Category Archives: My Life

Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style.

Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style

Life during the Troubles

Here are the opening few pages of my bestselling book: A Belfast Child

As a child, I loved the housing estate of Glencairn. To my mind it was paradise. Cut into the hillside, and with unbeatable views of the city on one side and the Divis Mountains on the other, it was like arriving in heaven after the hell of living among the urban sectarian flashpoints of West Belfast. Here were trees, lush green fields, sparkling clear rivers and streams that rushed down from the mountainside and were filled with fish. Us kids spent long hot summers splashing about in the ‘Spoon’, a natural cavernous feature of the landscape filled with water, and feasted on wild berries, strawberries and nuts that grew along the banks of the river.

               Here were our close family and friends, housed in the damp flats and maisonettes that had been hurriedly built to house those Protestants ‘put out’ of their homes in the city by avenging Catholics. They too were being burnt from their homes but back then my young Loyalist heart felt no sympathy for them; in my opinion they supported the IRA and had started the ‘war’.

               Up in Glencairn we felt safe and free. As long as we all obeyed the rules, of course.

               These rules were not the laws of the land. They were not enforced by police, army or government officials. They were not set down in any written form, but we all knew what they were and who had made them. And even as small children, we knew that a heavy price would be extracted for those foolish enough to break the rules. A heavy price, and sometimes a very public price too.

               Our two-bedroom maisonette was situated at the bottom of a small grassy hill facing St Andrew’s church Church and the local shopping complex, which consisted of a Chinese chippy, the VG general store, a laundrette, a newsagent’s, a wine lodge and the local Ulster Defence Association – UDA – drinking club called ‘Grouchos’ . In fact, we could roll down it almost to our back door – a game my younger brother David and I played frequently. In the winter when the hill was covered in snow, we would make sledges out of old bits of wood and spend hours and hours going up and down the hill, never feeling the cold. Dad would have a go at us for all the mud and grass we trailed into the flat but his was a good-natured telling-off. The truth was that he was pleased to see us all happy and carefree again after the trauma of the previous few years, and the sudden and final disappearance of my mum.

               One late spring afternoon I was revolving rolling towards our back door, Dad’s beloved Alsatian dog Shep (my best friend and constant companion) in hot pursuit. Dad called him Shep after the Elvis song and he was able to knock our letter box with his nose when he wanted to come indoors. The grass had recently been cut and was damp, meaning that it stuck to every part of my clothing. I came to a halt just short of our back wall, the sweet smell of cut grass filling my nostrils, before standing up to brush it all off my jumper. As I did, I noticed my cousin, Wee Sam, running up towards our house from the direction of the main road.

               ‘John! Davy! C’mon, hurry up! There’s summin’ going on down the shops!’

               Wee Sam was red in the face and could hardly get his words out. ‘It must be good,’ I said, ‘cos you look like you’re about to die.’

               ‘Not me,’ he replied, ‘but there’s a woman down there looks likely to. C’mon, we gotta see this!’

               He turned tail and without thought we ran after him. As anyone who’s ever grown up on a housing estate will know, if there’s a commotion taking place word gets around like lightning. In Loyalist Glencairn there was always something going on and it was violent as often as not violent. As we ran, it seemed that from every direction half of estate was also making its way to the shops from every direction facing St. Andrews church from every direction. ‘This must be big,’ I thought as I ran, my wee brother trying to keep up with me. On this estate, as in every area of Belfast afflicted by the Troubles, very few people turned away from troubledanger. The natural sense of curiosity found in spades among Northern Irish people was too strong for that.

               In the few minutes it took us to run from our house, a large crowd had already gathered outside the shops. A gang of ‘hard men’, whom we all knew to be paramilitary enforcers, seemed to be at the centre of the action. Local women stood on the fringes of the crowd, shouting, swearing and spitting.

               ‘Fuckin’ Fenian- loving bitch!’

