Saturday, 31 May 2008

Hot Saturday

It was amazingly hot today - and you can probably see the crowd in the background soaking up the sun in the City Hall grounds. That mohawk looks really cool - though I think the blonde seated to the left is determined to hold on to her tresses.

(do you think the couple left and right of the standing group are brother and sister? just a thought!)

Though I love the gear - it really was too hot to be walking about dressed all in black.

My grand-daughter will probably disagree with me.

.... and what about these cool shades?

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Rolling Stones - She's So Cold

Another classic from good ol' Mick et al. Too damned good to leave out of my music selection.

... and couldn't resist including this.

- She was Hot !

Damn! they're good.

Good Day Sunshine #3

Now that the good weather has returned again, after a few days of wind and rain, people are relaxing and enjoying the sun. As here, outside a cafe on the Belmont Road

Support The Belfast Airport Workers

Gordon McNeill is still on hunger strike - having reached his 14th day.
If you drive by Transport House - sound your horn to show your support.

Beryl Cook

Britain has lost one of its best-loved artists, the painter Beryl Cook, who has died at her home in Plymouth at the age of 81. She had been suffering from cancer for some time but, typically reticent, had kept it all but a secret.

One of TSW's first award-winning documentaries, focusing on saucy Plymouth artist Beryl Cook. A Day In The Life Of...was an offshoot of TSW's documentary strand, Scene South West. The programme was repeated on TSW's last day.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

God, it's cold out there - let's all huddle in this doorway.

This was the scene outside JJB Sports on Royal Avenue about 5.20 this evening. With the S.W.A.T. team gathered in the doorway of the Benefit Shop next to JJB Sports I thought they were preparing for a seige or an armed stand-off but apparently what happened was that an explosive device partially exploded in the shop during the night and the bomb squad were called in about 9 o'clock this morning. So!, why such a big security presence tonight? Perhaps they were just collecting their dole money (c: or maybe they were all having a laugh at such an ineffectual device.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

See the big picture - Donegall Road Primary School

I had heard about this some time ago but it was only this weekend that I was able to see and photograph it for myself. Photographs of children from Donegall Road Primary School have been arranged so that when you look at the mural from a distance you can make out the image of Ruby Murray. (Click on the pic above to see the Ruby Murray image - you may even have to sit back a bit from your monitor to see it properly).

I can't remember where I found the information but I have been googling to find out more about it but with no luck. You would think that the Tourist Board, Belfast City council or somebody would be falling over themselves to provide information about people and projects like this - but not a bit of it. Seems to me, that if local councillors or politicians can't get a free jolly to the other side of the world paid by us, the ratepayers, then they just don't want to know. Something that doesn't get their ugly gubs on the front of the Belfast Tele' obviously just isn't worth the effort.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention - it can be found on a gable wall at the end of Maldon Street at the top of Donegal Road.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Return of the Continental Market

The continental market has returned to Belfast and these are some of the bright Provencal colours to be seen at the soap and tableware stall.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Art is in the eye of the beholder

Finally, Belfast gets its own pavement artist. But, if you take a closer look, you can see that it looks a bit fanciful. He must be wearing those rose tinted spectacles I keep hearing about (c:

Watch the birdie

Another couple of tourist (?) (or students) enjoying the sun in the City Hall grounds recently.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Crown me before I huff (c:

My grandfather again from the same issue of the Belfast magazine. Here he is playing outdoor draughts in Woodvale Park. I believe this is the official opening of the draughts board (?) near to the bowling green and I think my grandfather was involved in, if not responsible for, the installation of the board.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Good Day Sunshine #2

I wander'd lonely as a cloud (well actually I was on a bus full of commuters) That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; (I think they are weeds) Beside the lake, (make that motorway) beneath the trees, (well he got that right)Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
With apologies to William Wordsworth.

Good Day Sunshine

Some of the lucky people enjoying the music (courtesy of Jackie Flavelle and Tim Cobain) and the good weather outside Grace Neill's pub yesterday.

Jig a Jig

If some of you, like me, thought this was Horslips then, like me, you were wrong. It is in fact those one hit wonders: East of Eden. Well I have an excuse, my memory's not as good as it used to be and it was such a long time ago (37 years) ... now don't you feel really old too?

... and now for the real thing. Horslips with 'Dearg Doom'

and another of those girl groups playing fiddles ...

Amadeus - King of the Fairies

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Skinhead O'Connor

I have just, belatedly, found a review on the great wee azoo's blog of Sinead O'Connor's performance at the Waterfront Hall and I am pleased to see that I was not imagining things i.e. just how woeful a performance it was. My other half informs me that it was a really good concert and her friends, who were there, think so too. Well, I beg to differ - it was pathetic.

