History is other people's mistakes. Let's do Big Things.
I see Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, the ruthless UDA gangmaster who fled from Belfast to live in Bolton last year, has admitted committing a common assault on his wife Gina whilst walking on a common near his home last night.
The key to the next 10 years in Northern Ireland lies in the hands of Rev. Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley, an octogenarian who will probably not survive them.
Substance aside, John de Chastelain's task at this afternoon's IICD press conference was to convince the public that the IRA had truly disarmed.
If, before the sun goes down tonight, I hear anyone - ANYONE, but particularly Gerry Adams or Tony Blur - use the words historic, ground-breaking or that new in-word cusp, I'm going to scream.
As a Protestant, I was never taught to play Gaelic football. Pity really, looks exciting. I see, with interest, that Trevor Ringland, an Ulster Unionist councillor, has urged the Protestant people of Ulster to forget their cultural differences and support their Gaelic team to the hilt at tomorrow's final in Croker, saying sport can "transcend sectarian barriers". He goes on, "Everyone should rally behind Tyrone and show solidarity with our fellow Ulstermen. The red hand of Ulster is Tyrone's symbol and should be a symbol of pride capable of uniting Ulster people of all traditions". Well said, Trevor.
I see Big Ian is hacked off at the IRA for not seeing an invitation to a Protestant churchman to witness the big upcoming oxyacetaline party. Maybe he'd already got a six-pack ready to take with him.
Listen, I've just come off holiday and there's so much to catch up with I think I'll leave it to next week because my brain's still inert. Anyway, it's Friday and time for a bit of light relief. Obituaries are usually snoozingly boring, but here's an entertaining one I found yesterday of an Anglo-Irish gentry-chappie, normally a rather stomach-churning brigade in my humble opinion, but not so this guy.
The 35th Lord Kingsale (by his own reckoning; by others the 28th or 30th), who died on September 15 aged 64, was Premier Baron of Ireland; his varied career included spells as a kitchen fitter, film extra, silage-pit builder, white hunter, plumber, proprietor of a dating agency in Brisbane and bingo caller in Birmingham before he retired on invalidity benefit to sheltered housing in Somerset.
While many daydream of grandeur and riches, John de Courcy's misfortune was to have sprung from a line of noblemen stretching back to at least the 13th century, yet to spend most of his life scrabbling for change down the back of the sofa.
"My main line of work is odd jobs," he admitted in 1985. "I am prepared to lend my hand to absolutely anything, however dirty or unpleasant." But he genially accepted the disparity between his background and his fortunes. For many years he listed "self-deception" as a recreation in Who's Who, "because I consider myself important and nobody else does".
The de Courcys had been a force in Ireland since Miles de Cogan took a leading part in the Norman invasion of Ireland and was granted (with Robert fitz Stephen) the Kingdom of Cork by Henry II.
Lords Courcy of Ringoane and Kinsale sat in the Irish parliament as late as the reign of James VI and I. But the family had a knack of backing the wrong side; its fortunes declined inexorably until, by the beginning of this century, the principal asset of Lord Kingsale was the right (unique in the peerage) to keep his hat on in the presence of the sovereign.
John de Courcy was born on January 27 1941, the son of Lieutenant-Commander Michael de Courcy, who had been killed in action before his son's birth. Young John, though his family estates amounted to a lighthouse in Kinsale which brought in £180 a year in rent, and the remains of a castle which was around a foot tall at its highest point, was not brought up in crushing poverty.
His mother came from a Yorkshire lanolin oil-distilling family, and he was sent to prep school with the intention that he should proceed to Eton. When he was 12, his half-brother Michael was killed in a flying accident, and John became heir to the barony, to which he succeeded on his grandfather's death in 1969.
In the event, he was educated at Stowe and the Universities of Paris and Salzburg, before taking a short service commission with the Irish Guards. He would have liked to remain in the Army, but the oil business went bust when he was a lieutenant. "When I joined the Brigade of Guards you needed a substantial private income to keep up with your fellow officers in the mess," he later explained. "I felt compelled to leave."
Aged 25, de Courcy drifted into odd jobs as "the easiest way of making money". He worked as a bingo caller in Birmingham, as a lorry driver, and played an Egyptian peasant in Cleopatra, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's film.
The cold snap of 1965 brought him 17 burst pipes and, with no money to pay for a plumber, he was obliged to learn how to fix them himself. It became a reliable standby, and he also did turns as a digger of silage pits, and as a kitchen fitter. His best gig, he thought, was as a "white hunter" at the Duke of Bedford's safari park. He paid Woburn Abbey £1,000 and made £2,000 on the first bank holiday, but then the contract was brought in-house.
