stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Place names…

January 2nd, 2007 | No Comments | Categories: Random Catchup |

There’s a really strange element to traveling across Northern Ireland, in that almost every place name is familiar as the site of a bombing, or a murder or some kind of act of sectarian violence or political significance from the last 30 years. It’s like visiting southern california and driving past signs for Mulholland Drive and Sunset Blvd, only instead of feeling like you’re on a film set, you feel like you’re a bystander on a news broadcast. It’s a strange thing with place names – like Columbine or Waco, Darfur or Wounded Knee – they cease to be the name of a town, and become shorthand for disaster, for tragedy, for crazy behaviour.

It’s one of the interesting things about watching foreign news – or spending a lot of time in another country – you find a whole new set of significant place names. In the UK we’ve got Dunblane – site of a school shooting, Aberfan – site of a coal-slag-heap that collapsed on a school in the late 60s and wiped out an entire generation of kids there, Toxteth – area of Bristol where riots took place in the 70s. Brixton – more riots; Broadwater Farm – yet more riots; Lockerbie – the place where the plane blown up by Libyan terrorists crashed in Scotland… the list goes on. You drive past the road signs and they stick moreso than the rest of the small towns and council estates that fly past on long journeys…

Northern Ireland is littered with them. The sad thing is that it gets to the point where the feeling is a non-specific one – any place name you recognise must be the site of a tragedy, when in reality it could be that you heard it mentioned in a song, or had a pen-friend that lived there in your teens…

it’s been really lovely to spend a few days with lovely people in Belfast – the delightful Dr Higgins is a fantastic tour-guide to the psyche of the place (he hosted the amazing panel discussion at Greenbelt with the representatives from both sides that was so controversial they couldn’t release the tape of it). He’s a wise wise man, and I realise after just a couple of days how little I know about the history of what has gone on over there in the last half a century. I mean, I know the stuff that gets reported. I’ve read articles and interviews, watched the documentaries. But I’ve not even scratched the surface…

Belfast is one of those places that is now forever going to be a benevolent place in my mind – you know, those towns where the only people you know from there are lovely, so you subconsciously think that everyone there is delightful and friendly and wonderful? Nashville’s like that too. And Edinburgh is all about creative people being wacky on the royal mile… except it isn’t really, it’s just how you file things according to your experience. So Belfast is a place of community and parties and good food and great conversation and lovely lovely people and Neil Diamond, Bond Themes, hopes for the New Year, lots of hugs, a place to realise just how pathetic my knowledge of film is and how much catching up I’ve got to do, a place to walk along the beach in the freezing cold talking about child development and irving Goffman, Kierkagaard and the essence of self.

So at least one place has changed ‘Belfast’ is no longer just the site of orange marches and bomb scares. I’ll smile every time it’s mentioned on the news now.

Oh, and Gareth, if you haven’t written 2000 words today, you’ve no business reading blogs – get back to work. :o) x

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Similar Posts elsewhere in this blog:

`

Tags: · , , , , , , , ,

No Comments so far ↓

Sorry, comments on this thread are closed.