keresaspa: (Dare to Believe)
I really should up date this thing again at some point.

Until I can be arsed here's a waxwork of Ian Paisley:



Now isn't that the creepiest thing you've ever seen? Don't have nightmares.
keresaspa: (Evil Timbo)
And so it begins as, once again, Sinn Fein got off the mark to fire the first shots of yet another election campaign (well, in my own sordid little burgh at least, happen the rest of you have been getting it for weeks). And what do you know, it's only bloody Millionaire Marty they've chosen as our candidate. Yet again the Sinners decide that we in south Belfast can't be trusted to think for ourselves and so parachute in somebody from their west Belfast base of operations, although they also seem to have come to the conclusion that wee Maskey is a bit too rough for us dazzling cosmopolites and so have ditched him in favour of the transatlantic, jet-setting, media mogul with the big nose. Deirdre Hargey may be a faceless apparatchik of the type that makes up the bulk of the party these days but at least she's from the Market so why she couldn't have contested what is an unwinnable seat for them anyway is a mystery to all bar the Falls Road mafia who run that party. OK, she's to be something on the new council but in the highly unlikely event that SF won South Belfast abstentionism would mean doing the two jobs would be easy anyway. Unless, of course, they're building up to dropping that policy, which wouldn't surprise me a jot after the last few years of public Liz-licking in which they have indulged.

But Millionaire Marty it is and once again Sinn Fein show their commitment to working class politics but saddling us with a candidate who is anything but. But in Northern Ireland that's increasingly the way they're going these days. They may make a song and dance over the border about supposedly being a democratic socialist party but that's certainly not the case here where they now promote a pro-capitalist, anti-welfare agenda combined with a fairly conservative set of social attitudes (well, in a wider context as admittedly they're ultra-liberal by the standards of the SDLP and the two unionist mobs). MM is typical of what they're about these days, a slick, sharp-suited tosspot with plenty of money in the bank who looks to the USA for his inspiration and sees the grassroots of republicanism as a bunch of nodding dogs who exist only to rubberstamp him and his ilk every election (not far wrong there, to be honest). He's already been exposed as a liar who tried to justify Sinn Fein's support for Tory cuts and the bedroom tax by pretending it had trade unionist support but what the hell eh? You could stick Michael Stone in a Sinn Fein rosette and there are plenty who would vote for him these days so lying about enshrining poverty into law is hardly going to cost him anything.

I wouldn't ever claim that there aren't decent individuals active within Sinn Fein but unfortunately in Northern Ireland it is very much under the thumb of the party's right-wing, as typified by the likes MM, Mitchel McLaughlin, John O'Dowd and of course McGuinne$$ himself. Even their recent decision to repudiate the massive cuts they agreed to seems to be motivated solely by self-interest as they must have realised it would cost them some votes as surely not EVERY republican voter can be a total idiot. It'll probably work too, even though after the election they will most likely sign up to pretty much the same thing but as George W. Bush so rightly said "there's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again".

Still, if, as I suspect, they're hoping that by leaving it this late they can delay any renegotiation until after the election in the hope that the Tories will be gone then they're playing a very dangerous game. I wouldn't like to call this election for various reasons but if they've judged wrongly and the Tories get back in they can expect them to seek revenge in any future negotiations and demand even more stringent cuts. These last five years of Tory rule have been absolutely horrible, with people's lives shattered in the name of repulsive ideological monetarism and that's with the supposed break being put on their vile excesses by the Liberal Democrats. To see an even more extreme version of that brought to Northern Ireland to teach us a lesson doesn't bear thinking about but it might well prove the outcome of SF's half-arsed attempt at politicking. Were that to be the case, and bearing in mind that Northern Ireland has far too few MPs to make even the remotest difference to anything a Westminster government does, open armed rebellion would be the only answer but of course Sinn Fein has spent the last decade or so making that impossible by surrendering their arms to the enemy and helping to turn the Provies into an unarmed bunch of old alcoholics who either drive black taxis or are on the DLA (which they soon won't be thanks to David Cameron's war on the weak and the vulnerable). And don't even bother thinking about the so-called "New IRA" as it's a real chocolate fire-guard thanks to its archaic structure and the fact that it has so many grasses that their gatherings end up looking like the pitch at the Hawthorns. Things could be set to get a lot bleaker in the not to distant future barring a minor miracle.

