keresaspa: (Cartman)
For several years since his shady, drug-related death in 2000 UDA killer Stephen "Top Gun" McKeag has been commemorated by various murals in the Lower Shankill area that was formerly his home. Rather than give you the full details of his sordid life I'll just point you in the direction of his Wikipedia article which is in this case both reliable and readable, a true classic of the website (yes, I did write the vast majority of it).

A recent bout of redevelopment saw the most recent version removed and a sigh of relief breathed by the relatives of the victims of one of the most prolific sectarian killers of the later years of the Troubles. However a couple of weeks ago a new version went up in the same vicinity (albeit not the exact location) leading to an outcry as well as the inevitable Housing Executive response of "we've no immediate plans to remove it". Well, the UDA's backs are up since Boreland and the Exec have never been the bravest of agencies at the best of times.

Leaving aside any outrage, the mural itself is one of those photo-based, screen-printed efforts that have become the norm on the Shankill in recent years where the sudden surge of ultra-nationalism that followed the horrendous flag protests and culminated in the loyalist support for the extreme right "leave" option at the last referendum (despite the EU having effectively been propping Northern Ireland up since the economic collapse, but hey - foreigners) has apparently killed off any notion of murals as an art form. Be that as it may, this is the result of their efforts:

Just take a moment to drink that in and realise that that is on the side of somebody's house, twenty odd feet high for the whole world to see. I didn't know McKeag personally (not one of the biggest regrets of my life, I must confess) but I've seen the odd picture and I'm pretty sure he had a complete head throughout his life. It does rather beg the question as to why, in that case, his photo-mural tribute has a head that stops immediately above the eyes with a little beret plonked on top, presumably to stop the world seeing his exposed, pulsating brain matter. I mean, was it really that big a rush job that the designer couldn't take a little time to actually make it look vaguely realistic? Or did they accidentally hire a Fenian who decided to have a bit of fun with it? Whatever the rights and wrongs of commemorating a piece of scum like McKeag if you're going to do it at least do it right. Whatever that is supposed to be it is an absolute laughing stock and frankly the UDA themselves, never mind the Housing Executive, should be removing that with their faces beetroot-red whilst doing so. He may have been "Top Gun" but my breath was certainly taken away by that travesty.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
In the latest revelation to cast further light on just how dirty the so-called Troubles really were it now seems that the British security forces were forewarned about the 1993 Shankill bombing by a prominent Provo tout but decided to do sod all about it. Another one for the list then, although a rare example of an incident where the victims were those declaring their loyalty to the crown, a loyalty that once again is demonstrated to be one way.

With the proliferation of informers at the top level of the paramilitaries (seriously, there was a time in the 1980s when the heads of the UVF, UFF and IRA were all in the pockets of the security forces) and the realisation that so much of what went on was known in advance to the powers that be it becomes increasingly clear that, far from being the great war of liberation/defence that it was sold to young republicans and loyalists as, it was yet another example of the good old divide-and-rule tactic that has been the British Empire's stock in trade for centuries. How many hundreds, thousands even, died with the foreknowledge of a state that made no attempt whatsoever to save those lives? The Stevens Inquiries may have revealed a fraction of the collusion that went on between the UDA and the British but it was the tip of the iceberg, and a process hamstrung from the start by being instigated by the same British state that was involved in the dodgy deals. Like the supposed investigations into Westminster paedophile rings, can we really expect the establishment to condemn itself? Really the more you hear about the Troubles the gloomier it becomes - all that bloodshed for what? So as a tout can get big money for himself and his cronies by sitting in government, toasting his queen and doing the bidding of the people that have been paying him for decades.

A dirty war, dirtier than we could ever imagine, with communities on both sides put to the rack for the supposed forces of order to pursue their own twisted agenda. It's no wonder that any deal on "legacy" has been consistently tossed out as every man-jack of them is up to their necks in filth with their hands soaked in blood. Meanwhile Sinn Fein will continue to use the names of Bobby Sands and the others during their forthcoming election campaign to the collaborationist institution up at Stormont and the useful idiots will tramp out and put them back in to continue cosying up to the same state that oversaw the butchering their relatives. By fuck, this place is disgusting.
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
During the Troubles the Provies looked around for international comparisons for their struggle and the two groups they seized on for parallels were the ANC and the PLO. Before long images of Mandela and the Palestinian struggle were appearing on walls and in Sinn Fein literature and that continues to this day. In part as a reaction to this and also because of their own similarities the loyalists latched on to South Africa and Israel as their models and articles in support of the two states appeared in UDA and UVF magazines from the mid 70s onwards. Direct contact was even established by Ulster Resistance, who got their arms from both countries.

Eventually the South Africa links were sidelined a bit as it's hard t get any positive press out of backing an apartheid regime but the Israeli motif has continued. In the last few years, with Netnayahu's regime unleashing swathes of destruction, the public displays of support have, if anything, got even stronger as it is a fine way to wind up the Fenians. This reached a crescendo in the last few weeks with the appearance of this on the Shankill end of Northumberland Street, close to the peaceline gate.

Ostensibly a tribute to John Henry Patterson, the mural has inevitably raised the hackles of some republicans, not least because the aforementioned Netanyahu is quoted at the far end.

Oddly though, this has also had an angry reaction from a lot of Unionists. The other big thing that Unionism and Loyalism hammer home now is how great the British Army is and how everything it has ever done is to be celebrated (something Sinn Fein seem to agree with now, although complaining about that now seems rather pointless). Yet here stands a mural endorsing the IDF, a group that has its origins in the insurgents who fought against the British Mandate of Palestine and sent several members of the selfsame British Army to their graves. And so as part of the points scoring exercises that now seem de rigeur since the whole flag protests nonsense the muralists have not only managed to annoy the Taigs but also to upset a bunch of their militarists into the bargain. Job well done there, boys. Not only that but yet again it is a bunch of photos screen-printed and bolted to the wall with no artistic merit whatsoever. Can nobody on the Shankill paint any more?!

