Sunday, 9 September 2012

WHEN IT'S NOT ALWAYS RAINING......


HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND ASKS YOU IF YOU FANCY GIVING HIM A HAND TO FILM VAN MORRISON BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME TO THE LAND OF PLANES, CRANES AND LOW FLYING PLANES….. 

A FEW DAYS LATER AND WE ARE STANDING ON A CAMERA GANTRY IN A BIG TENT AS VAN THE MAN RIPS INTO THE OPENING DU, DU, DU, DIP, DIP OF JACKIE WILSON SAID WITH HIS  HOME CROWD GOING MENTAL IN FRONT OF HIM. 

MICKEY B TURNS TO ME AND SMILES, IT’S BEEN A LOG AND SOMETIMES STRESSFUL DAY FOR HIM….”SURE WHERE ELSE WOULD YA RATHER BE?” HE SHOUTS 

AND WE LAUGH TOGETHER AT THE JOURNEY THAT HAS BROUGHT US HERE. 

TWO WEE LADS FROM THE EAST.  

“Triple A son?”….
 
“Sorry?” 

 “Are ya triple A son?” 

 “I’m with the camera crew” 

 “That’s nat what I asked ye” 

“I’ve just got to talk to that fella over there” 

Now I’m pointing sheepishly at one of the cameramen who is literally three metres away from us. I’ve got my accreditation and its a few hours before there is even a likelihood of the man from Hyndford Street taking to the stage. Nevertheless, this is an East Belfast music festival. The first of its kind, and here in the east we do things differently. 

We’ve no radio link, and all I have to do is pass a message onto him. But it’s proving difficult. 

I’ve become a bit of an old hand at gigs music gigs over the last few years.  Security and stewards can sometimes be an eclectic mix of friendliness and common sense, over zealousness, ballbaggery, and downright ignorance. This I suppose comes from liggers and drunken chancers making their lives a misery. Usually they are burly, tattooed skinheads in black combat trousers, but as I’ve said here in the east we do things differently. 

Tonight at the East Belfast Arts festival at Aircraft Park (Shorts) the security is provided by three wee volunteer women from a community group on the Newtownards Road. None of them come up to higher my elbow. They are wearing day-glo yellow bibs and have spent the last half an hour dancing (thE dance that wee women do) to Gareth Dunlop, and now they are gathered round me like a pack of dingoes circling for the kill. They remind me of my mother. East Belfast’s finest. They are taking no shit. Usually they work in a pre-school day nursery on the lower east side. I’m one smart arse comment away from the naughty step or a skelp round the hole. 

“If yiv no triple AAA son, yill have till dander round thonder. 

 (Thonder? thonder? What a fuckin word!!) I haven’t heard it since my granny died.

 “Thems is the rules” 

“Thonder” is a three day camel ride. But this is East Belfast and you don’t fuck with wee women in yellow vests sporting perfectly spelt tattoos of the granchilder’s names. 

It’s Saturday night and George Ivan Morrison OBE is back home, just a kick in the arse from where it all began five or so decades ago. 

The problem with East Belfast is that we don’t blow our own trumpet loudly enough. The event is purposely low key. Granted the gig is under a huge blue tent in the ground of Shorts Social Club, but it’s as parochial as it can be. And that’s class. The head bombardier is a genial wee man in a blazer who is on the bowling committee .His Brylcreem is glistening in the sunlight. He does that funny hand shaky thing which suggests he might be a member of the three legged bricklayers club…”I pass these scissors crossed”…capische? 

There’s a small burger and chips stand “going a dinger”, a coffee and crepe stall doing nothing and a beer concession which is not being abused as much as you’d expect on a Saturday evening round our way. 
 
The day bursts into life with a charismatic, larger than life singer called Mama Kaz and her band who as the small older man leaning over the crush barrier with a tin of Carlsberg remarks to me “ Has a quare pair of lungs on her” 

Mama Kaz moves around the stage, with a sultry grace, shakin her thang and Carlsberg man digs me in the ribs and winks. He nods in the general direction of her ample frontage. “S’like watchin two badgers trying to get out of a rucksack isn’t it son? I have to agree with him. Already I love the East Belfast Arts Festival.  