               ‘Youse deserve to die, ye fuckin’ Taig-loving hoor!’ (‘Taig’ is an offensive slang term for a Catholic).

               I pushed in to get a better look. At the heart of the crowd was a young woman, struggling against the grip of the men holding her. Her cheap, fashionable clothes were torn and her eyes were wild and staring, like an animal’s before slaughter. She screamed for them to take their hands off her, spitting at her accusers and lashing out with her feet. It was no use. One of the bigger guys pulled her hands behind her back and dragged her against a concrete lamppost. Someone passed him a length of rope and with a few expert strokes he’d lashed the young woman against the post by her hands, quickly followed by her feet. She reminded me of a squaw captured by cowboys in the Westerns I loved to watch and then re-enact using local kids in games that could last for days.

               Except this wasn’t a game. This was justice Glencairn style – all perfectly normal to me and my peers and we took it in our stride. Although she was still squealing like a pig, the resistance seemed to have gone out of the woman. Smelling blood, the crowd pushed forwards and the woman’s head hung low in shame and embarrassment. One of the men grabbed a hank of her long hair and wrenched her head upwards, forcing her to look him right in the eye.

               ‘You,’ he said slowly, ‘have been caught going with a Taig, so you have! Do you deny it?’

               Now I recognised the woman. She was a girl off the estate. I ha’d seen her walking down Forthriver Road on her way to meet her mini-skirted mates. They’d pile into a black taxi and head into town for a bit of drinking and dancing. I guess it was on one of these nights out that she’d met the Catholic boy – the ‘Taig’ – who was at the centre of the allegations. Good job he wasn’t here now, because he might already be lying in a pool of blood, a bullet through his head.

               The woman shook her head. There was no point trying to talk her way out of anything now.

               ‘Fuck you,’ she said defiantly. ‘Fuck youse all.’

               ‘Grab her hair!’ shouted a female voice from the crowd. ‘Cut off the fuckin’ lot!’

               The enforcer produced a large pair of scissors from his pocket. Slowly, deliberately, he tightened his grip on her hair before hacking savagely at the clump below his fist. Amid cheers he threw it at her feet before continuing his rough barbering skills. Within minutes he’d finished and now the woman looked like a cancer victim. Blood oozed from the indiscriminate cuts he’d made on her head and as it ran down her face it intermingled with her tears and snot. She was not a pretty sight.

               ‘  back!’ demanded one of the enforcers. The crowd parted and someone came forward with an open tin of bright red paint. Knowing what was to come, and not wanting to be physically contaminated with the woman’s shame, the crowd moved even further back.

               The UDA man poured the contents of the tin all over the woman’s head, allowing it to run the entire length of her body, right down to her platform boots. She looked like she’d been drowned in blood. Then a pillow was passed up, and   ham-hands the enforcer tore a big hole in the cotton, exposing the contents – feathers, hundreds and thousands of them.

               ‘G’wan,’ said a voice, ‘give her the full fuckin’ works.’

               Without further ado the man poured the white feathers all over the woman, head to toe. They clung to the paint, giving the impression of a slaughtered goose hanging off the telegraph pole.

               ‘That will teach ye not to go with filthy Taigs,’ said the enforcer. ‘Any more of this and youse’ll get a beating then a bullet, so you will. Understand?’

               Through the paint and the feathers came a small nod of the head.

               ‘Good,’ said the man. ‘And just so ye don’t forget, here’s a wee something we made for you earlier.’

               To laughter and jeers, the man produced a cardboard sign which he placed around the woman’s neck. In the same red paint used to humiliate her, someone had written ‘Fenian Lover’ across the middle of the cardboard.

               ‘Leave her there for half an hour,’ commanded the man to a subordinate, ‘then cut her down.’ The crowd dispersed, a few women spitting on the victim as they left.

               ‘Jesus,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed. ‘Did you see that? Looked like she’d been shot in the head and the feathers were her brain running down her face. Fuckin’ amazing.’

