2012

This page should make it easier to pick out stories. I’ve included a brief summary or synopsis of each story. This might affect your reading experience, so if you don’t want any extra information about the stories, don’t read on. Some jokes and plot twists are explained here.

Click on the links to go to the story. Links open in a new window.

  1. Laundry: an ironic, humorous, walk past the launderette.  Gaeilge anseo.
  2. Parklife: A description of spring arriving in South Belfast, with a twist of pathos at the end. Gaeilge anseo.
  3. Beemer: an examination of car culture in Northern Ireland, outlining the contrast between appearance and personality.
  4. Choir of Angels: three busking schoolgirls are embarrassed by a drunk. The story explores the tension between the girls’ Christian ideology and its practical application.
  5. Assassin: an encounter in the city centre sparks a reflection on the nature of big business.
  6. Süskind: a portrait of a pigeon-keeper, highlighting the tension between man and nature. The title refers to the author of The PigeonGaeilge anseo. Illustration by Susan Hughes here.
  7. Vanity Mirror: an examination of human nature in your car’s rear-view mirror. Illustration by Susan Hughes here.
  8. Big Fish: a snapshot of the lives of Belfast’s Romanian immigrants on a feast day. The Big Fish sculpture is a Belfast landmark. Gaeilge anseo.
  9. Clamp it: a glimpse into the world of the car-park wheel clamper. ‘Clampit’ is Belfast slang for ‘idiot’.
  10. Baby Boom: an ironic look at fatherhood. Boom!
  11. Miller Time:  a whistling builder cheers up the hung-over narrator. Gaeilge anseo.
  12. The Boy in the Bubble: a spell of illness leaves the narrator with an unexpected side-effect.
  13. Incendiary: Belfast, during the troubles. A city-centre encounter examines the humorous side of political violence.
  14. Super-Cool: a portrait of the small town of Lurgan and some of its inhabitants.
  15. Teenage Kicks: a trip to Belfast’s Botanic Gardens through the eyes of a father and his child. The title refers to the song by Derry band The Undertones.
  16. Magic Tree: Encounters in the petrol station shop pose questions about illegal drug use.
  17. Shop till you Drop: On a visit to a busy supermarket, the narrator takes a detailed look at the shopping experience.
  18. Reservation Blues: a symbolic reflection on the tension between humans and nature, fear and hope, on the M1 motorway. The title nods in the direction of the novel by Sherman Alexie.
  19. Close Shave: a conversation in the barber’s looks at the problem of joyriding on the streets of Belfast.
  20. Stunning Stunts: an accident in the park leads to the formation of a small team of heroes.
  21. Snapshot: A post-modern walk through a Belfast park, leading to some musings about the quality of life in the city. The title refers to the Vernacularisms blog.
  22. All Changed: A lunchtime stroll to the shop in a Republican area of West Belfast muses on the changes that peace has brought to the city. The title and closing line are from Easter, 1916 by W.B. Yeats.
  23. Wifeless: a musician waiting for his wife meets a well-spoken drunk; the conversation leaves a lasting impression.
  24. Sweet Rosemary: two buskers meet an old woman with unexpected consequences. The story portrays the folly of sectarianism.
  25. Special Delivery: a Screenplay: The humorous story of John McCarthy’s 1995 visit to Belfast from the taxi driver’s point of view, in a short screenplay.
  26. Butting in: an incident in a Belfast bar exposes the tribal nature of human society and how communities react to individuals that don’t fit in.
  27. Shoe: a glimpse of 1990s Belfast nightlife with a shocking twist at the end.
  28. Moon Child: your four-year-old daughter is aware of the moon’s arcane power. The title references the song by King Crimson. Gaeilge anseo.
  29. Wild Iris: a political satire that pokes fun at Iris Robinson and her affair with Kirk McCambly (‘Irisgate’). The story also analyses the complexities of Belfast’s political composition, as two friends take a walk by the canal.
  30. The Road to Damascus: The narrator indulges in casual racism and sexism, but repents of it as he passes Damascus Street, in Belfast’s ‘Holy Lands’ area.
  31. Strangers on a Plane: a contrast is drawn between a wealthy woman and a chicken and mushroom pie. Appearances can be deceiving.
  32. The Cat’s Whiskas: a shopping incident told from two different perspectives, from which the humour arises. The joke is explained in the title – it is the cat’s Whiskas, not the busker’s.
  33. Those were the Days, my Friend: a monologue reminiscing about life in Belfast during the Troubles. The complexity of nostalgia and a yearning for the ‘good old days’ of wartime. The title refers to the 1968 song sung by Mary Hopkins.
  34. Consuming Passions: Two sassy teenage girls inspire the narrator to reflect on materialism in modern society.
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