Sunday was a first not just for me but for my entire family. We celebrated the 12th of July. We've never done that before, not sure why but being Catholic probably has something to do with it. It's weird. Every year on the 12th of July Northern Ireland holds it's very own version of Gay Pride with lots of people having a big street disco, and throwing batons in the air and wearing Orange sashes (a bit like Miss World or something) and basically partying like it was 1699. After all the street dancing, all the party revellers would go to a big field, have a bonfire and put their bestest dolly on top of it to keep it warm. It looks great but we were never invited. Shame.
The thing is, not everyone in Northern Ireland likes this colourful day of celebration. Some people get all grumpy because they don't want fun people dancing up their street and wearing funny hats. I HATE those people. They're just trying to have fun, you bloody party poopers. Look, seriously, if these people want to show how proud they are to be British by supporting the beliefs of a Dutchman, pledging allegiance to a woman of German heritage and, you know, living in IRELAND then they should be allowed to. Despite the violence and hatred they spread, are they doing any harm?
Luckily, my family camped it up and got into the 12th of July spirit. King William of Orange would have loved it. We had music, booze and there was no sign of a mole (it's what killed him, history fans). We held the party at my house which was terrifying for me. MY ENTIRE FAMILY IN MY HOUSE. They'd meet my neighbours and my friends and talk in THAT accent.
My siblings and my niece, Maryanne, were the first to arrive to prepare the surprise party for the man of the moment. Not King Billy (although we invited the lazy, rude, dead prick) but my Dad. It was his 70th birthday so we thought we'd best show that we remembered it. My parents turned up about 3 minutes after my siblings but that was plenty of time for them to pour a glass of wine, hide in the garden and smoke 17 cigarettes before Dad walked in. Dad looked surprised. It had worked. The stupid get. Why else would he be at my house? Thank God for senility. I'm looking forward to that.
It was a great do and I'm very grateful to my friends for turning up to show my family that I had something resembling a life. My parents had just arrived in Southampton that morning from New York (they haven't heard of planes yet so the boat is the only way for them) and as they were knackered they left their own party quite early. It was a shame because we had lots of birthday joy to heap on Dad but we managed to struggle on after they left. We went to the pub. It's a VERY traditional 12th of July thing, OK?
The main thing that I forget about my family is their constant friendliness. I don't have that but they have it in bucket loads. They say hello to people they HAVE NEVER MET and start conversations with bar staff and ask people standing next to them to join them. It's like going out with 10 Crocodile Dundees. We played Jenga and made lots of noise. I was aware that that might piss other people in the pub off but my lot are so fucking friendly that people instantly love them. The cunts.
Soon strangers were joining in with our game, sitting at our table, going out to the beer garden to smoke with my brother and bar staff knew us all by name (except me). All that took about 10 minutes in the pub. IN LONDON. The bar closed at 10.30 but we were there well after midnight thanks to a very friendly lock-in. My family are just brilliant to be around and I'm actually jealous of their enthusiasm and friendliness. My brother is unstoppable when it comes to being a nice guy. If you look up "Nice Guy" in the dictionary you will see a picture of my brother. It is the only photograph that is in the dictionary so we're actually quite proud. But sometimes the very best nights have to come to an end and sometimes you just know when that night HAS to end. I walked into the beer garden and saw my brother saying to a black guy that "it doesn't matter what colour your skin is. Me and you are brothers". He gave the black power sign and I suggested we go back home.
Of course there was nothing bad in what he did. It was just funny (even though he utterly meant it, perhaps that's why it was funny?) and, as a Londoner, friendliness and sincerity, even if it's pissed sincerity, scares the shit out of me. Plus, it's the 12th of July, for fuck's sake. We can't start being nice on this day of days.
It was just brilliant having them all over. I doubt there are more fun people to hang out with than them and next time they're over I should sell tickets to you so you can go to the pub with them. This could be the new Karaoke Circus. Anyone for the next 12th of July?