The Holy Trinity

Integrated primary school classroom, Belfast. The P3s are having a Religious Education class.

Teacher: “Can anyone tell me about the holy trinity?”

[pause]

Girl: “Well, miss, my daddy …”

[Pause]

Girl: “My daddy says …”

[Pause]

Girl: “… My daddy says that the holy trinity is ginger, garlic, and chilli.”

Teacher: “Very good Laura. But I was looking for something about religion. You know this is RE, not home economics.”

Girl.: “But Miss, my daddy says that Ken Hom told him so.”

Teacher: “right …”

Girl: “And he’s god. Ken Hom is god.”

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Belfast, from Cave Hill

Dreamers• schemers• bathroom cleaners• pipers• snipers• windscreen-wipers• typists• rascists• papists • rapists• spankers• bankers• wankers• outflankers• peace-makers• bakers• risk-takers• orgasm-fakers• fighters• writers• pillow-biters• shite-talkers• stalkers• hill-walkers• hawkers• porkers• growlers• prowlers• full-moon howlers• petty thieves• kickers of leaves• healers• peelers• drug-dealers• arse-feelers• dog-breeders• avid readers• cheerleaders• the weird• the cloth-eared• the disappeared• community pillars• tooth-drillers• illegal distillers• gorillas• repentant killers• prods• sods• mods• yobs• nobs• slobs• runners• stunners• machine-gunners• climbers• rhymers• old-timers• portrait-painters• stuffy-room fainters• fiddlers• diddlers• back-alley piddlers• sluggers• muggers• buggers• tree-huggers• farmers• charmers• child-harmers• losers• choosers• abusers• boozers• schoolboys• toy-boys• corner-boys• rent-boys• bad boys• touts• snouts• louts• down-and-outs• pimps• wimps• gimps• parasites• gobshites• fly-by-nights• corridor-pacers• ambulance-chasers• kiddie-boy racers• quaffers• scoffers• coughers• the well-appointed• the double-jointed• huns• nuns• working mums• crackers• slackers• shelf-stackers• account-hackers• arsonists• larcenists• royalists• loyalists• fundamentalists• flat-earthers• no-mirthers• natural-birthers• string-pluckers• motherfuckers• brick-chuckers• prudes• dudes• cool nudes• cheaters• beaters• vegetable-eaters• preachers• screechers• teachers• hair-bleachers• fliers• liars• asset-buyers• lags• slags• hags• toe-rags• old bags• ballbags• twits• brits• wee shits• nitwits• hypocrites• lurkers• shirkers• construction workers• acrobats• twats• lovers of cats• employees• payees• trustees• refugees• lefties• westies• besties• crusties• culchies• orangies• fluters• looters• freebooters• seducers• juicers• film producers• thickheads• dickheads• airheads• shitheads• vicars• lickers• fruit-pickers• city slickers• witches• bitches• snitches• curtain-twitchers• beggars• fleggers• bootleggers• truckers• suckers• muckers• noisy fuckers• swingers• singers• mingers• right-wingers• dead-ringers• screwers• brewers• gum-chewers• plotters• trotters• train-spotters• copybook-blotters•  jokers• smokers• midnight bokers• runts• grunts• lazy cunts• twisters• sisters• short-listers• freaks• sneaks• fixers of leaks• jivers• skivers• taxi drivers• ‘lend-us-a-fiver’s• moaners• loners• organ-donors• whores• bores• stevedores• makers of laws• proles• arseholes• setters of goals• go-getters• elders-and-betters• bed-wetters• clinicians• musicians• mathematicians• politicians• the outraged• the under-aged• the low-waged• lodgers• bodgers• salad-dodgers• nippers• strippers• day-trippers• sticks• pricks• catholics• lunatics• junkies• flunkies• cheeky monkeys• gritters• fitters• splitters• heavy-hitters• woolly-sock knitters• semen-spitters• lords• frauds• chairmen of boards• plumbers• drummers• latecomers• designers• maligners• whiners• toe-the-liners• naysayers• bricklayers• zombie-slayers• poker-players• sinners• shinners• lottery winners• rockers• dockers• door-knockers• weavers• achievers• non-believers• thrashers• flashers• potato-mashers• bible-bashers• budget-slashers• car-crashers• gays• DJs• here-to-stays• travellers• grovellers• shovellers• dream-unravellers …

Maria McManus Cavehill 1

Photo by Maria McManus

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Cars, Ormeau Road, 1.