Overall typical of the embarrassing pettiness that characterises this place nowadays. These sort of "let's wind the other lot up" things have been going on for a while but this has to be the first that has backfired so spectacularly.
keresaspa: (Jimmy Edwards)
Yesterday was spent on a wild goose chase of sorts, trawling out to Twinbrook on the off-chance of catching a match. When I got there, sure enough Glaston were indeed playing Sandy Row in the Brooke Activity Centre as promised (albeit with kick off fifteen minutes earlier than promised), but there was no access for spectators and so I was forced to watch it through a fence. Five minutes of that did me until I thought "swive this" and buggered off, content in the knowledge that even I'm not desperate enough to endure 90 minutes of the second tier of the South Antrim League. As such I must face the crushing reality that for me the football season is most likely over.

Still, I can't really complain I suppose because it has been a thrill ride if you like that sort of thing (which I do). 54 matches in all was a slight drop on last season's probably unmatchable total of 58 but it still represented a good haul of live football, starting on 28th June 2014 with Crusaders playing Airbus UK Broughton in a friendly and ending last Saturday with Brantwood wrapping up the Ballymena and Provincial League campaign with a 4-3 win over Newtowne. During the course of the season I witnessed 187 goals (give or take one or two when I got distracted) and visited 28 grounds including first ever trips to Holm Park in Armagh, Inver Park in Larne, Celtic Park in Glasgow, Dennyfield in Bradford, Imperial Fields in London and New Victoria Park in Newtongrange as I endeavoured to spread my tentacles into Britain a bit more.

There were good times and bad times. For the bad times I will do well to forget: a Monday night hammering for Donegal Celtic up in the mountains of Knockbreda in the League Cup in August; an undeserved 1-0 defeat at Harland & Wolff Welders soon afterwards (the first of many matches where DC played well but still lost); the horrors of Islandmagee the following Saturday where the crowd have to be the biggest load of agrestic, ugly, bigoted, small-minded shitkickers I've ever had the misfortune to encounter; the futile attempt to get a bus from Celtic Park whilst having to wait with all the drunks in Glasgow; the near funeral atmosphere at Seaview whenever Newington were playing and their three supporters turned up; and hearing a home side committee member refer to their only black player as "the N*gger" at Shankill United a few weeks ago. But then there are always the highs: the aforementioned Crusaders-Airbus match when anything would have done to break the monotony of no football but where they contrived to serve up a 3-3 thrill-ride; the 3-1 win at Newforge Lane the day after my birthday when a DC promotion challenge seemed a possibility; being the last man standing at Dundela when the rest of the travelling support deserted a 3-1 defeat during which DC were forced to play in a late 90s Carrick Rangers away kit; the crazy atmosphere at Armagh City, again despite defeat; the traditional ball-freezing conditions at the annual post-Boxing Day beano that is the Border Regiment Cup final; my annual day out to Paisley Park to see Albert Foundry; getting fed like a fighting cock in the boardroom at Bangor; my annual day out to The Diamond to see Rathcoole; seeing Colin Valley destroy 18th Newtownabbey OB 8-1 at Valley Park having attended the reverse fixture earlier in the season and been unimpressed by the toxic atmosphere 18th had created at their ground; and of course, above all, the final day at Lakeview Park, Loughgall when, against the odds, DC stayed up.

So, barring a minor miracle (rumours abound of a match next week in Portadown, although I'm not sure I want to shell out the fare just for a Mid Ulster League match, whilst there may be play-offs) the football season is now over in terms of my live attendance. Until the final week in June (hopefully) or the first week in July (hope not) I am forced to find something else to fill in the gaping maw of ennui that is Saturday afternoon, something made all the worse by the year ending in an odd number. If I really start to lose the thread I may have to bite the bullet and take in a couple of Wednesday night Women's League matches at Seaview and/or Solitude but we'll cross that bridge when we can to it. Until then, so many memories and roll on next year.
keresaspa: (Edwige Fenech)
William Frederick McCoy was one of the rabble of hard-faced old bigots who sat for the old Ulster Unionist Party in the Parliament of Northern Ireland during the post-war years. Most of these old codgers were completely faceless old nobodies, reminiscent of the pre-Reform Act MPs in Westminster who came streaming in from the rotten boroughs and in some ways McCoy was no exception, being elected unopposed as member for South Tyrone in four of the six elections he "contested". Probably the only thing worth mentioning about McCoy was that, in contrast to his fellow partymen who were happy for the "Protestant parliament for a Protestant people" to continue as ever, he wanted a stronger guarantee for the continuance of one-sided dominance by virtue of Northern Ireland being granted Dominion status. Former National Front activist and publisher of Ulster Nation David Kerr subsequently seized upon the otherwise forgotten McCoy and used him as an archetype for his own pro-independence rhetoric and, in Kerr's defence, the pamphlet he produced on him is, if one ignores the very obvious polemical aspects, a reasonable bit of work. Long since out of print, given that Kerr's Glenwood Publishing bit the dust years ago, his Ulster Souvenirs shop on the Shankill is now very much a pro-British affair and the last I heard of Ulster Nation somebody up the country was running it and it was being supported by the neo-Nazi British People's Party (no idea if that was Kerr's doing or not, although given his history I wouldn't be surprised), but interesting nevertheless, it must be conceded.

Why is it whenever I see Alex Salmond I always think of WF McCoy? I am on record several times as being a supporter of Scottish independence and I'm not going to rake over old ground by reiterating my reasons but the SNP in general and Salmond in particular leave me cold. The Snips have some reasonable ideas but they've always struck me as a bit too wishy-washy for their own good and I still remember the sectarian anti-Catholic campaign that Kay Ullrich undertook in her failed attempt to win the Monklands East by-election in 1994 at a time when the UVF in Scotland declared the SNP their preferred political party. As for Salmond, the man has always made my flesh my crawl, a greasy, down-market snake oil salesman, happy to flog his own granny for a quick fiver. The current form of "independence" on offer is very much a reflection of the man, crying freedom but happy to continue being ruled by the English monarch, happy to give up economic freedom to keep English currency and breaking from his party's traditions by declaring for NATO. I doubt he can spell principle much less have one. The wheels have, of course, come off now that the Westminster government and their New Labour stooges have warned no union, no quids but that was inevitable, a side effect of Salmond's chronic lack of ambition for Scotland. For what he's offering is not independence but Dominion status, and a watered down one at that. His new Scotland, far from being a revolutionary new dawn, would simply be devolution in all but words, with Scotland still answerable to the Bank of England and the House of Lords and with thousands of British soldiers still based on their soil in the name of helping NATO.

