August 13th 2015 – Bedford Street, Belfast
At the traffic lights behind City Hall you notice that the man in front of you is struggling beneath the weight of two white, carrier bags, unbranded. You step closer, marking your pace to keep time with his. You can see blood pinking at the top of his bags. Your imagination is already half way up the Dublin Road. You lean towards him at the next junction and the colour inside his bags is peach pale, like flesh or skin. ‘Dead people,’ you think, ‘chopped up for ease of transport.’ The gall of this is remarkable at five o’clock in the afternoon. He is even smoking and sort of smiling as he smokes. You are blind now with curiosity. Outside the BBC you catch up with him and peer into the bag and it is full of pigs’ legs and pigs’ feet. Strange enough, but not particularly sinister. You are almost a mile now from where you meant to be.
August 14th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
- Belle and Sebastian are having a colouring competition on their website.
- Belle and Sebastian are a ramshackle, cute, and only occasionally fey folk-pop band.
- You know what, Belle and Sebastian CAN dance.
- Belle and Sebastian draw inspiration from Felt records, Hal Hartley films and public transportation.
- Belle and Sebastian can’t resist some retro-leaning quirks.
- Belle and Sebastian were once told they would be the next Radiohead.
- Belle and Sebastian are not the next Radiohead.
- Belle and Sebastian were the product of botched capitalism.
- Belle and Sebastian can be great and terrible within the same song.
- Belle and Sebastian can’t afford to write music any more and had to get regular jobs instead.
- Belle and Sebastian are fiercely loved.
- Belle and Sebastian have created more immediately thrilling music than this in the past.
- Belle and Sebastian hate being photographed.
- Though often praised by critics, Belle and Sebastian have enjoyed only limited commercial success.
August 15th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
We were all, by this stage, extremely rich and decided out fortunes would be best used in purchasing islands. Fortunately, there were many islands for sale that year and we were able to buy six small ones which sat adjacent to each other in the Lough. Each of us immediately fell to decorating and furnishing our islands according to individual taste. One was red, one was like something from the 1960s, one was without vegetation, and another without wildlife of any kind for the owner was a notorious vegetarian and terrified of accidentally stepping upon some innocent creature. Once finished, all six houses were splendid things, like small museums of themselves. “Come visit my island,” we called from our own shore to that of our neighbour’s but no one ever left their island for it was almost perfect there, or how they particularly envisioned perfect, and what could possibly be achieved by leaving perfection, even for an afternoon?
August 16th 2015 – Salt Island, Strangford Lough
Over the hill we go, seven poets and a picnic basket, a handful of children who are carrying sticks and collecting pocketfuls of bone white shells. We have come in search of seals. We have discovered no seals, only thistles and nettles which are not kind to summer sandals or bare ankles. We stand on the brow of the hill and there are still no seals though we almost convince ourselves that those black lines cresting the curled waves are the backs or raised heads of seals. We are not disappointed to have been here. It has required bicycles and cars, two boats and much walking and still there are no seals. Every inch of the journey has been worth it though, to stands here on this hill, casting our long shadows, together across the Lough.
August 17th 2015 – Portrush
This is not summer as other countries know summer. It is lightly spitting. The sky is dove gray and yet it is warm so we are going to eat sandwiches on the beach and toss a Frisbee around. We may even take our fleeces off, if only for a moment.
And, when the children say, “let’s go swimming,” we will reply, “it’s far too cold. Sure, a wee paddle will do instead,” and in we’ll go to our ankles.
Because the air is cool the sea will feel slightly less cool. This will be a trick of the mind.
When the first wave takes the dryness from our rolled up hems we will say, “uch, why not? This is the best it’s going to get this summer.” Out we’ll go, past our knees and belts with not a thought for the sodden journey home. And we will be full of the summer, like American children on American programmes. We won’t even really notice the drizzle.
August 18th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Every day should begin with a strange man yelling at you on a telephone; ideally in a language which you are no longer au fait with, but once spoke, somewhat hesitantly, in High School, so you will understand enough to know this man is angry with you in particular and not just angry about the larger injustices associated with being alive, but you will not understand enough to grasp the specifics. The specifics might be enough to keep you from sleeping tonight.
After you have been yelled at by a strange man on the telephone in a foreign language –let’s say French, (though it could just as easily be Spanish, German or textbook Latin)- you will be more awake than before the yelling. You will feel anger bubbling in the pit of your belly. Perhaps you will cry or twist the telephone cord round your finger nervously. The skin will be thinner on your face. You will not be sleeping when the day delivers its next smart kick.
August 19th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
I thought the first things to be forgotten would be the hard facts: the Battle of Hastings, the freezing point of water, how might days I might expect to encounter in February, during a Leap Year. This was not true. The first things which slipped free were feelings: the ill-defined anxiety of whether a room was there for the entering or the leaving, who I loved and how much this love could be leant upon when a name could not be found to pair with it, how I’d arrived at this place with the curtains drawn and it, not yet, gone three. There was not even a way to say that I had forgotten these things; only a jumble of words, too long or too short for the job, and a clenching of fists when the words would not come. Even then, the hard facts remained and I could say: 1066 and zero degrees and 28 days clear, 29 in each Leap Year, which was a ludicrous way to let you know I was lost, like using a fork to spoon soup.