               ‘Course I saw it,’ I said. ‘I was right at the front, wasn’t I? The bitch deserved it. Imagine going with Taigs, the dirty whorehoor.’

               ‘Let’s wait round the shops till they chop her down,’ said Sam. ‘See where she goes.’

               We’d been playing one of our eternal games of Cowboys and Indians recently and we’d got into the idea of tracking people down stealthily. So we waited until another paramilitary cut the woman’s rope and watched as she slumped to the ground.

               ‘I think she’s pissed herself,’ said Sam.

               ‘Ssh,’ I replied, ‘she’ll hear us. Wait while she gets up.’

               We watched the woman slowly pick herself up from the pavement. She wiped her eyes and looked around. The area outside the shops was now completely deserted, as though nothing had happened. An angry mob had been replaced by an eerie silence.

               As she stumbled off, we nudged each other. ‘Look,’ I said., ‘Look what’s happening. She’s leaving a trail!’

               She was too, a trail of blood- red boot  prints. We gave her twenty or so yards’ start, then in single file began to follow her, sidling up against walls and lamp-posts like the gang of Cherokees we imagined we were. We must have gone a good quarter- mile when she turned into a pathway leading up to a small, shabby flat. We saw her fumbling in her pocket for a key, noticing the relief on her face as she found it still there. The lock turned and she went inside without a backwards glance.

               ‘That’s it,’ said Sam, ‘fun’s over. Let’s go home.’

               ‘Wait,’ I said. I watched as the woman put on a light, looked in a mirror then drew the curtains tightly. Some part of me, the part that wasn’t screaming ‘Fenian bitch!’ with all the others, suddenly felt hugely sorry for her. She only looked about seventeen17 or eighteen18 – not much older than my sister Margaret. What had she really done wrong, other than meet a nice boy she liked? Did she deserve such brutal treatment? After this I never saw her around the estate again. She’d probably fled for her ,life, never to return. And who could blame her?

           Something inside of me knew I’d witnessed a terrible thing, yet I knew I couldn’t even begin to think like this. It was against the rules; the same unwritten rules and code of conduct that this young woman had disobeyed. Fear of the paramilitaries created a culture of silence and where we lived this was a survival strategy we all lived by. We were all products of this violent environment and we were had been desensitised conditioned to events that no child should ever have to witness.

                I shuddered, pulled my thin jacket close around me and with the others, headed for the safety of home.

               Even now, more than forty years later, whenever I smell the sweet smell aroma of cut grass I am transported back to that dusky spring evening in the early 70’s seventies and the woman’s brutal punishment, and I can hardly believe the madness of my childhood in Glencairn.

To buy my book from amazon follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/wzpp5ra

To order a signed copy of my book follow this link: Order a signed copy

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Reviews

Famous folk loving it

See : Tarring and feathering

See: Belfast Telegraph Public humiliation that was all too familiar during Troubles

A signed copy of my book ? Ive got a few left…

Signed copy of my book

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

The book is selling beyond my wildest expectations and the reviews are awesome , so good in fact you’d think I was paying for them ,lol

I have quite a few copies at home and if you would like to receive a signed copy they cost only £10.00 plus postage .

Click a buy now button below to order

UK Orders

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Ireland Orders

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USA and Canada orders

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You can email directly : belfastchildis@googlemail.com

Date 1st September 2020

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know  my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.

Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.

Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?

I think not.

Promo

Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.

If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.

In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.

Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.

The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.

Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment

Click here to buy directly from Amazon : Buy A Belfast Child

My Email: belfastchildis@googlemail.com

Introduction to my book: Read it here plus top reviews

A Belfast Child

by

John Chambers

Read the introduction to my No.1 Best Selling book here:

INTRODUCTION

‘Historically, Unionist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were first class citizens . . . and without question people believed them. Historically, Republican/Nationalist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were second class citizens . . . and without question the people believed them. In reality, the truth of the matter was that we all, Protestant and Catholic, were third class citizens, and none of us realised it!’