The roar of a high-performance engine and the squeal of tyres turns my head. A shining, beefed-up muscular mini, containing a skinny young man with short hair and wearing dark glasses, speeds down the hill towards town. The man’s tattooed right arm is hanging out of the driver’s window, juxtaposed against the shocking pink, white-striped car body.

Blue Subaru with gold trim, parked outside the Ulster Bank. Low to the ground, it is the first to be affected when the manhole covers burst open and the flash flood waters from the heavy rain start to flow into its twin exhaust pipes. The lad with spiked-up hair and acne, in his smart bank uniform, nips out to see what can be done, but he can’t leave his customers to queue for long. The car won’t budge; when 5 o’clock comes, taxi for him, low-loader for his motor.

Vernacularisms Jason O'Rourke

The flood, Ormeau Rd, 2007. Picture by J. O’Rourke.

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Guest Post: ‘Mr Gabor’s Day Out,’ by Michael Costello.

Mr Gabor had a problem. Standing in front of him was a pretty young girl waving her arms and speaking very slowly. She appeared to be saying the word ‘DOWN!’ quite loudly, as if she assumed he was hard of hearing, which he wasn’t. He definitely understood ‘Down,’ but because his English was very poor, he was unable to reply. So he just sat on his fold-up chair and smiled. Then the girl stuck her fingers in her ears and began shouting another word he didn’t understand.

Earlier, Mr Gabor had been standing opposite the City Hall at the corner of Donegall Place playing his horned violin. He was very proud of his violin. He had made it himself back in Romania, in Recea to be exact, where he had lived for fifty-six years before coming to Belfast. That was two weeks ago and today was the first time he had ventured out to play his music. His daughter Amalia had suggested it. She had been living in Belfast for three years and now had a good job working as a receptionist in an exclusive hotel. They lived together in a small house in a maze of streets near the city centre along with Amalia’s fiancé Emil, who worked as a refuse collector.

For two weeks Mr Gabor sat in the small house listening to Amalia and Emil talking about life in Belfast, how good it was, how lovely most of the people were and their trips to the mountains and the sea. They told him he must go out and play his violin because Belfast people loved traditional music.  He could also make money, so he agreed, if only to get out of the house and give Amalia and Emil some time on their own. Emil bought him a cheap mobile phone, put in their numbers and showed him how to call them. They gave him a map with walking routes marked out with X’s showing the best places for him to play then walked him down to the city centre and left him standing opposite the city hall.

“Have a good day out Papa,” Amalia said, “Just smile if anybody talks to you. And ring when you’re finished. We’ll come and get you.”

Mr Gabor had brought with him his small fold-up chair and his violin and horn packed in an old case. He propped his chair against a window, unpacked his violin, attached the horn and began playing Țăranul Fericit (‘The Happy Shepherd’) and Chase Fetele (‘Chase the Girls’). He liked playing them; both were happy songs made for dancing and this allowed him to swing from side to side and create a good wah-wah effect with the music. However, soon it became impossible to play anything. People were bumping into him and stepping over his case, sometimes kicking it. He decided to go for a walk along one of the routes marked on the map. One route in particular caught his eye, especially the X at the end that looked like a square with a church nearby. It might be quieter there. He packed everything up and began walking, frequently stopping to check the map. He couldn’t ask anybody for directions, as his English was so poor, but eventually he stopped a couple and showed them the map. The man said something to him and Mr Gabor smiled and pointed to the X. The man appeared confused. He began talking to the woman with him, then he handed the map back to Mr Gabor and pointed towards a street. Mr Gabor looked at the woman. She smiled and nodded and they walked on.

Before he reached the square, Mr Gabor stopped and showed his map a few more times; once to an old man who just stared at him, then a group of boys who sent him the wrong way and finally two women who brought him to the square. Now he sat on one side, playing Vine Noaptea (‘The Night Comes’), his favourite tune. He was right, the square was peaceful and indeed, a large church stood nearby. A few people walked through and slowed down to listen but none gave him money.

