March 26th 2015 – Duke of York, Belfast
Graeme and Juste Kingston
Experimental guitarists are ten a penny in this town. One guy plays an acoustic with an electric fan; the hand held kind. Another guy uses forks and a third holds a plugged in hairdryer about half an inch from the strings of his guitar and moves it slowly round in a counter-clockwise direction. The noise he creates is roughly comparable to birds breathing. The guy who went at his Stratocaster with a chainsaw did not last long. He only had himself to blame.
“Too arty for his own good,” said the critics in this town and took photos of the place where his hands had once been.
March 27th 2015 – East Belfast
I saw on Facebook that you have spent the weekend in Bournemouth. It is too early in the season for British seaside resorts and I cannot help but love you for choosing Bournemouth over other, more continental, cities. The snow has barely melted and there are only locals in the street, their skin tanned potato tough from that biting wind. The shops, which sell candy rock and novelty hats, have yet to raise their summer shutters. There is no ice cream to be had for love nor money.
In the pictures you are wearing a hat and scarf, two coats, (blanketed one on top of the other), and the mittens I gave you for Christmas last year. I hope they are joined together still, with string; the length of them snaking up one sleeve and down the other, circling your back where my arms used to meet.
March 28th 2015 – Boucher Road, Belfast
Having been sent to Homebase to buy a tin of white paint, (“for the hall, Love, just to take the look of dirt off it”), Michael found himself caught in a quandary of choice. He’d never before considered the possibility that white could come in so many various states, for wasn’t snow similar enough to paper and Colgate toothpaste?
Michael stood for an hour in the white paint aisle deliberating between forty different shades of pale: Snowdrop and Antique White, Porcelain, Papyrus and Cotton, something which was called Ghost White and seemed no more nor less ghostly than the tin stacked next to it.
“Sure, how far can you go wrong with white paint?” he thought and bought Irish Linen only to discover that she had an entirely different shade of white in mind.
March 29th 2015 – The Lyric, Belfast
In early 1963 the young Bob Dylan set out to write a song which would remind the North American public to adjust their alarm clocks and watches in accordance to the fickle whims of daylight savings.
Originally titled, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (Your Clocks Back),” it was quickly pointed out that this bore more than a passing resemblance to an old Pete Seeger song. After rejecting, “Spring Forward, Fall Back,” (which would not translate well with a European audience), Dylan settled upon “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. He hoped his song would be both informative and entertaining, not to mention lucrative. He foresaw tremendous radio potential at least twice a year.
However, this song, like every other song Dylan would come to write, had a wild mind of its own. It was not interested in falling back or springing forwards. It would content itself with nothing short of timelessness.
March 30th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Jon and Sarah Masters
She knew two songs about leaving, neither of which seemed entirely appropriate. They had already given him cake and a gift token for B&Q which he’d asked for specifically, (“seeing as he’d have plenty of time now for the garden.”) She’d signed the card; once for herself and once, with her left hand, for Martin in accounts who was in Tenerife this week with his wife. Still, she’d wanted to give him something special to remember her by now he was leaving. At last she settled upon the Sellotape dispenser for it was the only thing they’d held consistently in common these last seven years. She gave it to him, wrapped in last quarter’s financial report. She felt warm inside like a martyred saint. She would miss him now, every time she went next door for a length of tape.
March 31st 2015 – The Markets, Belfast
There’s a child’s football wedged within the branches of a tree opposite St George’s Market. It is blue and patchwork yellow. As such it claims no particular allegiance to any local team. It’s been up there for months, sweating in the rain like a stuck cat.
Today the wind grabs it just as he walks beneath the tree, drops it like a dead thing at his feet. He considers kicking it into the morning traffic and can’t. The wind has no such scruples. It lifts the ball off the road, hurls it across three lanes of moving metal, straight under the wheels of a Translink bus. Afterward the ball is a pancake.
He stares at the blue and yellow mess of it interrupting the asphalt. He is thinking about the poor nurses from history class who survived the War only to die in a plane crash on the way home. “Luck,” he reminds himself solemnly, “is a thing which swings both ways.”
April 1st 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Books, and the substances I have recently spilled upon these books:-
- John Berryman “77 Dream Songs.” A full French press of medium roast which settled on the poems like black bog water and aged them in an instant.
- Cormac McCarthy “Blood Meridian.” Three perfectly round drops of ranch dressing, blinking between the lines now like the blind eyes of very small creatures.
- Leonora Carrington “The Hearing Trumpet.” One rather large cherry tomato, with seeds. This being the worst insult Padraig’s pristine copy has heard in the last five years. This, an irreversible statement like blood or guns or proper racism. Not to worry though. I have found the exact same copy, unsoiled and will swap them, one for another, so he never knows. Someone did this to me once, with hamsters.