3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I knew Henry McDonald once upon a time. He made a few appearances at a Queen's University Economics tutorial way back in 1985 before suddenly disappearing. He struck me as a furtive, edgy , but friendly character habitually dressed in a long bohemian style overcoat which was a la mode at the time amongst the student fraternity. Since then he has gone on to greater things ,establishing a successful career in the media and becoming the author of a number of books, including this one , "Colours". This book is , in many ways , a bit of an autobiography, featuring many of McDonald's colourful childhood reminisces. "So unlike the home life of our own dear Queen" was a favourite saying of my father when commenting disdainfully on his family and this phrase sprung to mind when McDonald tells the reader about his childhood in the "Markets" , a republican slum near central Belfast. There he rubbed shoulders with Official IRA gunmen, whom his family sheltered , once playing with a gun belonging to Joe McCann, an OIRA alpha male, whom McDonald appears to have enjoyed sharing a whiff of cordite with. As he grew up , he followed the fortunes of Cliftonville FC , joining the famous "Red Army" , singing sectarian songs, rioting and causing criminal damage to people's property , before becoming a punk rocker. McDonald seems to think that the Belfast punk rock scene in the late 1970's was some idyllic , non sectarian prototype for shared living , but most people at the time thought that the punks were nihilistic , glue sniffing scumbags. In many ways , I shared similar interests to McDonald. I had a politally minded father , who was an Alliance Party councillor , who gave me an interest in politics and current affairs, while I followed Glentoran FC , a club with a loyalist support. I also enjoyed some punk rock music as well although I never dressed or hung out with punks like McDonald did. Where I flirted , McDonald went all the way. McDonald was a "Stickie" , a supporter of the OIRA/Workers Party movement , and I have respect for them that I dont have for PIRA/Sinn Fein. They, at least, treated Protestants as if they had a mind of their own, rather than second class, deluded Irishmen fit only to be bombed,shot and gouged into a united Ireland. In this book McDonald shows great respect and empathy for the Protestant people as his political views changed from Marxist to left liberal. McDonald goes on to give insights into the rise of the Celtic Tiger in the South and the social liberalisation that has accompanied it. He seems to approve of the "new Ireland" of liberal, greedy, money grabbing, brown nosing zealots and doesnt mourn the passing of the old Catholic, slower paced Ireland of the 1970's and 1980's. "Colours" is an entertaining read , but doesn't follow any real chronological order, so one page you're in the 1970's , then the next back to the present day. Maybe a more chronologically based account would have been a better choice for the author to have made. I would recommend "Colours" to anyone interested in Northern Irish politics. It is certainly a "colourful" book and congratulations to Henry McDonald on his successful media career. Well done.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2012
usual type of book about here. very subtle dehumanisation of the protestant/loyalist community.
started off quite good but then got into the usual nonsense that all prods were big, thick, nasty sectarian bigots while the catholics (including the ira who killed more catholics than the loyalists did) were good people who were hard done by and discriminated against.
how is a badge saying F*** cliftonville sectarian?
i was expecting more but should have known better.