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Smack and Snowflakes

Sometimes life smacks you in the face. Yesterday I went to public toilets in Belfast and saw what I thought was a bundle of rags in a cubicle. Until I realised I could see an elbow. And the plastic plunger of a syringe. I’m not going to go into all the details. It is enough to say that the young woman lying in the cubicle was alive, conscious and eventually unlocked the door. All she wanted, she said, was a cup of tea to warm her up. I didn’t believe it when I first saw her face. You see, I had met her before. About a year ago, hunkered on the pavement in the rain outside Patisserie Valerie in Belfast city centre. I was with my friend, Lyra McKee, who was shot dead in April this year in D

Where you are tender you speak your plural

Where you are tender, you speak your plural. Roland Barthes Last month I went to an early afternoon debate at Duncairn Arts Centre. The panel were Danny Morrison, Conall Parr, Rosemary Jenkinson, Laurence McKeown, chaired by BBC journalist Tori Watson. The Arts of War was an outreach special as part of Feile. Jamie Bryson was in the audience too. He was quick and straight to the point, commenting to Laurence McKeown that loyalists need their own version of McKeown’s perceptive and moving account of republican prisoners’ rationale, in their own words: Nor Meekly Serve My Time: The H-block Struggle 1976-1981. Bryson, not for the first time, had hit the nail on the head. He complained that fo

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