But to return to my original point, Sinn Fein posters have gone up on my road, the candidate is multi-millionaire with no links to the constituency and he has about as much chance of getting my vote as he has of winning Miss World. Having looked at the provisional list of candidates on the always reliable Wikipedia I suspect my vote will go in the direction of the hitherto unknown (to Me) Lily Kerr of the Sticks and I can keep up my record of always backing the losing candidate. Given that the unionist pact didn't extend to us McDonnell will probably hold the seat and we will retain an MP whose absence from Westminster can be put down to the fact that he's too busy making money elsewhere rather than any ideological reasons. Ye Gods, what a shower of bastards.
keresaspa: (Cookie Kwan)
You've got to love Newtownabbey, don't you? All the tat you could ever want at knockdown prices, more crappy little Amateur League grounds than you could shake a stick at and just right distance to walk to from my drum if I have an uncharacteristically energetic day. That and wonderfully misspelt signs, with two cock-ups in the one notice.



Well done old chap or chapess. That's real devotion to idiocy right there.
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
It's convention that I recount in some detail the events surrounding any journeys I make for the entertainment of the reading none so I suppose I shouldn't break from that tradition following my recent excursion to the occupied territory of Scotland. So without further Apu:

Edinburgh and environs )
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
D-Day )
keresaspa: (Miki Sugimoto)
It's a right nuisance when a door handle gives way and suddenly it becomes impossible to close said door without a whole irritating rigmarole. Mind you, what makes it that little bit worse is when you remove half of the offending handle and you're left with a little man sticking his tongue out at you.



It is, I'm informed, a broken spring in the handle although I have neither a replacement nor circlip pliers to hand and so a trip to the locksmith/door handle shop will be required. Expect brown warehouse coats, unintelligible jargon and air being sucked in through teeth immediately prior to the quoting of ridiculously high prices. All this in a week when I have to find time to squeeze in two evening matches up at Donegal Celtic. Lousy minor setbacks.
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
For as long as I can remember I have had a thing for derelict buildings. Sure, they're grim but so's Belfast and no matter how much the council waste on stupid little advertising campaigns it always will be. OK, sometimes they become a total danger and have to be torn down and other times they become a magnet for hoods and have to be bricked but for the most part I reckon if an actual use can't be found for a building then leave it be as a monument to folly.

As I mentioned on here previously the council have taken to burning more money by sticking fake shop fronts on long-term vacant lots and as I previously mentioned I struggle to find the words to express just how lame I believe this practice to be. Even the Shore Road, a real bulwark of seediness even by Belfast standards, has begun to fall victim to this awful policy with the Boundary Bar, a frequent target during the Troubles and a personal favourite in the gloomy outpost stakes, now featuring a real rubbish "Ye Olde Boundary Bar" façade on the front. Is nothing sacred to these profligate local government morons (although in a rare show of defence of the Belfast Corp morons, the Boundary's location means Newtownabbey Borough Council may have to carry the can over this one).

But there's worse. So much worse. Observe:



Certainly in my life there have never been book or record shops (I refuse to use the Americanism "store" - a store is where things are stored, a shop is where they're sold) on the lower Newtownards Road and even if there were I suspect they might have actual names, rather than just "Book Shop". I also doubt that they would have flat plants on their non-window sills with cardboard people at their pretend windows. But above all what genius decides to glue a fake shop front and pretend windows onto a building that has no roof?! Never in my life have I witnessed anything quite as pathetic. God only knows how much money they blew on coming up with this daft idea too. Let's face it, if the Island Street hoods came over and torched that building it would look a lot better than it does now.
keresaspa: (Cow)
As a consequence of Donegal Celtic's continuing extended hiatus from all football, combined with the rainfall levels that suggest it really is Sodom and Gomorrah times again*, I was able to continue my tour of the backwaters of east Belfast on Saturday. My travels took me to Sydenham, deep in the arse of the east, to witness the spectacularly named East Belfast take on Derriaghy Cricket Club (who play football, despite their name). I'm not sure if the UVF's Jamie Bryson, an extreme right candidate in the upcoming elections now too, was playing for his club side or not but if he was it made sod all difference as Derriaghy wiped the floor with East Belfast, winning 6-0 despite having a perfectly good goal disallowed and a penalty saved.

