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Kevin Myers: Loyal sons of Ulster unionism were undone by a bright-eyed tea girl and her beguiling smile

The men of of Ulster Vanguard Volunteers came in from their manoeuvres near the glens of Antrim, and their Commandant-Colonel in Chief, Archibald McBigot, studied them with a proud if rheumy eye.

The IRA campaign had been under way for over a year now, and the British government was already bending one knee, as perfidious Albion could always be expected to do. So now it was time for the loyal sons of Ulster to take their place, on the right of the line.

His men had been through a brutal, no-holds barred commando training session to fight the IRA. They had been taught how to shoot unarmed Fenians from passing cars. They had been schooled in the arts of knifing taig pensioners to death. They had practised the skillful art of bombing undefended pubs. They had learnt how to abduct papist schoolboys. Now they were ready for war!

"The lads could do with a tea-break, sir," said his military commander, Lootenant General Thompson Whiteside McGlatchey, VC and Bar, DSO, MC. (His real secret, that he had been invalided out of the Royal Corps of Crocheting on his first week because of homesickness and insomnia, was known only to him, his commander in chief, and his mother, Mabel, with whom he lived).

"Well done, general," said Archibald McBigot. "By God, it makes one proud to see such warriors of Ulster preparing for the fray. Stand the men down for slippers, tea and sandwiches."

"Very good, sir. Men, stand at EASE! Don carpet slippers! Stand easy! Dismiss!"

The pride of Ulster shuffled into the Other Ranks' tea tent, and their two leaders retired to the officers' mess: a Nice 'n' Eezee caravanette, in which Archibald McBigot and his wife toured the delightful campsites of their beloved Ulster, in the fortnight after July 12.

Once inside, the two loyal heroes helped themselves to a few Black Bushes, and reminisced about their days as young men, fighting for their king.

Finally, Archibald McBigot looked at his watch. "Time to assemble the men, general," he slurred slightly.

"Very good, lootenant-admiral, replied Thompson Whiteside McGlatchey unsteadily, and weaved out of the door. Moments later he was back.

"Sir! Something terrible's happened! Come out and look!"

Archibald McBigot emerged from the caravan. All round him lay the naked bodies of his men. Mere broken husks, they were grey, drawn, haggard, as if their life-juices had been sucked from their very veins. His army of Ulster volunteers lay in ruins.

A nude young man lay breathing his last nearby. "What happened, son?" Archibald McBigot asked on one knee, cradling the boy's head.

With the last, palsied gesture of the doomed, the fallen warrior pointed to the tea tent, and was about to speak, when a winsome young lady with a bright smile appeared at the awning. "Aaaargh," cried the gallant Ulster warrior in horror, and fell back, dead.

A year later, the lifeless bodies of some Loyal Orange Volunteers were found in their tents in their training camp near Portadown. The only marks on the naked corpses were some scratches on their buttocks, though the forensic pathologist did grimly report that he had never seen so many male parts that had been drained, withered and empty.

The sole survivor of these terrible massacres was a big-eyed tea girl, with an unnaturally bright smile. She was quite unable to explain to investigating detectives the mysterious fate that had apparently consumed the cream of Ulster's manhood, and in more ways than one.

Over the decades, armies of loyalists were raised and trained, yet then repeatedly reduced to husks. The one great consolation in these shocking tragedies was that the bright-eyed young Protestant girl with the big smile of shiny teeth who ran the Ulster Protestant Paramilitary tea tent never came to any harm.

Many unionist leaders also mysteriously perished during this time, such as Terence O'Neill, Chichester-Clark and Brian Faulkner. And quite by coincidence, a glamorous young tea girl had always delivered a cuppa to them shortly beforehand: each was later found slumped over his desk, haggard, drawn and juiceless.

However, Jim Molyneux was, mysteriously, immune to this terrible, desiccating fate. But in time he succumbed to wholly natural causes, and David Trimble was elected, only for him too to end with a similar fate. Soon, only Ian Paisley remained to become the leader of all of unionism, and the master of all he surveyed. And then one day he was brought a cup of tea, by a now not-so-young tea lady, and hours later, his exhausted body was found drained of blood, of lymph, of saliva and any of life's other vital fluids!

And so finally it was Peter Robinson's turn to lead unionism. Of course it is well known that there are some things that long-married couples do not do. So is it any wonder a tea lady's long-established appetites had to be satisfied, and where else, but in a tea shop? Thus, finally, an answer to the many mysterious and hitherto incomprehensible conundrums of unionism, throughout the Troubles. Yet stay: for what was the fair lady's name?

Vamp Iris Me.

Irish Independent