My Blog – September 2019

Ugh. It’s September again. I mean, it’s actually February when I’m writing this intro but by the time it gets to September you’re gonna be pretty pissed off. The nice weather is done – if you live in Northern Ireland or the UK like I do then May – August are generally sunny and the temperature sometimes tops 20 degrees C, and the rest of the year is cold, dark, wet, grey, dull, grim. It’s why we’re such happy people, yo!

What should we talk about to get rid of these early Autumn blues? I know – remember those hashtag lists that everyone did a while back – #thisisyourfilm. Everyone went through every year of their life and posted their favourite film or book or album or whatever. I did a bunch of them too, right here on the blog, so check those out if you haven’t. With my massive internet following and online influence, I’m going to get my own # going viral. As I sat in one of the traps in work one day, bemoaning the fact that I had to scale two flights of stairs to find a clean one, the idea of a mini musical biography came to me – the kicker being that you can only pick one entry for each year. Obviously for a lot of years either nothing, or nothing out of the ordinary happened, while in other years many monumental things occurred – but I pick the best. It can be the year you heard your favourite album, a year you bought your first single, a year you went to your first gig – anything you want as long as it is related to you and music. You don’t have to do every year – it’s a high level timeline. And with that, I present mine.

#mylifeinmusic

1983: Born. Cried. Crying is music.

1984: Filled nappy. Filling nappy is music.

1985: Walking, and probably dancing. Shaking my ass at the very least.

1986: Taken by my mother to her aerobics classes to hearing a lot of 80s pop

1987/1988: Start school – probably meet a lot of other people who listened to Top Of The Pops, and went to first School Disco.

1989: Already obsessed with Michael Jackson, having both Bad, Thriller, and Michael Jackson Mix (a four cassette remix collection) in my daily rotation

1990: Hear Sweet Child O’Mine for first time, opening the floodgates to a lifetime of metal

1991: Received first guitar

1992: Bought first album – Alice Cooper’s Trash and Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall.

1993: Attempt first band. I want to call it Bitter Type. No one else does. We had a keyboardist.

1994: Cobain dies. Childhood dies.

1995: Finally dedicate self to learning to play guitar

1996: Fully introduced to Manic Street Preachers, becoming my favourite band after previously being aware of them.

1997: Dedicated to writing first fully formed songs – lyrics and music.

1998: My early songwriting voice begins to take shape – slogan type lyrics a la The Manics and a sound somewhere between crappy punk and even worse ballads.

1999: Formed early ideas for future, much better songs such as ‘Powerwalk’, ‘So This Is Suicide’, ‘The Outsider’, ‘The Calming’, ‘Realationships’, ‘Epitaph’, ‘On The Piss’ etc.

2000: Dedicate self to listening to everything by bands I had always liked but had not fully invested in – The Doors, Led Zep, Pink Floyd etc.

2001: First time seeing Radiohead live

2002: Attended first Glastonbury Festival (97 notes per ticket compared to 248 last year, ya scumbags).

2003: Attended first Slane Festival

2004: Fully immersed in writing music reviews

2005: Begin DJing in rock and metal venues

2006: Recorded first demo

2007: Visit Jim Morrison’s grave

2008: Get married – Mariachi play at reception

2009: See Manics live for umpteenth time, this time in The Ulster Hall. Sister comes to, her first time seeing them.

2010: See Opeth live for first time

2011: Finally see Alice Cooper live for first time.

2012: First daughter likes dancing to Michael Jackson. And the South Park Theme Tune.

2013: Second daughter will only not scream in my arms when I sing ‘Shock To My System’ by Gemma Hayes.

2014: Begin introducing kids to music.

2015: Obsessed with Sia.

2017: Second visit to Slane Festival.

2018: Daughter gets guitar for Christmas.

2019: Sell 39 million copies of first album.

There you have it – what is #yourlifeinmusic? Or film, if that works better? I’m running out of ideas for these monthly blog posts, so here are some jaw-dropping pictures of my recent trip to Menorca:

Until next time!

My Blog – August 2019

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We’re still in the grip of Summer and I have nothing better to do than continue to support our local and tourist industries by scaring off any potential visitors with my copy pasted anecdotes. Trawling the web, I found some more of those ‘You know you’re from X when…’ sites and blogs, so I’ve nicked a few more of the better questions and bits and bobs and am commenting on them below – they’re specific to Northern Ireland and/or Belfast.

You get offended when other nationalities don’t understand our extremely complex political situation.