Of course last year Sydenham was all over the news after a mural of George Best was replaced by one of the UVF, resulting in a lot of hand-wringing by those in the media and politics who still like to continue with the canard that the UVF ceasefire is genuine. It's not an area of Belfast I regularly visit so it was only Saturday that I finally saw it with my own eyes:



Disappointed to say the least. Given the fuss that had been kicked up I was expecting it to be a massive triumphalist epic covering several buildings but in the end it was a crappy little thing about ten feet high on the side of a tiny little outhouse.

Leaving aside the nonsense of the message (if loyalists are being oppressed it is by the government, which is part of the British state apparatus, so blind loyalty is frankly the daftest reaction going and with their savage beatings and drug dealing there are few oppressing loyalist communities more than the Uve) I think the fuss was all pretty nonsensical. Regardless of their message, I'm something of a fan of the paramilitary murals and am generally left rather cold by the "community mural" crap that goes up in their place. We all know the loyalist paramilitaries run their estates so for me it makes sense to have their stuff on the wall rather than covering it with some old crap about Ulster Scots (which nobody in the loyalist estates of Belfast speaks anyway) or CS Lewis (whom nobody in the loyalist estates of Belfast reads anyway). As spontaneous outpourings of dissent and examples of outsider art I love the bones of them and frankly one of the great shames of recent years has been the way Sinn Fein has taken control of the walls in the republican estates and are plastering in them in all that "cultural" crap that has become their obsession now that they're lurching increasingly to the right. Apart from anything, were there something really worth getting worked up about it would be the fact that the nearby Belfast City Council-owned park and sports facility is plastered in UVF insignia too but nothing was said about that.

In and off itself this mural is hardly anything to write home about but I for one would rather see it than some fantasy of smiling children or, worse yet, yet another one about the bloody Titanic. And as for the argument that a paramilitary mural will dissuade tourists from visiting Sydenham, frankly any tourist that visits Sydenham is bloody mental anyway. Let's face, the UVF is as active as it ever was so why pretend otherwise? If the Fenians have a problem then resist Sinn Fein's dominance and put up murals in support of the New IRA but getting all precious about a statement of fact (that the UVF remains armed and active) is just silly.

* I appreciate that Sodom and Gomorrah were totally separate from Noah and his flood and were destroyed by fire and brimstone rather than rain but the New Creation didn't bother recording a song about Noah and their Jesus Freak craziness deserves a bigger audience.

From a purely aesthetic point of view my favourite loyalist murals are this one, this one and this one (subsequently removed), although I rather like this one too because I made money out of the picture.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.

Nobody seems quite certain when (or even if) he said it but whenever the name of Bobby Sands is evoked you can be sure that this quote is the one that will be trotted out. As a justification for the policies of the current leadership it has become almost an unofficial catchphrase for Provisional Sinn Fein and is virtually ubiquitous in their stronghold of west Belfast these days.

Recently on the front wall of the Royal Victoria Hospital, an unfortunately monarchist monicker for a building on the Falls Road, a group of anonymous devotees of Sinn Fein took it upon themselves to graffiti a collection of slogans clearly inspired by Sands' words. "The laughter of our children", "Oppression defeated" and "Mandate + ballotbox" were scrawled on the wall, and each checked off as if to say they had been fulfilled. Needless to say I nearly choked on my extra strong mints when I came across it for the first time the other week. That Sands gave his life for the much vaunted 32 County Socialist Republic goes without saying; one need only read his copious prison writings to see that he was prepared to settle for nothing less. And yet here we sit with Sinn Fein happily participating in an arm of the British government and overseeing all the cuts that their Tory masters tell them, suicide rates soaring across Belfast as working class youngsters face the bleak realisation that the only future they have is one of slavery (although we already know Sinn Fein don't give a toss about that) and the English state, the source of oppression according to any and all proper republican discourse, more in control than ever and they have the sheer brassneck to say that oppression is defeated and the children are laughing. The children of the increasingly gentrified representatives of Sinn Fein in Stormont may be laughing, due to all the government money their fathers and mothers are receiving, but the children of their constituents are weeping as yet another year of poverty, denial, inequality and, above all, oppression unfolds before them.

Still at least we can take some heart from the fact that not everybody is a total dupe for as I approached the hospital today to once again throw away my life blood on the altar of haemochromatosis I noticed that finally an angry local had took up his or her tin of paint to attack the fallacies.