Hugh Smyth, OBE (1941­–2014). Unionist politician.

Although I was raised in what is probably one of the most Loyalist council estates in Belfast, I was never what you might term a conventional ‘Prod’. Don’t get me wrong – coming from Glencairn, situated just above the famous Shankill Road and populated by Protestants (and their descendants) who fled intimidation, violence and death in other parts of Belfast at the beginning of the Troubles, I was (and remain) a Loyalist through and through. I was unashamedly proud of my Northern Irish Protestant ancestry (still am) and couldn’t wait for all the fun and games to be had on 12th ‘The Twelfth’, or ‘Orangeman’s Day’ (still can’t). Even after 30 plus years of living away from the place my dreams are populated by bags of Tayto Cheese & n Onion crisps, pastie suppers from Beattie’s on the Shankill and pints of Harp lager. I cheer on the Northern Ireland Football team (though I’m not a massive football fan I watch all the big games) and I bitch frequently about the doings of Sinn Fein.

            I’m a working-class Belfast Loyalist through and through and very proud of my culture and traditions. Yet from an early age I sensed that I was somehow different. As a child I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and when I discovered the truth in my early teens, I was embarrassed, mortified and ashamed – but maybe not particularly shocked. I always knew there was something not ‘quite right’ about me. The secret was that I wasn’t as ‘Super Prod’ as I thought; there was another strand of Northern Irish tradition in my background, one that was equally working-class Belfast, but as diametrically opposed to Protestantism as you’re likely to get. There’s a comedy song that probably still does the rounds in clubs across Ireland, North and South, called ‘The Orange and The Green’, the chorus of which goes something like ‘It is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen/My father he was Orange and my mother she was Green.’ In other words, a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. This song could have been written about our family directly, so closely did it match our dynamic.

            Now, if you’re reading this from the comfort of any other country than Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or Scotland, you’ll be (just about) forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. Catholics marrying Protestants? So what? No big deal, surely. No one cares . But in a country like Northern Ireland, where tribalism still reigns supreme and the local people can sniff out a person’s religion just by looking at them, the prospect of the ‘mixed marriage’ is still cause for a good gossip, at the very least. During the Troubles period it was an excuse for deep embarrassment, banishment, a paramilitary beating, or worse. Those Protestants and Catholics who married and stuck it out either slunk away into some quiet corner of Northern Ireland, trying to ignore the conflict while hoping the neighbours wouldn’t ask too many questions, or left the place altogether, never to return.

            The marriage of my own parents, John Chambers (Protestant) and Sally McBride (Catholic), fell apart in the late 1960s as Belfast burned in the early days of the Troubles. The ferocity of hatred between the city’s two warring communities scorched many people desperately trying to find sanctuary in a country heading towards allout civil war. As we’ll see, my parents’ marriage was among these early casualties. Their lives, and the lives of their four children, would change forever and were shaped by the sectarian madness that tore Belfast and all of Northern Ireland apart and brought us all to the brink of an abyss that threatened and ruined our daily lives.

            This isn’t a book about the day-to-day events of the Troubles. There are plenty of excellent histories available detailing the period in all its gory glory, and from all viewpoints. If you need deep context, I’d recommend reading one of these, or even visiting Belfast. It’s safe now and as a tourist you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere on this earth. As we say, Northern Irish people are the friendliest in the world – just not towards each other.

            Although I love history, I’m not a historian and I don’t intend this book to be a dry run through of the events of 1969 onwards. As I child I learned the stories and legends of the Battle of Boyne and the Siege of Derry at my grandfather’s and father’s knees, becoming immersed in the Loyalist culture that would shape and dominate my whole existence.

            I just happened to be there at the time – an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation made even more complicated by the secret of my dual heritage. This is simply the story of a boy trying to grow up, survive, thrive, have fun and discover himself against a backdrop of events that might best be described as ‘explosive’, captivating and shocking the world for thirty30 long years. I’ve written this book because even I find my own story hard to believe sometimes, and only when I see it on the shelves will I truly know that it happened. In addition, it’s a story I would like my own children and grandchildren to read.