Kingsale was fond of Benson & Hedges cigarettes and, though he lived in Somerset, drank Black Bush whiskey, explaining that cider burst the veins in his nose. He occasionally turned up to his local, The Lamb Inn at Upton Noble (where he had installed the lavatories in exchange for meals), wearing his ermine-trimmed crimson robes. "I'm a very fat man and they conceal that," he said.
Kingsale once undertook a sponsored slim (losing four stones) in the hope that it would give him a better chance of picking up a wife. Securing a spouse and heir was a constant ambition, consistently thwarted. In 1965 the Daily Express announced that he had become engaged to Caroline Graham Porter, a debutante whom he had met at Cowes Week, but nothing came of it.
After that, Kingsale frequently declared his eagerness to wed but, despite being, as he once put it, "the only middle-aged heterosexual bachelor in a 30-mile radius, which has made me a must for any dinner party", matrimony eluded him. He advertised for a wife on several occasions, and got a letter a day from candidates. In 1989, while working as a wine-waiter and butler for hire at £25 a night (including washing up), he became optimistic about a "40-plus, leggy blonde of Hampshire naval stock", but was disappointed again.
By the 1990s, his arthritis had curtailed his ability to work, and he was living on income support of £30 a week, topped up by a mobility allowance. But a book devoted to nouveaux pauvres brought him attention, and work, from newspapers and television. "I have suddenly got a career as a knockabout noble. I find I don't suffer from nerves at all," he said. "All I am concerned about is getting paid."
A French genealogist assured him that he held some 18 titles, but it was a continual source of annoyance that, as an Irish peer, he missed out on sitting in the Lords (and the attendance allowance which went with it).
His most successful enterprises included a dating agency in Brisbane called Banaid, which insisted upon an Aids test from those signing up. It did well (though it could not find Kingsale a bride), but his visa expired after six months and he returned to Britain. He also did reasonably as an online journalist, writing a column called "View from the Peer".
In 1994 he moved into sheltered housing, in a flat which had no telephone, but was dominated by a coal-effect fire, a portrait of Jet from Gladiators, and an aerial photograph of the ruins of his castle. Continued efforts to sell it to a golf club came to nothing.
He voted for the Referendum Party, and was chairman of the National Association for Service to the Realm, which advocated the return of National Service. Just before his death, he signed a contract to write his autobiography.
Lord Kingsale is succeeded by his cousin, Nevinson Mark de Courcy, born in 1958, whose father was a municipal drains' inspector in New Zealand.
I remember clearly standing outside the small country church on a hill near my home one afternoon each summer for the "Orange service". The accordion band would play a hymn as it paraded beneath rustling trees on its way up to the church followed by twenty or so men (mostly farmers) wearing suits priced at the very limit of their means. The banner would be lowered, and we'd all walk into the church to sing snail's-pace hymns and hear a sermon on being faithful to Jesus and loving our neighbours. Up on our feet again for "O God our help in ages past" - even more slowly than last year - then we'd file outside to see the small group disappear down the hill again before meeting up for tea and buns in the musty old church hall. The most anyone had to fear was being force-fed too much sandwich cake by the Mothers' Union.
Terrible riots in Belfast at the weekend. And understandable anger on the blogs today. Is it Orangeism in disarray, drug-dealers in turf-wars, Loyalists in meltdown? It's all of those, but far more frightening - and not just for Catholics.
The Big Ulsterwoman bounded in through the front door a few weeks back with a glint in her eye that I'd seen before. Like just before I had to take up landscape painting. And the time I was dragged into town for an image makeover to rescue me from 1985.
Visiting Belfast today, Éire President Mary McAleese told Shankill schoolchildren: "I think one of the great sadnesses is that we can... almost live next door to one another, and yet we do not get the chance for the kind of friendships that would make our lives really, really glow".
I see the President of Éire, Mary McAleese, is due to visit her home town of Belfast - the Shankill Road, of all places. Not the most Éire-friendly of places, mind, but all the more opportunity for bridge-building.
When I was 17 I went on a multi-school exchange trip to Europe. It was the first time I met Catholics my own age. And you know what? They were good craic. Thank Goodness because I was one of only 4 Protestants, and it would have been a right bore otherwise. That experience, more than anything, laid the foundation for my conviction that - scrape away the labels and we've all got the same stuff in the tin.
A lot of blogs this week have featured varied tones on a site called "Love Ulster", e.g. this excellent write-up on Everything Ulster. I agree - the last thing we want is another website promoting division.