... oops sorry! Dr. Em didn't think it was a good concert after all - even though she has tells me I'm wrong about Ms O'Connor's performance because all the fans think she was great. But then they would anyway because that's what fans do and if the fans think she was great - then she must have been great?

And as for those who listened to the concert on radio and thought her voice was great (see the comment on azoo's blog) well I'm afraid to have to inform you that all the engineers have to do is tweak a couple of buttons and anybody can sound great.

Modern Irish Art 1960s - 1990s

It's on everybody's lips ....

Some of the young women who were handing out free samples of 'Nestea' in Donegal Place this week.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Kim hits a good ball

Good for Kim and it's nice to see how much Joe appreciates her - I just hope (you know what I'm going to say here, don't you) they aren't Joe's balls she is hitting. Though, you just never know, maybe Joe's into that sort of practice (c: Rather him than me.

UNITE in shame

I took this photo yesterday morning on the way to work but I see this evening that this protester (Gordon McNeill ) is still encamped on the canopy of Transport House. This dispute has been ongoing for a 6 years and started when a number of workers were wrongfully dismissed from their jobs at Aldergrove airport ......

According to The World Socialist Web Site:

After six years and repeated hunger strikes by two former shop stewards, a group of workers sacked from Belfast’s International Airport have finally extracted compensation from the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) for the legal fees expended in pursuance of their claims of wrongful dismissal. Still contested is the workers’ other demand for the ATGWU to mount an inquiry into its own role in setting up the workers to be sacked in the first place.

The ATGWU is known in the UK as the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and operates in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It has recently merged with the Amicus union to form Unite, an organisation with around 2.8 million members.
In May 2002, 114 security staff at Belfast International Airport took strike action in pursuit of a wage rise. The workers were earning £5.20 an hour, forcing many of them to work 60 or 70 hours a week to bring home a living wage. The strikes began after six months of negotiations between the ATGWU and International Consultants on Targeted Security (ICTS), which ended with a proposed 18-pence-an-hour pay rise. The workers were demanding £6.00 an hour.

Workers planned a series of four-hour stoppages, which would cause significant disruption to the main commercial airport in Northern Ireland. After the first of these, the company sacked 23 of those involved, including shop stewards Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta.
The workers were sacked for taking unofficial strike action. They had been assured by regional ATGWU official Joe McCusker that their strike, supported by an official union ballot and a 97 percent majority of the staff, with the company warned in advance of the action, was officially backed by the union. But it soon emerged that the ATGWU had repudiated the strike.

Repudiation of an unofficial strike is required by the anti-union laws introduced by the Thatcher government. But the ATGWU went far beyond its draconian requirements. McCusker passed letters of repudiation, signed by then-TGWU leader Bill Morris, to ICTS, in a secret meeting in a pub near the airport. None of the workers were informed of the meeting between ICTS and the officials and of the repudiation of their dispute—until they were sacked. more:

An article on The Socialist web site: Belfast Airport workers win historic court victory - But struggle for justice continues

and indymedia ireland has a scathing report on Cops sent in to arrest protesting Belfast airport workers and an update here:

Alan in Belfast covered this on 8th April 2008 with his post about how Sacked ICTS airport security workers renew hunger strike action ... in protest at their union Unite (TGWU) rather than their former employer with what appears to be an anonymous comment from somebody at the TGWU (or UNITE as it is now known).

A statement from Sacked Belfast Airport Workers can be read here: which explains that:-

Last September a hunger strike and rooftop protest at Transport House was called off only after Tony Woodley, Unite General Secretary, agreed that the workers’ demands would be met within seven days.

He agreed that the union would pay the £200,000 in legal costs arising from the long court battle which the workers had to fight against ICTS without any support from their union. The workers won this battle, securing last August a landmark legal decision that found they had been sacked because of their trade union opinion and socialist political beliefs.

Tony Woodley also committed the union to pay the costs of defending this decision against any appeal by ICTS. He also promised that the union would pay damages to cover the financial and other hardship these workers have suffered. This was in recognition of the fact that, as was proven in court, senior union officials colluded with ICTS to have 24 of their members, including all their shop stewards sacked. Irish regional secretary, Jimmy Kelly, also made these commitments.

Not one of the commitments made last August has been met.

Frankly I find it very worrying, not to say despicable, that, as the airport workers state in one of their leaflets,

'Our union official, backed by the leadership of the union, colluded with our employer, ICTS, to have 24 of us sacked.'