I want them to live in peace, harmony and understanding in a multicultural world where everyone tolerates and respects each other. I suppose I’ve always been a dreamer….

            When they read my book, which I hope they will, they might understand what it is to grow up in conflict, hatred and intolerance, and work towards a better future for themselves and others. When I was 20twenty, 21twenty-one, I knew that if I didn’t leave Northern Ireland soon, I would end up either in prison or dead, or on the dole for rest of my life. This was the brutal reality I was faced with. My own personal journey through life and the Troubles had lead me to a crossroads in my life and I made the monumental choice to leave Belfast and all those I loved behind and start a new life in London.

            I would hate to think my son, daughter or nephews and nieces back in Belfast would ever have to make the same drastic judgement about their own situation.

            My Loyalist heart and soul respects and loves all mankind, and providing the God you worship or the political system you follow is peaceful and respectful to all others then I don’t have a problem with you and wish you a happy future. Just because I am proud of my Loyalist culture and traditions doesn’t make me a hater or a bigot; it just means I am happy with the status quo in Northern Ireland and wish to maintain and celebrate the union with the UK and honour our Queen.

             As a child growing in Loyalist Belfast during the worst years of the Troubles, I hated Catholics with a passion and I could never forgive them for what I saw as their passive support of the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups. However, unlike many of my peers around me, I was never comfortable with the killing of non-combatants, regardless of political or religious background, and I mourned the death of innocent Catholics as much as innocent Protestants. In my childhood, I looked up to the Loyalist warlords and those who served them and when they killed an IRA member I celebrated with those around me. As I grew older and wiser my views changed. I no longer based my opinions and hatred on religion, but on politics and the humanity shown to others.

            I’m a peace-loving Loyalist and therefore want everlasting peace in Northern Ireland. We do exist, despite perceptions from some quarters, but our voices are rarely heard, drowned out by the actions of the few, and certainly nowhere near as frequently as our Republican neighbours who are very much ‘on message’ with their own take on events. I hope this book goes some way to redressing that balance, and that whatever ‘side’ you might be on (or on no side at all) you will enjoy it, and that it will make you stop and think.

            Finally, the story you are about to read is my own personal journey through the Troubles and my perception of growing up in Loyalist Belfast. In no way am I speaking for the wider Loyalist community or Protestant people and the views expressed here are my own. For reasons of security, some names have been changed.

John Chambers

England, April 2020

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Click here to buy: A Belfast Child by John Chambers

Click here to read more reviews

My book Update for Blog

Hi Folks ,

Just a very short post to let you all know that the book has been out for a week now and is selling beyond my wildest dreams or expectations.

I’ve been rank in the top three – five in three different categories ( this fluctuates daily) since launch day and the repsond so far has been awesome.

Needless to say Im delighted with this and excited about the coming weeks and the various promotional events/interviews lined up.

To order following this link : You can pre-order via https://tinyurl.com/wzpp5ra or see my pinned Tweet below.

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

12th Sep 2020

Well folks the book is a No.1 best Seller to my absolute delight and Im buzzinf

Signed copy of my book: A Belfast Child

Please note I am waiting on a delivery of books from the warehouse and therefore if you order a signed copy it will take a little longer to reach you.

Also, if you are ordering from outside the UK the postage is substantially higher and I suggest you email me and I will send you an online invoice with an amended price to cover postage charges.

If you can’t wait to read my amazing story you can order directly from Amazon:

Use the link below to order a signed copy.

Click to buy

You can email directly : belfastchildis@googlemail.com

I’m actually embarrassed offering this option but quite a few folk have contacted me enquiring about a signed copy and therefore I thought I’d make this available to those interested.

If you would like a signed copy of my book, please purchase via this link (above) and fill in the contact form below, making sure to include your email and the text you wish to appear in the book. If you require more than one copy, please email me and I will send you details and an online invoice.