He was still playing when a small group of young people entered the square, three girls and two boys. One of the boys was bearded and carried a guitar case. They sat down opposite. The bearded boy took out his guitar and began to pluck the strings. Mr Gabor noticed they were looking at him but they weren’t smiling. Eventually, one of the girls stood up and walked towards him. She was pretty, about the same age as Amalia. She pointed to the violin and spoke. He smiled. She turned to her friends and shouted something. Another girl raced across to join her. She too was pretty and it was she who was now standing with her fingers in her ears. Mr Gabor knew they were asking him to stop playing. The violin was too loud. He smiled. The girls returned his smile and ran back to their friends. Mr Gabor leaned back in his chair, his violin resting in his lap. The sun was lower in the sky and his side of the square was becoming streaked in dark shadows. Opposite him, the bearded boy began singing a soft melancholy tune.

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A View from the Abyss

This morning is different to the others.

I awake lying naked on a plain of polished obsidian. It is lit by a dim, pale, light, as if the crescent moon were hidden behind a thin covering of cloud. The plain stretches as far as I can see in every direction. It is perfectly flat and featureless: no trees, mountains, rivers, buildings, people. It is neither hot nor cold; the air is not stale yet there is no breeze. It is neither humid nor dry. There is no sound but the sough of my breath and the faint slow pulse of my heart.

I have nothing. No clothes, no food or water, no shelter. It doesn’t matter; I am not hungry or thirsty, cold or damp. I raise myself with aching muscles and begin to walk towards the horizon. Nothing changes; the hard surface under my feet is uniform; no dirt, grit or texture to break the monotony. Time passes, and becomes irrelevant. I don’t know how long I have been walking, maybe hours, maybe only minutes. The light remains the same; there is no dusk, no dawn. I keep going in a straight line until the ache in my feet and legs forces me to stop. I am sure that if I keep going I will reach the edge at some point.

When I sit down to rest they come, materialising as if from some cloud of vapour. The largest of them bellows at me unintelligibly, his eyes bulging, foam collecting at the corners of his mouth, flecks spitting out as he roars at me like a preacher. Groups of homunculi scuttle up to me making impossible demands and waving papers in my face; they run back when I kick at them, then regroup and return. A vicious harpy pinches me, jabs her fingers into my sides, and claws at me with her long nails until I am covered in red scratches and small weals. She is relentless, only finally making way for a demure-looking black-haired woman. This one is clearly in charge, for as she approaches me the clamour dies down and the movements cease. The others crowd in to watch.

She is carrying a small leather bag, which she puts down next to me. Then she smiles, embraces me, and speaks: Don’t worry. You can trust me. You’re amazing. She strokes my skin, looking into my eyes, still smiling. Her green eyes are cold, dead, shark-like. She deftly opens the bag and takes out her accoutrements: scalpels, knives, syringes, tubes, a silver-rimmed glass flask. She lays them out in a neat row, then says: I had these specially made for you. I’m so lucky to have got you; you’re so generous. She takes my head in both hands and turns it so that we are looking directly into each others eyes once more. She smiles again, then says, It’s nothing much, I just have to take a little each day until I have all I need. It won’t be too long, don’t worry. Make a fist for me. Now relax, you’re going to feel a small scratch on your arm. I look down to see her inserting a needle into my arm at the elbow. What flows out into the tube is not blood but a clear fluid. She collects it in the flask, frowning with concentration. Precious stuff. Don’t want to spill a drop. She smiles, So good of you to donate. When about a pint of the fluid has passed into the flask she withdraws the needle and gives me a small swab of cotton wool to hold on the wound. She lifts the flask and takes a draught of the fluid, clearly savouring it to the full: Ah! She exclaims, That’s the good stuff. Next she lifts a small, sharp knife, leans in and makes an incision in my chest. Again there is no blood. Just paring away a little of your confidence now, and we’ll take a bit of self-esteem with this one here, and I’m sure we’ll find a wee bit of hope, and then we’re done for today. After she has finished she embraces me tightly again, strokes my face and says, You are so class. Thank you so much. See you later. With that she is gone. The commotion starts up again, but dies down after a while, as they disappear in ones and twos. Weakened, I stretch out on the stone and sleep.

The next day is the same, and the one after, and the ones after that. I walk, the horizon does not alter, and the light remains unchanged. The only noticeable differences are in me: I am becoming dependent on the small kindnesses and comforting words of the green-eyed one. I bask in those brief moments of contact as she drains me. She grows stronger with every piece of my spirit she devours; I lose count of the sessions, realising that there isn’t much of me left. She must have sensed this too, for on the next visit she changes the routine, pulling out a new blade. This one is long, like a carving knife. It has a black handle with EXIT inlaid into it in silver. She hands it to me. I feel the heft of it, run it gently across my skin. The temptation is strong, but she stops me and takes it back, saying, No. You are too beautiful. I can’t let you go from here. Not yet. I still need you. hearing this, my spirits return a little, and she takes some for herself, slugging greedily from the flask. And so it continues. Sometimes she brings the exit knife and lets me handle it for a while before she takes it off me. This is an effective strategy. Her power grows, and she brags about it to the others, who look up at her in awe.