Well done, sir or madam. If only you had been able to spell "suicide" correctly it would have been that little bit better but let's put that down to being too consumed with rage to worry about the niceties of spelling. Either that or the underfunded education system overseen by the Assembly is coming home to roost. Still, whatever the reason some small token of grassroots republican disillusionment with $inn £ein is very welcome and long overdue.

WATP

Oct. 14th, 2013 08:59 pm
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
For the past several weeks a loyalist bivouac has existed at Twaddell Avenue, a street that links the Crumlin Road to the Woodvale Road near the top of the Shankill. Twaddell and its encampment face the republican Ardoyne area which has been the sight of a number of controversies regarding loyalist marches recently. The Parades Commission has determined that triumphalist loyalist marches past the republican area are not acceptable, which seems perfectly reasonable, and the response has been to have a round the clock presence right in the faces of the Ardoyne residents, to remind that we are the people and this is our turf.





The Progressive Unionist Party showing plenty of progressive thinking there as usual. But I digress. Time was the Ardoyne yahoos would have been on that rubbish like a tom-tit on a horse-turd but the response now? Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Just take a moment to drink that in. A naked display of extreme nationalism, hatred and provocation right in your face dressed up as civil rights (I'm not sure where it is an enshrined civil right to intimidate and threaten people with extreme right political marches glorifying UVF murderers but you can't expect logic from these idiots) and the response is nothing. I wouldn't mind but this is Ardoyne, an area that has always prided itself on its reputation for resistance and yet their response to this sort of provocation is to stand around like a bunch of gongoozlers. Hell, can you imagine if a republican flute band wanted to have a parade commemorating Lawrence Montgomery and Frankie Donnelly past the Woodvale? The UVF would have Ardoyne set alight before they could beat one tattoo out.

I passed this latter-day Blackshirt rally the other week and there was two old men in charge of it and today there was nobody and yet nothing was done, it was left untouched without a single hood going over and tearing stuff down or writing a bit of graffiti. Hell, even if they're prepared to tolerate such hatred then what is stopping them replying in kind by sticking a bunch of republican insignia on the Ardoyne shops facing Woodvale? Sauce for the goose and all that. But still nothing.

I was pretty surprised by the lack of response but not as amazed as I might have been as the grubby hand of Sinn Fein is clearly at work again. They know that if they show even the slightest bit of balls then their big money appointments in Stormont will go for a Burton and the green of the scrouse is all that Martin McGuinne$$ and his cronies care about these days. What is disappointing is that the republican people on the ground are happy to be cast in the role of helots who will happily accept anything thrown at them so long as their masters get their thirty pieces of silver from the Westminster overlords that they claim to oppose so much. As much as the loyalists are increasingly sickening me with their lurch to the extreme right I have to admit that they suit themselves no matter what the consequences for the unionist politicians. It's a real shame that the republicans are happy to live on their knees rather than treat their self-proclaimed masters with the same disregard. A proud tradition of defiance and a refusal to bend to masters lies in tatters today.
keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
That period of extended silence that nobody noticed round these parts was caused by my being in Leeds at chez [livejournal.com profile] queenmartina. I travelled over on Friday by my least favourite method (flying obviously) on what proved to be a total bloody nuisance of a journey. I suppose the flight itself was reasonable enough but the whole rigmarole associated with flying, be it the travelling to and from vast, soulless warehouses in the middle of nowhere, all the security wank, the inevitable stabbing pains in the back of the head and the interminable hanging around really gets on my tit-end and I'm always very glad when it's over. I'm also not sure whether or not an author as intense and, frankly, bonkers as the great Gérard de Nerval was a good idea for in-flight reading as the surreal, existentialist insanity of Aurélia did rather unnerve me whilst travelling in a giant, floating sardine tin but live and learn. By the time I arrived we had already passed the eye of the day so a bit of arseing around the town was all we could manage.

On Saturday [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks and myself took off to nearby Halifax in order to slake my inevitable desire for watching 22 idiots chasing a bit of a balloon. The town of Halifax was a new one on me but I have to say it was a remarkably presentable place, teeming with grand old buildings of the type that the planners in Belfast would have "accidentally" burnt down years ago in order to replace them with glass and chrome horrors on which no sod could afford the rent. That and slightly ropey ex-England and Leeds midfield spoilers see it as a good place to set up fish-flogging emporia. Or something like that. The match itself was eventful both on the pitch and off. On the pitch Halifax Town will have been chastened by the comparative hiding they took from Stockport County, a club one level below them. Mind you given that Halifax went bust recently but have now returned to the top level of non-league whereas Stockport have gone from the second tier of league football to the sixth tier overall in just over a decade in the grand scheme of things they should feel better.

Halifax's ground, the Shay, was once proverbially ramshackle but it's had a right good overhaul in recent years and we took our seat in a well-appointed main stand, not far ahead of an odd looking individual, who appeared a cross between Necro Butcher and a scarecrow. Had we known then that we know I suspect we would have sat elsewhere but Necrocrow, clearly a local maniac, proceeded to spend the entire match talking to no-one in particular about all sorts of weirdness. It's fairly standard practice at these sort of levels that if a player has recently arrived at a club from the other end of the country and/or has been signed on a short-term deal that he is put up in a hotel locally at the club's expense. Such an arrangement can annoy supporters if the player in question doesn't perform on the pitch but for Necrocrow it went further - the player in question was, by virtue of living in a hotel, a Nazi who provided nothing but death. He was detested for the fact that his only profession was football but another player who was part-time and also worked as a barber was roundly condemned as "namby-pamby" and needing to be hit with a medicine ball as Necrocrow respected no profession other than hod carrying (although his insane ramblings, combined with his scrawny physique, rather suggest that his own money is derived solely from mental disability payments rather than carrying shovels of bricks up ladders). Other gems he told us included the fact that the world would run out of water in five years (something else that I think was somehow hotel boy's fault) and that Chelsea and England full-back Ashley Cole is afraid of grass (so what's that stuff he's been making his living on for the past fifteen years?). A chap behind us eventually tired of Necrocrow's warped stream of consciousness and, after advising him in the vernacular to "stop away, then", began throwing in expletives and threats of violence to the hotel hater. Only I doubt Necrocrow will ever stop away, being one of those bizarre supporters who goes to every match home and away, not to mention reserve and youth team games, despite publicly claiming to hate the club and everything associated with it and despite his attendance appearing to fill him with so much anger. Nutter, but he'll be at the Shay until he dies and then his ghost will come back to spend the entire match complaining about how cold Hell is and how bad Asmodeus' arse stinks.

In common with the rest of the British isles, Sunday in Leeds is a very truncated day on which things open for only a few hours so we managed only a bit of mooching before the shutters went up. It wasn't helped by the fact that the Gay Pride march was taking place that day. Put it down to a lifetime of living in Belfast and having to endure the Orange Order but all parades, regardless of their purpose, get royally on my wick and the annual rainbow flag procession is no exception. Rain worthy of the Book of Genesis arrived later on so I beat a retreat and left them to it. The rain continued through the night and into Monday although by the time we ventured out it had more or less dried up and we were able to pay a visit to Leeds Royal Armoury. I had been troubled a series of vivid nightmares the night before, the sort I only ever get when running a bad temperature (and sure enough I feel a tad on the flu side today), and as such I wasn't at my most chipper but we still managed to see the sights on offer, some of which were captured here. Some more Medieval hunting tapestries would have been a good addition as the wonky rabbit head in this one raised some ribaldry but in general it was a nice place which I must revisit at some stage when in better fettle. With the day done I took my leave for an evening flight home, a surprisingly bearable effort which, uniquely in my experience, actually left and arrived early. Wonders never cease. And at least I wasn't detained for questioning by the PSNI this time, as I was when I arrived back from London last month.

As I said earlier I'm feeling somewhat ropey now (although I put that down to a soaking I took in Ballymena in the middle of last week) but it's good to catch up with the kith and kin once again and to add another ground to my expanding list. Good show.
keresaspa: (J Wellington Wimpy)
Sunday was not only the hottest day of the year so far but it also saw me finish phase one of operation back garden. Given that even in Arctic conditions I sweat more than a cow's hooter choosing that day on which to tackle the miss was ill-advised at best but nevertheless I soldiered on. At this point I think it is expedient to break in order to illustrate the task I've undertaken.



I should point out at this juncture that the path up the middle was cemented into place and out of view there was an old aluminium bin filled to bursting point with unused bricks. Well, systematically these last lot of weekends all of that has changed. Paving slabs, bricks, stones, roof tiles, breeze blocks and (most bastardly of all) those big heavy things on the edge of pavements cemented to breeze blocks have all been cleared, the latter being so heavy (and pointless) that carrying them over to the rubble pile saw that red veil descend over my field of vision, a sensation one only ever gets when carrying something just that little bit too weighty for comfort. Alongside that all the green crap had to come up from the roots all the while making sure that a specific bush and a tree had to remain untouched. Going under a tree when you are bald means only one thing - one's sunburnt head being torn to shreds by low lying branches. As you can imagine the tree is now on my enemies list and the bush and me aren't exactly on speaking terms either. Bloody nuisance things.

With all that done odd black carpet stuff had to be laid down in order to cover the entirety of the bare soil with the intention of stopping regrowth. It remains to be seen whether or not it will work but that bit has been done as well now:



Yesterday saw the odyssey come to an end (in between filling in gaps in my gaff due to yet another invasion by the bastard bastard bees) and now all that remains to be done is to arrange delivery of a ton/tonne of small stones and to spread them all over the blackened land. This being me I'm sure there are plenty of things that can go tits up between now and then but for now I'm rather pleased that the weeding, stoning and carpet-laying are all done and the final bit can wait until I return from London. Inevitably my back and shoulders are aching like the man who pushed the cart and the horses but at least it's done. For now anyway.
keresaspa: (Meg)
Believe you me I have no desire to conjure up the spectre of Maggie Thatcher once more as I think we have all heard enough about that particular stiff to last us a lifetime. But indulge me.

The sarding nuisance that is haemochromatosis demanded blood to slake its fetid maw today and as long term readers (bit ambitious there, old bean) will recall that involves yours truly having to hike up the Falls Road to let them shove a needle in me and steal my lifeblood for depositing in the bin. In order to access the Falls from the city centre one traverses Divis Street, a rather grim place that is nonetheless a tourist trail hotspot due to its proliferation of murals, formerly home-grown but now professionally painted and regularly replaced in order to get repeat business (yup, even spontaneous expression of political dissidence has become cynical in Belfast). Inevitably a swathe of graffiti greeted the passing of the woman who oversaw the deaths of The Ten, some more compelling than others ("Rot in Hell Maggie Thatcher" is le mot juste but to me "Iron Lady? Rust in Peace" is bordering on affectionate tribute) but this appeared twice and rather took me aback:



Now I claim no expertise in Hollywood musical extravaganzas, with or without Bert Lahr, but I'm almost certain the lyric is "dead" rather than "gone". I've seen The Wizard of Oz several times in my life and each time I have I'm sure those garishly dressed small people sang "dead". Using graffiti to express malcontent views is perfectly legitimate but a bit of accuracy is essential to my mind. A drunkard's cloak for the dotard that made that slip-up. Falls Road - try harder.
keresaspa: (Fidel Castro)
With Donegal Celtic up the country today facing Dungannon Swifts in, surprisingly enough, Dungannon, my usual port of call would have been the Cliftonville-Ballymena United match up at Solitude. But not today. For whatever reason I decided I didn't fancy. Whether my two recent visits as an away supporter have soured me or whether my innate disdain for success has kicked in with Cliftonville top of the league (remember, all communists are at heart losers) I just didn't feel like cheering for the Reds today. So after a bit of consideration I settled on spending the afternoon at Dundela vs Larne.

Of all the Irish League teams in Belfast Dundela are the second closest to me at three miles away (Linfield are closest at under three miles, although the nearest non-league team is Rosario at a few hundred yards) and yet I have never set foot in their Wilgar Park. Their status as a Protestant team in the heart of east Belfast has always put me off but after finding Brantwood to be no bother I decided today to finally put in an appearance.

Wilgar Park is in an odd area, solidly Protestant but uncertain of its status. The grim nightmare of the lower Newtownards Road is but a stone's throw away but the leafy suburbs of Ballyhackamore and the Hollywood Road are very close too and as a result Dundela is a bit of a twilight zone, not quite sure whether it is loyalist or simply unionist. The comparisons with Brantwood are relevant as Wilgar Park reminded me of Skegoneill Avenue, being a ground nestling inconspicuously in the middle of a residential area within the catchment of a much larger club and giving off a whiff of faded glory and decline. They've never been a senior club but Dundela did once win the Irish Cup and their crumbling ground looks like it might have been pretty good once but is now on the slide.

