I like Belfast (2004-07-15 - 11:24 a.m.)

I've decided that if I'm going to live in Northern Ireland, I should probably do some reading on its background, the history and politics of the country. I've never lived somewhere where politics were so much a part of day-to-day life, and unfortunately, when the conversation turns to Irish politics, I never have any idea what anyone is talking about! To that end, I am going to go find the library today and do some reading.

I should add that part of the reason it comes up so much is that half the foreign students living in Belfast (and therefore most of my social group) are here because they're interested in politics and conflict. They all seem to be either doing grad studies in Political Science or Middle Eastern conflict, or Architecture (not sure why that one though!) But at least it will give me something to do while I look for work.

Bee is a landscape architect. She was telling me that it's very hard to plan a public garden in Belfast. You can't really use certain colours: not red, white or blue (too Union Jack), and not orange or green (too Irish flag). Bee told me it's very frustrating. "I'm sorry, I can't help it, the fact is MOST LEAVES ARE GREEN!" She's been working with a lot of mulberry trees and things with purplish leaves.

Anyway, lest it sound like I really hate it here because of the sectarian overtones - I'd like to just say that I'm really happy in Belfast. I love the fact that the city is so compact - I can walk anywhere I might want to go, and most places are within 15 minutes walk at the very most. From my house to the hostel where John is staying (and where theoretically I'll be working) is not even ten minutes. From home to the computer lab is closer to five or six minutes. Downtown is probably a fifteen-minute walk, and my new favorite clothing store (The Rusty Zip, cheap vintage and retro clothing) is three minutes away. Although that fact is probably not so good, considering I'm not working! (Paulina and I went shopping yesterday and I got a very cool '70s homemade dress to wear for Steph and Rem's wedding. But it was cheap!)

What I'm enjoying the most is just having people to talk to. I can go visit John when he's working, and Bee is home in the evenings. I have been spending a lot of time with Paulina, too, who is off most of the day and likes showing me around the city. I also had a pint with Marion, a French girl who took me to her temp agency (have an appointment there tomorrow, so here's hoping they have some work!) and gave me travel advice on France.

Oh right, France! I think I forgot to mention that John and I are planning a trip to Paris and Brittany to visit Pierre, Bee's boyfriend. We're going for a week at the beginning of August. The plan is to spend a day or two in Paris, then escape to the countryside near Rennes and see Pierre. I am getting very excited as this will be the first proper trip I've taken for months. Also I am REALLY looking forward to getting out into the country. Pierre also has cats (I miss Misha and Tempo) and Bee tells me his mother is very nice is quite good at understanding terrible French. Which is the only way to describe mine!

I must say that despite the fact that it's very bad financially, I have been greatly enjoying these last two weeks of not working. I've been keeping busy, and am glorying in the fact that I'm free of the unrelenting loneliness of London. Plus I have tons of plans to make, for the summer and beyond, and this is the first time I've had to just sit and think for quite a while. I feel like I'm finally back to being myself and life is good.

I'm also excited that it's almost time to go home. I will be so happy to see everyone (despite the fact that I'm planning to flee the country again in September). I never thought about it, but I'm lucky to have a home I'm excited to go back to. Both Bee and Paulina have been away from home for the last three years, and neither of them really likes to go back much (to Holland and Poland respectively). But I can't wait to see Canada again.

Speaking of Poland, my illustrious brother Will sent me some advice on how to handle the Polish Situation at 117 Dunluce:

Hey Anne,

sounds like you are having quite the time in Ireland. I was telling Jesse about the trouble with the Polish people, before you moved, and we agreed that you should have reinacted the partion of Poland in the 17th Century.(when all the major powers around Poleland, Russia, Austria, the Holy Roman Empire, and I think another just got together and divvied up poleand, with out telling the poles) and then tell the poles that they are now your serfs, based on historical precedent and contemperary dislike.

Thanks for that.

And one last thing... there is a CD player in the kitchen at 37 Fitzroy Ave. We pressed play just to see what our flatmates like to listen to... This was the first song. That seems to sum it up, I guess, though I think things are much better now.

There Were Roses
by Tommy Sands

My song for you this evening, it's not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land
But lately I've been thinking and it just won't leave my mind
I'll tell you of two good friends who were both good friends of mine

Isaac Scott from Banagh, he lived just across the fields
A great man for the music, the dancing and the reels
McDonald came from South Armagh to court young Alice fair
And we often met on the Ryan Road and laughter filled the air


There were roses, roses

There were roses

And the tears of a people ran together

Now Isaac he was Protestant and Sean was Catholic born
But it never made a difference, for the friendship it was strong
And sometimes in the evening when we heard the sound of drums
We said it won't divide us, we always will be one

For the ground our fathers plowed in, the soil it is the same
And the places where we say our prayers have just got different names
We talked about the friends who'd died and hoped there'd be no more
It was little then we realized the tragedy in store


It was on a Sunday morning when the awful news came round
Another killing had been done just outside Newry Town
We knew that Isaac danced up there, we knew he liked the band
But when we heard that he was dead we just could not understand

We gathered round the graveside on a cold and rainy day
The minister he closed his eyes and for no revenge he prayed
And all of us who knew him from along the Ryan Road
We bowed our heads and said a prayer for the resting of his soul


Now fear it filled the countryside there was fear in every home
When late at night a car came prowling round the Ryan Road
A Catholic would be killed tonight to even up the score
Oh Christ it's young McDonald they've taken from the door

Isaac was my friend! he cried, he begged them with his tears
But centuries of hatred have ears that do not hear
An eye for an eye, it was all that filled their minds
And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind


So my song for you this evening, it's not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land
But lately I've been thinking and it just won't leave my mind
I'll tell you of two good friends who were both good friends of mine

Now I don't know where the moral is or where this song should end
But I wonder just how many wars are fought between good friends
And those who give the orders are not the ones to die
It's Scott and young McDonald and the likes of you and I

There were roses, roses

There were roses

And the tears of a people ran together

There were roses, roses

There were roses....

backwards ~ onwards

Tell me about it...

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Missed anything?
moved! - 2008-05-12
Sunday = time to ramble on - 2008-05-11
apparently I'm doing monthly updates these days. Sorry. - 2008-05-04
watershed - 2008-04-06
end of trip - 2008-03-31

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