The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool, Glasgow And Belfast

These three cities in the UK have for centuries had their troubles between Catholics and Protestants.

I grew up in London, which before the Second World War wasn’t without its religious troubles.  But that generally involved anti-Semitism and those on the far right.  My father was a staunch anti-fascist and claimed he was at the Battle of Cable Street. I suspect he was, and I know he used to write Cockney poetry about the war.  Sadly none has srvived although, I can remember a few phrases.

He didn’t like Catholics because of the Pope’s support for Hitler in the War and my mother being of a Huguenot line didn’t like them either. But it was nothing more than the odd barbed comment, when say a new Pope was elected. I don’t think either of my parents ever saw the inside of a church except for the odd wedding.

This lack of religion, probably helped to push me towards being agnostic and of course now, I’m someone, who doesn’t believe in any religion. But that is not to say, I don’t follow the humanist principles of most of the major religions.

Going to Liverpool in the early 1960s, was the first time, I really came across religion in tooth and claw. With the massive Anglican Cathedral and the new Roman Catholic one under construction, I couldn’t avoid the fact, that I was in a city that took its religion seriously. In those days, there were parades by both Catholics and Orangemen. But any trouble had dropped off in the previous few years.  Was it because the people of Liverpool developed healthy interests in music and football? But other factors were also at work inside the Anglican and Catholic churches. Although this pre-dates the partnership between Archbishop Derek Worlock and the Bishop David Sheppard, I think in the 1960s, the people of Liverpool thought they’d had enough of religious rivalries, that got out of hand.

It was then that I met C’s friend, Maureen, who was the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister and missionary from Belfast. Her tales of her home city painted a very different picture of life in Northern Ireland.

It was at that time too, that I had my first experience of Scotland, when I went to Glasgow to see Spurs play against Celtic in the Glasgow Cup. It was the first time, I saw serious football violence, as a Rangers supporter appeared in the non-segregated crowd and was promptly thumped by most of the Celtic fans around me. It’s not to say there wasn’t violence in England at the time, but in matches at Portman Road, White Hart Lane, Anfield and Goodison Park, I’d never experienced any at first hand.

Over the years, I’ve visited Belfast a few times and been rather horrified at all of the flags and religious symbols.  I once went into Shorts factory in Belfast and couldn’t believe the bigoted displays I saw. If I were to put up similar posters and flags on my house attacking any religion, I’d be arrested.

In Glasgow it’s not so open, but read any forum about Rangers and Celtic and you’ll find language you never find on similar forums involving say Spurs and Arsenal or Liverpool and Everton.

I go to Liverpool regularly and even went to see the Olympic torch in the city, where the Archbishop enjoyed the parade with everybody else.

So how come Liverpool has come to terms with its religious divides and in Belfast and to a certain extent, Glasgow, they seem to be getting worse?

December 11, 2012 - Posted by | News, Sport, World | , , , , ,

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