There is a Jimmy Young song about a "grand wee Belfast man," who "liked a drink on a Saturday night," who "liked a game on a Saturday, to watch the Glens go down," presumably in defeat to Linfield, and who might have been somebody just like David Ervine (above), who died today
In keeping with his full-strength unfiltered character, Ervine died of a heart attack, a stroke and
a brain haemorrhage, and preumably would have fitted in other fatal illnesses if he had had the time. In Dungannistan we knew him as that man with the gravelly voice so gravelly that we joked about him eating gravel for breakfast
. Look into those eyes - would you want to mess with Davy on a dark, cold Belfast street after eighty pints of Smithwicks?
Ervine, in his youth a violent loyalist, reached out across the religious divide as so many Unionists have not, proving that he had a heart and enough sense to understand that Protestants and Catholics had far more in common than the normal, shite politician might care to acknowledge. When the peace process started in the early to mid-1990s, Ervine founded a political party, the Progressive Unionists, and he made a much-heralded visit to the U.S., allowing many Irish Americans to discover that Prods were not monsters but humans, and quite avuncular humans with amusing mustaches.
I hope Ervine is somewhere where there are no more wintery showers, no rain-slick cobblestones, no "drafty streets end-on to hills, between the mountain and the gantries..."[*Note: I have no idea about football whatsoever, and am now uncertain as to whether Davy Ervine would have supported Glentoran or Linfield, so if I totally mangled the reference in the first paragraph, I apologize, but the sentiment stands because the original Jimmy Young song had the "grand wee Belfast man" identify himself as "Thompson is my name," and he could therefore only have been a Prod (apologies to all Catholic Thompsons everywhere) — if anyone knows the song of which I speak, please let me know...]