Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preston North End coffin parade in Bamber Bridge

First look at the Preston North End coffin parade held in Bamber Bridge this week.


More glorious images from this decades-old event coming soon.

And don't forget to take a look at the webite for images and story from the last coffin parade in this town, over a decade ago, to celebrate the promotion of Blackburn Rovers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Catholics, Protestants, Orange Order marches, India, Pakistan and tourism

Catholic and Protestant. Israeli and Palestinian. Indian and Pakistani. Sunderland and Newcastle. What’s the difference?

Well, apart from one of the above, none of these are able to get along harmoniously at any time whatsoever.

And which is the odd one out? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Indians and Pakistanis are the unlikely couple who are able to produce a theatrical masterclass out of their religious differences.

Sadly, the Catholics and Protestants have been failing miserably to demonstrate similar traits during the marching season in Belfast.

What could be a spectacle of pomp and ceremony, colour and noise, ideal for tourist consumption is instead a call to arms for gangs of young men and teenagers to hurl bricks at police and set fire to any vehicle in their path.

Watching the uniformed gangs – in tracksuits, trainers and scarves over their faces – unhappy about the Orange Order marches, I was reminded of the Border Ceremony between India and Pakistan at Wagah.

Everyday both nations’ armies together perform a ritual that attracts thousands of partisan spectators who shriek and cheer as soldiers mock each other.

It’s a riot of fun and excitement that is all the more impressive as these two countries have a long history of problems, politics, dislike and hatred.

How can Northern Ireland, which has so much to offer for visitors, ever hope to achieve a high standing in the tourism industry when its inhabitants burn and riot in parts of Belfast because the other lot are going on a walk?

This is why India and Pakistan can teach us Westerners a lesson in sense and civility.

All images © Copyright Garry Cook. Do not dare use without permission.

Andrew Allington's a lucky bloke: Vicar marries model 20 years younger

Flicking through the Daily Mirror I thought I recognised his face.

He was the vicar I interviewed for my Outsiders project examining ourselves and how we judge others.

Andrew Allington had come to my attention through a news report of him being attacked in his own home by a local youth in Stainforth, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Yesterday he was in the paper for the simple reason of getting married... To an ex-model called Hazel Trudgen twenty years younger than him. It’s the perfect tabloid story.

But behind the headlines is a vicar who has done some amazing things in what is a struggling mining community. He lets local kids come round his house for tea, he even launched a community cinema.

If all local vicars put invested a similar amount of energy and creativity into their community, Britain would be a distinctly more pleasant place to live.

This is a story about Andrew and Hazel in the Daily Mail.

Here is my direct-quotes interview.

And here is Andrew photographed in his home: