My first evening in Belfast was subdued but in a very comfy way. Videos, pizza, red wine and Champagne - a different way to start a holiday, but considering the drinking yet to come I feel that clubbing until the early hours would have been a severe tactical error. As it happens, I highly recommend Napoleon Dynamite: if you've ever felt an outsider, or there's a closeted geek/dork/nerd within your soul, then this is the tonic for it. And it is very, very funny. We also watched The Cat's Meow: fantastic 20's period drama with superb performances from legends like Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Kirsten Dunst and the ever-enjoyable Edward Hermann (who I've been a fan of ever since The Lost Boys). The latter film (which we actually watched first) makes one think that there will be no success in life without the sacrifice of soul. Which I intend to disprove by being massively success but keeping my soul intact. I feel that surrounding myself with good friends not afraid to knock me down a few pegs when I need it is a good way to this.
I'm not sure what I expected of Belfast, but whatever it was, Belfast kind of lives up to those expectations. Weird huh? We did some shopping in the town centre and saw the rather grandiose city hall (you can tell this was a major imperial centre - the old buildings that haven't been blown up are very impressive). The chav/ned population seems massive, and I got the idea of a city whose internal problems had led it to a sort of Dundee-like existence, trying desperately to modernise in the right ways though having serious difficulty. Even in Jo's neighbourhood, which was wicked and reminded me of Turnham Green and that part of Chiswick High Road, the Police station looked like a prison. It seemed out of place, which I'm sure is a good thing. Then we drove down the Falls Road, one of the major Catholic neighbourhoods, complete with rage-filled murals demanding the freedom of everyone from the Catalans to the Palestinians. And, of course, the Irish. Irish tricolours flew from every other building and most of the signs were in both English and Irish. Jo lamented the waste of talent - the murals are impressive street art - and she's right, it is a waste of talent. You'd think that the rage and bigotry on both sides, redirected to take a city desperate to drag itself up from the conflict and make it a groovy place. And it seems like it's happening slowly. Everyone seems to be holding their breath a bit though, hoping that nothing happens long enough that nothing will ever happen again. My own views on the conflict are unchanged in their sympathies though my personal desire for the end to be truly nigh has intensified. The people here are really nice, and they just shouldn't blow eachother up. It's retarded.
Anyway. At the moment I'm sitting at Belfast Central rail station waiting for my train to Dublin as I missed the one before due to being a total wanker. Well, actually due to not listening to my sister's recitation of the timetable closely enough. It's one of those cases of switching off to a voice of elder authority and it coming back to bite me in the arse.
Other people's eating habits are revolting. I'm sure mine are to other people as well. But the old lady next to me is scooping the tuna mayo out of her sandwich and eating it raw sans bread, dribbling flakes of fish all over the table and herself. What's up with that? Am I scooping my Guinness out of the pint glass with cupped fingers and attempting to dribble it into my mouth? No, I'm not. And now she's just upped to another table because her old one is covered in rancid tuna. Mingin'.
In fact, so mingin' that I refuse to end this post with something so unpleasant. So instead here is a photo of Jo's lovely wee street on which her lovely wee flat and her lovely wee flatmate are situated.