May 28th 2015 – Donegal Square, Belfast
Sam and Emily Moore
There is some confusion in the line for the 28A. An elderly lady in a coral anorak has stuck her head, turtle-like, from beneath her umbrella’s brim to announce that, “Margaret’s not doing well at all.” She asks the next elderly lady down if there’s been any change in Margaret’s condition.
This one’s wearing a pink anorak and says, “they’re just waiting on Margaret now.”
Which causes a third anorak, (navy blue, nautical-themed), to chip in with news from the frontline, “Margaret’s just passed.”
“No,” argues the original anorak, “that can’t be right for I was only after talking to Margaret’s John.” She sets her bag-for-life down on the pavement as if to prove she’s here for the duration.
The dots are duly joined and it transpires that there is more than one Margaret dying in East Belfast today. All three anoraks shuffle on to the 28A and keep their hoods up all the way down the Newtownards Road. It is unclear whether they are in mourning, or just worried about their hair.
May 29th 2015 – Waterstones, Belfast
“Something is about to make sense
if we just keep going in the opposite direction.”
I did not love nor even like the book which you said I would certainly adore. This is the third time this has happened in a month with other books, and of course, different friends. Does the fault like with the books or the friends? Perhaps, the fault lies with me and I have become loose in my reading habits, or snobbish, or inclined to give these books only the thinnest slice of my attention, reading with a wet sandwich in hand or before the previews at the cinema, so there are always stains blooming between the lines. In the future I will be a better reader and a better friend. I will try harder to love the books you love because this is a form of loving you. I will make myself read like a novice smoker, persevering ‘til I get a taste for it.
May 30th 2015 – East Belfast
On an overnight ferry to France the television screens are playing BBC1, siding with the place just left rather than the point of arrival. It is Saturday evening, just gone nine and the Lottery is over. Casualty has just begun and at certain point, almost half way between France and England, television signal is lost. The sad, distorted face of Charlie Fairhead, squared and rectangle like a Klimt masterpiece is caught onscreen for hours. He is staring, staring, staring as if this image should be the last thing we wish to offer Europe; an aging NHS employee, with a well-learnt frown.
May 31st 2015 – Loughbrickland
Holly and Andy Eaton
When I was a child of around ten or eleven some friends in a neighbouring house were allowed to erect the family tent in their bedroom and sleep there for the night. I imagine this was during the summer holidays, when all things were permissible.
This was a holy idea to me and I began to imagine myself living in my own tent, camping out inside the walls of my bedroom. (I was also willing to consider shed or greenhouses if a tent was not available). Inside this second space would be a bed, a table, a tiny lamp and myself, sleeping, like the mirror image of my real room, in miniature.
The thought of one space inhabited by another made sense to me then, like Russian dolls or the way I’d been brought up to believe there was a home inside my heart and if Jesus didn’t live there, then someone else would.
June 1st 2015 – Portrush
There are storm warnings on the North Coast this afternoon. From behind the glass, with coffee, the beach is just as you’d ask it to be.
The sea is not blue nor grey exactly, but rather the moderate colour of Fox’s Glaciar Mints or glass caught beneath a layer of ice. The waves are not yet enormous, but further out to sea the idea of enormous waves is already beginning to occur. The sand wrinkles from one side of the bay to the other. The sand is like the mist which gathers around Sherlock Holmes’s feet in the old movies, but less sinister. It is like water, spilled.
A man is walking his Jack Russell across the beach. The dog is attached to him by a lead which gives the impression that it could also be a kite, could, at any second, lift off, if the wind so willed it.
June 2nd 2015 – East Belfast
Meanwhile in Paris, the Council have voted to remove almost one million padlocks from the bridges bridging the River Seine. They go at these padlocks with clippers. The padlocks are surprisingly resilient. Later, they will be melted down to make fences and gates and other strong but unremarkable items.
Meanwhile in Paris, most people are irate. Each individual padlock represented a couple who were once in love. Now, without a solid, metal thing to keep the idea of themselves together these couples are no longer sure about anything: love, trust, passion, the romantic appeal of large European cities such as Paris and Rome.
Meanwhile in Paris, the riverbed rusts with one million padlock keys suddenly reduced to common junk.
June 3rd 2015 – Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
Everyone is looking at a black and white photograph of Elvis Presley. He is sitting on a high, swivel stool at a diner counter. There is a girl next to him and a man serving them from behind the counter. The counter itself is brushed aluminium, indistinguishable from the counters which featured in lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights campaign. (You saw one once, in the Smithsonian, and could not be sure if it was a replica, or the real, mean thing).
Elvis has his back to the camera. Only the very slimmest section of his face is Elvis. The rest is just an ordinary, young man on a high, swivel stool, smiling. You like him better like this, without the rhinestones or the hips. You like that the girl seems ordinary too.
“Look guys, it’s Elvis Presley,” you say, because they haven’t yet noticed it’s him.
And they say, “well-spotted.”
And you do not tell them that you have already read the caption below the photograph.