When the glittering showbiz bus rolls in to our wee town, it’s easy to get carried away with the attention and take it for granted that all publicity is good publicity.
But is it sometimes wiser to say no – or should you forget any qualms and just think of the kerching!?
When Gillies MacKinnon made his good, funny and gritty 1996 film about sectarianism, gangs and family in Glasgow, it was released under the title Small Faces – which was a good name. (Review here.) It was originally going to be called Easterhouse – after the intimidating scheme (or high rise complex) of the same name. But local representatives complained that it could blight the area – whether or not the portrayal was accurate – and successfully lobbied for the name change.
Small Faces: "You are now entering Tong Land."
So when Rihanna brought the global entertainment spotlight to bear on Northern Ireland, it was funny. I’m thinking of her topless run-in with a County Down (as in Down with this sort of thing) DUP councillor and farmer. But it was also unfortunate in another way.
Sure – what a compliment that she chose the New Lodge in north Belfast in which to film her We Found Love video. Fun. Excitement.
But what was that chorus again? We found love in a hopeless place…
Ah right. The hopeless place being Belfast Continue reading
Dan Waters, RIC
That’s my great grandfather, Dan Waters. I suppose he’s part of the story, or the backstory at least. In my story, Blackwatertown, some of the main protagonists are RUC men – that is, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the police. It was a very controversial organisation over the years, but more on that another time.
My great grandfather Dan joined the predecessor of the RUC, which was the RIC, the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Irish Constabulary was set up in 1835, and was granted the prefix Royal by Queen Victoria in 1867 after suppressing a nationalist rebellion. Dan himself joined later, according to his card, on May 11th, 1875.
The RIC disappeared in 1922 with the partitioning of Ireland into the six counties of Northern Ireland in the north east, and the twenty six counties of what is now the Republic of Ireland. Tough times for many members. In the south the RIC was replaced by the unarmed Civic Guards, who were renamed the Garda Siochana.
They’re still there. In the north, the I became a U, and the RIC became the Royal Ulster Constabulary. (Northern Ireland comprises six of the nine counties of the province of Ulster.) It’s the RUC who feature in my book Blackwatertown.
So – does this personal link make me any better or worse qualifed to write a story about policemen in Ireland?