On a visit to Glasgow on Saturday, I was unfortunate to be caught slap bang in the middle of an Orange walk near Kelvingrove. This was me on only my second real visit to the "poncey" West End having the stereotype of that blown away by yesterday's men. Now, I'm not stranger to a march or even a walk. For many years I was a regular attendee at both and it can't be denied that there is a buzz around them. I stewarded marches in Edinburgh, Glasgow and even the north of Ireland for many years and there was no better feeling than the first drummer starting up a "Get the Brits Out Now!" as a stage of euphoria engulfed us all.
There was no euphoria on Saturday.
What I saw on the Finnieston side of St Vincent St was hate. Pure, unadulterated hate. Now, I've seen this before, I've experienced the hardline extremism you get when you're on a Republican march and there are "Protestors" at your side. Normally though it was from a hardcore group of around 30 who were shaping the future of the SDL and EDL without knowing it.
On Saturday I saw hate from men in suits, women, bairns, the lot. I know it must confuse these people that in a country that allowed them to do whatever they want they are now a complete laughing stock but it hasn't made them change their ways in the slightest. In fact, from what I witnessed on Saturday, it has entrenched them further.
It's not something we are used to in Edinburgh, save for one or two days a year, and Republicans will defend the right of the Orange Order to march in places they are wanted, the question is, why do places want them?
It's pretty obvious in Scotland.
The Orange walk gives people of a certain mentality an outlet to air their triumphalism. The main vehicle for this used to be Rangers games but hearing "Simply The Best" at a Sevco-run Ibrox now just provokes laughter not a knowing look at a pair of well polished brown brogues.
What I thought on Saturday is "Where do they go from here?"
There were hints a few years ago from Grand Master Ian Wilson that the Orange Order could "take up arms" in an independent Scotland. Whilst the order is a perfect breeding ground for a David Copeland type, the notion of these clowns forming any threat that endangers society itself is now laughable.
That is a victory in itself.
By the way, as I walked past and through them, the 25 year old me took over, I was upright and forceful when I walked trying to give off my best "Dinnae fuck wi me, I'm mental" look and no one batted an eyelid.
Until a couple of hours later.
I was at the cashpoint next to Sainsburys at Queen St station. As I queued behind a couple, a guy, mid 50's, suit on and Sash in his inside pocket said "Aye you ya fucker". I looked at him and he was glaring at me but was so drunk it was a struggle for him to stand. As I moved to the front of the queue, I took a tenner out and heard "Fucking idiot" behind me from the same guy. I looked right at him and won't repeat what I said but the phrase is contained in these words "Ra" "Up" and "The".
As for the Orange Order as a whole and the question of "where do they go from here?", I think the clue is in the title of this blog.