She, has indeed a fantastic voice and plays a blistering bluesy set to a small but appreciative audience and we are up and running. 

“Here, yo” the three wee women are calling me. 

 “Will you get to talk to him?” 

 “Who?” I ask. 

 “Van, fer fuck sake” comes the reply. 

 “No, I wouldn’t think so” I reply. “Sure you won’t let me in” 

 “Oh aye right enough” she goes. 

“Well, if you do, ask him if he rit Brown Eyed Girl about a girl called Miriam from Abetta Parade, she swears it’s about her, so if ya get the chance” 

I tell them to leave it with me. It’s probably best if I pull him just before he’s about to go on. 

The standard of musicianship today is phenomenal. Anthony Toner is next up and he takes to the stage despite an almost career ending collision with the Progressive sponsored weather jingle at the end of the UTV news. I love the song he opens with called Well, Well Well. I love the fact that he recorded the video in the Harland and Wolff drawing rooms…but, after hearing the one line for nigh on 18 months and then having to watch Frank Mitchell just going “It’s bucketing” on the weather forecast every night after it was played means that it takes a bit of time to fall in love with the song again. 

But he too is brilliant, goes down a storm and the crowd thickens towards the front of the tent, which is impressive because outside the sun is searing the bright red shoulders and balding heads of the good people of the east, who are in turn doing shuttle runs to Decathlon to buy the foldy up chairs you only normally use for the Twelfth.

The break between the sets allows only a brief trip from the camera gantries into Shorts Social Club for a bottle of Sprite and a bag of Scampi Fries. I take the opportunity to go for a pee in the toilets in the club’s function room. And again, I realise why I love East Belfast. Thirty yards away, one of the world’s most successful recording artists is heading up a formidable array of local talent, but here in the club’s function room a wee band is setting up for the usual Saturday night do. How’s that for optimism? 

I’m almost tempted to stop mid flow by the sounds emanating from the big top. You see Belfast has this Gospel community choir that I didn’t know about made up of Prods, Kaffliks, black people, white people, gingers, blondes, baldies, large people, small people, ….but mostly just girls and fellas….and the sound they make when they all sing together is simply sensational.  

I find myself drawn to the tent by the perfection of their craft. I’ve never heard them before and it is and I’m not ashamed to say it very emotional. I’ve had a bit of a shite time recently and listening to the beauty of their harmonies almost moves me to tears. And to think that a week ago, the images of Belfast that the world sees are of hooded thugs attacking police officers from the grounds of an old people’s home. These people are the real face that our city needs to portray. 

The heat is starting to drop away inside the tent and I’m wondering if I should have brought a jacket to feel the benefit from it when I’m going home. I spent the next half hour shaking hands and talking to familiar faces. There’s a great representation here from the Oval and from the East Belfast glitterati.  

The clock on my phone shows its six o clock which means its Gareth Dunlop time. This young man from the Cregagh Road has the potential to be as good as the master himself. I have no idea how a 25 year-old from east Belfast can find so much soul in his voice and so much heart in his lyrics. He tells me before he goes on that time is tight and that he’ll have to stop himself talking and crack on through his set. I know the songs off by heart, Hammy his drummer and the other lads in the band are note perfect and I notice that again Gareth’s following is expanding by the month. The audience whoop in recognition of the songs and by the end of his half hour the place is bouncing. I could watch this lad play every single night of the week. 

Next we are treated to a bouncy lively energetic set from a band from North East Belfast (Derry) called the Wonder Villains. After a nightmare start which must have had the guitarist's arse twitching like bunny’s nose they change the vibe with a bright and breezy electro pop  collection of songs during which I promise myself to check them out further. They handle their instruments with confidence and aplomb and fit perfectly into the mix of ballad, gospel, soul and blues that the day is delivering in spades.

Time then for another son of the East. Brian Houston has been writing gritty melodic music and performing it with gusto for what must be twenty five odd years.  