What is more despicable is the fact that the news media seems to be ignoring this story totally. A union that does not support its members and, by all accounts, actively colludes to have its members sacked beggars belief and should not be denied the bad press it so richly deserves.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Ladies who lunch ...

... no not exactly, it's early morning coffee but it may turn into lunch. (You know how women can gossip)

Flower Power

Another photo taken from the bus - spotted these flowers growing from the base of a set of traffic lights near the art college. Shows just how resilient they can be, neither bricks, mortar nor chewing gum can keep them down.

It should have been me .....

I came across this photo recently in a back issue of the Belfast Magazine - the man is my grandfather (who was a local councillor) and the child in the pram could have been me but apparently my mother had not been given notice of the event and I was being bathed at the time of the photo shoot. I don't know who the woman or child are.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

View from the Waterfront

Some pictures I took in the bar at the Waterfront and patched together to give a sort of panoramic view.

I just hope she wasn’t paid ….

In 1965/66 a singer named Twinkle was boo-ed off the stage at the Ritz Cinema in Belfast when a discerning audience thought her performance was not up to scratch. Well, it would appear that Belfast audiences are no longer so discerning because, in my opinion, the same treatment should have been dished out last night to one: Ms Sinead O’Connor. I must admit that I am not a great fan of hers but I expected much better, I had thought that after 20 years she would have finally perfected her art and delivered a professional performance.

She has been described as ‘one of the most exceptional vocalists’ who ‘can rival just about any female rock star of this generation’ - this from a review of a concert in September 2007, when her voice was described as pristine. Sadly this was not to be the case last night when her manner came across as lethargic and her singing as mediocre. I felt that, perhaps because it was a free concert, she just could not be bothered making the effort. OR, perhaps she just doesn’t like Belfast audiences.

She walked on stage, took the microphone from the stand, started singing and stood rooted to the spot for the whole of the evening’s performance. A tailor’s dummy would have shown more life and would probably have delivered the songs with more energy and panache. At times she was difficult to hear because she didn’t seem to want to raise her voice above a whisper and on the odd occasion when she did resort to the ‘powerful voice’ for which she is renowned it was only to be fleeting and made her performance seem incredibly disjointed.

Eventually, I decided I could stand no more and left. In the foyer I discovered I had not been the first, or only, person to leave mid-performance and others agreed with me that her performance was extremely boring. I just hope she wasn’t paid for such a mind numbing experience.

Anybody wishing to judge for themselves can listen to the concert here:

Somebody else agrees with me.

its ev ry where (apparently)

... and nowhere, baby - that's where it's at!!

I photographed this in the foyer of the Waterfront Hall last night just before attending a concert with the Ulster Orchestra (more of which later) and I really can't say what it is supposed to represent. I should have read the little plate below the poster but I was in too much of a hurry to get into the bar. Thirst before art. (c:

Friday, 9 May 2008

Cristina - Is that all there is?

I have been watching a documentary about Peggy Lee and they have been extolling her rendition of this song - mainly because it was not Peggy's normal style and she went against the studio bosses to record it. BUT to my mind Peggy's version cannot match this one by Cristina for power and cynicism. This, to me, is the definitive version .

Is That All There Is? is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and recorded by Peggy Lee in 1969.

It was a popular single, reaching number 11 on the U.S. pop singles chart and doing even better on the adult contemporary scene. It won Lee the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and then later was named to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The lyrics of this existentialist song are written from the point of view of a person who is disillusioned with events in life that are supposed unique experiences. The singer tells the story of when she saw her family's house on fire when she was a little girl, when she saw the circus and when she fell in love for the first time. After each story, she expresses her disappointment in each experience. She suggests that we "break out the booze and have a ball — if that's all — there is", instead of worrying about life. She also explains that she'll never kill herself either because she knows that death will be a disappointment as well.

The song was inspired by the story "Disillusionment" by Thomas Mann, written in 1896. The narrator in Mann's story tells the same stories of when he was a child.

One difference between the story and the song is that the narrator in Mann's story finally has a sensation to feel free when he sees the sea for the first time and laments for a sea without a horizon. Most of the lyrics of the chorus are actually spoken in the story.

This song has been covered by assorted artists, including Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Sandra Bernhard, P.J. Harvey, Alan Price and Firewater. An altered version by No Wave singer Cristina in 1980 offended Leiber and Stoller, who sued and were able to get it suppressed for some time. wikipedia

Cristina Monet-Palaci

Belfast earthquake

contains some swearing

Tornado in Arkansas tries to cash outdated cheque!!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

... once upon a line

for the benefit of ada - this is all I can see on your blog.

