TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF 'TERRIBLE BEAUTY'
Within minutes of the two planes smacking into the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001, the idea for ‘Terrible Beauty’ started to take shape. What could possibly take men to the place where they were willing to give their lives in exchange for such biblical carnage? How long would the process take? How would it look?
Then there was a second question. My adopted home is
and our largest city is .
If such a monumental act were ever to hit Glasgow, where would it come
from? Would it come from the dusty refugee camps of the Middle East or would it
come from the downtrodden terraced streets of Glasgow West Belfast?
Then there was a second question. My adopted home is
Who might do such a thing and why would they do such a thing? And why?
As an unknown author with next to no income and a handful of maxed out credit cards, there was no possibility of a flight to
Jordan or Beruit or to meet such men. Even if I had been
able to afford the journey to the modern hotbeds of terrorism, it would have
taken me months and years to be trusted enough for any kind of access to have
been granted. Kabul
Instead I took a much more obvious route. I took a drive along the A75 and caught a Stena Line ferry to
. After a period of having doors
slammed in my face, things slowly but surely began to open up. The research
took a year and it was one of the most extraordinary journeys I have ever
undertaken. Sometimes a journey can involve many thousands of miles and it
takes you to a destination that looks and feels far from the familiarity of
home. The journey to the six counties of Belfast is a short one in
terms of miles and when you arrive everything looks much like home. Small,
struggling post industrial towns and harshly beautiful landscapes swept by the
same grey Atlantic rain that sweeps my own home turf of Northern Ireland Lancashire.
However journeys can be measured in more than miles. My journey took me deep into 700 years of sorry history which makes it hard indeed to feel any great pride in being born British. It took me deep into hatreds rooted in hundreds of years of endless cycles of revolt and reprisal. I was lucky have the chance to spend time with men who had been involved in extraordinary events during the long, dark years of 'The Troubles’ which exploded onto our TV screens in 1969 and went on to dominate the evening news for the next thirty years.
By the end of it, I felt that I had been given a handle on the dark, simmering hatred that lay behind centuries of repression and heartache. I met good, passionate men who had been drawn into very dark places: decent men who had committed the very worst of deeds. Two in particular gave me a privileged insight into the shadowland where good men choose to walk the dark road:
David Ervine and Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane.
In 1974 David was caught driving a stolen car loaded up with commercial explosive. He was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force; a terrorist. A judge sent him down hard. He emerged from a 11 year sentence in the Maze Prison with a desire to use the ballot box to secure a workable peace for his people – the Protestant community. In 1998 he was credited as being one of the key players in the Good Friday Agreement by Senator Mitchell.
Bik was sent down for life in 1976 for his involvement in an IRA attack on the Bayardo bar in the Loyalist Shankill district which saw 5 dead and 60 injured. By 1993 Bik had become the longest serving prisoner in the Maze, though his time on the H blocks had been anything but uneventful. He lived through the desperate years of the Dirty Protest before assuming command of the IRA prisoners when Bobby Sands went on hunger strike. In 1983 he led the Colditzesque mass break out of 38 prisoners and for his three years on the run he was the most wanted man in
By the time he was released on parole in 1997 he had served over 20 years behind
the wire. Britain
I had been brought up to see such men as the very epitome of evil, wicked terrorists. Common, violent criminals according to Maggie Thatcher. The very lowest of the low. However, the men I spent time with were charming, passionate, intelligent and articulate. They were in fact two of the most impressive men I have ever met.
Terrorists or freedom fighters?
A question as old as history. It is the question that runs through the heart of ‘Terrible Beauty’ as the story follows two men from neighbouring streets in West Belfast as they travel the dark road through thirty years of ‘the Troubles’. In the end one arrives at the place where he is willing to commit the greatest outrage of them all:
’s very own 9/11. Glasgow
Many men and women who travelled the same dark road as David and Bik have read the book and they have told me that it gives a true account of what can make good men do bad things. Their opinion is good enough for me. The blog below gives a much fuller account of the evolution of ‘Terrible Beauty’. It is probably far too long which is why I have written this briefer insight into the journey I took when researching and writing the book. If this process is of interest, please have a look at the blog below this one.
Right now ‘Terrible Beauty’ is free in the Kindle Store and it will be free to download until close of play on Sunday, 10th February.
I hope you download it and enjoy.
DAVID ERIVINE WHO IS SADLY NO LONGER WITH US AND IS MUCH MISSED
BRENDAN 'BIK' McFARLANE