September 24th 2015 –Ulster Hall, Belfast
Jen and Paul McClean
In the backseat of my car there is a horse and a tunnel. The horse is not a real horse. It is only a child’s horse for rocking. The tunnel is very real. It is currently bound tightly with strings but when these strings are released it will immediately unfold and reveal itself to be almost two metres in length. It is all the colours of the primary rainbow. At one end of the tunnel is the future and, at the other end, the past.
The horse has not yet ventured into the tunnel, but it might. The horse is not afraid of confronting its past, neither, its future or the futuristic things such as robot horse or wings which it might encounter in the future. It is only afraid of becoming lodged in the tunnel and remaining there, like an awkward lump in the throat, stuck between the future and the past, which is another name for the present. The present being a darkish place that does not permit looking forwards or back.
September 25th 2015 –Ulster Hall, Belfast
If I am ever rich enough or famous enough to indulge myself in a three month adventure I will spend the time travelling through the states of America in an ordinary car, much like the one I currently drive, visiting, photographing and writing about every place which has the word Carson in the title, (Carson City, Carson Heights, plain, old Carson, Washington). This is not an original idea. I stole it from a piece of artwork I once saw, displayed at the Tate Modern. The artist had painted a map of America which only contained place names which had lost in the title, (Lost Highway, Lost Canyon, Lost Lake). My project would be like a live translation of this painting. Scratch that, my project would be the absolute opposite of an America where everything is lost. My America would become a series of towns, villages and mid-sized cities where everyone knew my name.
September 26th 2015 –Forestside, Belfast
Rick and Jeanne McKinley
This afternoon I am introducing my five year old niece to the work of David Bowie. For the purpose of this experiment I am using a car, a sunny day and a copy of Bowie’s Greatest Hits, on CD.
“Listen to this,” I am saying, “isn’t it brilliant?” The song is ‘Rebel Rebel,’ which is particularly appropriate as I have just bought her a black, leather jacket and a leopard print dress.
“It’s ok,” she says, “but I like this song from Sunday School better.”
Then she starts to sing Jesus choruses over the top of David Bowie and does not even stop for ‘Space Oddity.’ The effect is a little disconcerting, like small girls wearing lipstick or other things which do not seem natural together. I turn David Bowie off and my five year old niece instantly stops singing choruses.
The point is made; no need for triumphalism. Jesus has won again.
September 27th 2015 –Linenhall Street, Belfast
At some point during the night the left part of his brain flipped over and became the right. The next morning he woke confused and unsure which arm he wore his wrist watch on. His face, in the mirror, looked somewhat lopsided as if, for the first time ever, he was seeing himself without inversion, as he might actually appear to people in the street.
Writing was problematic, as was cutlery, which surprised him, for he couldn’t understand why it mattered much which hand he held his cereal spoon in. When driving he told himself that this was not home, but another place, such as America, where the driver sat on the wrong side of the car, and this excused the steering wheel, but could not quite explain the other cars coming at him, hard and fast from the wrong side of the road.
September 28th 2015 –Lisnaskea
There is a writers’ group in Illinois who, lacking confidence in their own ability to write, are making their way through the great works of 20th century fiction, (Joyce, Hemingway, Doestoevsky et al), painstakingly transcribing each word in order to evoke the feeling of writing an exceptional piece of literature. They have yet to translate this experience from second hand to first. Nothing new has been created in the process which reminds me of the term our RE teacher went to Oxford, (or was it Cambridge?) and left our A Level class writing the entire Pentateuch out by hand on file paper. I, being a particularly quick writer, had finished Deuteronomy and powered on through the Old Testament, to Daniel before we were discovered by a more responsible member of the RE faculty. I had, at no point in this exercise, felt the creative hand of God resting in mine, unless of course this can be experienced as a righteous dose of cramp.
September 29th 2015 –Lisnaskea
Stu and Emma Bothwell
Tonight I am, for the purpose of research, listening to the music of the Canadian-born songstress, Celine Dion. I am also drinking wine and wondering how my life might have been different if, at the point when I stood in the popular music section of Wollworth’s, Ballymena holding in one hand a copy of the Blur album, ‘Parklife’ on cassette and, in the other, Ms. Dion, also on cassette, I’d gone for power ballad over indie rock. Would I still have cut my hair like a mushroom? Would I have spent all my pocket money on vintage Adidas tops? Fallen out with those foolish friends who claimed Oasis the better band by miles? Would I have written, travelled, ended up working one thousand hours per week in a music venue with beer-sticky floors? Or, would I have instead become fluent in Canadian French, polished my fingernails and married a nice, older man? Was this, in the end, the most obvious road not taken, or were there others wider and more significant?
September 30th 2015 –Crom Estate, Fermanagh
On a morning when your first waking thought is a line from the Robert Frost poem, “An Old Man’s Winter Night,” you find yourself stomping round the edge of an enormous field wearing precisely the wrong kind of shoes, (one of which you lose in a muddy puddle so you find yourself squelching all the way back to the car, fogging up its insides with the muck-thick stench of rugby fields in winter).
And, there you are, on the edge of this wide green face to face with three deers, just looking as Robert Frost described in another of his poems, only there’s just one of you, and three of them so the odds are stacked against you and you feel like saying, “can one of you come over to my side of the field so it’s two looking at two, like in the Robert Frost poem?” But you don’t because any noise, even the slightest shuffle, would be too much for a moment like to bear.