I have encountered many Englishmen and women, both politician and otherwise, trumpeting how much they are opposed to Scotland's independence, apparently completely ignorant of the fact that being told what to do by Englishmen for so long is the reason so many Scots want independence in the first place. As Parnell so rightly said "no man shall have the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation" and nor should they, so in that respect the opinion of the English is irrelevant. However, as usual, it looks as if the masters are to have their way regardless as all evidence indicates that Salmond has a snowball in Hell's chance of winning the referendum. I guess the majority of Scots are more than happy to be regularly ruled by the Conservative Party despite not voting for them. Strange people. But on the other hand would it even be worthwhile voting for Salmond's Scotland in the first place? He talks a good game about something approaching social democracy but if he wants Scotland tied to the Bank of England does he really think they will have no input into fiscal policy? And if they are to have an input into Scotland's fiscal policy does he really think that monetarist England will be happy for Scotland to go off on a social democratic trip on their coin? If he does then he has his tam o'shanter on too tight. Restoring the old Pund Scottis or even taking on the Euro would have been more radical solutions but the big bluffer had to take the wimp's option and leave himself at the mercy of Cameron, Miliband and the rest of the unionist rabble.

Frankly it's all a bit shitty really. The referendum has come at a time when Scotland is under the command of a leader who has no guts (apart from the ever-expanding one above his belt) and is being put to an electorate who apparently do not have the guts to break from a government that has being treating them shabbily for centuries. I would love to see the day when Scotland takes its rightful place amongst the states of the world but it now seems almost certain that this opportunity will remain untaken and, most likely, the last chance for me to see a free Scotland in my lifetime will go with it. For the SNP a period of chronic opposition and soul-searching will beckon whilst for Scotland a future of being at London's beck and call will await and all that will be achieved will be a final end to the political career of Alex Salmond (although knowing that eel he might still slip his way out of that). What a shame.
keresaspa: (Huffy beardy weirdy)
Lousy "winter" weather (for which read non-stop torrential) combined with a woefully underfunded and poorly maintained stock of football pitches meant that the local game was decimated today. For my part I walked out to the Oval to watch Glentoran reserves face Queens in the Intermediate Cup, taking the mother of all soakings in Templemore Avenue, only to get there and find the place locked up. No custodian to announce "game's off, mate", no note on the gate, not even a local spide to tell me "there's no game the day, beardy-buck", nothing. Very shoddy way to treat people who make the effort to turn out for your lesser games, Glens.

A cross-town dash meant I made it in time for the second half of the West Belfast Brigade Derby at the Shankill's Hammer pitch, where the plastic surface is impervious to water and where I was able to watch Albert Foundry overwhelm their Shankill United hosts in front of a packed ground to take a 3-0 victory. It was only when I got home that I found out that Shankill had scored three in the first half that I missed and it had actually been a 3-3 draw but I suppose one half is better than nowt. Still, it really is a pain in the arse just how much simple rain buggers up the local game here, given how poorly maintained the pitches are. They really need to dig money up from somewhere to kit everybody out with the plastic because Cliftonville and Crusaders play no matter what and indeed Seaview seems to have a match every couple of days with no ill-effects (Crusaders and Newington play their home games there, as occasionally do Carrick Rangers for some reason, most non-league cup finals are held there as are various women's football matches). Because of all these postponements Donegal Celtic won't be playing again until 22 February with their last game having been on 4th January and the last home game on 28th December. Nigh on two months with no income will be a bitter blow; the club were lucky to survive the summer's financial meltdown but it would be a bloody shame if something as lame as the weather killed them off.

Now here's a blast from the past. When did we stop doing these and why?

Read more... )
keresaspa: (Cassidy says...)
So, after all the fuss we've had with the UVF recently it now appears that the UDA is about to stagger back into life, although at least they will be getting on each other's cases rather than the Fenians. It has been all action on my "beloved" Shankill Road recently and it all stems from the UDA and its machinations. Now if you're sitting comfortably I'll begin (and bear with me on this one as it all gets a bit complicated and the dramatis personæ is rather extensive).

Jackie Coulter was a member of the West Belfast Brigade of the UDA/UFF (they're the same thing but the UDA was, shamefully, a legal organisation under British law until 1992 so it needed another name to allow it to kill with impunity), serving as commander of the C3A Commandos, part of the Brigade's C Company, which serves the lower Shankill area. In the 1990s C Company, then the whole Brigade, came under the leadership of Johnny Adair, with C Company becoming notorious for the volume of sectarian killings undertaken by its two top hitmen Gary "Smickers" Smyth and Stephen "Top Gun" McKeag. Top Gun however was not popular with many of his fellows and eventually fell foul of Adair. Top Gun was for a time doinking Coulter's daughter Tracey but, like many men of violence, domestic abuse was also part of his stock in trade and when Tracey told her father about this he in turn spoke to Adair who arranged a punishment beating for the by-then-sidelined McKeag. The heroic Johnny was soon on the firm with Tracey Coulter himself, although she was one of many to be getting wee Johnny's length at the time.

Adair was close to the LVF, a militant splinter-group of the UVF, and as such he joined them in feuding with the UVF. As part of this feud Jackie Coulter was shot and killed by the UVF along with Bobby Mahood, supposedly in a case of mistaken identity when a passing UVF gunman thought that Bobby was actually his brother, LVF kingpin Jackie Mahood, and shot up the car on the off-chance. This feud subsequently petered out as Adair was returned to prison but following his release he began a feud with the rest of the UDA in an attempt to gain control of the entire organisation. This culminated in Adair arranging for South East Antrim Brigade boss, and neo-Nazi supporter, John Gregg to be killed, leading in turn to Adair and his supporters being ran out of Belfast by the rest of the organisation.