His band are getting ready in the artists area backstage. Having finally negotiated my way before the three tyrannical sentries of the apocalypse I get a glimpse of the line-up before they hit the stage. Dressed in a killer combo of red and black they look and subsequently sound the part. Brian seems to be in the form of his life. A guy from New York asks me what part of the States Brian is from I’m tempted to tell him the Clonduff Estate…but I politely point out that he is from just down the road which in turn prompts a “get the fuck outta here” from the Yankee Doodle Dandy. 

The bar is being set higher and higher by every artist…..Houston tells tales about being caught sleeping as an apprentice in the shipyard by the chairman of Harland and Wolff then tears through a set laced with rock and gospel….job done he retreats to the burger van to negotiate a 50p discount off his chicken burger because he doesn’t want a bap….East Belfast really is wonderful …..and the wee woman who is every bit his match finally capitulates just to get rid of him.  

I need another pee…before the headline act. 

Shana, Van’s daughter is getting the ever burgeoning crowd in the zone, opening with the captivating Heat Shaped Tattoo. It’s obvious that some of her backing musicians are Van’s men and so the standard remains extremely high for the duration of a polished thirty five minute set. Although Shana performs with a wonderful West Coast drawl you have to remember that she still qualifies to play For Northern Ireland if Michael O’Neill decides to call her into the squad….. 

Outside though, as I make one final trip to the little boys room a situation-situation is developing which could throw the whole event into disarray and when I hear from another wee volunteer security man what is happening at the front gate I know that I am truly at home in the land of my fathers……..

 

To be continued……..   

 

 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

IT'S A CRUEL..DONNA SUMMER...OR..HOW TO STOP A BELFAST RIOT WITH A 12 INCH...


The Peelers held a meeting
In the barracks up at Knock
With M.I.5 and Special Branch
“We’ve become a laughing stock” 

Announced the new Chief Constable
Whose badge said Amber Rose
An eighteen stone Fermanagh man
Who dressed in women’s clothes 

See, the police force is all equal now
So anyone can join
Even overweight transsexuals
Or black midgets from Ardoyne   

Big Amber Rose lit up his pipe
And then addressed the room
That’s the third straight night of rioting
We’ll have to stop it soon 

Our crews are getting hammered
By the Prods and by the Ra
And my back is buckin killin me
In this Marks & Spencer bra 

The helicopter’s in the air
The Water Cannon’s out
And Special Branch are goin mad
And lifting every tout 

It’s great, this brand new police force
Agreed Chief Inspector Po
But the auld hands who could deal with this
We’ve all let friggin go. 

They’re on the door at Sainsbury’s
Or playing golf in Spain
The only thing there is to do
Is pray for bloody rain 

There’s far more Chiefs than Indians
No offence Inspector Singh
You can talk until the cows come home
It won’t change a bloody thing 

Laughed Dessie Brown aged fifty four
He’d joined the RUC
Back when the Shinners parts were played
By actors on TV. 

I can stop them goin mad
Said the wee man from his seat
But you’ll need to take the cordon back
As far as Tennent Street 

We’re gonna do it old school
Like we did back in the day
I’m gonna use The Specials
Have yis anything to say? 

Are ya fuckin mental Dessie?
They were less than really thrilled
Reforming the B Specials
You'll get us bloody killed 

I need extension cables
And a pair of platform shoes
A silver sequinned three piece suit
A stylus and a fuse 

See It’s called a “Blue Lamp Disco”
And It never friggin fails
Drop me off along the Cumin Road
Near the Mater or the Jail 

The Ra were throwing breeze blocks
At the Prods across the road
When suddenly the street lights dimmed
And out wee Dessie strode 

He put the record on the deck
Then dropped the needle on
To Lionel bloody Richie
Who was singin All Night Long 

He played them all Rhianna
Sister Sledge and Chaka Khan
And that one by The Emotions
Called Boogie Wonderland 

I ‘ know, I really shouldn’t
Could you just put down thon gun
Shouted Knuckes Bates to Liam O’Flynn
Cause I love this fuckin one….  

The two sides stopped the rioting
Dessy put the Specials on,
A bit of Ska, some Northern Soul
They danced to every song 

Even when he slowed it down
No one threw a stone
Wee Liam mouthed to Knuckles
“Do ya want to walk me home?” 

