May 14th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Five days after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle passed thousands of his fans and followers sat vigil at the Royal Albert. They were not anticipating a resurrection, only a sleight shuffle in the atmosphere, a nod, or perhaps a whispered message from the next world over. The medium caught the hem of it hovering over an empty chair and, in the front row, Mrs. Arthur Conan Doyle –as might have been expected- also felt her husband’s presence pass amongst them and move on.
Everyone else was distracted by a particularly enthusiastic organ solo.
Sir Arthur’s thirty seven million pound investment in fairies and ectoplasm and holy mumblings from beyond the grave had not bought him so much as a closing remark; the chance to say, “elementary etc. etc.” one last time or admit there was nothing in this Spiritualist lark after all.
May 15th 2015 – Dundonald
Bekah and Stefan Wolf
On the eve of the season’s first barbecue, we pause to remember monumental barbecues of our past: the afternoon in Colorado when the man came rushing down the river with a shotgun and you lifted the barbecue, still smoking, into the bed of your pick up and drove the Hell away; the time on Portstewart Strand when the coals would not light and you made a flamethrower from a deodorant can so all our sausages tasted of Lynx and coal dust; and finally, that evening on Cannon Beach, when the barbecue played ball, but your forgot the corkscrew and you smashed the bottle’s neck with a stone to get at the wine and the wine was ruined for there were small shards of glass drowning in it and they were too small to pick out with our finger. Because of this the night was ruined.
Each you is a different man, standing behind a barbecue. I can only remember one name, but two faces stick with me like the morning after stench of barbecue smoke on the pillow.
May 16th 2015 – Dunadry
The bride is small at the top and wider at the bottom like a pyramid or a toilet paper lady. Coming in or out of a room she must turn sideways to accommodate her train. The bride is named Catherine but looking at her it is hard not to assume she has been called Cathy in youth and Cat since the age of seventeen. She is at least thirty seven now, but her dress is ten years younger.
There is a stain like the red hand of Ulster simmering across the backside of this dress as if the bride has sat herself down in something bloody, as if she has thrown red wine over her shoulder in some strange parody of that lucky salt ritual, as if someone with no sense, (her father perhaps), has placed his hand on her and given her a good hefty push into the next chapter.
May 17th 2015 – East Belfast
Recalling the summer you packed late and went to Colorado with three left shoes and no rights, you have decided to begin packing at least three hours before the taxi had been ordered. You are drinking tea rather than wine. You are feeling like a person who is old enough to own a mortgage and listen to jazz for the way it makes you sound at dinner parties with strangers.
You are not really this person.
You realize this when packing quickly takes a backseat to making sculptures from your holiday clothes and hanging these installations around your bedroom with jewelry, and shoes where your feet will later go. Talking to these clothy ghosts as if they are people with invisible heads and limbs you are already on holidays. You take a strange, continental pleasure in the way they smile back at you.
May 18th 2015 – Titanic Belfast
Niamh, Katie and Trevor Wilson
There were things we already knew about the Titanic. These included: the fake funnel, the third anchor and those extra fingers on the staircase angels. What we did not know was the half mile of ocean bed separating stern from bow. Half a mile; enough distance to berth another liner or house an entire High Street. After the iceberg this end went one way and the end, the other. Part buried now they are like a pair of huffing children, backs set and swimming against a reconciliation. Between them lie two lady’s shoes, mismatched and dancing round each other. Both are black, one is buckled. They nose each other gently like UN ambassadors lost in no man’s land.
May 19th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Laura and Austin Orr
It is not ok to dress older people up as things they do not want to be dressed up as. For example: Elvis or Princess Leia from Star Wars. When it comes to costumes older people should be consulted just like everyone else.
You should say to the older person, “is there something or someone you’d like to dress up as today?”
And, when they reply, “well, now you come to mention it, I’ve always had a hankering to be Tom Jones or Napoleon or the angry one from Dad’s Army,” you should not snigger.
Older people are allowed to pretend they are someone else at weekends too. It is not ok to dress them up as older people, with slippers or reclining armchairs, if this is something they are opposed to. Neither should you insist upon spectacles.
Children and dogs are a different matter entirely. They cannot be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves. Consequently it is ok to dress children and dogs up anyway you see fit.
May 20th 2015 – The Quays, Dublin
The room is redder than might be considered appropriate. Inside, with the doors closed, it is hard to believe in daylight. Several people have already begun to think about vampires. They have no idea why they are thinking about vampires but it must have something to do with the red walls and the red wine and the old man who is sleeping and has fallen across the table in the shape of a corpse.
Poets have recently been here and the smell of them is just settling into the curtains.
There is also a band playing on stage. That is to say, there is a boy with a guitar and space enough for others to join him with instruments.
A man who is possibly Paul Muldoon is sitting behind the door. In the deep red dark you mistake him for Bob Dylan. This is entirely understandable. You mistake him for the man who takes the money, give him five euro for his trouble, sit down. Later you mistake him for Paul Muldoon who has already left.