Wednesday, July 13, 1983

Red hands

Andrew and I went for a curry at the Bahawal and then took the train to go see the new Imax theatre in Whincliffe; we watched To Fly! on the giant 45 x 60 ft screen.

The first scenes of a balloon ascent were deceptively filmed on a standard sized cinema frame and Andrew and I both looked at each other, as if to say ‘pathetic,’ but at that moment the balloon soared up and the entire screen exploded into colour and sharp, vivid detail. The clarity and the immensity took my breath away. It really was as if we were perched there on the lip of an enormous window.

I went to HMV, took my Joy Division album back and bought Paris au Printemps by P.I.L. and Dread Beat an’ Blood by Linton Kwesi Johnson.

The hanging debate was in full swing on Radio 4 when I got home and everyone was rooted to the radio until well into the evening. Dad occasionally erupted bitterly, condemning the IRA as “evil psychopaths” and fixing me with an intense glare when ever I dared to counter him. But he’s wrong, and history will prove him so.

The IRA are not psychopaths. They're just soldiers who consider the ‘troubles’ a war; four UDR men were blown up yesterday in a land mine explosion. “Murder!” screamed Dad. “Those bastards should hang!” His eyes gleamed with murderous fire.

I felt like reminding him of Bloody Sunday, reminding him that the Loyalists in Northern Ireland go out with the sole intention of killing Catholic civilians, that the sectarian violence often comes from the side that stands proud beneath the Union Jack and the red-hand of Ulster. But I kept my mouth shut and allowed him to carry the day, but I felt a knot of anger at the hypocrisy Mum, Dad and Andrew were all coming out with.

I wonder if my exposure to the RCP makes me feel this way? But I bridle at RCP politics. Their Preparing for Power conference begins on Saturday and I honestly can’t afford to go, even though I have a ticket. But in a way I’d like to, especially to attend the Irish talks.

The vote on five amendments and then the vote on the general motion of hanging for murderers itself finally came at ten o’clock. I heard the first two amendments convincingly defeated. In one sort of perverse way I half-wanted to see hanging for ‘terrorism’ come back, because it would be the biggest mistake the British State could make in Ireland, and it would be the easiest way for the IRA to win support among the mass of Irish people under the hand of the British. But this was a perverse twist to my general abhorrence at the barbarity of hanging, and the barbarity of shooting and killing in general.

Dad doesn’t ‘approve’ of my association with Lee and feels he’s “skating on thin ice” with his plundering of old buildings. He sees him as a bad influence on me, which rankles. A great tide of dissatisfaction with my lot wells up within me as a reaction against the stagnation of home and family.

Opportunities slip by.

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