And so the music played all night
Til the drums began to fade
And they made their love on wasteland
And through the barricades 

(credit where it’s due….Spandau Ballet wrote the last bit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Monday, 27 August 2012

BORN DOWN IN ARDCARN WAY - What if Bruce Springsteen had have been born in Ballybeen?

Is this the song he would have written?



Verse
 
We got a deep fat fryer
The street came out to see
My mother drop the basket in
It almost made TV
The roof space filled with rifles
The women spaced on drugs
We’d play at army roadblocks
While old ladies beat the rugs
 
Chorus 

These streets are filled with danger son
And thons a nasty cough
Never play with Clackers son
They’ll have your fingers off 

Daddy was a vigilante
He’d go out every night
Protecting sheds and garages
For a cause he knew was right
Dressed in a padded anorak
We’d bought him years ago
From Vera Johnson’s catalogue
To shield him from the snow 

These streets are filled with danger son
And thons a nasty cough
Never play with Clackers son
They’ll have your fingers off 

There’s Superman, and Spiderman
And Batman doin good
In them rain soaked Yankee comic books
That we find down in the wood
And sometimes even porno mags
We’d read them in the shed
The wummins legs spread wide apart
Flashin Kevin Keegan’s head 

These streets are filled with danger son
And thons a nasty cough
Never play with Clackers son
They’ll have your fingers off 

My childhood’s filled with physchopaths
Who hang around our street
According to my mother
They’re just friends we’ve yet to meet
He can yodel while his drawing
Your portrait upside down
Til he fiddled with a youngster
Then we rode him out of town. 

These streets are filled with danger son
And thons a nasty cough
Never play with Clackers son
They’ll have your fingers off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO HERE'S ME...THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE LONG LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL.


The last lost tribe of Israel
Had been on the road for years
Surviving two Millenniums
Filled with servitude and tears 

They’d tried to settle everywhere
But nowhere seemed to fit
Til a scribe called Sam McMaster
Declared that this was “shit” 

We’re always getting into fights
We’re always getting beat
Since Jacob “done the dirty”
My arse hasn’t touched a seat. 

We’ve never bothered anyone
Claimed wee Joshua Sinclair
It seems that no one likes us
But the truth is we don’t care 

So they sailed the seas and oceans
‘Til the land appeared at last
They turned left off the Copelands
And landed in Bel-fast. 

The East to be exact of course
There was no point going on
They camped out on the Connsy’s banks
Which was filled with deer and swans.

(Honest to God) 

“It’s the land of milk and honey”
Cried wee Joshua back to Sam
“There’s an Avenue full of Cypress Trees”
According to Saint Van

And an airport on the by-pass
Stormont on the Hill
Filled full of brainless dinosaurs
In the land where time stood still 

They’d got the greatest footballer
The world had ever seen
Cause Pele’s lost his boner
So he won’t make Bestie’s team 

Then the last lost tribe of Israel
Furnished their abode
With tables out of Wyse Buys
And IKEA, up the road 

They set about to building ships
And inventing special cranes
It took weeks of reading scriptures
To come up with both their names 

And when the Lord himself was born
They’d an invite to the feast
Sam and Hugh and Davy went
Three Wise Men, from the East. 

“We’ll need to bring him presents
It’s only right and fair
Take a wee run round to Wyse Buys Sam
And buy the child a mirror” 

And we’ll have to take some jewellery
Before it all gets sold
Nip round to Cash Converters too
And buy back all our gold 

Frank’s incensed laughed Tommy
He says by rights, at least
We should send the wain a present
Uniquely from the East 

So they filled a jar with Conn’s Water
Then climbed back through the fence
“Has it got a name?” asked Mervyn
Sure we’ll call it “Frank’s Incensed”. 

When they came back from the Holy Land
Just off the Ormeau Road
They gathered all the elders round
To pass on what they’d been told 

We need to build a temple
We need to use our skill
It needs to be an Oval shape
With “Jesus” on the hill 

If we build it, they will come you see
We’ll form a football team
And just to wind the Arabs up
We’ll wear red, black and green 

Well find our own messiah
Jim Cleary, quick, form a board
They’ll marvel at his miracles
Same initials as the Lord. 