Just before Adair's downfall he had split with a number of his old comrades, not least Mo Courtney, widely reported as a British agent and one of the gunmen for the murder of Pat Finucane. As a result Courtney was able to remain on the Shankill and continue to be a big wheel in the post-Adair UDA, although his time as a bigwig was interrupted by a spell at Her Majesty's pleasure for his part in killing former Adair prodigy Alan McCullough.

Courtney was released from prison and returned to the Shankill and pretty soon graffiti attacking Tracey Coulter began to appear in the lower Shankill. Before long however Courtney himself was attacking Coulter and he faces sentencing for that in the new year. Unperturbed, Courtney's goons moved against the now hated Coulter a few days ago by hosting a Belfast barbecue at her Shankill des res. In a show of Coulter's bravery/idiotic stubbornness (delete as applicable) she has vowed to remain in situ, despite the long-running (and at times rather indecent) graffiti campaign being ramped up but it hasn't ended there.

Jackie McDonald, the head of the South Belfast Brigade and effective capo di tutti capi of the wombles, has been working to distance the UDA from obvious rackets as criminality tends to interfere with his myriad government-funded schemes and as such he, along with his stooges in East and North Belfast, have reacted to the developments with disapproving clucks. Certain members of the North Belfast Brigade had been close to the increasingly loose cannon western leadership, which also continues to operate a whole slew of rackets, and when they were recently expelled they were welcomed into the West Belfast Brigade with open arms. I happened to find myself on the Shore Road last evening and passed some daubings against local brigadier John Bunting to which I paid little attention (pictured right). However it now seems the expelled members were behind these and a rerun of the 2002-3 feud between West Belfast and the rest may be in the offing.

I suppose it's all inevitable in a way. The UDA, with its large and non-selective membership, has always been a volatile proposition at the best of times and it has struggled to find a role in post-ceasefire life. Its Ulster Democratic Party political wing was a victim of the 2002-3 silliness and there has been obvious tension between the increasingly legit McDonald (who, despite his current actions, has a long history as a racketeer) and other leaders who have been less adept at chousing grant after grant out of the government. So far it all seems to be mostly playground stuff but if it continues to escalate we could be looking at yet another full-blown UDA feud, just like in the good old days. Either way, the continuing nonsense that the loyalist paramilitaries are on ceasefire is once again exposed for the canard that it is. I expect there to be little or no repercussions from this (and the prominence of the UDA-linked West Belfast Ulster Political Research Group in the Twaddell Avenue protests cannot go unnoticed) because it suits the powers that be to pretend everything is hunky-dory here but, as Tom so rightly stated, "don't you believe it".


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: (Chaplin Modern Times)
As everybody knows Sinn Fein are a staunchly working class party and to prove that the current incumbent as Lord Mayor of Belfast is their man Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a newspaper owner with extensive business interests in the United States and a former director of that stupendously well-run conglomerate Northern Ireland Water. As part of his duties in the sainted office of mayor Marty (let's dispense with all that Irishian crap, shall we) paid a visit to the newly reopened Woodvale Park, a bit of ground up the top of the Shankill that long-term readers will recall as a favourite haunt of my good self but which has been "improved" as part of the ongoing haussmannisation of this old town. However whilst there Marty, a representative of the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, got terribly upset after a bunch of loyalist protesters (pretty much a tautology these days) gave him a few wee slaps round the bap as part of their commitment to the values of their being only one queen, only one crown and not having Fenians in this town.

Well, forgive me for going against consensus, but hard cheese, Marty. I may disagree with the vast majority of ideas associated with loyalism but they hate republicanism and as far as I'm concerned all credit to them for demonstrating that. Millionaires like Marty and his head-buck cat McGuinness might be spouting a load of old crap about "shared futures" but as usual they're thinking of naught but their own money. The crisis in republicanism that has come about since Sinn Fein replaced the SDLP as the biggest pro-Paddy party may have emasculated republicans but the abject failure of political loyalism has meant the same thing has not been replicated on their side. Marty and his lads need to realise that there is a significant group here that detests them and no amount of brown-nosing Elizabeth Windsor or any other form of sell-out will change that.

As someone whose sympathies lie with true republicanism the most depressing thing is that if a bigot like, let's say, Nelson McCausland were to arrive on the Falls he would face little or no hostility. Hell, Nelson could probably roll up in his limo and hack up a phlegm ball onto the front door of St. Peter's and the locals would still tug the forelock. Within their hearts I know that a lot of grassroots republicans are very dissatisfied with the way things are here. The Assembly may have ensured a vastly improved standard of living for the elite within Sinn Fein and some of their favourites but it has done next to nothing for the virtually abandoned bedrock in places like Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge and Twinbrook where the reaction to unemployment, soaring suicide rates, child poverty and increasing alienation seems to have been a shrug of the shoulders. There is only so long people can survive on the fact that their self-described leaders have their snouts in the trough before they finally demand real change.

No, there'll be no condemnation of the loyalists on this one from me. Their anger should equally be directed towards their unionist masters but at least they have the guts to show their disaffection with the system at some level. The sooner the republican people on the ground remember where they left their balls and start making their own disaffection heard as well the better as far as I'm concerned.
keresaspa: (Diggory)
Last weekend's big rain brought one benefit - an abandoned match had to be replayed and so as a result, deep into May, there was actually a Saturday match in Belfast yesterday. OK, so it was in Division 3A of the Northern Amateur Football League and was between two reserve sides but my withdrawal symptoms from live football attendance were such that I have to take what I can get. The match in question pitted the reserve side of Albert Foundry against their counterparts from Newington YC, a club theoretically from the Antrim Road area of Belfast but whose lack of a home ground has lead to them playing their matches in Larne this season. On Friday night the Newington first team won a play-off against the world famous Dollingstown to secure a place in the Irish League for next season so this might be their reserves' final NAFL season.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will recall that I visited Albert Foundry's Paisley Park home earlier in the season. In the grim environs of the Highfield estate I stood and watched as the home team destroyed Ardglass in front of nine paying punters and about 25 in all on a day when local favourites Linfield were idle so I reasoned that a reserve game would be lucky to attract double figures. Hence I was a little bit surprised as I tramped along the West Circular Road to see several others heading in the direction of that well-renowned theatre of dreams (and bowling club) on the outskirts of the Shankill. Well, stone me because when I got in the place was packed to the gills and kept on filling up until about half an hour in. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say there were about three hundred people there and when you consider that a midweek league tie between DC and Dungannon attracted a mere 39 souls recently then that's quite a shock. Admission was free obviously (well, you can't really ask for money to watch non-league reserve football, can you?!) but Foundry's drinking den will most likely have done its best trade of the season from this turnout and once again I was struck by just how useful an addition to the Irish League Foundry could be if they could only siphon off even a fraction of the Linfield support from the Greater Shankill, lower Ligoniel and Ballysillan.