I would have thought the complete opposite was true. Reading the article that this first set of questions comes from… it’s a bit wanky and comes off as written by someone from the Malone Road. Or Hollywood (the posh areas where realism is a fantasy). You know, a rich person who moved to London when they turned 18 but still likes to pretend they had a normal Northern Ireland upbringing when instead they had a bland could-be-anywhere-middle-class upbringing. In other words, they have heard and seen things whispered by their parents and although they didn’t experience it for themselves, they think they’re patriotic enough to write about home with just an ounce of sardonic ‘wit’. In other other words, they haven’t a fucking clue. Still, it’s probably better than whatever the hell it is I’m trying to write. I don’t expect anyone to understand or care about our political situation. We don’t understand it ourselves. It’s nonsense, it’s beyond comprehension because it’s so absurd, and it’s not worth talking about.

You have an obsession with “flegs”.

Flegs, you may have guessed, are flags. We have a rich history of love and hate when it comes to flags, all of it completely unnecessary. We argue if they’re there, if they’re not, if they’re the wrong colour etc. I’d prefer if no country had a flag, but as I’ve said before I just don’t understand nationalism or patriotism or any of it. I don’t have any pride for my Country… it’s just an arbitrary place, like any other. People, and their achievements I can be proud of. If they happen to make a success of themselves coming from a small country versus a bigger country, then yeah I can see that possibly being a different kind of achievement, but is it bigger? Better? No, of course not. 90% of anything is luck.

You don’t understand why people are so concerned about riots.

Yes, it’s always quite funny when you see the media freak outs about riots in the US or England or wherever. Or even when they’re covering our ones. If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s riots. Every year, usually in the spring and summer months, but why not around Halloween too, the streets are filled with flaming buses, cars are used as trampolines, sofas are dragged onto rooftops, and we all beat the shit out of everything in sight until the firemen come to hose us away. I’m only slightly exaggerating, in that it’s not usually me doing it. Sometimes I’m just taking a dander through the middle of it, having a drink and laughing sadly at the mess. It’s nothing to be scared of guys, just dive in.

You are great at sports. Or at least the ones you can play in a pub.

I was never great at sports, and I think our sporting achievements our wildly overrated. Most people from here will use the same phrases when it comes to our sports stars – we overachieve, we punch above our weight – but it’s bullshit. We’ve had a couple of decent footballers, a golfer, some boxers in divisions no-one cares about, and the rest are sports hardly anyone watches. We do have a terrific history of motorcyclists, but again no-one mentions that. I’ve never been good at sports, though I imagine I could have been had I put in any effort. I was lightening fast and was completely tireless and I am extremely perceptive. This entry seems to be just another extension of the old ‘we play darts and pool’ cliche. We do. Doesn’t mean we’re any good.

You tell a story that was never intended to be funny and people laugh hysterically.

I have never experienced or heard of this ever. Not without everyone involved being completely off their tits.

Even the slightest glimmer of sunshine is an excuse for you to get the guns out.

For once, guns doesn’t actually mean guns. Because we always have those out. No, this means arms, which of course usually means guns too. The thing is, most people here are either obese or weedy skinny types, so thin you can smell the shit through them. In recent years there has been an uptake in gym types – people obsessed with bulking up. It’s hilarious. You know most of these guys are psychopaths or mummy’s boys and they are not doing it to better themselves or get stronger or healthier. They’re doing it because that’s what magazines tell them to and because it’s fashionable. In other words, it’s false and they’re the same useless ballbegs they’ve always been, scared of actual work. Off track there, but yes, as soon as the clouds clear, it’s t-shirts and shorts time. I pretty much only wear t-shirts, all year long. It’s always funny when someone from a warm climate sees me wandering around outside in a t-shirt when they have a shirt, jumper, coat, and scarf on. I’m just… always warm. Must be in my blood. I admit I take it to extremes, like when it’s winter and everyone around me on the train is shivering and coughing, I’m stripping off to the bare minimum layer of clothing and fanning myself.

You react to compliments with suspicion.

I’d go further and say we react to anything with suspicion. We don’t trust anyone, we’re always watching everyone else, and always moaning about everything. Hence this post, I guess. Compliments are strange, especially from an outsider. What the hell are you talking about – it’s just a thing that I did? What are trying to say? Do you… do you want to sex me? Yeah, compliments don’t work when we have absolutely nothing to be proud of.

You assume that if it isn’t fried, it’s practically vegetarian.

I don’t understand this either. I don’t think we eat fried food more or less than anyone else. Our diet is mostly rubbish, and mostly spuds. We do have The Ulster Fry, but I don’t like it. Fried bread and the like is just boke to me.

You refer to everything, regardless of size, as “wee”.

Aww, look Billy at the wee lion eating the elephant. Yes, almost everything is wee. Unless we’re talking breasts. It’s an all-purpose adjective which never fails.

You’re Worried About How Long The Immersion Heater Has Been On.

