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
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
"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
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
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
Filed under blogs, friends, life
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
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
I love clever newspaper headlines. Is this the new daddy of them all?
A creature great in smalls Continue reading
What do they know about politics? Why don’t they just stay out of it and carry on looking beautiful or tortured or smug? Actors and politics, huh?
Especially movie actors. Team America: World Police satirised them as patsies for North Korea and aggressively naive and deluded- Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and the other members of the Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.).
By following the rules of the Film Actor’s Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the fag way. One day you’ll all look at the world us actors created and say, “wow, good going, FAG. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, FAG?”
But it’s too easy to write them all off. And puncturing thespian self-importance would work better without the lame homophobia.
There’s a guy just died who maybe did make a difference Continue reading
Filed under Film, politics
Newton Emerson. Gorgeous ain't he?
By rights we should all be long dead, given what we have to put up with these days. Passive smoking, motorists driving while eating apples, cyclists without helmets, overhead power lines, mobile phones frying our brains.
How we ever made it this far without ending up looking like that bloke on the left, God only knows. Continue reading