I promptly discovered that the turnout was inspired by the fact that Foundry reserves had a one point lead over their Newington counterparts at the top of the table so effectively this was a title decider of proportions not seen since Arsenal faced Liverpool on that fateful day in 1989 (well, if you squint a bit). Newington took an early lead to send their travelling support (travelling fans at a reserve match, I ask you) wild but soon afterwards Foundry got the equaliser they required after a goof by the Newington keeper. In the middle of all this the Foundry keeper got injured and, in the absence of an alternative on the bench, a tall centre half was forced to play out the rest of the match in goal. To his credit he had a solid game and I quickly learnt that he had previously played as a keeper so it wasn't a huge disadvantage. The match fell apart a bit in the second half, much to the consternation of one of the Foundry player's WAGs who decided I was the very chap she needed to spend the second half talking to in order to alleviate the tedium. Then, with about ten minutes to go, one of the Newington players struck out of nowhere, rifling home the ball from distance. Foundry were unable to mount a comeback and so against the odds Newington secured a double title triumph as the one day only Foundry supporters trudged away disconsolately.

A surreal day, all things considered, watching football in summer heat and standing in a packed out ground to watch reserves when I stood in the same ground to watch the first team with a "crowd" that could have comfortably fitted into my bathroom. On a personal level it drew the curtain on my most active season as a football supporter to date. There had been a few seasons in the 90s where I was a semi-regular but including the pre-season friendlies I have managed 42 matches this year, a personal record. I established another personal record by attending 15 grounds - DC Park (14 times), Solitude (11 times), Glen Road Heights (3 times), Paisley Park twice and once each for Newforge Lane, Dalymount Park, Skegoneill Avenue, Grosvenor Rec, Horsfall Stadium, Dub Lane, Wilgar Park, New Grosvenor, Mourneview Park, Ulidia and Ashley Park, Dunmurry - which was eleven more than I had managed in my entire life up to that point. Above all I discovered that it's hard to beat the cut and thrust of actually attending a match and, despite relegation, I await DC's assault on the Championship in August with bated breath.
keresaspa: (Cookie Kwan)
I believe, gentle reader (whomever you are), that I have mentioned the Highfield estate before. But for those who weren't present or who share my strange obsession with the sectarian geography of Belfast I shall briefly run through it again. Highfield is a loyalist housing estate lying beyond the Shankill Road near the foot of Black Mountain, bordered on the north by the Ballygomartin Road, the south by the Springfield Road, the east by the West Circular Road and the west by the Springmartin Road. Generally a UDA stronghold, it is one of the most deprived areas of Belfast with some of the worst housing stock in the city. Its entire west side is crushed up against equally low grade republican areas such as New Barnsley and Ballymurphy and the area was the site of some notorious inter-paramilitary gun battles in the early 1970's. Even now it gives off something of an unwelcoming vibe with strangers regarded suspiciously and for a Fenian like myself passing through the Highfield estate always gives one a slight nervous thrill.

But a lack of options forced my hand. Well, I could have taken a quick stroll over to Daddy Winkers Lane and watched the mighty Orangefield Old Boys in action and I did toy briefly with a run out to Bangor to watch the match there. There was also the Irish Cup semi-final between Cliftonville and Crusaders at the Oval but I suspected (wrongly as it proved) that in the Ulster People's Forum stronghold that is the lower Newtownards Road a repeat performances of the protests that forced the abandonment of the same fixture at Seaview might be in the offing. So with those options shitcanned all that was left was Paisley Park Highfield estate to watch the erstwhile West Belfast Rangers (Albert Foundry as they are now called) in action against the famous Ardglass.

Paisley Park (which may or not be named after Ian Paisley, I really don't know) is better known as a bowling club but includes a few football pitches. Although the mercury touched ten degrees Celsius today the high, open, windswept location meant that as my made my way to Paisley the following sight greeted me:

I did take the thicko option of Single Award Science at GCSE so I claim no expertise in these matters but I was taught that water freezes at oh degrees so how the hell can snow exist at ten above nowt? Mind-boggling.

But I digress. I arrived at Paisley Park at ten minutes to two (two o'clock kick-off) and was surprised to be charged three quid for entry. Games at this level tend to be gratis but so be it. I was even more surprised to find that with a mere ten minutes to go I was the only paying customer there. Yup, just me. Given how full of their own self-importance Shankill roaders are (a trait they share with Falls roaders) and the fact that local favourites Linfield had no match today I expected a decent crowd to turn out but not a bit of it. I counted nine paying customers in total, augmented by about another twelve or so comps who came in late for a bumper crowd that was lucky to break twenty people.

As to the match itself it was frankly a bit of a mismatch. Although other clubs have games in hand Albert Foundry currently sit on top of the Northern Amateur League Premier Division (fourth tier overall) with Ardglass anonymous in mid-table. I don't claim to know much about this league but if this game is anything to go by there must be quite a gap between the top sides and the rest as Foundry were grinding Ardglass like so much horse meat from the word go. That they went in at half-time only 1-0 up was due to Foundry's inability to score rather than anything on the part of Ardglass. It would have seemed a really long journey home for their travelling support had it not been for the fact that they appeared to have no supporters. Fourth tier don't forget. The attitudes to health and diet are a little different at this level though. Every member of the Foundry coaching staff had a feg on at one point, including one old stager who was eating them, and when an Ardglass player was substituted off injured he sparked a tab on the touchline a few minutes after coming off.

