Monthly Archives: October 2011

Who was that masked man?

Is your dog ready for Hallowe'en?

Hallowe’en is coming and the goose is getting fat… That was what we sang door to door at Hallowe’en back in Belfast. Tuneful? No. A seasonal song? No. On the scrounge? Yes.

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat… At some houses my mates and I were listened to once, then other residents would be summoned to the door for a repeat of our odd performance.

If you haven’t got a penny, a pound will do… And at many doors we were Continue reading

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Filed under family history, In the village

Do ballerinas say “Cheese”?

James McDougall photographing a set at the Royal Opera House, London

My neighbour James McDougall was a gifted photographer. He recorded for posterity the nearly all the sets used by the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera between 1962 or ’63 and the early 2000s Continue reading

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Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends, In the village, Music, theatre

The Day I Met… The Queen

"I just can't bear to look at that man."

The bar is hereby set to a new high for the The Day I Met… Competition. We’re talking mightily prestigious here. Almost John Peel level. Someone who has two birthdays each year. Holiday homes across the globe. Likes the gee-gees. She even knew Princess Diana. Yes… it’s the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II (or I if you’re Scottish). As monarchs go, she makes up in dignity what she lacks in liveliness.

This startling tale comes from Rudy Noriega of the Gullible’s Travels blog.

Regardless of your politics (and you know how I compromised mine here and here), Queen Elizabeth is the sort of person for whom you’d want to scrub up well before meeting. You’d want to make a fairly good impression, wouldn’t you? Not encounter with your flies down or spinach between your teeth. You certainly wouldn’t want to encounter her when you were… say…. oh I don’t know…  PISSED! (That means drunk, by the way, not angry, for any Americans reading this.)

Oh Rudy, Rudy, Rudy… Continue reading

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There’s more to Belfast than peace walls

Arthur Magee - Ambassador of the humane to humanity

How could you not love a face like that? It’s playwright and tour guide Arthur Magee. He has a bee in his bonnet about the type of tourism that goes on in Belfast – sometimes called “terror tours”. You know the sort of thing – here’s the Falls Road, here’s the Shankill, here’s where he was shot and she was blown up.

Anything wrong with it? Maybe not. Can be educational, even respectful. And it’s clearly part of the history and undeniably internationally known. I’ve even done it myself in an informal way for foreign mates who, to my surprise, had studied Northern Ireland at college. Odd to think of yourself as a laboratory specimen.

But though Norn Irn’ers have been known to revel in their notoriety and believe – or demand – that the world revolves round them (“Never mind the fall of the Berlin Wall – what about the Apprentice Boys wanting to march across the Ormeau Bridge!?!) – you can imagine that it can become tiresome to feel that visitors see you solely in the context of the Troubles. A bit like being in a zoo too. In the cage.

Brendan Deeds - writer

Which is why Arthur Magee has come up with an alternative Continue reading

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Filed under art, history

Colonel Gaddafi v Daniel O’Donnell (for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)

Gaddafi's last words: "I'll top myself if you let Daniel sing..."

Warning: Not to be let near a microphone

Has your day been disrupted? Your carefully laid plans ripped up and thrown away? Hours of preparation gone to waste? Mine was. So why am I smiling? Not at all crotchety (which is today’s theme for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)? It’s all thanks to Colonel Gaddafi.

Sure, he may have made life misery for Libyans, presided over a despotic regime of fear and sudden death, invaded neighbouring states, encouraged assassination and mass murder overseas, bombed planes, supplied semtex and weapons to the IRA, protected the killer of police officer Yvonne Fletcher and inflicted repeated noxious gas attacks on journalist visitors to his tent through constant and noisy farting.

But he wasn’t all bad.

In his last act I think he went some small way towards making up for his many and various crimes, especially those against Ireland. And I am personally grateful.

Here’s how. The other day I was due to encounter a man both much loved and much loathed. He’s variously known as “the Pride of Kincasslagh”, “wee Daniel” and the nemesis of all that is pure and decent in music. He’s one of the world’s leading pushing of that pernicious aural drug – Country and Irish music. (Worse – far worse – than the worst Country ‘n’ Western.)