Yes, this is definitely a thing. Even in my house, even today. And still, I don’t even know what the hell and Immersion Heater is. Yes, I know what it does, but why is it called that? Why is it so important? I have no idea. Oh yeah, just say Immersion – no need to add the Heater bit.

When you hate pigeons.

No, I don’t get this either. What’s wrong with pigeons?

When you’ve had a sausage roll bap for breakfast?

No, never heard of this.

When you know what 15s are.

Is this a Northern Ireland thing? I know they’re everywhere here, but I assumed they were just a simple bun and that other countries had them too. If not – it’s a bun which mooshes together biscuits and cherry and coconut etc.

When you enjoy eating soda bread.

Yes, most people here do. I don’t, it’s rank. Is ‘rank’ a thing in others places? It means mingin’. Is ‘mingin’ a thing? It means disgusting. Y’all are learning a lot.

When you complain the weather isn’t as bad as it was going to be.

I can see what this is getting at. We think the worst, we expect the worst, and then when the worst doesn’t happen we’re like ‘see, I knew you were talking ballax’. We are a very negative people. It seeps into every part of our culture, right down to the way we speak. It’s like thousands of years of being beat down or following orders for fear of being shot or eaten or whatever. The way we phrase our questions or responses is usually with some form of negative – ‘it’s not bad’ instead of good. ‘Are you not coming out tonight?’ instead of just ‘are you’. We take pleasure in defiance and in knowing someone fucked up or in knowings things could always get worse. It’s why if our national team is being beaten by six goals or something, and we score one we celebrate like we’ve won the whole thing.

When your answer to a crisis is a cup of tea.

This isn’t just a Northern Ireland thing, but it’s everywhere here and I can’t stand it. I cannot fathom why anyone chooses to drink tea. Nothing is held up on a pedestal as much as tea, and I wish the whole thing was banned. I often think every single one of our problems as a nation would be solved if we didn’t have tea because it gets in the way of everything. One more thing I can’t stand, that all these articles have in common – Norn Iron. FUCK OFF. I hate that term to the point that hearing it makes me nauseous.

When you text and email instead of talking on the phone.

This is utter lazy bullshit too. Tell me a country that doesn’t do this. A better example would be when you outright refuse to answer the phone or the door, and get unnerved when someone calls, because why the hell would someone be wanting to talk to me? Now that’s a Northern Irish thing.

We get offended when an outsider slegs the country.

Nope, by all means, sleg away. It’s a shithole.

We love Sukie.

I guess. I don’t think it was big when I was young, or at least I never had it. But it’s everywhere now. It’s a fruit juice made by a local company. No-one knows how it’s pronounced, so I just go all in and call it ‘sucky’.

Assume everyone from outside NI is from ‘the country’.

I can only assume this is a typo, and they meant outside Belfast. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense. I’ve never heard or heard of anyone referring to another country as ‘the country’ and I’d say we have a pretty good grasp of world geography, as long as you’ve been to school. Incidentally, we have the best schools in Britain, apparently.

When Crisp Sandwiches are our lunch most days.

They are for me. Or at least I always add crisps to whatever sandwich I have.

Not being the slightest bit scared when there is a bomb alert.

Similar to the riot one, we get ‘bomb scares’ all the time – that is, when someone calls the police or wherever to say they’ve placed a bomb somewhere. So the place gets shut down and the police or military check it out – either it’s a hoax, or a home-grown explosive, or an actual bomb. Either way we don’t care, unless it stops us from getting home.

When you walk past three bottles of Buckie on your way home.

Yes, Buckfast is the drink of choice for most steeks. And the pavement is their bin of choice. Also – their toilet.

Using grammar in the precise opposite of its definition.

So this one I made up myself, but you’ll hear and notice this example every day. ‘I seen him’ instead of ‘I saw him’ but ‘I’ve saw this already’ instead of ‘I’ve seen’. Same goes for did and done. Saying ‘yous’ or indeed ‘yousuns’ instead of ‘you’ as a plural. This one makes sense as there is no reason why you should be used as both singular and plural. When looking outside at the immense black cloud approaching, you may hear ‘I doubt it’s going to rain’ meaning ‘I think it’s going to rain’. Doubt, meaning the exact opposite of doubt. Other countries have their own examples – The Simpsons had Dr Nick do a bit in one episode where he talks about flammable and inflammable which is pretty funny. One of the most common US ones which pisses me off most days is ‘I could care less’, which you see on almost every online conversation every day. What they actually mean is ‘I could NOT care less’. It’s completely bizarre. Yes means No, up means down, and this post is over.

Let us know in the comments if you have any similar lists of questions based on your city or country – are there any similarities between places or unique cultural oddities?

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!

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!