. And at Drumcree.

I remember as a child the awful realisation on St Stephen’s Day that Santy Claus would not be coming for another, whole, 24 hours-long (each) 364 days.

And Drumcree. At this time every year in the recent past a similar drowsy numbness would seize my senses as I headed once more for an occasion of paralysis which was our annual visit to that dreary steeple at the Church of the Ascension outside Portadown on the first Sunday of every July (tomorrow, this year).

Me and the Orangemen would head out on yet another parade to a service there, followed by a march down the hill to security forces blocking the way along the traditional route through the Garvaghy Road. There to witness sound and fury once more. Sometimes it was worse. The tedium was in the repetition, déjà vu again and again and again.

I caused excitement myself one year when I wrote the Orangemen were attending a service in the Church of the Assumption there, that Catholic doctrine of the Virgin Mary being anathema to every good Lodge member.

Another year my mobile phone rang and rang during the service until I finally strangled it. Media were not allowed in the following year.

But Drumcree goes on.

One of the very first messages UK Prime Minister Teresa May received on formation of her new Government last month, with DUP support, was from the Portadown Orangemen.

They told her: "We trust that the parading issue especially in Portadown will be high on the agenda for the new government." Of the 10 DUP MPs, seven are members of Orange or Independent Orders.

At which point Mrs May probably wished she had lost the election more fully.

Orange from Old French orange; Latin, pomum de orange, for the fruit. Not used for colour until 16th century. Orangemen are called after the Dutch William of Orange, of the German House of Nassau. Itself named after the town of Orange in France, which became part of the Nassau principality in the 16th centuy