The Ghost of Halloween’s Passed

This weekend Derry becomes the Halloween capital of Ireland.

Ironically in a City best known as the epitome of the Gerrymander, the home of the civil rights movement, Bloody Sunday, and two Nobel Laureates it is in the bacchanalian celebration of the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain that it has gained most renown. The Festival is a City Marketing dream.

My brother in law acerbically referred to it as the largest underage drinking festival in Ireland and, a proud Derry man himself, observed how the majority of the male population of Derry appear to relish in dressing up in women’s clothes come Halloween. He also remarked, that not any old thing will do – they all seem to have something stylish that fits, with a nice comfortable fitting bra to underwire the whole affair. Maybe it is all those years of having two names, the city dwellers are in touch with both their feminine sides.

Some of the sights you see in the City in Fancy Dress are eyeboggling not to say jaw dropping. Others very funny. A couple of years ago as we made our way back up towards the car, the students of Magee were making their way down to the fleshpots of the city, plastered they were, to man and woman. One particularly hefty doll lumbered towards us, dressed not so much as Tinkerbell as Tinker Big Ben.

Strapped to her back were a pair of ludicrously small wings. As she passed stocious I remarked to her you’ll need a bigger pair of wings than that if you want to get off the ground. She mumbled incoherently and staggered on. No doubt she found warm and penetrative embrace in the arms of some young Derry fella dressed as a big nurse called Wendy with matching bra.

The city puts on a great show for Halloween. Yesterday for example with Cáit, Leo and Peter, I attended a show where a character called Ron Airhead inserted himself fully into a large orange balloon. My son Peter was greatly agitated that he wouldn’t be able to get out. He did of course, but it is great that in the forthcoming City of Culture one can watch such vacuous but entertaining nonsense.

Tomorrow night the City Council will detonate thousands of pounds worth of fireworks from barges in the middle of the Foyle, watched by thousands of Fancily dressed folks perched along the banks of the River, standing on the new Peace Bridge and hanging around Guildhall Square. After, the families will disperse home leaving the party people to drink on into the night.

Angela’s friend Elaine once hooked up with a fella on Halloween night whilst dressed as a petite red devil. She had to make her way home early in the morning still dressed in red carrying her little fork with which perhaps she snared her prey. A passing street cleaner laughed when he saw her totter along high heeled and red devilish-sheepish and started to sing ‘After the Ball is Over’.

After the weekend finishes, and the ball is indeed over, it will be back to normal in Derry, whatever that is. To the outsider like myself, married into the city and its people it is never normal. But that is part of its charm and attraction. And that has made all the difference.

The Drip. Drip. Drip.

I have arrived in Omagh. In my bedroom there is the sound of an irritating irregular incessant drip.
Drip. Drip. Drip…. Drip drip drip. Drip. Drip drip…………..drip….. Drip… Drip drip drip….Aghhh
In a shithole flat I once lived in, Eglantine Avenue to be exact, a bird once got stuck in the attic and pitter pattered about. It was annoying. Only annoyed me though, other boys rooms were at rear of the flat.
Drip. Drip drip drip…..drip.
Fuckin annoying thing.
Driving to Omagh detour outside Desertmartin via Magherafelt to Moneymore. The dreary shires of planted South Derry. On through Cookstown.
As we approached Teebane Crossroads and the vandalized monument to the workers shot there my mind moved on to Kathleen O’Hagan.
Shot dead by Billy Wright’s compadres on along that road in 1994. Seven months pregnant she was. Her husband Patrick returned to the house to find his four older sons aged 8 to 4 cradling her body. I remember reading the reports in the Herald when I came home, similar to today and feeling physically upset.
In reality we have little to bother us.
The drip continues.
Back in this room where I grew up, played, listened to my brothers when they thought I asleep. Where I studied, dreamed, read, longed for girlfriends, smoked out the window, cried for my granny.
Why is this house different now. What had happened it. What has happened me. The drip continues. I must investigate. Maybe there lies the answer.

Couldn’t be Árased

According to figures in the Irish Independent this morning, the turn out for the election of Uachtarán na hÉireann was less than 50%. We will get the exact figure later today when the votes are counted.

That means that one in two people registered to vote don’t care sufficiently about the role of Head of State or who fulfills that position to actually exercise their franchise. Given that a proportion of the population of the Irish people will not have been registered to vote through address changes, failure to re enrol on the electoral register, it means that less than one in two people will have voted for the President. What does that tell you?

The ‘winner’ therefore will likely be elected on say optimistically 35% of that vote. That is in fact a fairly paltry mandate when you extrapolate that out to include the entire population.

In countries such as the Republic of Ireland, the impact of a low turn out is ameliorated slightly by the use of the Proportional Representation Single Transferable Vote. The downside of this electoral system is that many people do not understand that they should vote down the card in order that transfers work properly.

In regards to the election result unfolding today, after all the vitriol, abuse and muck raking, the reality is that after a short period, few people will be in the slightest bit interested what the President does. He/she will make their regular appearances at Rugby internationals and All Ireland Finals. There may be the occasional pronouncement or other but in reality the position of Uachtarán na hÉireann whilst constitutionally relevant is largely irrelevant.

In a country where politicians have suffered from a serious loss of credibility through fault of their own, the Republic of Ireland has completed a Presidential election that has highlighted all that is bad about the country.

It has allowed all sorts of pustules to burst open releasing an infectious and disgusting torrent of poison and invective.

At the end of the process the country will get the person that most of the minority vote for. Then, they will all move on to the next moment of national soul searching.

I for one can’t wait.

Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.

Celtic Tiger Penis Soup anyone? I hear it is recuperative and much sought after in the East. It certainly puts some fire in your balls.

As the Celtic Tiger ceased to prowl and instead lay emasculated and humiliated, we were forced to take on board the truly awful implications of gombeenery, corruption, bankruptcy and poverty.

Everyone has been burned.

I myself did some work for a guy who had been declared bankrupt and left tradesmen unpaid. Guess what, in my naivety, I now remain partially unpaid. Stupide fucker me, serves me right. I won’t pursue the matter. As with many things in life I have ended up the sadder and wiser fool.

The recent election campaign has shown the contempt in parts of the Southern media for the people in the North. We have more in common with the local unionists who must be taken aback at the vitriol and abuse from the forty shades of green towards Martin McGuinness.

This version of revisionism states categorically, confidently and ultimately wrongly that the Provisionals were at the root of the mayhem we experienced here. It absolves the British Establishment of responsibility, likewise the RUC and UDR, loyalist paramilitaries and the cheerleaders and godfathers who sent people out to do their bidding costing lives in the process.

One positive thing that the so called peace process has brought to the surface is an increasing accepting of responsibility across the Islands as more and more people have the humility and sense to say I accept my share of the blame.

Not so in the South. Where commentators have forgotten their own antecedents. Where Gay Mitchell, self-styled tormentor in chief of McGuinness, has forgotten the genesis of his own party. Micheal Collins, one of the greatest ever Irishmen, up to his elbows in blood, a hero of Old Ireland.

We have had a succession of them. The media pundits, the ordinary people, the vitriol and ignorance is shocking. I reserve the right of people to have their voice but when it is offensive I say no.

What has emerged is that the population voted for the Anglo Irish Agreement through the referendum, but they didn’t really know what they were enacting. So Martin McGuinness might be good enough for us up here, but not for the people down there.

So now, a shame on both your houses. James Joyce was right. As are the thousands of young people forced away from Ireland in what is our inevitable national condition.

Exile is good. Who in their right mind would want to live in this God forsaken place? No country for old men.

Let the she-pig at it.