Today, September 1st, marks the 2nd anniversary of the of this blog - originally started to post 'behind-the-scenes' info about the Podcast. It became something more for me - a tool to understand the strange, fascinating place I in which I had become stranded.
As listeners to my podcast know I shape my life to compliment the narrative arc of my various works, regardless of whatever alias/artistic persona I'm inhabiting. With this in mind, after 2 years, now is the time to say goodbye to Belfast.
Though I may work in Northern Ireland on occasion, I will no longer live here - it's been quite an adventure: the 3rd marriage, the attempt on my life, the creation of the podcast and much more.
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who's supported me during this tumultuous period in my life. Without the help of the folks I met here I wouldn't have made it.
Special thanks go to: Alicia Peyrano, Wayne Van Ry, Erin Parish, Gareth Higgins, Beth Lloyd, Raphael Rehbock, Sara Templer, Kirsteen O'Sullivan, Celia Petter, Keith Law, Sonia Butterworth, Dave Torrans, Philip Morrow, Richard Parkin, Allan Gildea, Alan Meban, Stephen Barnes, Marcus Valentine and Lucky Starr most of all for her love and devotion.
I'll end by saying the Podcast will continue Dear Listeners, what form it will take we'll have to see. Thanks to everyone for taking part.
There was a Flickr Meetup today of Belfast Photographers - a great way to say goodbye to the area. Above and below are some snaps from this afternoon.
Here's the gang: digitalEnvironmentalist, Alan in Belfast,
A lovely lady who's name I can't remember, (a little help anyone?) Anna, myself, Red Mum, mymsie, NickyBe and Stepbar; (the indomitable Dogtired arrived later and therefore was not present for the photo).
I'm going to end on the shot below. I've been here 4 1/2 years. Belfast's changed so much in that time.
I've heard a lot of people diss Belfast over the years, complaining about this and that, the lack of culture or the problems with its people.
But there was a war on.
The war's over now. It'll take a long time for things to get better. But I'm hopeful.
Wow, It's Like the Shining in Here with Letter to America - Chapter 67 - Belfast Welcomes You!
In which the Belfast Welcome Centre receives an unusual call, much is learnt about St. George's Market, we hear Al Qaeda doesn't really exist, Wayne forgets that people listen to the show, the YouTube cripples itself, racism rears its ugly head, we debate the number of continents, Maria W and PB's questions are answered, Chapter 24 is pulled out of the archives just so we can listen to Marcus Valentine, Nick Margerrison gives out handy tips for brewing the perfect cup of tea, we spoil Harry Potter, the Eloi and Morlochs are mentioned yet again and Jett starts packing for Nashville.
All this and more on your "I'm Willing to Help Out With the Re-Enactment" Podcast.
(Main photo courtesy of Rosa Blogs)
After the Bonfires I went poking around yesterday to see the what was left. I stumbled across a strange find, the subject of this post. Behind locked gates, (easily scaled), I found the above - a small heap of rubbish, still smouldering. A horrible toxic smell was present.
The photo above is a reverse shot, (you can see the easily scaled gates behind), the odd, rust coloured looping fibres are burnt-out tires.
I walked away from the toxic pile - down the hill you see above. And came across a strange site. A modern, well built and well maintained phantom mini-town. I say town. But actually there were no buildings there. Just neat and tidy roads, street lamps, power boxes...but no homes.
Looking at the weathering on the various fixtures it was clear that, while neatly maintained, these objects had been there for several years.
What's a pile of stones doing there?
At one end of the phantom area is another series of gates, seen above, of the same type as the ones scaled at the other end.
Here's a roundabout to nowhere.
More shots of the roundabout.
After a while I got a strange prickly sensation at the back of my neck.
Like I was being watched.
I was some distance from the gate I originally scaled so walked up the hill seen above till I was able to leave via another fence.
UPDATE, July 17th, 2007: Special thanks to LTA Listener 'Twomey' who sent me this via the miracle of email:
"It's Springvale, and is the skeleton of a campus they were going to build as part of of the peace dividend, but they screwed it up. You're right about the town feel, because it was meant to be a "village", Springvale Education Village. Bascially the University of Ulster was going to have a sort of satellite campus there, and it was going to bridge the sectarian divide, being local to both Orange & Green working class kids. It fell apart in the last couple of years, and all that's left is the eerie ghost-town roads that you walked through."
'Twomey' also sent some links - check it out, Clinton and Blair dedicated the site!
One of the things I love about living in Belfast is that because I'm a stranger here, with most of my friends drawn from various ex-pat communities, (eccentric English actors, soused South African wastrels, Thai Dancers with a chip on their shoulder, etc.), I usually have no idea what's going on. So from day to day what I see in Belfast comes as a complete surprise.
The fellow above for instance. As I was wandering in Belfast City Centre on Saturday I came across a parade - a parade who's meaning, import and theme I could not devise. I'm sure to the little ones lining the streets it all made sense - but to me it just seemed a random jumble - there was a gaggle of guitar strumming Portuguese students, a flat bed truck of Elvis Impersonators, a tribute to the Special Olympics and the gentleman above.
I felt like David Bowie's character in the Man Who Fell to Earth; Belfast truly is alien to me and I love it for that.
from the archive