I’m just back from an intriguing week in Ireland. (Where I met some people you may know – more on that below – with a pic.) But the whole place was unexpectedly mysterious.
I’m not talking about leprechauns or the absence of snakes. These are modern mysteries.
1. Fat people. Where are they all hiding? Soon after I landed in county Antrim I had the biggest feed in a long time. And this was not at my Mum’s. (It was the Ballymac – in case you need to fill up after a week abstaining from eating.) The helpings were huge. And it was lovely. (And cheap compared to England.) Right, thought I, the place must be
crawling rolling with obese porkers. And that meal was only the first of many heaving platters. I began to time meeting people to avoid mealtimes. I couldn’t cope. But the mystery is this – no epidemic of two-legged gutbusters. Sure the occasional blobber, but no more than anywhere else and probably fewer. What’s going on? Has some prison been reopened in which to stash them? How come everyone is not FAT with the amount of food they eat?
2. The cloud of comfort. There’s a dark grey rainy cloud sitting on the hills between Newry and Dundalk – right on the low hills of the Irish border. From the north you can smugly gaze south and murmur complacently to yourself about never NEVARR surrendering the blue skies of Ulster for the grey skies of an Irish Republic. But hang on a moment. Go down the road a few miles until the road signs change from red, white and black to black and yellow, and look back north. Yup. There’s the long dirty cloud which lets southerners look north and shake their heads in pity at the pasting the weather is giving people on the other side of the border. The mystery is this – can this oh-so-conveniently sited cloud of comfort be natural? Or is it an ego-massaging peace initiative thought up by those scientific geniuses at CERN and funded by some European-American cross-community money?
3. I went to the cinema (movie theatre), but I saw a play. It was definitely a cinema. There was a wee room at the back with a projector and reels of film. I could hear faint sounds of the Titanic sinking (yet again) from the auditorium next door. But in a startling 3D innovation, the characters I was watching at the Strand cinema were actual people. (I’m not sure if this means Belfast is super advanced or super backward – I think I’ll settle for super innovative.) Bizarrely, you can now go to the cinema to see a play. I saw an excellent production of The Merchant of Venice by the Fringe Benefits theatre company. (It’s a funny play, but startlingly anti-semitic. Isn’t it? Or is that just me?)
There’s another mystery – why Belfast didn’t have a slave trade. But I’ll tell you that one another time. The city is crackling with creativity – music, art, theatre, new galleries – if you’re nearby check out the just opened MAC in the city centre.
Meanwhile I had the great pleasure of bumping into (literally in one case – see video) GrannyMar and Speccy – while being enlightened and entertained by Arthur Magee. (Remember I said we were going to the Garrick?) Thanks for the fun to all of you – though GM – you have the feet walked off me.