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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, July 12, 2004
    On The Twelfth
     
    Thudding sound repeats two blocks away. Blue flashing light. Yellow reinforced police vehicles at the crossroads. It's evening on The Twelfth and, back from a boozy day in Southport, it's one last drumroll, muster as much dignity as you can for a final march past St Teresa's, and then home for the Orangemen, women, girls and boys of Norris Green.

    Used to be ten thousand travelling together from Liverpool up the coast for a day by the sea; it's about a thousand now. Used to be trouble back home, before and after the early-summer school-skipping treat for the city's protestants. Tonight, the drums are a background irritant for Ground Force watchers in Utting Avenue living rooms. It's an identity thing; fair enough. The days of virulent hatred and religious separation are over here. Many of the people visiting me to book weddings and baptisms are in mixed families; mixed - it seems odd even to comment on that these days.

    Ecumenism is a yawn-inducing term; but what David Sheppard and Derek Warlock introduced here was something far fuller: the possibility of healthy relationships in a once-divided city. Their legacy is strong. But at the end of The Twelfth some feel a need to do a defiant march-past. So something latent still bubbles beneath; which means we have to watch ourselves.