Fat Face

No, it's not what you might think - it's not somebody being rude but a sign informing you that the shop named 'Fat Face' is open for business, as usual.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Crown Liquor Saloon

Some of the amazing tilework on the facade of the Crown Bar

Living with our heads in the clouds

The demise of the Obel project.
Remember a previous post where people were being encouraged to live with their heads in the clouds? Well not any longer - compare the hoarding above with the previous post - the slogan has now been painted over and work seems to have been discontinued on the monstrosity originally planned for here....

... and this is all that has been built since work started a year ago. (Construction work on the 265ft building begins in May, with a completion date of autumn 2007) Must have been low flying clouds!!

According to a publicity brochure from the Eric Cairns Partnership:

Just a few years ago, a building of such towering ambition
on Belfast’s oldest street would have been unthinkable.
However, two years ago the unveiling of Obel caught the imagination
of Belfast’s residents and visitors alike. Since then, Obel tower has
been heralded as a sign of an invigorated Belfast of regeneration and
Now, as the structure moves above ground the scene is set to watch as a
genuine Landmark is created.

This was the scene about a year ago - as you can see from my recent pic above the crane and builder's cabin have also been removed from the site.
I, for one, am really pleased that this project doesn't appear to be getting off the ground.
Funny thing: if you google for information re Obel all you get is the old publicity hype. There appears to be absolutely nothing about the demise of this much lauded project cum failure.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

A man and a woman

On the way home, on the bus tonight, I spotted a couple of unusual looking works of art in our local art college. On closer inspection they appear to be a male and female figure. The male figure, as far as I can tell, is made of metal rods giving the appearance of a shadow on the window while the female figure, though looking complete from a distance, when viewed close-up is only a partial figure made from some type of bubble material. Looks to me like they are having a secret liaison or triste in a vacant office.

Sunshine - super, man!

Some of the people in the grounds of the City Hall who were making the most of the first spell of good weather we have been experiencing this weekend.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Rolling Stones - She's like a rainbow

Dandelion (revisited)

Nicole Richie

Two songs, same title, different styles.

Rolling Stones

Just look over your shoulder

If you want to know what I look like ......... just look over your shoulder.
... and for more information about the dandelion check out my earlier post with added music.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Festival of Fools (encore)

Some of the spectators outside Castle Court waiting for Leapin' Louie to start his performance.
If you want to see him from the audience's perspective go to eyedrops from the heart

... and here is Svetlana (a contortionist) getting a different perspective on things at Cotton Court. Not really family entertainment - not really that entertaining, just a lot of inuendo and rubbing herself against a young male member of the audience (no double entendre intended).

For some reason this makes me think of the centre court at Wimbledon??

Friday, 2 May 2008

Festival of Fools

I have previously mentioned the Festival of Fools and here, for your delectation, are a couple of acts to be seen on the streets today.

Leapin' Louie could be seen in Cornmarket, ably assisted by Michael (?) - well that's what he kept calling her though he also referred to her as a him and since I missed the start of his performance I can't argue but Michael looks like a she to me.
.. and here we have Michael's dad, Phil, who became a cow and nearly lost his video camera.

There's not many people in life who can do extraordinary
things with a lasso - even fewer who can do it without saying Yeehah! All the

Imagine our delight to find somebody with a rare talent with the
lasso, who is also very, very funny.

Since passing the Deep South Cowboy
Exam, Louie has travelled the world with his unique brand of entertainment in
search of the perfect Steer.

Incredible rope tricks combined with
juggling, acrobatics and unicycle magic makes this one of the most unusual
street shows around.

These guys are The Pitts (c: Sandy Pitt and Cess Pitt who could be seen performing in Cotton Court

From humble beginnings on a farm in Pittsville, Tasmania,
brother and sister duo Cessil (Master Magician, Yogic Guru and part time Lord of
the Dark Arts) and Sandy Pitt (long jump champion South West Tasmania, 1992)
present an affectionate, charming homage to the eccentric outback life.

This duo bring together comedy acrobatics, juggling and good old
fashioned slapstick fun to provide a stunning and funny show, which reminds us
of the benefits of marrying strangers.

The moment we had all been waiting for - Sandy gets her kit off and then proceeds to get into the strangest positions ...

... and if you want to know what they were getting up to ... well you will just have to go along and see for yourself.

The short biographies are courtesy of the Festival of Fools website

I see Adada also has some photos, from last night's opening performance.