There’s a long lost tribe of Israel
Who gather ever week
And no gives us any chance
Our sorrows not to seek 

So that’s why we are special
Our story seldom told
And that’s why Star of David Flags
Fly on the Newtownards Road  

 

 

Friday, 17 August 2012

HOW THE WEST WAS WON....SO IT WAS.....HONEST TO GOD...

Wee Davy he was different,
But not by his own choice,
A French Colonial Protestant,
He called himself Dew Boyce

Dubois, was on his papers,
It was French for “from the wood”
His family fled for East Belfast,
When the French ran out of food.

An engineering dynasty,
Who had worked for King and Queen,
Wee Davy’s Great Granda Guilliame,
Had built the guillotine

But every time they pulled the rope,
The blade got awful stuck,
Wee Davy’s great great Granda
Stood and muttered…”Que le fuck?”

He scratched his head for ages,
Not knowing what to do,
Then lay below the slicer,
He’d forgot the 10 mil screw

“Try her now again, auld China”
He shouted to the bloke,
In the leather balaclava
“Pull hard on thon there rope”
(In French obviously)

The rest they say is history,
That’s why the family fled,
The Dubois had lost the contract,
When Auld Guillame lost the head

And so they moved to Belfast,
In hardship and in shame,
Wee Davy lived in Sydenham
And changed his strange last name

An engineering laughing stock,
He got himself a job
On the big ship called Titanic
Shitty hours for just ten bob.

He’d a chance to clear the family name,
He was talented and keen,
He watched the big boat slip away,
The best the world had seen.

But as he left the quayside,
He went arse over tit,
On a great big lump of metal,
Say’s he “Ah holy shit”

What’s la problem Davy Dew Boyce?
Laughed Wee Sammy, blockedl on stout,
“Thon’s the friggin iceberg sensor”
“And I’ve left it fuckin out”

Wee Davy packed his bags again,
Filled full of angst and guilt,
He set sail for Amerikay,
On a boat he hadn’t built.

He headed for the Wild Wild West,
On a covered wagon train,
Hell bent on anonymity,
And forced to start again

He’d sit at night beneath the stars,
As happy as a clam,
Muchin on his shipyard piece,
Veda bread and strawberry jam.

But just as life looked better,
And his woes seemed at an end,
Two thousand buckin Indians,
Came roarin round the bend.

Get the wagons in a circle,
Yelled a fella from Maynooth,
As the arrows and the tomahawks,
Came pouring through the roof

Of Davy Dew Boyce wagon train,
As he looked out on the fray,
“They’re just goin round in circles,
We’ll be here all friggin day”

Wee Davy’s engineering skills,
At last kicked into life,
As he slapped a passing Cheyenne brave,
And took his blood stained knife

He cut a piece of canvas,
Got his draughtsman’s pencil out,
And drew a pile of diagrams,
He was gonna have to shout.

“Listen up yis dickheads”
“Or we’re gonna lose our hair”
“Get your rifles full of bullets”
“And put the wagons in a SQUARE”

So they did what Davy told them,
And the Cheyenne lost their fight,
As the paleface blew their brains out,
When they slowed down to turn right

And so the course of history changed,
And so the West was won,
By a wee thran prod from Sydenham,
With a slide rule and a gun……..

Saturday, 21 April 2012

BILLY DON'T BE A HERO.....Radio killed the video star.


A photograph got me thinking about my late father today, a photograph that reminded me of good times in his company, and how many funny things happened with him, and in turn I got to thinking about the night the little bell rang in his head and he took on our street. It made me smile, so I thought I’d share it with you.

There was a gang of us who tore about the estate like maniacs after school, I didn't see much of my father during the day, he was gone to work before I got up, and I was in from school and away again, until we were called in like sheepdogs on a mountain by our repective mothers. I'd have my tea with him, then disappear again. The only thing we did together was go to the Glentoran games and for half an hour each night we'd sit together and watch his favourite programme. He'd have loved to go on Ask the Family, if only he had a different family......


