Friday, 24 July 2009

Teenage Dreams

Graffitti in post millenium Belfast:

"Teenage Dreams so hard to beat" - a wall mural in tribute to BBC DJ John Peel, featuring a line from a song "Teenage Kicks" by Derry-based band 'The Undertones'. Peel loved this song so much, citing it as his favourite song he'd ever heard. In 1978, at the height of the troubles, the success of this song gave the whole music scene in Northern Ireland a glimmer of hope that others outside of this little corner of an island were listening...
...and just around the corner from this mural lies a stark reminder that the terrorists "haven't gone away".

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Boy Who Sold Dirty Pictures

1973 - In this digital-age the pornography industry arrogantly flashes huge, swollen breasts at us from every angle to entice us. However, back in 1973 in Nettlefield Primary School in east Belfast, the porn’ industry was somewhat different.

A boy in my class operated a distribution service of what we all knew as “dirty pictures”. These were cut out pictures of ladies modeling underwear from his mother's clothing catalogues. The boy would bring his collection sordid pictures into school to sell them in the playground during break and lunch times. He traded not in hard cash but in sweets and toys. The racket ran as a true barter system;
Each day the nine year old king of pornography would stand in a corner of the playground with a crowd of other boys around him ogling at various pictures of very conservative middle-aged women standing in girdles, braziers, pants, stockings and suspenders. Like a market stall trader the boy would barter with the other kids over the pictures;

Customer: "I'll give you two Black Jacks and three Midget Gems for that picture."
Porn’ Trader: "No way! Two Black Jacks and six Midget Gems!"
Customer (after deep thought): "Alright, two Black Jacks and six Midget Gems… but you're one robbin' shite!"
Porn’ Trader : (smugly) "Business is business my friend…”

...and off I went with my picture, drooling all over it, and off went the boy who sold dirty pictures with his pockets stuffed with sweets and trinkets of all kind - a true entrepreneur who knew at the age of nine years old, where the market for making a successful business lay.


Monday, 13 July 2009

Bobby's message to the Chinese

(1984) - I was standing in a Chinese takeaway on the Ravenhill Road with my mate Smicker after the two of us had spent the night in the pub having a bit of craic with the old regulars who drunk there. It was a Friday night thing we did regularly and as we stood waiting in the queue in a dingy Chinese takeaway we were pleasantly drunk. My plan was to go home with a sweet 'n sour chicken and fried rice and then off home to watch 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula' for the umpeenth time. It was a thing I liked to do.

As Smicker and I were waiting on our food Smicker’s father, Bobby walked into the shop. This sent us reeling for Bobby was an Ulster man and xenophobe who genuinely hated anyone who was basically not the same as him. Bobby was a good protestant Ulster man and a loyalist through and through. He didn’t like the Chinese presence in Northern Ireland at all or any foreign presence come to think of it, and to see him entering a Chinese takeaway was a groundbreaking moment - although he was completely off-his-face drunk.

We watched as Bobby casually walked into the shop like a silent, mysterious cowboy stranger walking into a saloon in an old western movie. Bobby sauntered to the counter and without saying a word, indicated to the man behind the counter that he wished to borrow his notepad and a pen. The Chinese guy behind the counter smiled and pushed the pen and notepad across the counter. Bobby scribbled something on the paper, set it on the counter and pushed it back towards the man. He then casually turned and walked Clint Eastwood style, out of the shop. The man behind the counter looked stunned and then held up the notepad for everyone in the shop to see.

On the pad was written in big capital letters "FUCK OFF BACK TO CHINA".

Some say it's all in the upbringing…