Elizabeth’s Tour of the North

 

Chapter 4 – PUL and CNR


They were standing inside Stormont, each with an arm round the other’s neck, and Elizabeth knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had `PUL’ embroidered on his collar, and the other `CNR.’

`I suppose they’ve each got “GFA/BA” round at the back of the collar,’ she said to herself.

They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just looking round to see if  “GFA/BA” was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked `PUL.’

`If you think we’re Loyalists,’ he said, `you ought to pay, you know. Loyalists weren’t made to be loyal for nothing, No way!’

`Contrariwise,’ added the one marked `CNR,’ `if you think we’re alive, you ought to speak.’

`I’m sure I’m very sorry,’ was all Elizabeth could say; for the words of the old song kept ringing through her head like the ticking of a clock, and she could hardly help saying them out loud: —

`PUL and CNR
Agreed to have a battle;
For PUL  said CNR
Had spoiled his nice Ornge rattle.

`I know what you’re thinking about,’ said PUL: `but it isn’t so, no way.’

`Contrariwise,’ continued CNR, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’

`I was thinking,’ Elizabeth said very politely, `which is the best way out of this set-up: it’s getting so stale. Would you tell me, please?’

But they only looked at each other and grinned.

Elizabeth couldn’t help pointing her finger at PUL, and saying `First!’

`No way!’ CNR cried out briskly, then shut his mouth up again with a snap.

`Next!’ said Elizabeth, passing on to CNR, though she felt quite certain he would only shout out “Contrariwise!’ and so he did.

`You’re so wrong!’ cried PUL. `The first thing on any visit here  is to say “No surrender” and “Remember 1690!’

And here the two  gave each other a hug, and then they held out the two hands that were free, to shake hands with her.

Elizabeth did not like shaking hands with either of them first, for fear of hurting the other one’s feelings; so, as the best way out of the difficulty, she took hold of both hands at once: the next moment she was marching with PUL down the Queen’s Highway. This seemed quite natural (she remembered afterwards), and she was not even surprised to hear music playing. It seemed to come from further along the street down  which they were marching, and it was done (as well as she could make it out) by flutes and drums.

`But it certainly was funny,’ (Elizabeth said afterwards, when she was telling her heir the history of all this,) `to find myself singing “The Sash My Father Wore.” I don’t know when I began it, but somehow I felt as if I’d been singing it a long, long time!’

The other marchers were very soon out of breath.

`Three thousand odd  parades is enough for one year,’ PUL panted out, ”especially  where we aren’t wanted”

and they left off marching as suddenly as they had begun. The music stopped at the same moment.Then they let go of Elizabeth’s hands, and stood looking at her for a minute. There was a rather awkward pause, as Elizabeth didn’t know how to begin a conversation with people she had just been marching with.

`It would never do to say “No Surrender” now,’ she said to herself: `we seem to have got beyond that, somehow!’

`I hope there are No Fenians here?’ she said at last.

`No way. And thank you very much for asking,’ said PUL.

 

 

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