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True British. By David Bradford Meanwhile in London, the government seemed to be imploding. By the time we reached Fermanagh on July 11th, two senior members of the UK cabinet had resigned. Stopping for a pint in Belcoo , I guessed wrongly on euros. Apparently, where two minutes ago we had exited Blacklion and rolled over the bridge, was the Border; the barman wanted sterling.


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A thick-set, something man sitting alone two stools along from us was happy to hold forth on the Brexit latest. Was he worried about Brexit? Listen to me, there was a border here, there was people shooting Anton cut to the chase: Mervyn had already explained to us this was a Catholic bar: As we gathered together our kit and glasses, the banter intensified, neither side shifting into view of the other.

Unlike Mervyn, he was deadly serious about Brexit. I will not put up with authority telling me when I go over that bridge with my collie in the back of the Jeep that the dog has to go into quarantine for six weeks. Joe told us he had grown up not knowing any of his Protestant neighbours; how his best friend Kevin had been shot dead aged 19 in a bungled RUC operation. It was hard to know whether the banter with Mervyn had betrayed underlying fondness or mere tolerance. They are planters.

They were planted in here, and what happened over the years was scandalous. James not his real name had latched on to us at an illicit 11th-night bonfire on the outskirts of town and insisted on dropping us back to our hotel. We knew what to say. Anton dropped in that his grandfather had been in the Royal Black Preceptory, and I mentioned that my hometown, Lewes, hosts a raucous bonfire night where pope effigies are torched to commemorate the burning of Protestant martyrs in the s.

Don’t wait...

Yes, he would be delighted to join us for a drink. The lounge was deserted but James shepherded us to a quiet corner, out of earshot of staff. His first confession came almost as soon as we sat down: I will inherit. What kind of scare?

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It was as though a dam had burst within him; confessions flowed, each more ghastly than the last: Politely we declined. My head was spinning. Never before had I witnessed such an abject display of cognitive dissonance. James could be two extremes at once: Only one more question: As James had been reeling off his tales of depravity, loyalist gangs had wreaked havoc in response to the removal of gigantic bonfires by police.

In Belfast, a bus filled with passengers had been hijacked by masked men; more than a dozen cars had been torched. It felt good to be back on the bike, mind engaged in the simple act of pedalling. Last night, the atmosphere had been tight with certainties. David had withdrawn in horror while James, undeterred, buried his inner conflicts beneath received opinions and dogma. He shot me a knowing look.

As a child I watched my mum, aunt and granny — Protestant women — and wanted to be just like them.


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  • Here, far from the Protestant heartland, people seemed to be too busy subsisting on grievance and fatalism. The longing to restore lost recognition had become a search for transcendent signs, a solace in omens.

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    It was evening by the time we arrived in Derry. As night fell, we walked the city walls and looked out over the Bogside. All was calm and a fragile silence hung in the warm air. Our bikes had gone, the trip was over, and it was time to take stock. Over the past 10 days we had attended prayer meetings, Orange parades, a Pentecostal church service, met victim-support groups, taken detours to out-of-the-way Protestant villages, and even had coffee instant, unstirred with Lord Brookeborough.

    Now I had to resist the temptation simply to return, to try again — too many of us here were stuck in endless cycles. To my eyes, Ulster Protestants have internalised the loathing of their detractors and spun vulnerability as defiance. Moderate Unionists put it more meekly: Lundy was a Protestant expelled from the city in when he suggested compromise to break the siege. But there are other strands of Protestant history far less often recalled. The Presbyterians leaders of the United Irishmen, a century later, brought to bear a distinctly Protestant ethos — freedom of conscience, civil and religious liberty — and set their hybrid allegiances to revolutionary work, imagining an Ireland that could thrive on multiplicity.

    One week after our trip, she agreed to meet us in the Lords, on her last day — she was retiring aged 80, having served since receiving a life peerage in Today's headlines Most Read Giddy-up! Jeremy Corbyn 'would win a general election' as Conservatives face losing 60 seats over Theresa May's You've been cooking pasta all wrong! Experts reveal why the 'authentic' al dente texture is a myth - and the Salisbury is named the UK's best place to live after the city showed 'a real collective spirit' in the wake Police question Joey Barton on suspicion of assault after rival football manager lost his teeth in a Meghan Markle 'wants to have a water birth in a royal first and plans to have a female doctor deliver her Break a marriage contract and the courts will now take your side and punish anyone who gets How a chain-smoking Norland nanny raised Boris Johnson and his siblings while their mother was in Boris Johnson is at risk of losing his seat in the next election after a surge of younger voters in his Farage's fighting talk!

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