During the second half there appeared to be a rather large fire raging behind the ground with smoke billowing but in fact it may just have been Foundry on fire as they turned the screws on a woeful Ardglass side. Four goals were scored to add to the one they already had, including two near the end that appeared to be scored within a minute of each other. To be honest they probably could have had a three or four more as this was an absolute hiding from start to finish.

It's difficult to assess Albert Foundry. On the pitch they are every inch a Championship 2 club in waiting and they would more than hold in their own in that division playing to the standards they did today. Their ground wasn't the ritz, although if Brantwood maintained senior status with their pit and Sport & Leisure Swifts do with their shoebox then this might just be good enough. The views are quite something as well as there are few places in the city where you can see the Holy Cross church on Crumlin Road, the shipyard and the City Hospital with just a slight turn of the head. Their only stand could probably stand to be a little larger and they would need to rip off the crumbling wooden slats and replace them with proper plastic seats but I could see Paisley Park as a third level ground without too much effort being needed. The big problem however would be the crowds, which are clearly woeful. This was a fine day for football and there is a big slice of population, all high on their own identity, for them to draw on but with Linfield not playing they still failed to break double figures on the gate as far as I could see. A lot of clubs in Northern Ireland fail to engage properly with their local communities in order to attract support (not least Donegal Celtic, whose PR is non-existent, a fact reflected in their own terrible crowds) but Albert Foundry are missing out badly as they could be drawing in decent crowds if they got their arses in gear. It remains to be seen if they will win the league and even if they do the system for promotion to the Irish League is arcane in its complexity but the raw materials are there. Cliftonville and Crusaders have shown what community engagement can do as they both attract bumper crowds now and whilst Albert Foundry aren't near that level yet they could do worse than looking to their northern neighbours for pointers in attracting those from the Greater Shankill who have an interest in the game but don't care for Linfield, can't afford the prices at Windsor Park, can't find transport to Blues games or just can't be arsed going. If they manage that they could thrive a couple of levels above their current position but if not they'll continue busting a gut in front of the sort of "crowds" that most of us could comfortably squeeze into our parlours.
keresaspa: (Cow)
Nothing to talk about so here's some snow )
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
With DC away to Coleraine, Cliftonville off in dim and distant Ballinamallard and Sport & Leisure Swifts inactive until after Christmas I decided today to take a trip to one of the crappy little grounds dotted around Belfast that make up the Northern Amateur Football League. I had intended to visit the delightfully named Paisley Park on the West Circular Road beside the Highfield estate at the top of the Shankill to take in the spectacle of Albert Foundry clashing with Dunmurry Recreation. It doesn't get more glamorous than that. However I say "intended" because I hadn't banked on a crowd of those running dog, lumpen loyalist morons blocking the roads outside the City Hall again with their unbearably tedious interminable protests over the flying of that bloody flag, doing their best impression of a 1970s National Front demo (Scotland, hurry up and declare independence so as that stinking rag can finally become obsolete once and for all). As their great mates in the filth stood idly by whilst an illegal demonstration blocked the Queen's highway the chances of getting a bus evaporated (all routes bar south Belfast, from where I had come, and the Falls passing the City Hall) and my desire to give as much as a penny in admission money to a loyalist club went with it.

In disappointment I took off at top speed, my sore foot screaming in pain, with the intention of making a mad dash up to Solitude to watch Cliftonville Olympic take on Drumaness Mills in the Intermediate Cup, which was due to kick off at half one. However no sooner had I reached Clifton Street (not really near Cliftonville despite the similar sounding name) when some old geezer came up to enlist my help in pushing his car, which had broken down, off what is a very busy junction and onto the pavement. Well, I say "help" but said old geezer was giving away about seven inches, four stone and thirty years which meant the lion's share of the pushing was done by yours truly with himself little more than a bystander whose hands happened to be placed on the boot of the car. By the time I had fixed his problem it was quarter past one and the possibility of reaching Solitude had gone for a Burton. A good deed is its own reward, my arse!

The only remaining option was to take one of the Fenian taxis up to DC and watch the reserves take on their Coleraine counterparts in the forgotten backwater that is the IFA Reserve League. And so it was. I hadn't been to a reserve game before and suffice to say if I thought the crowds for home games were poor they had nothing on this. If there was twenty people they were lucky. It is often bandied around DC Park when the first team is taking another hiding that there are better players in the reserves but I can happily confirm that there most certainly are not. God help them but they were just awful. The number 11 - a tiny, willowy little boy whose shirt number could easily have also been his age had it not been for the intrusion of one of those black and white tattoo sleeves that are all the rage now - had a good start before fading but the rest were just abominable. It is no word of a lie that had Coleraine had a decent goal poacher they would have scored double figures but as it was they had to settle for just the five with Hugo Batista, a Portuguese winger who decided to swap the bairros of his homeland for the splendour of Bannside, in particularly imperious form. I don't know who that right back was for DC Reserves but Batista gave him such a roasting that he'll need a few hours in an ice bath tonight. If Oran Kearney has any sense he'll have him in the first team PDQ.

I suppose I mustn't grumble really as I still got back to the match after missing out last week and DC Reserves let you in for nothing so all it cost me was the bus fare to the town and the Fenian taxi fare to the ground (fifty pence cheaper than the bus, no less). Still, walking back the seven miles from there to my house with a bad foot was possibly not the smartest idea and I am really getting pig sick of these flag hags and the constant disruption they are causing over their imperialist rag. It needs to end tout suite or else the republican movement needs to organise a response because the law sure as hell aren't going to do anything and there is only so long people can keep following $inn £ein and I Ran Away in rolling over and having their bellies tickled. I knew all that "2012 Our Time Our Place" stuff was a load of marketing crap the minute they unveiled it but thanks to the diamond jubilee, the Apprentice Boys and now this crap 2012 in Belfast has been a hellish year if you are a Fenian. Our time, our place - it has certainly been loyalism's time and the taigs have, as usual, had to know our place as second class citizens throughout. Nothing ever changes.


