My Blog – July 2019

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Look! A Cat! It’s my cat! Now that I have your attention, get the shorts on, whip your top off, get burned in 20 degree heat, then put all your clothes back on again and complain it’s too hot. That’s the Northern Ireland way! As much as I hate on the country, its people, its history… everything really… it’s still home. Right? We do have some beautiful spots, natural and otherwise, and while I feel like I could (and have) fit in anywhere in the world, it’s still home. But it mostly sucks. Here are some more nuggets about Belfast/Northern Ireland which you can share with your friends to pretend your false ancestry matters.

You Know You’re Free Belfast When…

20. Jim McDonald from Coronation Street and Eamonn Holmes embarrass you.

Well yes, but they’re not the best examples. We’re embarrassed by anyone from here who becomes famous and you’ll be all like ‘wind your neck in mate and catch yourself on’. Or something. Jim McDonald is a famous character from one of Britain’s most famous TV shows. Both the character and actor are from Northern Ireland and the character is notorious for being a tough guy drunk and is always shouting stock Northern Irish phrases like ‘catch yerself on’, ‘wind yer neck in’, and every variation of ‘so it is, so I am, so you are’. Eamonn Holmes is a TV presenter from Northern Ireland who somehow made it big on the mainland. 

21. The most common phrase used when you are slightly surprised at something is: ‘Here’s me wha!!??’

I only ever say it as a joke or to mock my fellow scum, but yes you do hear this quite often. When you say it, say it in a tone as if you’re about to kill someone. I do say ‘wha’ quite a bit instead of ‘what’, but not with the ‘here’s me’ in front.

22. You can tell what religion somebody is by the side of the road they walk on.

I think this is a new one on me, but there is a lot of stuff like this – like how far apart your eyes are etc.

23. You spend every Christmas Eve in your local and have the EXACT same conversations as the year before.

Up until I had kids, yes. Though the conversations were different because I’m interesting and surround myself with the best people.

24. You are 27, married with 2 kids, a dog and have a mortgage of your own, but if you are home for Christmas and your parents are away for a couple of days you still think: ‘Sweet, free house!’

When I was 27, I was indeed married – I had 1 kid, no pets, and did have a mortgage. I’m not sure about the Christmas reference, but yes if the parents are away that automatically means ‘Sweet, free house’.

25. You have been to “Dempsey’s” for an 18th/16th birthday party

Possibly for an 18th…. definitely for other random nights. It’s a bar/dive in Belfast. Don’t go.

26. You can remember seeing soldiers walk down your street with guns in the middle of the day for no apparent reason

Yes. Still happens, though very rarely. My attitude towards it is ‘Get on with it, move along, nothing to see here’. Growing up this never seemed odd, but then I watched nothing but violent action movies so real life just seemed like a boring extension of those. I’m sure most people would run for cover or hide up a chimney or something, but it’s just something we live with. 

27. Lavery’s Middle Bar was the height of your teenage social life

If I’d lived in Belfast when I was a teen then yes. When I was at University I was still a teen so yes – I did spend a lot of time in Lavery’s then. It’s another bar, one with multiple levels and hideouts and can be a bit of a maze for the uninitiated and/or drunk. The top floor has pool tables. I assumed from the question it meant people spend time there when they are 14-17. In my experience it was one of the more ‘open’, less chav ridden bars in Belfast. I was in Lavery’s most days when I was at Uni. Or just in the SU.

28 You have purchased a single cigarette at some stage of your life

Probably. Or ‘borrowed’ one.

29 A member of the opposite religion has been “after you”

Yes.

30 You frequented a country park or waste ground each weekend to drink alcohol

Yes. Or after school. Or at lunch time during school.

31 When the police were in the vicinity some one always greeted them with the phrase “SS RUC”

Don’t think I ever heard this.

32 You have used the phrase “will you see me/my mate”

This was used every day in school, to me, to others. Not by me though, I always hated the terminology. ‘see’ means kiss. According to my wife, culchies (she would be classed as one) say ‘face’ instead of ‘see’. WTF.

33 You have shoplifted in Virgin Megastores (RIP)

I don’t believe I ever did. It always was my favourite shop though (RIP).

34 You have been “de-begged”

I never have. It means to have your trousers and/or gunks ripped off, as a prank generally. Yes, we have many words for underwear – gunks, kex, etc.

35. Your main argument for anything you disagreed with was ‘sure nah!’

I don’t think I’ve heard this one. I usually hear ‘aye rite’, or ‘wha’ or ‘aye mate, dead on’ or ‘yer wat’sitchy?’ It reminds of when I was talking outside Queen’s with some of my mates, probably about whatever our next lecture was – it was nothing intellectually challenging, I can’t recall exactly, but for the sake of the story lets say the word was ‘Shakespeare’. So some Belfast steek happens to be walking by (unfortunately the University is near a couple of steek havens) and hears us talking, saunters over with an ill favoured graveyard glint in his eye and utters the immortal ‘Shakespeare? At’s a big word isn’t it? You wanna hear another big word?…. Suck my ballax!’ before walking on to whatever criminal endeavor he was planning. I can’t go past Queen’s without laughing about that.

36. The smell of slurry in the country makes you gag.

Well of course, doesn’t the spraying of gallons of shit into the air make you gag? Many many people die because of this every year too. True story. 

37. You still think people who live in the cities of Newry and Ballymena are Culchies.

They are absolutely not cities. But yes, absolutely culchies/sheep shaggers.

38. You didn’t do graffiti; you gave yourself a ‘mention on a wall’.

Yes.

39. You remember Leisure World being the best toy shop in ‘the whole whil’ world’.

Oh yes, it was. It was our Disney World. The ‘whil’ is not a typo. People here have difficulty pronouncing words in any normal, human fashion instead turning them into completely different words.

