The Black Man and The Mosaic Fish.

19 09 2016

queens-university-three-belfast-graham-lambert

The place buzzes with activity on this late autumn afternoon – a golden sphere of sunset igniting the red stone city that stands before me.

There are many ways to get around it but I choose the bus – a larger than life guide exuding ample amounts of Belfast humour as we make our way down roads once the subject of so much bad news – black humour, hers,  softening up the stiffness of a now excited visitor. Me.

Our double-decker turns into a street teeming with people – curves around the Waterfront – steers towards an area reflecting back black water – a chequered mix of old and modern buildings spooling past my window until, once stopped, I disembark beside a mosaic fish. Its big and its shiny. But there are no chips.

The Black Man - Belfast

The Black Man – Belfast City – Northern Ireland.

I immerse myself in the energy ignited by this burgeoning city – taste olives in Saint Georges Market, meander towards a ‘Black Man’ not yet visible, my plans to visit him, as was the case the last time, delayed by the draw of the curiosity shops lining a side street just over my shoulder and to the left.

I purchase replica models of Ian Paisley and James Nesbitt from one of them and watch them being wrapped in brown paper before I leave.

Now don’t forget. You are heading up to the see the “Black Man” a voice in my head shouts.

Five steps forward , I stop again.  This time, in order to peer into a shop with a crammed to the rafter’s window display of “nik naks”.

I’ve made it. No more shops I vow as I look up and study a teal coloured building.  It has the dubious reputation of being the most bombed building in Europe but none of that is obvious to me, it’s once shattered windows long since replaced with the shiny smoked glass ones I’m now looking at.

A confident ‘Europa Hotel’ sign protrudes above the sea of busy commuters beneath it and a not so busy me – and the lazy limousines, and the cautious bearers of coffee cups – and the promoters of “good will” near its entrance who hand out God to those who might be needing him. They insist I take a leaflet.

Next door stands the Opera House, a mini version of The Royal Albert Hall, and further along a castle, well a Castle Court, the name of a busy shopping centre on the busiest street in Belfast.

It’s brimming with shoppers heading in and heading out, all the while managing to avoid bumping into each other en route.

So what do I do? Bump into a family of four huddled over a bag of doughnuts. Trust me. ‘Sorry’.

Belfast Waterfront - The Big Fish.

Belfast Waterfront – The Big Fish.

Whilst still aiming for the “Black Man”, I’m lured yet again by another eclectic mix of shopping possibilities – and by the planetarium-style structure  that rises up before me now.

It  houses an array of international retail outlets, star struck shopping professionals praying at their temples, a scene stretching as far back as my eyes will take me.

Not much sign of a recession here if the fashion carriers borne by passers-by are anything to go by I mumble –  not a single one of them advertising a Charity Shop. With time ticking, I make myself move on.

The Albert Clock, a once tilted structure that now stands upright due to all the conservation work, appears ahead of both me and a line of pulsating street fountains.

A Labrador, provoked by their intermittent squirts, runs towards, then rushes away from the holes gushing up cold water.

He shakes himself dry at my feet, any excess water soaked up like a towel by the jeans I’m wearing.

Deciding to dry off I stop at McHugh’s – a watering hole of choice when I’m visiting.

Sat back and comfortable in a small wooden snug I sip a glass of the black stuff  and observe my surroundings above the rim of it – time and another pint softly tuning my ears into all the different accents.

But before I can truly decipher any of them its time for me to move on yet again.

I’m now back at the well-lit river bank where I’d started, cool blue light morphing the River Lagan black, the concert hall to my right like a big fat lighthouse luring people in from the chill and straight into the heart of Joni Mitchell. She’s appearing on stage tonight.

But my bus is here and it’s time to leave.

I never did get to see “The Black Man”. Too many distractions and so little time to see it all. Sorry.

But I vow to come back soon.

And it’s a vow I’ll have no problem honouring.

 

*Footnote: Who is the black man? The statue of Dr. Henry Cooke. (1788-1868), leader of Belfast’s Evangelical Presbyterian’s. Over time he has turned green.

opera-house-and-europa

 

city-hall-and-belfast-eye

 

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That’s life….

19 09 2016

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

moon-2

 

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Thats another fine mess…

18 09 2016

smile-people

 

I’ve just discovered that with a cat in a hat and a mouse in a house I can change the size of the images I use. This is all new to me but also very exciting.
Now, how do I change the spell checker from Icelandic to English. Oh great. Just found it. Annar stafsetningu mistök!

 

 

(Picture courtesy of pixabay.)

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Mother – 42

18 09 2016

telephone

I’m having an out-of-body experience. I’m looking down at two people who are on their knees beneath a computer desk and trying to find out where 20 metres of optic cable will lead them.

One of those people is me. The other one is my mother.

Nothing is working in the house. The land line is down, the iPad is down, and I’ve forgotten to bring my mobile. But no worry as mother has one. If only we can find it.

We can’t ring it because as said none of the phones are working, and after a really thorough search we still haven’t located it.

So now we are down on our hands and knees hoping to find Mother’s modem.