It was a routine. Weekday nights were very much set in stone. For some bizarre reason, Sadie, my mother, had our tea on the table at half four in the afternoon. Billy’s key would slip into the door at 4.27pm, he’d mutter his hellos, climb the stairs to our shoe box bathroom where he would attempt to rinse the dirt from his hands and the smell of central lathe turning from his face. He would complain “I wish she would stop buying that fuckin Imperial Leather, it makes me smell like a fruit”

He was a keen amateur homophobe; there used to be a male dancer in a girl dance group called New Edition who were part of a Saturday night show on BBC called "Seaside Special" Billy used to be raging when the lad would be birling around in an open fronted catsuit to Boogie Wonderland. He'd be going "Seriously, look at the hack of yer man, what the fuck's that all about?"

The rest of our block took care of the racism and sectarianism. In the 1970’s in the Been, if you weren’t white, straight and a prod you were dead in the water. Not literally though, they used to dump the bodies at Craigantlet…we were miles from the sea.

He was a mild mannered bloke compared to the psychopaths that lived around us, he never once stripped bollock naked and walked through the estate after a win on the ITV seven, (because that happened) he never once hung anybody over the railings of a block of flats when it was discovered they had broken into a house and cut the legs of a budgie (because that happened) He never went on a shooting spree with a double barrel shotgun (because that happened) he never buried his dog and dug it up again (because that happened) he never kept a conger eel in the bath (because that happened)

No, on balance he was fairly normal; he got mercilessly hammered one Saturday night when Eddie Harty rode Highland Wedding to victory in the 69 Grand National at 100/9. Sadie found him in the living room spread eagled like the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, covered from head to toe in five pound notes. He’d lost half the money before Sadie tried to bring him out of the coma. Sadie got a new fridge and I got an Airfix model of the Ark Royal, and he got mugged by his own familyand a hangover that lasted until the following Wednesday.

He found the mental instability of many of the residents around us hard to deal with and his intolerance of those in our community who had joined the You Dee Ahhh in bid for some street credibility and self-importance was legendary.

But I remember his Michael Douglas moment with great fondness. If you have ever seen the film Falling Down you’ll know exactly what I mean. The day on which just one thing tips you over the edge.

After tea (which always came with chips) except Sundays, I got to watch Blue Peter, more often than not though it was Magpie, because even at ten I had grown to appreciate the magnificence of Susan Stranks’s diddies.

Then Scene Around Six, Nationwide before my father’s favourite programme came on. Ask the Family with Robert Robertson. Simple enough premise, family v family, two teams, mother and father with two kids and Robertson asking the question to for example, father and oldest child, two children, mother only……you get the drift.

He hated it when Sadie tried to answer. Robertson “Where is the Metatarsal arch? Sadie “Paris” Robertson “What was Ghandi’s first name?” Sadie “Goosey” Robertson “What is the name of the series about three grumpy old men,Last of the ….? Sadie “Mohicans” It drove Billy mental, I used to hear him going “For fuck sake” under his breath.

He’d had a bad day at work, Sadie had shouted at the TV that the six day war had lasted a fortnight and then it happened. Just as Robertson was about to ask father and youngest child, our Hitachi television made a strange noise, the picture broke up and words “Breaker break Good Buddy, have yis got yer ears on?”

Billy went “What the frig?”

Before he could say anything else, our house was filled with ten fours, roger dee’s and talk about bears being in the vicinity.

Then Billy realised that Ask the Family had been violated by not one, nor two but three CB radios and every time a question came on the television would go…..kkkkrrrrrrrrrr….breaker break rubber duck…

And then from out of our television wee Eileens voice came through the speakers.

“Hello, hello are ya there Bobby” (no radio protocol procedure at all)” Bobby, if yer wearin yer ears could you get us a pint of milk when you’re goin down to Tommy Bennett’s”

CB Radio was a phase that hit the estate like a Tsunami, Citizen’s Band radio, created for truck drivers in the States to warn each other of impending dangers or police speed traps it had arrived at a time when the only other entertainment apart from the television was listening to police messages late at night. CB radio were meant to be used in cars, however only two people in our block of flats owned a car, so, unbeknownst to us most of the block had procured radios, attached them to upturned Family Assorted biscuit tins (for whatever reason) and were now blocking Billy’s favourite programmes with requests for runs to the shop and the off-licence.