Date 1st September 2020

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know  my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.

Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.

Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?

I think not.

Promo

Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.

If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.

In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.

Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.

The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.

Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment

Click here to buy directly from Amazon : Buy A Belfast Child

My Email: belfastchildis@googlemail.com

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “ C.S. Lewis

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “

C.S. Lewis

Thank you all for being so kind, caring and supportive yesterday, I was truly touched at how many of you reached out to me and it helped lift the gloomy cloud that was hanging over me and I feel much better and more positive today.

Grief for a loved one is never ending and I have been grieving for my dad for over forty years now , a lifetime of sorrow and pain  that can never completely heal.  Most of the time I can deal with it and banish the pain of losing him at such an early age to the dark passages of my soul.

But sometimes it can creep up on me unexpectedly and hit me like a sledgehammer and time stands still as the sadness and sorrow  of missing him engulfs my entire being and the fear of never ending grief  stops me dead in my tracks .

That was the case yesterday and I suppose I should have expected it with the anniversary of his death approaching and also rereading  through the chapters of my book which deal with his death was not the smartest move on my part in hindsight.

Anyways Im feeling much better now with the support of wifey and the kids and just wanted to say thank you to all of you who reached out to me yesterday.

Thank you.

Whats on my mind ……?

I need to chill , the daily grind of everyday life gets a little boring sometimes , esp after 53 years of many crazy highs and at times epic lows .But I’ve got to be grateful for what I have. I know my life although far from perfect is much better than many others . Thank god for small mercies.

Hospital appointment tomorrow morning for over active thyroid , I ain’t complaining about it but my god I didn’t even know it was a thing until they found I had it after some blood tests. I knew there was something not quite right , but took ages to diagnose. Caused me loads of problems , mostly with my eyes which is kind of scary ,chronic tiredness , weight …..

Wifey going to Goa on Friday to teach yoga and go to a yoga retreat. I was invited along but not my kind of thing,. To be sure I like the philosophy of it all , just not bendy enough to do most of the moves. Might take up tai chi , that’s more my style. hee he.

She’s away for nine days so I’ll be in charge of the kids, two cats , one with only three legs and two very nervous goldfish. Hope I don’t drink myself to death. I wonder if she’ll make me a curry before she goes.. Hmmmm…

Wondering if I can be arsed joining the local astronomy club , or should I wait until spring/summer ? Star gazing is something I really enjoy, I have a telescope and all the equipment , but when no one else in the family is interested in sitting in the garden in the middle of winter in the dark and cold it can become quite a lonely venture. .Tried to get son interested, but he’s a teenager now, thinks he’s a gangster and hates me at least five times a day at the mo.

Wondering if that big asteroid gonna destroy the Earth and when we’ll ever hear the end of the harry and Meghan debate. Snzzzz……….

Worried and anxious about my forthcoming book , its a massive thing for me and I’m about to go down the rabbit hole and have no idea what I’ll find down there.

Considering if it would be a good idea to have a gin.

And finally Im testing out some new features on my blog and wanted to see how they all worked and looked , hence this boring post!

My autobiography: A Belfast Child is now available to order on line

Hi folks

Just a quick post to let you know my book: A Belfast Child is now avaiable on line from Amazon , see link below for details and how to order.

Cheers

Click here to order online : A Belfast Child

The day A Squirrel sh*t on my head –

A Squirrel once sh*t on my head –

Image result for squirrel doing a shit

It was a beautiful summers day the birds were singing in the trees and I was out walking in Hyde park with a ( rather hot ) lady nurse from Great Ormond Street Hospital and some of her nursy friends.

I’d not long been in London and was delighted when I moved jobs to work in Russell Square , as all the local bars and clubs were full of student nurses and other hospital staff and to my sheer joy they seemed to like my Belfast charm and accent and I felt confident that I may pull me a sexy nurse , if i got lucky!

