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Good God Almighty, Germany: 7-1: Brazil, that's worse than Germany: 6-1: Ireland (the shame of it) 

Does that mean that Ireland beat Brazil 1-0? Probably not.

I wonder how a 22-man team of Irish and Brazilians would get on against the Germans.

You'd hope we wouldn't lose 13-2, but it's hard to say for sure.


So, I went to Belfast last week.

For the first time in my life.

It was good fun. 

I had only been to Northern Ireland a handful of times before. Once, I went for a weekend on Rathlin Island, which was brilliant fun, and we stopped off at the Giant's Causeway on the way home. I also went for a trip to the Giant's Causeway with a language school I worked at. 99% Brazilians - bless.

But last year, I went with my housemate to the Stendhal Festival of Art near Limavady in Co. Derry. Lured by the prospect of seeing Duke Special, Paddy Casey and, the icing on the cake, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy for cheap-as-chips, I was dumbfounded at how bloody beautiful the north of Ireland is. And I've seen Connemara and West Clare and lots of other places in the Republic, so it's not like I was unfamiliar with beautiful landscapes and I don't know why I was surprised.

I think it's just that, down south, we have a bit of a weird relationship with the north. Most people I know haven't been there, unless maybe they have family there or some other actual reason to go. We don't seem to go "just for the hell of it" the way we'd go to, well, anywhere at all really - Galway, Cork, Westport, Kerry, London, Edinburgh, sure we'll even get the ferry to Holyhead, just to turn around and come right back again. Yes, you could never accuse the Irish of not travelling.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and hop on a bus.

I stayed at the Lagan backpackers hostel, where everyone was very friendly and sound. 

Played at two out of three open mics - didn't quite get the hat-trick because I got to the last one a tad on the late side, and it was full up. 

Still, on the Monday night, I went to Filthy McNasty's and played at their open mic in the back in the Secret Garden. Hosted by Darrell, I met some very nice folk and played a fun set of Ani diFranco's "Untouchable Face", followed by my own "Just in Case" and "The Chalice" and finished off with "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac.

On Tuesday, I headed to The Parlour. I was torn between performing and watching the end of the U.S.A. vs. Belgium game, but I sacrificed the football for my art. Started off with Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", which I wasn't planning on playing in full - I was just using it to hear how the guitar and vocals sounded. But, someone in the audience got excited when they heard it and I didn't want to let them down. Followed that one with my own "The Brightest Star" and followed that one with "Talk Tonight", that rarest of things, an Oasis song that doesn't make me go "Oh God, not them again".


While I was there, I did a good bit of touristy stuff. Didn't quite make it to the Titanic quarter (underestimated how long the river was, and how tired my little legs were) but I did take a Black Taxi tour around the Shankill and the Falls Roads, which walked us around the different murals and explained their significance. It's hard to know what to think about a conflict, to which I am essentially an outsider, even if I only live down the road. I do get frustrated about the issue of the parades, however, which has emerged again as we approach July 12th. Mainly, cos I think they're a bit boring and crap, and who cares if you can't have one. In my opinion, they're more about showing off and they're not very inclusive. Unlike say the Paddy's Day parade in Dublin (which is also crap, by the way). The New York Paddy's Day parade is probably a lot better, or it would be if it didn't ban marchers from publicly expressing gay pride. 


Anyway, I digress.

Belfast is lovely. And there's no sense of conflict or tension among the people I met or anywhere downtown at all. They're just out for a good time and long may it continue. No sane person would want to return to the heartbreaking violence of the past. So, let's hope they keep moving forward together.

Finally, I have a new logo. It was designed by Rachael McCabe, and it will probably be on a few t-shirts at some point, or I might just use it as a backdrop when I am performing. Click on the link, see what you think, let me know in the comments section. My main question: is it a bit weird that the hummingbird has no eye? Might get on to Rachael again and get her to stick one in. Can't have the poor hummingbird not knowing if he's going backwards or forwards!

Till next time...







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