Tag Archives: troubles

My first memory

See – I told you it was a tank. This British Centurion tank was out during Operation Motorman. So perhaps it was a tank I saw. The photo is by Eamon Melaugh – click on the pic for more of his work.

Memory is tricky. Childhood memories even trickier.

Which memories are real. Which are from stories or photographs?

Top Boy shares his first memory with me. He was running up and down the street in from of our house. Past houses, back past houses, back past houses again, then past a house with a low white wall and a blue triangular prismatic top… (the shape details are quite extensive and go on for some time, so I’ve skipped them – funnily enough he’s now a big science fan) …then he fell over and hurt his knee. What happened next? Doesn’t remember.

Mine is one of these. I don’t know which.

1. When I was five (or thereabouts) we moved house from a more troubled to a less troubled area of Belfast. I don’t remember anything before or during the journey until we turned onto the new street. It was more shaded, quieter, greener, with trees and hedges. I remember that. Nothing before. Except maybe for…

2. Seeing my first tank. Very exciting. Big. High. Wide. Dark, maybe green but definitely spattered with white paint. On the road outside the Busy Bee shopping centre in Belfast Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, family history, history

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland for giving me a £100 Amazon voucher (for winning a writing competition completing a survey). And thank you Gerry Anderson and politician Gregory Campbell for helping me spend it. Well, to be more precise – they had a row. But Continue reading

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Filed under art, media, Music, What I'm Reading

The first time…

"Do you remember the first time?" Click on the pic to be reminded.

Jarvis Cocker: Do you remember the first time?

Me: Oh aye. Lots of them.

And oddly enough, members of the RUC arrived uninvited for quite a few of them. For instance, I can honestly say that it was the police who drove me to underage drinking.

I was on the wrong side of Belfast Continue reading

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The Day I Met… Gerry Adams

He's the one in specs, paramilitary beret, no beard - an ice cream would just look silly.

(Fanfare.) It gives me great pleasure to present the next entry in the The Day I Met… competition. Here’s a taster:

I rushed through to the front to see two more extremely large “boys” wearing trench coats in a heat wave stood at the front with a third man. In trying to evacuate the premises, I nearly evacuated something else. The three at the front were close together. A shotgun with some fine buckshot might take all three out and then a run like buggery down the fields across the stream and don’t stop until I hit Larne and the boat to the mainland. It is amazing what goes through your mind when you believe you are about to be kidnapped!

The story continues below. This entry comes from… Actually I can’t tell you his name. (At least I think it’s a him.) Because he is keeping his true identity a secret. He writes about dodgy goings on in the police and the criminal justice system under the pseudynom Noble Cause Corruption. He’s a serving police officer in the UK, so Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, The Day I Met... Competition

And the Word was made flesh (and charming with it)…

On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Wasn’t there a cartoon to that effect? (Oh yes. There it is.)

Same with internet dating. That six foot blond Viking type you met online may have been literally telling the truth. You only get to see that he’s also six feet wide when you meet face to face. Which is when you also notice that he smells like a Viking who hasn’t washed since they used to rule England. (True, happened to a mate of mate.)

Speaking of smelly Vikings – did you know they used week-old horse wee to kill bugs in their hair? Couldn’t afford combs. It was the amonia in the aged equine urine that turned their hair blonde. Does that make you feel differently about ABBA?

But the main point is this – how can you be sure that anything or anyone on the net is who they say they are?

Or if they even exist at all?

Well, I can now officially confirm that Padmum does exist.

Remember I asked if anyone wanted to come to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with me. Padmum – or Padmini as I now call her – immediately put her hand up.

And she came. All the way from Chennai in India. Chennai! In India! With her daughter Nitila. That’s them in the picture. In the flesh Continue reading

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Filed under blogs, friends, life

Explaining the Japanese nuclear crisis using poo

Once you get away from the explosions and help! Help! Radiation! Head for the hills… All this nuclear meltdown China Syndrome in Japan business gets a bit complicated. Too many millisieverts, half lives, critical masses and atomic bomb memories. Should we all be panicking? Or not?

Without wanting to be too complacent – and sitting far from Japan – I think, on balance, not.

Here are two options for you to make sense of it all.

1. Read this book. Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller. (Or he’s here on wikipedia.)

Or check out his University of California at Berkeley lectures on YouTube.

2. Or – watch the children’s version of events, using farting and poo. Continue reading

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How many different words for snow, death… and farts?

Eskimos and Inuit are reputed to have many/seven/50/100 different words for snow. Though it may be a tundric myth. (And anyway, don’t we have snow, blizzard, sleet & slush – OK that’s only four, and I’m not sure about the last two.)

But anywhere with an unusually high number of different words detailing aspects of a phenomenon interests me. It evokes poetic lists. Like these from Belfast poet Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man.

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:

You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before

They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road

And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.

I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren

I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,

Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,

Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,

Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,

Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.

You can listen Continue reading

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Filed under art, language, poetry