the big cheese 1

The war of the Cheesey Strings and Cheesestrings ? You might not be aware that there is something of a dispute going on , over a cheesey snack . Children in the main are the chief consumers of this snack- food that is said to be worth millions of pounds and euros across Ireland and the UK.Who ‘d ever imagine that they’d be fighting about cheese? Kerry Group  have taken Irish retailers Dunnes Stores to court and  are at loggerheads over their similarly -titled products. Kerry Group have gotten their mozzarella in a twist , having had “Cheesetrings” on the market since 1998 and registering them with the Irish Patent Office in 2008.

Captain Marvel, the 1950s  comic book  character  { also known as “the Big Cheese”} got into a similar tussle with the National DC comics group , because of the similarities with their  money-spinning character, Superman.

You know when they can go to war over something as innocuous  as cheese or comics, that it’s no stretch to take  up arms over a little thing like identity or land.

My father always knew which side to take .If it was Cowboys and Indians, he was always on the side of the Red Man. Simply put , he thought they’d had a raw deal in every way . Most Western films from the inception of cinema, cast the Native American” Indian” as the villain, for example. The “Red Indian” was always  portrayed  as some monosyllabic savage fool whose every response was to utter a grunting “How”. He was fine at drumming, smoking peace pipes and dancing the watusi around campfires,  but basically he was seen as  a Stone Age Savage,  in conflict with the Good Old White  Boys of the Seventh Cavalry.  This never sat well with my father. He thought the English Empire was founded on this kind of thing . There was India, Africa , even Australia and of course Scotland and Ireland. In his view it was  a brutality of greed and adventurism  in each country.It pained him that  many of those who had killed off the entire North American Native culture came from Ireland, which had similarly been traumatised by invasion; after the Great Famine of 1845- 1852  they left Ireland in droves and many  subsequently joined what became a legalised  slaughter group in America. John Wayne’s heroic films  didn’t make one iota of difference to my dad.This force was known as the 7th Cavalry and they were the protectors of those who crossed the plains of America seeking a new life.They may have been brave pioneering individuals , crossing and cultivating a new continent.They were undoubtedly the reason for the growth of modern America.The problem was that the Native inhabitants hadn’t invited them .

The 7th Cavalry, at inception in the 1860s  adapted the Irish tune “Garryowen” as its marching tune, so that really set out its pedigree. The tune stuck and so did the nickname and the regiment  patrolled the Western plains to protect the western movement of pioneers. They marched through Kansas, Montana and the Dakota Territories , killing Native Americans as they went. The residents of the country were not very pleased at the incursion into their  hunting grounds and sacred places and responded to the agression. It never seems to have occurred to the incoming whites that they were doing anything wrong .As far as they were aware  ,they were simply taking lands from savages who knew no better. The Native Americans didn’t really believe that anyone could really own the land or the sky.It sounded a very abstract thing to do . They had got along very well  for many generations by respecting its many benefits. Now there were more white men coming in than it could possibly sustain in the traditional ways.

The Cheyenne were slaughtered , as were the Sioux,Arapaho,Kiowa, Ponca, Omaha, Assiniboine  Mandans, Arikaras, and Hidatsas. The discovery of gold in the sacred grounds of the Black Hills of Dakota only led to further slaughter and greed .The Gold Rush started for real and the drive for the yellow metal put the final nail in the coffin. Many people ended their lives corralled and interned in reservations of poor land , their buffalo and livelihood all but destroyed completely.New, imported  diseases like smallpox did the rest.

No father hadn’t much time for  the genocide of nation-building.Greed drives it  over the world . I read and bought him  a copy of “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, a history of the Native Americans, sometime in the early 1970s, just as the Troubles were really  getting under way in Northern Ireland . He always drew the parallel of the red man’s  destruction with Ireland’s similar  fate. He had been born in 1919 , had lived through the setting up of the divided state and  identified with the Native American  in many ways.

I can still see him now, reading  and re-reading it on an afternoon , a  colourful  blanket draped over his shoulders.  He’d do that sometimes , even though the heat of the house was like Monument Valley.I think he fancied himself as a bit of a Red Indian. He certainly admired them greatly.


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