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Hey, I was a young hot blooded male back then.

It was also full of trainee police staff , but to be honest they kind of scared me a little and made me nervous and so I kept my distance. This was obviously a hangup from my days of growing up in Glencairn and in and around the Shankill/Woodvale and my experiences with the police thus far , as a petty criminal. Normally for joy riding ( I know, I’m ashamed of myself now , but I was a product of the time and place ) shop lifting and abusing myself with drugs ect , nothing too serious in the grand scheme of what was going on back then in Glencairn and throughout war torn Belfast. Back in those days we tended to police ourselfs ( well UDA / UVF did ) and whilst we respected the police it would never enter our heads to ask them to settle local disputes or fallouts and so I had a natural apprehension round the old bill that would take me a few years in London to shake off. The fact that the paramilitaries policed us was of little concern to us and we give it little thought, unless we were caught in the act, so to speak and then we knew would be fecked!

Once when I was in a stolen car and the police chased us all the way from the Antrim Rd, through Westland, up to Ballysillian , down Ballysillian rd and all the way up to the middle Glenciarn. I was absolutely shitting myself in the back of the car and was amazed and relieved when some how, I dont know how, we lost the police. The guys I was with were the best car thieves/joy riders in Glencairn and where legends to the many young hoods in the estate whom looked up to them. Maybe the police had been called to a more important job or something , but as we made our way through Glencairn I swear to myself I would never get in a stolen car again. Suddenly in the distance we heard the sound of police sirens coming our way and the driver put the foot down and we were almost flying as he tried to get away from the approaching police. Then he turned a corner and smashed smack bang into the car of a top UDA man in Glencian , whom was a bit of a nutter and not to be crossed. Anyways we all jumped out of the car and ran for our lives and to be honest i was more worried about the UDA guys car, than i was about the police.

Next day we were all summoned up to the community centre and questioned by the UDA about the crash and the top guy whose car we had almost written off is going ballistic and calling for blood. Denial was the only option open to us as we didn’t want to have our kneecaps rearranged , so we all lied through our teeth and stubbornly stuck to our story , despite the fact our interrogators and the mad man knew we were lying and anted to kill us . Thanks to some family connection I wasn’t shot that day, but when the guy brought a new car we had to wash it for him for the next few months and he took great pleasure expecting our work and making us do it over again and again.Lesson learnt, no more joy ridding.

Anyways back to the squirrel and the trainee police staff I certainly wasn’t brave enough at the time to hit on one and possibly be arrested. LOL

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The day way going great until I heard the gentle hypnotic calling chimes of the Poke Man ( icecream van in Northern Ireland slang to those who don’t know )and thought I’d treat myself and all the nice girls to a nice big Poke.

Image result for ice cream van belfast 1970s

I inquired of the ladies present if any of them would like to have a Poke with me and through howls of laughter I took their orders. Of I go and on my way through a grove of trees I look up and pause for a moment, watching as two beautiful squirrels seemed to play tag with each other , jumping and swinging from branch to branch they disappeared in to the tree tops above me. It felt like a special kind of moment in time and I was kind of entranced and touched by it all.

And then one of the little feckers shat on my head!

How feckin rude is that ?

I knew it was squirrel shit immediately because it was the most logical answer and also they were both up there in the trees, starring down at me and I swear I heard them snigger.

Also the one that done the dump on my head must have had a curry the night before because as it ran down the side of my face , hot and sticky it smelt shocking and to make matters worse I could feel lumps cascading through the shit and gagging I realised they were poo covered bits of nuts.

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Bending over a tree I start throwing up all over the place and prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me alive. Sadly it didn’t happen.

Then to my utter shame and horror my Lady Nurse friend was beside me, stroking my back and asking if in a mummy voice if I was OK. It wasn’t a pretty sight to be fair and wiping my hair with a tissue I excused myself and proceeded to go get the pokes.

Sadly I wasn’t successfully that day in pulling a sexy nurse ( but more than made up for it over the comings months) and those are stories for any day.

