The old man could handle a spade

I have mentioned Seamus Heaney’s poem Digging previously. I will quote this bit and continue:

“By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.”

Ian Paisley yesterday mentioned the prospect of the Queen visiting the RoI and tied it to the end of the IRA Army Council. Previously it was tied to the devolution of P+J.

I may not be a supporter of Paisley (and indeed have been a major critic on these pages) but he can still elegantly turn the issue back around the other way. Rather than launch into an attack on him or anyone else and rather than turn this into a debate on what he said; I just want to savour the fact that this old man can also still handle his chosen (political) spade.

  • Henry94

    Of all the arguments for the disbandment of the Army Council, and there are many, I suggest the facilitation of a visit from the Queen would be the one they would find least persuasive.

    Things have changed but not that much.

  • Briso

    I genuinely don’t get this. Is the suggestion that the IRA army council holds a veto over a visit by the head of state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to a neighbouring sovereign state, Ireland? I’ll bet they wish they did. This is elegant spade handling?

  • Turgon

    Of course you are correct but I just thought Paisley quite elegantly turned the stumbling block from something which there was pressure on the DUP to do prior to a Royal visit to something that there is pressure on the IRA to do.

    I was just admiring a well turned political argument.

  • Turgon

    Posts crossed. You are of course correct just as Henry is but Paisley can now say that it is the failure of the Army Council to disband which prevents a Royal visit. It is a clever narrative to spin to unionists. It may well be total nonsense but I just think he turned it well.

  • Henry94


    I suggest it leaves the Army Council “snug as a gun”

  • Jon

    It’s easy to spot a Turgon blog on here – tedious literary reference with some sort of tenuous-at-best link to story (usually imagined rather than real), followed by the prose of a frustrated sixth-form English Lit student. Please God let it stop!

  • Steve

    Seriously Turgon the only way this would put pressure on the IRA was if the Republic was asking for a visit or if the great unwashed were asking for one.

    I dont get the impresion that the Republic is asking for a visit and they cerainly arent begging for one they would just allow her to come

    If anything this imbues tyhe IRA with far more power in the republic then it has or has ever had. Paisley has conveyed on them the right to control the actions of the house of windsor. pretty neat trick if you ask me

    Of course it begs the question since when does paisley decide the movements of the queen

  • But why inflict Seamus Heaney on us? The spoofer’s Paddy Kavanagh as the Army Council would call him if they had any breeding, which htey don’t.
    Between Heaney and O’Searcaigh, how the mighty Irish traditions have fallen into the mire.

  • susan

    Absolutely no offense to you Turgon — truly — but God bless you, Henry94, you have no idea how much I needed that laugh today. The near-surgical precision with which you made your point in post no. 1 was exquisite as well.

  • joeCanuck


    Do you have anything to add to the debate apart from shameless man playing. You are hoist on your own petard.

  • earnan

    Why the hell do you still have a queen? It’s pathetic. She just represents the aristocracy who reaped the benefits from having their imperial minions rape nations and cultures all over the world for their own wealth, all while their own working class were getting the shaft. Not to mention she (and her whole extended family of good for nothings) cost you taxpayers all kinds of money. What a pathetic attempt to hold onto past “glory”.

  • Rory

    Perhaps it is time, Turgon, that some friendly soul advised the First Minister that the first rule of politics is that when you find yourself in a hole it is best to stop digging.

    I do find his reference to the assassination of Mountbatten intriguing however given that both he and the late Enoch Powell were given over to the theory that the motivating force behind that killing was the CIA who were alarmed by Mountbatten’s late-age conversion to nuclear disarmament. This theory however baseless was given much credence at the time by a flurry of salacious speculation in the UK press prior to his assassination around Mountbatten’s sexual proclivities which it was suggested centered on young males.

    It was not that such speculation was new. The good Earl was ever reputed to be a notorious “chicken-hawk” as the term is, but that the damage to his manufactured reputation as war time naval commander and Imperial Viceroy and his family position as uncle of the monarch might now be considered to weigh less than any opposition he might pose to the “special relationship” and the nuclear armaments industry given what might be assumed to be his insider knowledge.

    All of this can be viewed of course as merely the speculation of conspiracy theorists and the almost insurmountable difficulties of acquiring any strong evidence to support it confines it to the realm of idle speculation; but it is fuelled by the ridiculous self imposed embargo of the “free press” that continues to this day to insist that that old transvestite Nazi lover, Edward VIII (“the best Queen that England ever had since James I” as I have heard him once described) had “given up an empire for the love of a good woman”. That which is common knowledge among the cognoscenti must be denied to the masses not lest the truth revolt them – they are more forgiving of human frailty than their masters – but rather that it might lift the veil from their eyes.

    But now the question is – has Paisley forgotten his CIA assertion, or is that he confuses CIA with IRA which, given all those “I’s” and “A’s”, would be perfectly understandable in a man of his advanced years and previous history of confusion.?

  • Mountbatten was a bisexual as opposed to a homosexual. The Provos didn’t like bisexuals, it appears.

  • earnan

    neither do I if they are males

  • Liam

    careful now earnan, you’ll have Andy Mc Cann knocking on your door with a cudgel if he reads that ;D

  • Liam

    the above was re your comment on the queen and royal family, nothing to do with the below comments on bisexuals 🙂

  • Ahem

    Well these high quality posts can mean only thing: Gransha’s finally become a wireless hotspot.

  • Dec

    He was referred to as ‘Mountbottom’ whilst in the British navy.