40. You have “pinged a windy” at some stage

Damn right I have. One of my favourite phrases (it means to throw a stone at a window) and I still use it now. I don’t actually ping windees any more though. OR DO I?

41. Anyone who doesn’t have a 1 back and sides is a “hippy”

It’s not a 1 back and sides, it’s a short back and sides. This is a term for a short hair cut. I was and am still classed as a hippy. This eventually merged with goth, but for the people doing the name calling it’s the same thing. It’s basically any bloke with hair longer than a shaved cut. Or possibly someone wearing black. 

42. You have at some stage shaved your head, leaving a stupid wee fringe at the front, which you may have dyed blonde for that distinctive Belfast look

No I have not, but you still this everywhere. I did experiment with blonde dyes when I was in primary school, but they rarely worked. 

43. You know what a steeko is, and have a tendency to turn into one after a few beers

Nope, never will. A steeko is a steeker is a steek is a chav. We have our special breed of them here, quite different from ‘the mainland’, but the same thing applies – lowly educated neanderthals who dress in tracksuits and listen exclusively to rave/techno/happy hardcore music. If they can afford (or have nicked) a car, it will be a nova/supra/souped up version of some other cheap small car. They spend their lives driving and revving through the town, littering, and playing their beats from the car. Not to be a Nazi or anything, but the ones from here do seem like another race entirely – they have their own way of walking and talking, a constant bewildered, dull, or accusatory look plastered on their face, and will at any moment be trying to stab you or steal from you. 

44. You have had a telling off from your da which began with the phrase ´listen sonny jim…´

I’ve heard it, more from other people’s das or teachers. 

45. You have a mild addiction to pastie baps

I ate pasties for a while as a child, then realized it was just ‘worse haggis’. 

46. You have at least once in your life considered sniffing glue

I have considered and completed this task. 

47. You have at least one ginger mate, who you call ´Fanta pants´ at least three times a day.

The rest of the world has Fanta, right? It’s a fizzy orange drink? Orange, ginger, get it? I don’t think I have any ginger mates now, but my best friend when I was young was. I probably called him some variation of this, don’t remember pants being part of it. 

48. You know what a barrack buster is, and at one time this was your favourite carry-out

A barrack buster was a weapon devised by the IRA to attack police stations or army barracks. It is also a term for the huge bottles of cheap cider you can get here – White Lightning and such. It was always ridiculously cheap and an easy, quick, boggin’ way to get pissed. Oh yes – a carry-out just means a pile of booze from an Off-License/liquor store. 

49. You have at some point slegged someone for wearing two-striper trackie bottoms.

Yes, steeks have a tendency to either only wear named brand tracksuits or if they can’t afford them, one of our fine knock off brands like Abibas, Reebop, or Nyke. Slegged is slagged is insulted. I sleg anyone for wearing any sort of tracksuit unless they’re an athlete. Running from the filth doesn’t count. Filth is police. Keep up. 

50. When some millie’s annoyed she says, “Oh mummy!! What are you like!!?”

Do they actually say ‘mummy’ if their ma’s not about? Millie is a millbag is a female steek. ‘What are you like’ is a common Belfast/idiot phrase.

51. When your granny says “Yer arse is parsley!!!”

I’ve never heard anyone say this.

52. When you say in disgust at a lie yer mate told, “Aye rite dead on ball bag!!”

I probably said it when I was 10. Yes, many people say this and any variation, most days. ‘Aye right’ being sarcasm, ‘dead on’ being a phrase meaning ‘okay’, ‘I’m okay’, or ‘it’s okay’ and when merged with ‘Aye right’ doubles the sarcasm. ‘Ball bag’ is self-explanatory. No? He’s calling you a scrotal sack. 

53. When you’ve ordered drink after hours from ‘dial a drink’

Nope.

54. Everyday you call at least 1 person a ‘melter’

I’ve never said this, but you hear it weekly, and have been called one many times. Or ‘a geg’ which is sort of pronounced ‘gaiyyig’.

55. You’ve said ‘I’m gonna get my big brooar for ye’, or ‘I’m gonna get my da for ye.”

Again, probably when I was 10. This was a common comeback if someone was bullying/threatening/looking at you. 

56. You have walked to the top of the cave hill until you get to what is known as ‘Napoleon’s Nose’

Can’t say I have, and I didn’t know that’s what it is called. 

57. You have told the taxi man to leave you to the waste ground where you learned to drink, ran away until you are a safe distance away, and shouted slurs at the taxi man such as ‘and here, if you try and chase me, my mates gonna steal your car’

No, but I can imagine people doing it.

58. You have bought ‘5 lighters for a pound!’

I probably have, actually. See, we have street vendors as I’m sure most cities have, but all they seem to sell are cabbages or lighters. It’s probably more like 2 lighters for a pound now. As I used to make my own fireworks (more like small explosives) for Halloween, I would need plenty of lighters. 

59. You have been in some sort of riot

Full blown and otherwise, yes. 

60. If you want to buy something semi-legal like a dope pipe or martial arts weapons (ninja star, nunchucks that sort of thing) you go to Smithfield market

Still do. It’s an indoor ‘market’ – a series of low-rent shops which seem to sell either barely legal stuff or VHS tapes. Still today. We have a few of these and for some reason they all have an oriental shop with a giant Buddha and lots of pricey looking statues and ornaments. Smithfield is the main one. It’s behind Castle Court, near the sex shops and where Forbidden Planet used to be.

There you go, another slice of life in Belfast that you won’t find on any tourist website, and maybe not even on any other blog. Amaze your friends with your worldly knowledge, and if you’re ever planning a trip over here, feel free to comment and I’ll give you some wonderful free advice on what to do and see and where to go!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!