And yet something eludes her. No matter how she probes and cuts, she can’t find what she’s looking for. It is frustrating: her mouth turns down at the corners, her brow furrows. She tries new strategies, skilfully manipulating my emotions, but she has underestimated me. She cannot remove the conviction I hold safely hidden from her: one day I will wake up in my own bed. I will dress in fresh clothes, put on my boots, go outside, and smell the herbs that grow beside the path: mint, rosemary, fennel, and sage. I will catch cool raindrops on my face, soak up the petrichor, and feel the warmth of the sun when the clouds pass, driven by a south-westerly from the Atlantic. I will meet my friends and we will play music together and laugh. I will taste fresh bread from the bakery and Polish ham from the deli on the Ormeau Road, and drink a pint or two of black stout in the Errigle Inn. And when I meet the creatures of the Obsidian Plain on the streets of Belfast, I will know that I defeated them.

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Guest Post: ‘Spencer, my Planter Moniker,’ by Brian John Spencer.

‘The civil tongue that masks the uncivil mind.’
Eamon met a minister. The calvinist cleric called him “Seamus.” My friend corrected him. The preacher cooly followed, “Same thing.”
“What’s your name?”
“Robert,” responded the minister.
“Ok great, William.” My friend said.
A portrait of sectarianism classless, creedless, rankless, of its rot and reach. I feigned disgust; because I did the same thing. Did and still do. And I’m ashamed. But maybe I’m not alone in it.
I have a cousin who has had a child, the proverbal Northern Ireland kind, and I can never remember her name. I say Nuala or Fionuala or Una or Orna. Her name is Niamh.
My Catholic neighbours were called Eimear and Orla. I don’t know how or why, but I always knew these were different appellations, in origin and nominatively. Even though I was nursery age. Growing up my mum would sometimes jest about ‘Fionuala’ or ‘Siobhan.’ The latter because you could go phonetical and mispronounce as ‘Sio-ban.’
We carry our sectarianism like a pocket-watch, said Nick Laird. We carry our names like fire alarms that trip on contact with ‘The Other Side.’ Our names are like an indicator and surreptitious informant, blowing our cover. Spencer, my planter moniker. But we cover, even sanitise and civilise this incivility in ‘decorum.’
Our expertly civil tongue masks our egregiously uncivil minds.
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A New Direction, Part 6.

Previous parts are here. If you haven’t been following the story, this episode won’t make any sense. Could be fun anyway though.

***

“Is it just yourself for breakfast then?” The landlady looked Davy up and down with cool disapproval, eyebrows raised.

“Yes, of course,” Davy replied, frowning with confusion, “just me. Why do you ask..?” Then he realised. Bloody Hell. Oh Jesus, no. His chest tightened as a wave of anxiety shot through him, and his face began to glow.

“Maybe you can help me,” she said sternly, “I was watching a programme last night on UTV, about some girls from here who went over to California looking for work. They seemed to think it was a great place, nice warm climate and all that. Plenty of opportunities for hard-working people. But you know, when I was watching it, I couldn’t help thinking to myself that everything out there seemed a bit … fake or something, like everyone was acting. Our girls couldn’t see it, of course, lapped it up. Which do you prefer: Irish girls or American girls?”

Davy shifted in his seat, and mumbled, “I know what you mean. Give me a good down-to-earth Irish girl any time.”

“Very loud, those American girls,” she said archly, “aren’t they?” Davy stared at the place mat in silence for some seconds, as if the secret to teleportation was written on it, and then looking up, managed a thin smile.

“Oh, I think I know what you’re talking about,” he said, “I didn’t have anyone in my room, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Her eyes bored into him, probing the deepest corners of his being. Davy glanced down nervously, paused, and then continued: “I was listening to the radio. There was a play on.” He swallowed and laughed awkwardly, adding: “It was a bit racy for my liking, actually…” He glanced up to see that she was still staring at him. After a couple of seconds the tight line of her mouth began to turn up at the corners, and then a burst of laughter exploded from her.