Unlike Brantwood however Dundela have maintained some status and sit in the second tier of the local game, the Championship 1. Today's visitors were Larne, themselves a former senior club with a couple of Ulster Cup wins under their belt but who have fell on black days. Perhaps the lack of space on the tiny Wilgar stands made it seem that way but the ground seemed to have attracted a good crowd, no mean feat given that Glentoran were at home under a mile away. Larne had a decent enough travelling support too, bolstered by an unusually high percentage of females, with local crowds being predominantly male (even exclusively at a few very low level matches I have attended). It may be a harsh judgement on my part but I have to say that Larne's away support is possibly the worst I have encountered outside the top division. Gobby, argumentative, bad-tempered, blinkered, loud tosspots, not helped by possessing one of the most unpleasant accents in the world, they failed to endear themselves to the home support, a stout bunch of mostly very elderly individuals whose other hobbies seemed to revolve entirely around the Presbyterian Church. Larne's support was led by one shrill harpy, the loudest of the bunch and thus inevitably possessed of the most horrendous accent of the bunch, who decided that the constantly harassed Dundela number three was a bit of a diver. "He's more often on his arse than on his feet" the Patsy Rowlands-lookalike opined to slight laughter the first time. By the tenth time even a member of the God-fearing home crowd was move to respond "ach, f**k up" in her direction. Well said, granddad.

On the pitch Dundela dominated the first half completely but singularly failed to make it pay, missing an absolute shitload of chances to go in 0-0 at half time. It was the same story in the second half but this time they finally made it count with one of their number (didn't catch any of the names, unfortunately) curling in a neat little curler past the flailing grasp of Larne's portly keeper. A few more could have followed but again they didn't take their chances and Larne began to come back into it. Their number ten, a strapping but mouthy young man with a bit of a beard, became a bit of a hate figure for the home crowd as he was fond of niggling fouls, overacting when tackled and attempted to give backsass to home fans when they gave him a bit of gentle ribbing. Knobhead. Still, he was the one to score the equaliser in the dying seconds of injury time as chaos ensued following a corner and he was able to intercept a pass from the chubby keeper, who had taken to coming up for corners, and rifle home. Having taken the home side's part throughout this ending felt flat and I trudged away disappointed at the result and nursing a new found grudge for Larne. The bad blood even spilled onto the pitch where a bit of handbags followed the final whistle, much to the chagrin of the referee, who appeared to stand around three and a half feet in height.

Nonetheless overall it was an interesting change of pace. Fair play to Dundela, they're holding on well despite the obvious pull of Glentoran on their doorstep and I hope that they continue to do so as the patchwork of smaller clubs dotted around Belfast help to give the local scene a bit of both variety and familiarity. I would hate another old Belfast side to follow Brantwood's lead in leaving the league scene but if today is anything to go by Dundela seem to be in comparatively rude help. As for Larne, sod that shower of East Antrim arseholes, I hope Bangor overhaul them at the bottom and send them down to the third tier.

And finally as per a request recently received:

Internet fuel )

End!
keresaspa: (Stan Ogden)
Bloody rain! Too much rain leads to waterlogged pitches which in turn leads to the football card being wiped out and in turns leads to me kicking my heels trying to fill up a boring Saturday. How the hell did I used to survive this day before I went back to the football? Strictly speaking I might have went anyway as there is one game on due to Seaview having a plastic pitch but Crusaders-Linfield was ruled out because (a) it's too loyalist, (b) I hate both teams and (c) it might well have been all-ticket anyway.

Still, if nothing else it gives me time to clear up two of my annual traditions in one go so read on or hit the road, whichever suits you.

Top 10 albums of the year )

2012 thing )
keresaspa: (Boycie)
That's me back from England then. I'm nursing an injured right leg for my trouble but it was a fun time as I shall now elaborate upon.