See: The Loyalist Mod

See: Northern Ireland food and drink I love and miss

See: How to speech Belfast : https://belfastchildis.com/2017/04/30/how-to-speak-belfast-northern-ireland-2/

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout – A Belfast Legend

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout 

A Belfast Legend

Mickey Marley's Roundabout header

Mickey Marley and his roundabout are woven into the fabric of Northern Ireland’s tortured history and generations of Belfast folk, catholic and protestant alike will have fond memories of grumpy old Mickey and his horse drawn roundabout.

As a child I remember vividly riding on his roundabout one glorious summers day in the Woodvale Park and this memory  always brings a smile to my face. Life was simple and innocent back then and the joy of a ride soothed my childhood soul and the world seemed not so scary for a few short moments.

Thank you for the memories Mickey!

 

 

The

Mickey Marley Story

Mickey Marley's Roundabout 2

Mickey Marley

Mickey Marley (died 28 April 2005) was a street entertainer from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Born in the Markets area of Belfast, but spending most of his life on the Grosvenor Road in the Falls area of West Belfast, Marley was a common sight in Belfast City Centre for over forty years.

Drawn by his horse Joey Marley would tour the streets of Belfast with his hobby-horse roundabout. When he retired he sold the roundabout to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

His local fame was enhanced by a recording of the song “Mickey Marley’s Roundabout” (written by Belfastman Seamus Robinson) which was a popular children’s request on BBC Radio UlsterBBC Northern Ireland also made a documentary on his life. The 1973 film followed Marley’s everyday life, against the backdrop of the heavy British Army presence on the streets of Belfast during the early years of the Troubles

 

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout – Barnbrack

 

Lyrics to Micky marleys roundabout

Micky Marley had a wee horse
He kept it at the back of the house of course
It wouldn’t eat grass and it wouldn’t eat hay
But it would eat sugarlumps all day
Micky got wood and wheels for a start
Then he sat down and made a wee cart
He hammered and he hammered and he foutered about
Until he had built a roundabout

Chorus
Round and round and up and down,
Through the streets of Belfast town,
All the children laugh and shout,”
“For here comes mickys roundabout”
And then he went from street to street
A penny a time and pick your seat
A hobby horse or a motorcar
Jump on son and hold the bar
The children’s faces smile with glee
Laughs and smiles a sight to see
You haven’t got a penny and your ma’s gone out
You can still get on his roundabout

(Chorus)
But then alas to his dismay
The roundabout was burnt one day
Poor Micky lost everything he had
And all the children were so sad
But his friends they gathered round
From every part of Belfast town
They hammered and they hammered and they fouterd about and built him a brand new roundabout

(Chours)
Hobby horses don’t get old
I’m winter beds they all feel the cold
But Micky knows each winter pass
The roundabout is still at last
No more we’ll hear the happy sounds
Of his roundabout in Belfast town
We thank the horse and the wee small man
For the joy they spread across the land

(Chours) x2

 

Showman Mickey Marley’s funeral

The funeral of one of Belfast’s best known characters Mickey Marley, immortalised in a Barnbrack song, was being held today.

Mr Marley, who was made famous in Barnbrack’s hit single Mickey Marley’s Roundabout, died last Thursday. He was in his mid 80s.

Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Peter’s Cathedral this morning followed by cremation at Roselawn.

Mr Marley, who lived in the Grosvenor Road area, and his horse-drawn roundabout was a familiar sight on the city’s streets for decades.

After leaving school at a young age, he saved up to buy his first pony and his roundabout was a huge success, first in the Falls area, then Belfast city centre and beyond.

After Sean McRobin, of local band Barnbrack, penned a song about him he became a local celebrity.

He became so well known that during a trip to Stormont in the 1970s, Prime Minister James Callaghan got his driver to stop so he could have a word with him.

His roundabout is currently being restored to its former glory in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra

Source: Belfast Telegraph