Nov. 9th, 2012 08:12 pm
keresaspa: (Only Me!)
Until last week I had never in my life witnessed a Linfield match in the flesh. I had been to their ground a few times but Northern Ireland being the tinpot operation it is Linfield's ground is also the national stadium so those appearances for cup finals and the like, none of which involved the holy spirit aspect of the Blues Brothers trinity (unless one includes SV Hamburg of course, although nobody really does). Now, somewhat ludicrously, I am to see them two Saturdays running, as - following last weeks demolition of Donegal Celtic - I will be on the terraces at Solitude tomorrow, seeing Cliftonville hopefully give them a closer run for their money.

Given Linfield's somewhat shady reputation and the sectarian differences between the two sides tomorrow's game is to be an all-ticket affair, a fact I only discovered by accident when I happened to visit their site last night. The page directed me to a link where I could purchase one online but, like so many other places, they refuse the virtually useless Maestro card that the Bank of Ireland saddled me with meaning that the only option was to hotfoot it up to the Cliftonville Social Club today and buy one in person. Helpfully the website told me that the Social would be open "standard hours" but at nowhere on the site did it tell me what those hours were.

Still, onwards and upwards. On the off-chance I sauntered the five and a half mile hike up through the grotty thoroughfares of New Lodge and the River Streets before finally arriving at my destination, only to find the whole lot locked, bar a little back door where a lorry was dumping off a load of booze. It being three o'clock I was disheartened to be told by a woman who was holding the fort that tickets would go on sale at five o' the clock and no earlier. Those of you familiar with the Cliftonville Road (that would be only [ profile] queenmartina and [ profile] burkesworks to the best of my knowledge) will also be aware that, barring Solitude itself and three Neapolitan mastiffs, it has absolutely nothing to recommend it to visitors and five minutes of standing staring at huge, spectral hellhounds would still have left me two hours and fifty five minutes to kill on arguably the city's most featureless main road. SO, I was left with only one recourse, turn on the legendary Keresaspa charm at mien host in an attempt to get her to bend the rules> What do you mean, what charm? I admit it's well hidden but I do tend to have a way with middle aged ladies for some reason and this proved no exception as a combination of flattery, sob stories and a little Roger Moore eyebrow action saw me depart at ten past three with my ticket sold a full 110 minutes before it was supposed to be available. Advantage Varnsen, I believe.

Of course this being a Saturday in Belfast in 2012 my route tomorrow will inevitably be disrupted by the Orange Order reaping the rewards of ignoring Parades Commission rulings by again being allowed to march past St Patrick's. All to do with Remembrance Day and laying wreaths in Belfast's answer to the Fields of Grammary, Shankill Cemetery, a good two and a half miles away from St Patrick's, but never mind. Were parade organisers sensible people they would simply march up North Street, a city centre continuation of the Shankill, rather than Donegall Street, which leads to the Antrim and Crumlin roads but not the Shankill but I suppose they wouldn't annoy anybody that way. It is my own traditional route (perhaps uniquely) to walk up the Shankill whenever I am going to Solitude but I reckon I'll give it a wide berth tomorrow and once again travel via New Lodge as, not only are there likely to be a bunch of flute band knobheads who have been drinking since about seven in the morning on the prowl but I also know that the Linfield supporters bus will be leaving from the Royal Bar and I doubt they would be prepared to offer me a lift over. So well done chaps for once again making Belfast on a Saturday that little bit more nasty and unbearable. Take a bloody bus to the graveyard like normal people!
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
Look before you leap )
keresaspa: (Giant Haystacks pissed as a frt!)
OK, can we please have a bloody year where the self-described "royal" family do not have to give the loyalist boneheads that populate this insignificant little stain in the Atlantic Ocean an excuse to drag their precious "Twelfth" out for several months? Last year it was Teeth of Mordor and his feckless bint who ensured by virtue of marriage that flags would flutter from every lamppost for several months longer than usual now it is because some ancient woman who has never done a hand's turn in her life and who is so sensitive to the realities of modern life that she parades around in the middle of a bastard of a recession wearing more bling than Kanye West, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Puff Daddy combined refuses to die. As every schoolboy knows there are few things that bring out my inner republican quite like the deference that working class loyalists afford to their super rich "royal" dominators and this whole jubilee crap has shot my blood pressure through the roof to be honest.

It's not enough that every July the loyalist roads and those that they still claim despite huge demographic shifts (word to the wise, lads, there are now two shops on Upper Ormeau openly advertising the sale of Holy Communion gifts so your butcher's aprons are no longer required) are awash with Ulster banners, Union Jacks and UVF and UDA flags but now it is all spring and summer thanks to the bloody Windsors and their obsession with making a public spectacle out of everything they do. It is a mystery quite what the flags of the UVF (all over the Shankill, Shore Road and the Village) and the UDA (one house on the Donegall Road) have to do with Elizabeth Windsor although seeing as she has a million and one military titles that were handed to her for services to drawing copious amounts from the public purse I suppose it is not inconceivable that she has also been awarded an honorary place on the UVF's Brigade Staff as well as the role of honorary Commander of D Company of the Westminster and Green Park Brigade of the UDA. Heck, even gippy little houses that are due for the chop have been bedecked with flags, such has been the explosion of ultranationalism that has gripped the loyalists because of the fact that some old brass has lived a long time.

I don't begrudge anybody their fun (well, that's not strictly true) but we get more than enough triumphalism and extreme British nationalism forced down our throats in this place without another great dollop of it being ladled onto our heads because of yet another arbitrary date in the calendar. For the English the Diamond Jubilee might well be a lovely time of leather on willow and happy, smiling white children playing together on the village green but in Belfast it will be yet another excuse for underprivileged people to get drunk and descend on the town looking trouble, all in the name of supporting privilege, hierarchy and inequality. And don't even get me started on the ball-licking Fenian bastards who are taking part in celebrations. As far as I'm concerned they are lower than the scabby rat feasting on corpses in a crack house.