TL;DR )
keresaspa: (What do you think of it so far)
Three faces of republicanism )

But enough about that )
keresaspa: (Cassidy says...)
Hai guise. Long time no speak and all that. Little to report admittedly and little to get my vitriol rising these last days, hence the self-imposed period of silence. Still nothing to speak about really so in lieu of any actual content please enjoy this picture of a squirrel taken by my own fair hand this very day (well, technically yesterday I suppose). His name is Duncan and he lives in the Falls Park so if you ever find yourself there remember you are on his turf so give him the respect he deserves or he'll gnaw your face good.

keresaspa: (Mrs Mack)


In the interests of showing solidarity with my oppressed sisters the world over I have started today with an image from my collection in your honour. Yup, nothing says International Women's Day like a mural in honour of a bunch of big culchie sorts squeezed into fuzzy green uniforms tramping through the streets of some godforsaken County Laois village in their sensible walking brogues. But seriously for their strong work in support of the radical left I am happy to doff my non-existent hat to Winifred Carney and Nora Connolly, two fine females. I am normally critical of the arbitrary assignation of dates to a particular event seemingly based on nothing but International Women's Day was good enough for me la Lenin and so it is good enough for me. Mind you the "days" seem to be coming thick and fast in March - drunken tossers days on the 17th, Mother's Day on the 18th, Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day on 23rd (mustn't forget that one), clocks go in some different direction on the 25th, Reba McEntire Day on the 28th, the list goes on. Heck even yesterday was that most arbitrary and pointless of observances No Smoking Day, a day on which a former smoker like myself who nevertheless retains a pro-smoking agenda and who misses his fegs a lot more than he enjoys improved breathing (in fact my breathing is actually somewhat worse now than it was when I smoked) really has to marshal every fibre of his willpower not go and buy a deck of Dunhill International just to stick two fingers up to the health fascist mob. I didn't of course but No Smoking Day really grinds my gears as part of that insidious anti-smoking attitudes that is now trying destroy old films and even photographs with its twisted nannyism - mind your own bloody business and you'll have enough to mind, you whiny little bitches.

For my own part International Women's Day included a visit to Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, a visually very impressive Garden of Remembrance situated on Bombay Street in the Clonard area of west Belfast, ran by this mob. Given that the burning of houses by mobs from the neighbouring Shankill Road in 1969 helped to galvanise local support for the IRA and essentially begin the Troubles in Belfast as well as the large number of people from the area to die in said Troubles and the fact that it is right beside the peaceline it is a well-chosen place to house what must be the finest of these sort of gardens in Belfast. Its slightly unusual location (because of the peacelines Clonard leads nowhere and it is actually a little far from the main Falls Road) means that it is not as often viewed as some of the other similar attractions in west Belfast but I must say it impressed me and the availability of a (highly partisan) booklet produced by the ex-prisoners association was a very nice touch. And apropos of nothing here's me standing therein:



See I told you I had huge feet! So in conclusion Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden is worth a visit and I salute my sisters in the struggle on this day.
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
The Bank of Ireland building has stood at the corner of Royal Avenue and North Street in Belfast city centre for as long as I or anybody else can remember. Of course the name is a misnomer as it hasn't actually been a Bank of Ireland branch for some time but rather has lay derelict for the last lot of years. Until today that is when I happened to pass by and chanced upon the following sight.



Yup, the "Occupy Belfast" mob who had been ensconced round the corner in their little tents facing Saint Anne's Cathedral had decided to occupy somewhere indoors. I've already covered my thoughts on the Occupy movement previously and I stand by them despite some childish name-calling but the Occupy Belfast brigade made the London event look like the storming of the Bastille. A few tents and a couple of signs about 99% stuck between a block of flats and a place where skateboarders congregate registered precisely nothing on the annoying the powers that be scale and frankly looked absolutely pathetic after the initial posters had announced a grand scheme to occupy the headquarters of Invest NI. They are now holding a derelict building which is not exactly causing a wave of disruption but to their credit they were blaring music, have erected large banners (although I don't like the "o" in their sign - far too much like Oswald Mosley's flash and circle for my taste) and had managed to attract a smattering of curious gawpers, as well as forcing three or four of the pigs slash brutes to muddy their boots standing around rather than leaving them to spend a whole shift fannying about in Musgrave. Of course were they to make any real difference the place to occupy would be Stormont but unfortunately these sort of protests are far too bloody nice to break the law and so I suppose this move has to be seen as a big step forward. So well done boys and girls although in my day we occupied buildings that people actually used. Still made no difference as tuition fees not only remain but are higher than ever but at least we had a go.

And here's another picture (also taken by my own fair, and very shaky, hands) just for fun:



Painting the address to which a wheelie bin belongs in huge letters is a perfectly good idea but you really might want to consult the sign at the end of your road before doing so. Well I suppose "street" is a very long and esoteric road so there is no shame in getting wrong. "Steet", I ask you?!

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