January 29th 2015 – East Belfast
Various inspirational people, including the musician Brian Eno have contributed to the design and installation of the Clock of the Long Now. The Clock of the Long Now looks very much like a piece of living room art borrowed from the 1970s. The Clock of the Long Now currently resides in the Science Museum, London though scientists can only speculate about the architecture and landscape which will surround it some ten thousand years from now when it finally quits counting time. The Clock of the Long Now intends to make people think seriously about long-term things such as time itself.
January 30th 2015 – Tesco Metro, Belmont Road
At the close of each month Margaret buys enough bananas to keep her lunchbox stocked all the way through the following month. February is the shortest month, requiring only twenty eight bananas. (With the extra thirty something pence afforded by those three absent days, Margaret buys a stamp and sends an annual letter to her sister, Doreen, in Coleraine.
For ease of access she splits up the bunches, presents the gormless man at the checkout with twenty eight loose bananas, freshly severed. He slides them across the scales one at a time emitting, as they pass, a startled bleep; the sound of robots climaxing. They are like strange yellow fish or jaundiced fingers, come loose at the joint.
A line builds up behind Margaret. People shuffle in their shoes and mutter, “what does she want with all them loose bananas?”
January 31st 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Sveinung and Solveig Nygaard
This morning at ten minutes past ten an enormous wind came clumsying up Bedford street and battered its way into the Ulster Hall. Every door in the building, (most of which were older and wiser than the Titanic), opened, paused, and then closed as to draw breath or admit a horde of gig-going ghosts.
Bolstered by this charmed wind, the Ulster Hall rose six feet into the January air and slid backwards towards Linenhall Street. The traffic caught, collided and came to a rumbling halt all the way round City Hall. This was the farthest a Belfast building had chanced to move since the Ceasefire. Many people took photographs and videos on the mobile phones.
All exposed to the spectacle were reminded of Daisy Buchanan, floating on her wind-whipped sea of curtains, paralysed with happiness and they wished such reckless joy for other buildings: the Courthouse, for example, also Central Station.
February 1st 2015 – Lower Newtownards Road, Belfast
On the Lower Newtownards Road there are gingerbread men scattered across the pavement like the corpse outlines of gunshot victims. Some are crushed; others shattered. A few remain whole and grinning whilst their comrades lie, mere inches away, decapitated by the local dogs. The trail of the dead begins outside Iceland, extending, with grim determination, past the bus shelter, to the ever-open doors of the Bethany chip shop. One loose gingerbread man might be ignored. Two dozen or more grate against the proper order of pavements. In these parts it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a funeral and a protest.
February 2nd 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
First thing on Monday morning the back came off the hole-punch. This was not so much an accident as yet another case of force applied in inappropriate measure. (“Like the front door,” she thought, “or jewelry, or those things I said to him on the telephone from Spain.”)
Suddenly unleashed, two years worth of tiny perforations cascaded across the office. They were hailstones in descent, but gentler, like white and pale pink and feint-lined full stops. She left the dots where they fell, stepping carefully around them each time she crossed the carpet to the photocopier. She thought they were pretty, if somewhat impractical, like wedding confetti before the rain ruins everything.
February 3rd 2015 – East Belfast
On the day when Harper Lee announced her first publication in fifty five years we consider other entities capable of holding their silence for fifty years or more. These include, in no particular order, long term animals such as whales and turtles, redwood trees, the American author J.D.Salinger, various individual volcanoes including Vesuvius, God, Buddy Holly, a number of satellite stations lost in orbit, specials services, sedimentary rocks, once again God and that girl with the clown who once featured on the BBC test card, sketching noughts and crosses on a blackboard grid.
February 4th 2015 – West Belfast
After which there were sausage rolls and thin slices of fruit cake, blood thick Tetley in mugs which had come free with last year’s Easter eggs. The place smelled of closed cupboards. You encouraged the women gathered to consider aspects of identity, (both single and otherwise), in the John Hewitt poem, “Once Alien Here.” The seemed more inclined to discuss grandchildren and funerals and whether “Fifty Shades” was worth the lend or not. The sound of them roaring and getting on was a bold sound like walls, like furniture and other permanent gestures. You understood then that Hewitt could not speak for these women for they were not alien in this tight corner of the Shankill and never once had been.