His name’s Daniel O’Donnell Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, media

The Day I Met… James Nesbitt

 
Happy

This bonus entry in the The Day I Met… Competition comes from Emma, who lives in the northern Irish countryside. She blogs at Adventures of an Unfit Mother. Her story involves an encounter with a very fine actor who is also well known for his charm and twinkle – James Nesbitt.

Emma herself admits she’s cheating with her entry.  “I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the rules,” she says. “But felt it was worth sharing.” And she’s right. I’ll reveal her rule bending in a moment, but first here’s a reminder of James Nesbitt’s work for those who need it.

Unhappy

He hit the big time as one of the ensemble cast of Cold Feet – a bit like a British Friends. He was going out with Helen Baxendale, who later popped up in Friends to marry Ross. (Didn’t work out.) He was the menacing undercover cop in Murphy’s Law (based on stories by Colin Bateman) and appeared in various films including Waking Ned (Waking Ned Devine in America) and is in the forthcoming hairy-footed epic, The Hobbit.

Hobbit (Okay, not really a hobbit, but a dwarf called Bofur in The Hobbit)

He was just great in Bloody Sunday directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne & United 93) as civil rights leader and MP Ivan Cooper – and great again as the bereaved brother in Five Minutes of Heaven who refuses to give a killer easy absolution for the sake of TV cameras and the “peace process”.

The catch in Emma’s story is that it wasn’t her, but her Mum who met this particular star. But that’s fine, because that’s why it works. So here is…

The day my Mum met… James Nesbitt.

At a family wedding a number of years ago, the guest list included none other than James Nesbitt, the Northern Irish actor. He had gone to school with the groom. At the time he was starring in BT [British Telecom – the main UK phone network] ads on TV, as well as being one of the leads in Cold Feet – a very popular drama at the time.

In other words, he was doing very well for himself, thank you very much.

There was a low hum of excitement as he entered the church, but in typical Irish fashion he was then pretty much nonchalantly ignored..

Later in the day my Mum happened to be placed next to him at the table. Too this day, I have no idea whether this was a clever orchestration or happy chance, because Continue reading

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Parachute sex and molten lava cakes

High time I took a break from my self-absorption (thanks Maxi) and shared some moving, joyous and simply bizarre goodies from elsewhere.

Parachute sex & frisky turtles from SamHenry. She usually keeps a beady eye on US politics and economics, but amorous airborne antics are distracting her. It’s a funny news story, played straight for more laughs. And then there are the turtles – very very… intrusive? C’mon, if you were a turtle, or even if you weren’t, would you want someone filming your orgasm face?

The Secret of Molten Lava from Kristina at Ten Minute Missive. Firstly, you get a nom-nom recipe for molten lava cakes – the result of a happy accident. Secondly, you get a brave, honest, moving and enlightening account of coping with depression. It’s better than I’ve made that sound.

Two books to read (& even buy) by Gerard Butler Brennan at CrimeSceneNI. As well as being top bloke and providing a thriving online forum for the new wave of Northern Irish thriller writers (and some from south of the border, Scotland and the USA), Gerard also has Wee Rockets published as an e-book and The Point out in paperback. Oh, and if you want to hear and see him blethering on in person, he’ll be on a panel at Derry Central Library on Tuesday (Oct 18th) talking about the Booker Prize winner as the award is announced.

Still looking for something new and noirish to read – let Sean Patrick Reardon guide you. Don’t let the hat put you off. He writes himself – he’s the author of Mindjacker – but he also consistently links to other interesting new writers – lots in the USA, with a bias towards crime and mystery.

Póló falls foul of the tourism propaganda police in Dublin. Sure, tourist boards aim to put forward an appealing face of wherever they’re promoting. But when they announce a flickr forum and claim to welcome everyone to contribute with the sole proviso that the picture content is related to Dublin, should that bar the the inclusion of beggars? Should only the glitzy primped preened and sanitized version of the city by shown? Should Póló’s images be banned from next year’s tourism calendar? See for yourself here.

And finally…Liverpool Salad and Sheffield Panino. Add a foreign placename and a dish or phenomenon suddenly sounds exotically appealing. Wonder how well that would work if you were to encounter English placenames used in the same way abroad? Journo and travel writer Rudy Noriega did in Palermo, and reveals all at his Gullible’s Travels blog. Made me smile anyway.

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