“Oh and twenty Embassy Regal Rubber Duck ten four Bobby”

“Roger Dee little lady”

“Right that’s fuckin it” Billy flipped, off out the door with me in tow busting to see what was going to happen. “He hammered the doors of the people he had identified on the airways, “Have youse one of those friggin CB radios goin?” he asked without waiting for an answer, he pushed into the house and ripped the radios out of the bedrooms.

I’d never seen him like this, and I was well impressed, I think his anger at not being able to name the capital of Ethiopia to Mr Robertson had sent him right over the edge. It was carnage, lots of swearing, lots of wrecking, I heard him inside a house going “What’s your handle? What’s your handle? I’ll come in here with a fuckin spade handle and then you’ll know all about it!!” three different houses, but at the end of it he had singled handed closed down the whole radio system operating in the flats in an operation not dissimilar to those carried out by one of his heroes Blair Mayne.

He returned to his armchair, picked up the Telegraph, called the neighbours a bunch of arseholes and settled down to watch World in Action.

No-one talked to him for weeks, and that was the way he liked it.

I miss him.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

ON EAGLE'S WING.......The true story of the settlement of Ulster and other places.


The low land Scots were scundered
Cheesed off, right to the hilt
From wearing silly face paints
And being forced to sport the kilt

This would freeze yer bloody balls off
And my knees are caked in dirt
I don’t know one other nation
Where the men put on a skirt

Said Mervyn who was restless
And wee Tom was browned off too
From eating deep fired Mars Bars
And drinking Irn Bru

And then there’s them square sausages
What the fuck’s that all about?
I’m tired of being Scottish Merv
It’s time we all bailed out

Where would we go then, Tommy?
Cause I think I like your style…..
There’s a place they call Nirvana
Three miles beyond Millisle

Explained wee Tommy Terrell
To his mate Big Mervyn Gaye
Well all just sail to Ulster
To start a Brand New Day

So they cast away their dresses
Tied their trews with bailer twine
And settled Portavogie
In the year sixteen oh nine.

Huey Lewis ran the paper shop
Smokey Robinson cut the turf
Big Merv and Tommy Terrell
Pulled spuds from Ulster’s earth

But none of them admitted it
For twenty years of more
Til Smokey goes to Tommy
I’m really fuckin bored

There’s no pub in Portavogie
My mobile signal’s shite
And there’s nothing more depressing
Than Carrowdore…. at night.

“What’s goin on?” Asked Mervyn
As they all sat round the fire
We’ve had enough of Lower Ards
It’s really buckin dire

Explained auld Smokey Robinson
I think the time has come
Our boats still moored at Groomsport
This ain’t my idea of fun

I heard it on the grapevine
There’s a New World far from here
Mervyn took the pencil out
He kept behind his ear.

And started writing lyrics
While the Ulster Scots agreed
That anything was better
Than flogging dry sea weed.

They cast off for America
Set sail across the seas
Spent eight long weeks just eating
Comber spuds and dodgy cheese

The salty sea roared in their face
The maps got cold and damp
The ink ran through the paper
And the cook ran out of champ.

They’d filled the hold with spuds you see
That way they’d all get fed
But the cook got pissed on potcheen
And mixed the spuds with bread

Frig I think we’re onto something
Said big Merv his spirits high
We’ll clean up with those big fat Yankees
We’ll import the Ulster Fry

At last the New World came insight
A strange and hostile place
Where brother slept with sister
And wore arse hairs on their face

The Ulster Scots splashed onto land
A tribe watched from the shore
Some hand six toes on their left foot
The other foot had four

The women surged to meet them
Big Merv he yelled out…Wait!!!!
Check their fuckin teeth out!!!!
There’s not one bar in the grate.

Big Mervyn choked his fear back
We come, yet mean no harm
What call you this, foreboding place?
The tribal chief went…..Larne

And so they settled Antrim
And Doagh and Glarryford
Which is why when you meet a local
You can’t understand a word.