It being the day of the general election in the United Kingdom, Mary is probably somewhere in the halls of heaven retelling one of her favourite stories, a story that summed up her attitude to politicians. A story that seems apt when voters are no longer quite sure of which party stands for what.
It was the day of the 1992 General Election and I called with Mary at her Co Down farmhouse. Mary was just short of being 90 at the time, and had a long memory of British politics. It was April and there was still a chill in the air. We sat at her fireside drinking tea, as we did each time I called.
“Who do you think will win the General Election, Mr Poulton?” she asked.
“I don’t know”, I said.
“I will tell you a story”, she said.
“On the night before the Battle of the Boyne, a boatman was rowing King William across the river.
‘Do you think you will win tomorrow?’ the boatman inquired of the king.
‘Win or lose,’ replied the king, ‘you will be the boatman still’,”
“Mr Poulton, we will be the boatman still”.
It is good to remember one’s place in the world.
Being a boatman is not such a bad thing to be.