“Jesus, that’s hilarious,” she eventually managed to say, breathlessly, with her shoulders still heaving, “I thought you had some young thing in there with you.”

Davy smiled back at her, relief written across his face, and said, “Good grief, me? With a girl? I …”

She cut across him, “Same as yesterday, then?” Davy nodded. She paused and then said, “Maybe I should give you two eggs … you need to keep your strength up, Romeo.”

The colour rising in his face again, he mumbled, “No thanks, one’s enough.”

“Right you are then.” She turned and went towards the door chuckling.

As she left the room, he could clearly hear her singing, “It’s all over … Casanova.”

***

Back in the room, Davy powered Jo up. After a few seconds she blinked into life and said, “Morning, love. How are you?”

“Here, I just had a close one with the landlady,” he blurted, “she overheard us … you … yesterday. Thought I had a girl up here.”

“Oh my gosh,” Jo replied anxiously, “what did you do?”

“Well, I managed to put her off; told her I was listening to the radio … Jesus. She was really fierce, I thought I’d had it. Ended up she was laughing her head off though. It was tight.”

“Poor you.” Jo sympathised, “It must have been really embarrassing.” She paused for a moment, then added, “But quite funny too when you think about it. Your face must have been a picture.”

“I haven’t hit a reddener like that since I was a teenager,” Davy answered darkly, “I was scundered. It was terrible. We’ll have to be more careful in future, I don’t want that happening again.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Jo replied airily, “caution at all times. Discretion shall be my watchword.”

“Good. Now I suppose we’d better get ready to hit the road for Donegal, it’s a long enough drive.” Davy got up from the edge of the bed, and started to walk towards the bathroom.

After a short pause Jo said softly, “About Donegal …”

“Yes, go on.”

“Well, it’s just that there’s so much to see round here on the North Coast. I’d like to explore round here a bit more.”

“So, are you saying we should skip Gweedore and just stay here for the whole weekend?” Davy answered.

“Would you mind awfully?” I’m just thinking about Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Have you ever been across it? I’d love to experience that. And there’s the Giant’s Causeway; we could have a picnic at Whitepark Bay, maybe even go to Rathlin Island. What do you think?”

Davy mulled it over for a moment. “You know what? That sounds grand. There’s so much here I’ve never seen; seems like a real shame to have all this on your doorstep and not experience it. Not sure I can take yer woman giving me gip at the breakfast table though,” he continued thoughtfully, then added, “Ach what the hell. It’s nice here, and we can always go to Donegal another time. I’ll see if she can have us for the rest of the weekend.”

“Oh that’s great! What shall we do today then?”

Davy glanced out of the window. “It’s a gorgeous day. What about a picnic at Whitepark Bay, and a look at the rope bridge? Does that sound good?”

“Sounds perfect. I’ve had a look and there are other places to see round there as well: Larry Bane chalk quarry looks interesting; it’s right by the sea. And Ballintoy has a lovely little harbour.”

“That’s decided then,” Davy answered cheerfully, “I’ll go and talk to yer woman.”

***

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Guest Post: ‘Pizzaphone’ by Tony Strickland.

Late Saturday night, South Belfast. A busy takeaway pizza restaurant. The manager answers a call, and recognising the voice from a few minutes earlier, puts the phone on speaker:

There’s no toppings on my pizza! the man slurs, loudly.

What exactly is the problem sir? asks the weary manager.

I was just in your place. Got the pizza back to mine, opened the box and there was no toppings on it. And I’m friggin’ starving here. I ordered pepperoni, mushrooms, red peppers and extra tomato sauce. I open it up and all I see is the base. Where’s my fuckin’ toppings?

The manager, remembering the guy – so blocked he could barely order – was intrigued, So tell me sir, what is in your pizza box?

It’s only a bloody pizza base, there’s no toppings on it. Oh hang on a minute. Oh fuck, I’ve opened it upside down.

Everyone breaks down laughing in the pizza place.

Sorry, the drunk mumbles, I’m sorted now.

True story.

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Not my Job

The end-of-terrace house is being done up. There is a high ladder up against the flat expanse of the gable end, and at the top of it a builder in a high-vis jacket is putting on the final layer of cream exterior paint. The job is nearly finished. At the bottom of the ladder his companion, foot on the bottom rung for safety, gives me the once-over as I pass by.