One thing did strike me - whilst the Shankill is festooned with huge Union Jacks of a size not normally seen anywhere but a National Front rally it is odd to see that for the Diamond Jubilee the Shankill's own Diamond Jubilee has made such a poor fist of its decorations, relying on some scaldy bit of bunting that has been lying there since the year dot. Jolly bad show for Her Maj's big day.

And remember Jubilee is (almost) an anagram of Juiblex therefore you are actually celebrating a Demon Lord of slime and ooze with all this. So when a gelatinous cube descends upon the village green and absorbs an entire Boy Scout troop don't say I didn't warn you in advance.
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: (I got the last dodo!)
Jolly old fun had today showing my man [ profile] burkesworks round the seedy underbelly of this dirty old town I call home. Well, what visit to Belfast would be complete with seeing the brutal beauty of the Falls and Shankill as well as the rather more resplendent, if sadly derelict, majesty of Crumlin Road courthouse? Let the tourist board say what they want, the real Belfast is in the estates not these ghastly Titanic vanity projects that they are throwing millions at. Plus there's nothing I like better than having a captive audience to dump all my pointless knowledge. Glad to see you, mucker and haste ye back. Oh and a heads up for the pair of you - Frank Carson's cortege is liable to a royal pain round Clifton Street tomorrow morning. Even in death he's a wheeler and Wilson.

And finally a strange coincidence came to light yesterday, perhaps another that might be placed into the recently discussed file known as Twilight Zone. Consider the evidence:

*29th February - David Jones dies.
*1st March - David Jones becomes manager of Sheffield Wednesday.

Who says that Leap Day isn't a magical, mystical time? If Ena Sharples turns up at Hillsborough and calls the burly Scouse play-off blower her grandson then we'll know this really is the world's final year after all.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
The Diamond Jubilee is a pub near the bottom of the Shankill Road in Belfast. As part of a bloody history the bar, which faces the horrific slum known locally as Beirut, became the centre of activity for Johnny Adair and his gang in the 1990s and beyond and, amongst other things hosted the annual loyalist of the year awards where the top hitman for the UDA's West Belfast Brigade was awarded said honour. Stevie McKeag was the usual winner, although if not him you could bet your house on the winner being a spide anyway. A glass collector there by the name of Noel Cardwell, who suffered from severe learning difficulties, had his drink spiked with ecstasy by Adair and his cronies "for a laugh". When Cardwell accidentally mentioned to police from his hospital bed that he knew Adair he found himself abducted, tortured, shot and left to bleed to death.

All of this has little or nothing to do with Elizabeth Windsor's own diamond jubilee, not least because the bar is named after her great-great-grandmother Victoria. To be honest I just thought I would mention it as we could all do with a story that involves the words "diamond" and "jubilee" and isn't about what a grand boon to the nation the fragrant and beautiful Elizabeth has been with her serene ability to go on holiday and have arsehole wiped for her after every shite. Isn't it great that the same sponge has been leeching for sixty years? God save her and all who sail in her. Well the Stoop Down Low Party certainly think that way, the bourgeois scumdogs that they are. To be honest the only thing that surprises me about that is that Martin McGuinness didn't join in the chorus of cheers for his paymaster. Let's face it, the fact that one person has been in the same position for sixty years due entirely to the fact that they inherited it should never be a cause for celebration in a fair and just society. As a figurehead her reign has been of benefit to nobody apart from her and her mooching offspring (and don't give me that tourism crap - Versailles continues to attract plenty of tourists even without some fat oaf with a standard poodle on his head sitting on a throne). No celebrations from me - the sooner her and the rest of these mediaeval anomalies go the way Nepal the better as far as I'm concerned.

And don't get me started on the Olympics or all this Titanic crap. 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most irritatingly over-hyped years in history.
keresaspa: (Default)
The Glencairn estate is one of the more peculiar parts of Belfast. For a start it is not actually in Glencairn as that specific area lies a little to the west where one can find the rarefied environs of Glencairn Park and the once grandiose but now scummy Fernhill House from whence the late Gusty Spence announced an end to loyalists killing (except when the notion takes them) in 1994. Rather the Glencairn estate is a bunch of 70s and 80s junk houses for people that nobody wants to admit actually exist sandwiched between the Upper Shankill and the equally grim Ballysillan, a heartland for the sort of oft-discussed loyalists who continually get screwed over by Nelson McCausland but who nonetheless vote for him year on year. Belfast's greatest psychopath Lenny Murphy bought it up here in what was unquestionably one of the best actions the Provisional IRA ever undertook.

One of the things that makes it unusual is that it is surrounded by woodland, with Glencairn Park on one side and the wilds of Forth River Linear Park, which is basically a mess of trees and corpse holes gathered around one of the city's mini rivers, on the other. As a consequence of all this sylvan splendour, as well as the fact that it has quite possibly the grimmest housing in Belfast now that Carrick Hill has been redone, it is perhaps the only part of the city where both the heron and heroin are in plentiful supply, making Glencairn a paradise for the birdwatcher and the smackhead alike. Were I a more metaphorical man I might also attempt to draw some inference from the fact that the Forthriver Road (the main drag of the Glencairn estate) rises sharply for the entirety of its length only to suddenly come to a dead-end, rather like the uphill battles ending in misery for the sort of poor saps forced to live in such a hellhole but we'll leave thoughts like that for the park bench philosophers.

So, skint loyalists being screwed over by the masters they chose are inevitably present whilst large wading birds were a bit more of a surprise but, given the presence of a rivulet, perhaps not but this?!

Yes we had always been told that he lived in a pineapple under the sea but apparently SpongeBob SquarePants actually makes his home in the backwaters of Forthriver Drive, Glencairn. Whoda thunk it? Well, it makes a change from "UVF - For God and Ulster" I suppose. Naive outsider art at its finest right there, pals and gals.


keresaspa: (Default)

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