In the sectarian-charged atmosphere of Belfast, Northern Ireland, my father’s name – Robert Campbell – suggested he was probably a Protestant (and, indeed, he was the son of a Presbyterian.)
One day, in the course of his work for the government, he went to visit a couple in their home. He was shown in and the wife offered to make a pot of tea. While my father and the husband waited, they chatted about inconsequential stuff.
Slowly, however, the husband began to make negative remarks about Roman Catholics. My father decided that he would play along and offered such responses as, “Yes, of course” and “I can see that.” The husband grew increasingly vehement in his denunciations and my father became more and more uncomfortable.
Suddenly, my father felt a sneeze coming on. He reached into his pocket for his handkerchief and as he withdrew it, his rosary beads fell noisily on the wooden floor.
He picked them up, grabbed his briefcase and fled!