This wall has history. It’s been a site of loyalist murals for years. During the 2002 soccer World Cup it sported a mural of the Spanish flag with the words “Viva Espana” roughly painted on it; the message was for supporters of the Irish Republic’s team, who had drawn Spain in their last 16 match. Flying from the drunkenly-leaning telegraph pole beside the mural was the flag of Gibraltar. The flags of Ireland’s other opponents were also painted on surrounding walls; that of Saudi Arabia on the wall of the Kimberley Inn cheerfully accompanied the Star of David, which was also fluttering from the telegraph pole. The Israeli flag had been flown in response to Palestinian solidarity being expressed on the Lower Ormeau Road. The corner was colourful, like a mini-UN.

The Kimberley Inn has since been demolished, and apartments now stand in its place. In its day it was frequented by leading loyalist paramilitaries Raymond Elder and Joe Bratty, until they were killed by the IRA on the Ormeau Road in 1994. The outside wall of the bar used to sport a memorial to the two men. In 2003 UDA man Roy Green was shot dead outside the bar during the UDA’s internal feud.

Any visitor unaware of the history of this particular corner would be forgiven for wondering why there is a fragment of wooden scrollwork on the gable wall with the word ‘Fighters’ on it; they wouldn’t know that it’s all that remains of the plaque of a red fist celebrating the Ormeau Road Freedom Fighters.

The builders have painted neatly around it.

Vernacularisms

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Guest Post: ‘Home, Home Home, and the Telling of Stories,’ by Anthony Joseph Black.

‘HOME’ MAY BE WHERE THE HEART IS, but where does that leave ‘home home?’

I live in Belfast, but I am not from Belfast. I moved here at eighteen, just shy of thirty years ago, to attend Queens. I grew up in Carnlough – Glencloy, Glen of the Hedges – on the Antrim Coast. Or ‘sleepy coastal resort Carnlough,’ to give it the full title it invariably attracts on those rarest of occasions when it briefly breaches the national consciousness. In Carnlough, as in all small villages, stories are currency – family anecdotes, local lore, legendary figures from its long history, and of course idle gossip.

When I moved to Belfast in autumn 1985, it was only the third time I had ever been to the city. I had never seen a British soldier in the flesh, although freakishly I had watched a man bleed to death yards from my house in Carnlough, the victim of a result of political assassination, and the solitary occasion on which The Troubles impinged on our sleepy coastal resort.

Belfast in 1985 was like a parallel universe. There was the security situation, obviously – the gated city centre, random and frequent bag and car searches, heavily armed soldiers and policemen cheek by jowl with citizens going about their daily business. But the most unsettling aspect of my new city life was one I had not anticipated: it was that the people didn’t seem to talk to one another. Certainly not in any sort of shared space, where provenance was uncertain and the avoidance of unwitting disclosure paramount. “They don’t talk to one another” I thought. “What do they do with all their stories?”

A few months into my new Belfast life I was on a bus to a friend’s house when I tuned into a conversation behind me, a  discussion between two women. It is perhaps simplest if I reproduce it here, as best I can, given the vagaries of memory and my storyteller’s instinct to edit, hone and polish:

– Jeez, I haven’t seen you in ages, M. How are you? How’s the family? And John – how’s your John?

– Sure he left me, so he did.

– He did not.  I didn’t hear that.

– Aye, he took up with some woman he met when he was in drying out. An English woman. He left me and went over there to live with her.

– Oh God, M, I’m sorry love. I didn’t know. He was never that good to you really though, was he? God forgive me. It’s probably for the best. In the long run.

– I swear, T, I couldn’t cope when he left, for all that. I cried and I cried. I thought I was never going to stop. I cried myself sore for weeks and weeks and weeks. I just couldn’t stop.

– I’m sure you did, M, I’m sure you did.

– But then I won £80 on the bingo, so…

– Ah well then, eighty pound sure.

– Aye, eighty pound.

And so that was the price of the faithless, feckless husband: eighty pounds. As odd as it seemed, I knew in that moment that Belfast would do just fine as my new home. It would never be ‘home home,’  to use that peculiar  tautological distinction  –   that would always be Carnlough  –  but Belfast would at least be ‘home.’

And so now I live in Belfast, where we may not tell our stories straight away. But be patient, because when we do, they’re usually worth hearing.

Vernacularisms Ulsterbus

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