The last time I saw mother’s modem it had half a cup of tea in a bone china cup resting on it.

Eventually I spot a small tea stain, then a bigger tea stain, and yes, hurray, an even bigger tea stain which has dried up on mothers modem. We check the cable and it appears to be connected properly.

We now speculate about whether the world has come to an end but can’t check because mother’s television isn’t working either.

I step outside the house, look up and down the road, and it does all feel a bit too quiet for a Thursday. But I’m relieved to say that I didn’t spot any tumble weed or nuclear waste blowing my way so I step back inside the house again.

Mother is now in the kitchen with her head underneath the stairs and she is rummaging.

I hold my breath and wait, hoping that she has remembered where she has put her mobile phone.

When she emerges, red faced, her fist is clutching a long strip of paper. It’s the receipt for the land line phones that aren’t working.

On with our coats and shoes, we are about to head out of the door when I hear a faint buzzing sound. It’s coming from mothers coat pocket, and yes it is her mobile phone.

The text message is from my sister and it informs mother that there has been a network failure in her area and it won’t be fixed until Monday.

Relieved we continue on our journey down to the news agents to buy 20 pounds of credit for mother’s mobile.

All I have to do now is teach mother how to use it.

‘Please God grant me patience,’ I mumble as mother drops the phone and the battery falls out.

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Perhaps a cat with a wheel would be easier…

17 09 2016

cats

I’ve finally installed my new mouse, and after a bit of coaxing, cheese mostly, the wheel on my mouse seems to be working fine. Although I’m beginning to suspect that I have another mouse lurking in the background somewhere, and its eating all my blogs. For a moment I thought I might have posted something offensive and that all my “Followers” had jumped ship, and then by accident discovered that my “Settings” had changed.

I can now only access other writers blogs via my reader. Except it took a while to access my reader. Anyway I found it. Relief. So delighted to have all the blogs I follow back again as I really enjoy taking an hour or two to read what others have written. Its like opening the window and letting fresh air into the house. Arhhh. Lovely.

All I have to do now is find out why, when I’m posting a comment, certain letters are missing. I proof read my comments, make corrections, press publish, and low and behold, “Horror”, there are various typo’s.

I’ve just noticed on a comment I have posted that I’ve written “Re-Bog” instead of “Re-Blog”. Re- bogging is something we do here in Ireland when we are digging up peat for the winter fires and replenish the bog in time for next years harvest.

I’d also written “My” instead of “May” which may not sound like much, but it did sound rather possessive since ” My Angela …” takes on a totally different meaning than “May Angela…”. Help!

Just checked again to see if I do still have followers, and yes, they haven’t jumped ship yet. There’s still time of course.

I’m just wondering whether a cat with a wheel would be more reliable than a mouse.

I know they are very independent animals but if you stroke them enough they stick with you. And anyway I much prefer purring to shrieking.

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Laughing at myself…

16 09 2016

mouse

I know it is the first sign of madness but not only do I talk to myself I also laugh at myself. Help! I’ve just read the question I had entered into the search engine. “The wheel on my mouse isn’t working”. I won’t explain the picture it conjured up in my head but I’m about to go out and buy a mouse with a functioning wheel. (LOL)

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Mother – episode 41

16 09 2016

scissors

Mother is amazing. She has embraced modern technology with gusto.
Her iPad is a blessing and she uses it for everything. “Searches” especially. Whether looking up the side effects of medication (All medications seem to cause a rash), reviews of films and plays, recipes, or family history, she has embraced the iPad’s attributes and cannot imagine life without it.

But I wish I could say the same about mothers approach to modern packaging.
It is supposedly designed for ease of use, to keep products fresh, and to enable the user to open and re-close the packaging again in order to keep the contents within it well-preserved.

There are the milk cartons – squeeze the flaps, pull them back, press them forward and an opening appears. Then there are the frozen peas – cut above the dotted line, slide the little plastic square back, and like an open zip, the peas are accessible. Or, pull the collar on the drinks bottle outwards and it will slowly uncoil, allowing the user to turn the cap and access its contents.

What innovative inventions. Yes, but totally ignored by mother who sees every form of packaging as an opportunity to use a large pair of kitchen scissors.

There are gaping wide open milk cartons, loose peas all over the freezer compartment, and headless washing up and bleach bottles in the cleaning cupboard.

And her medicine bottles are not only child proof but adult proof too – the process of pushing the cap down and turning it, all at the same time, a very strenuous exercise.

Even I limber up and blow into my hands, legs astride, before trying to open one, and when I’m not there, mother just keeps the caps off.

Which probably explains why mother is now attending keep fit classes again – her stated aim to be able to pull the lids from cans without the little tab coming away in her fingers. (I’ve found a hammer and a chisel quite useful at these times – it’s such a shame to waste food and drink).

As mother says ‘”Electric can openers are a great help – but don’t get her started on those little sardine tins with a key”.

I’d nodded in agreement, but inwardly I was thinking about a jar of jam, a door frame, the door I’m going to have to clamp onto the neck of it, and whether or not I should be turning the jam jar clockwise or anti-clockwise in order to get the darn lid off.

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