My Blog – July 2019


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”


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’.


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’


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!

My Blog – June 2019


It’s almost Summer, yay! For me, that doesn’t mean better weather because we remain in a yearly/monthly/daily state of grey, but for most people you get to head to the beach or eat ice cream naked or whack on the AC and take another few years off the planet’s future. But sure, it’s all good fun. It’s the time to take a break, to finish off your exams and give the middle finger to another year of school, and plan for an ill-advised holiday romance or finally get around to painting that damn fence. In Northern Ireland, we’re almost into what is referred to as ‘The Marching Season’. That means that a bunch of idiots take it upon themselves to essentially shut down every city, town, and village so that they can don ridiculous outfits, get pissed, and march through the streets beating drums and playing music that nobody has ever wanted to hear at apocalyptic levels of volume. Why? Tradition. And if anyone dares take it away from us – families, kids, schools, politicians, cops, military, then by God we are gonna to fuck shit up for the next three months, set fire to every shop or car within five miles, before complaining about foreigners taking our jobs or something. Why? Tradition.

I say ‘we’, but naturally I don’t include myself in such activities. Today’s post isn’t a lesson about the dumb tribalism and bullshit patriotism which diseases this patch of earth we just happened to have been born on, no, but I did intend today’s post to be some sort of cultural brochure. If there’s one thing we’re good at here, aside from needless murder and carnage, it’s self-deprecating humour. And so, I found some things on the internet which range from ‘sort of funny to me’, to ‘meh’, but maybe they’ll be interesting to people unfamiliar with or interested in Northern Ireland. I’ve no idea who wrote the list originally as it has been shared thousands of times in the past ten years. Now, there was 60 of these things, so I’m only going to post the first 20 and add my thoughts in red below each, sort of as an explanation. Have a read, and if anything is weird or if you want to ask me anything, I’m always lurking in the comments. Enjoy!

You know your from Belfast when …….

1. You’re never cold but sometimes Baltic.

Yes, everyone uses this term – ‘it’s fuckin Baltic today’. Not me though.

2. The sight of 12-year-olds smoking is normal.

I smoked when I was 12 – isn’t this normal elsewhere?

3. Castle Court – the traditional and best – is well better than that Victoria Square place.

Castle Court is a tiny shopping mall in Belfast City Centre. It is filled with Chav scum, steeks, and millbags. Victoria Square is a more upmarket and newer tiny shopping mall in the City Centre. It used to have a place to buy DVDs, but doesn’t anymore, so there is no reason for me to use it, other than as a shortcut to get to somewhere else. 

4. You have owned a pair of Nike Air Max at some stage.

Can’t say I have.

5. You will fight anyone who claims Callum Best’s Da wasn’t the best footballer EVER.

I will fight anyone who claims he wasn’t an abusive drunk and played for the scum.

6. You’re passionate about an English or Scottish football team.

English yes, couldn’t care less about Scottish football (people in Northern Ireland traditionally only support Rangers (Protestant) or Celtic (Catholic). Northern Irish football is atrocious and I have no idea what the South is like. Scottish is like 2nd Division English. 

7. You know what real rain is like.

I assume ‘real rain’ is something Belfast people say, but I’ve never heard it.

8. You think if you can’t see the Harland and Wolff cranes from your bedroom window you’re a culchie.

A culchie is a farmer/someone who lives in the countryside/someone who doesn’t live in Belfast. Harland and Wolff cranes are two huge yellow cranes you can see from basically anywhere in Belfast. They were not used in the building of The Titanic. 

9. You remember when it was OK to smoke (anything) in the KFC in Corn Market.

Or any of the KFCs.

10. So it is

Nobody says ‘top of the morning’ or ‘begorah’ or any muck like that. Everyone says ‘so it is’. Not me though, I had an education.

11. You know what the word Ball root means.

We have many wonderful and colourful insults. This is one.

12. You use the word ‘sweet’ and ‘powerful’ as a substitute for almost any adjective.

Yes, you hear these most days. Powerful not so much, that always seemed like an auld boy or culchie thing to me.

13. You are a half decent pool player and know your way around a snooker table.

This is true. 

14. You know what the words ‘space-cadet’ and ‘rocket’ really mean.

More insults. Except ‘rocket’ is usually pronounced ‘racket’.

15. Your friends still call you by your childhood nickname.

Yes, depending on when I knew the friend, if I see them today they will use that specific nickname. And so will I.

16. You cringe when you hear someone from your city speak on national TV.

Definitely. Our accents can be horrific. I quite like mine though.

17. You been told wha’ at least once in your life.

Ha ha. Ha. 

18. You know at least one person called Mackers.

Yes. Yes I do.

19. Ballycastle is your most frequented holiday destination.

See, I never got this. Why would you go to Ballycastle when Portrush is close by? Then again, I rarely went to either as we had Kilkeel. Which is worse than both. I live near Ballycastle now. 

20. Your Granny had a framed picture of the Pope or the Queen in the living room but not both.

No, none of my grandparents had this. Must be a Belfast thing.

Now you know a little more about Belfast and its people. Feel free to comment!

*Note – I wrote this post in January, well in advance of publishing. I had to stick that pic on at the top in place of the usual general blogging pic. YNWA!

Goodbye, Dublin Road Cinema


So, I was reading a well-written and passionate post by Jason over at Jason’s Movie Blog which just so happened to coincide with a recent trip to my nearest Cinema and the less recent news that Belfast’s famous Dublin Road Cinema is due to close. Cinema closures in Northern Ireland, and throughout the rest of the world are no big thing, but this one is personal to me. The Cinema will soon shut its doors as of the time you read this, caused by a number of factors including lower attendance figures across the industry, and viewers in Belfast seemingly preferring to go to Cinemas in either the more suburban areas or those on the outskirts of the city. Belfast is a tiny city, even by UK standards, but it does house quite a few Cinemas, although sadly most are carbon copies of each other bringing little more than the latest chart blockbusters – there’s The Odeon in Victoria Square Shopping Mall, Odyssey Cinemas in The Odyssey Complex, Movie House Cinema at Yorkgate (sister to Dublin Road’s Movie House Cinema, as well as Short Strand Cinema and one in The Kennedy Centre – neither of which I’ve been to. Throw in a few notable smaller ventures – the QFT at Queen’s University where I frequented, and Beanbag Cinema which is exactly as it sounds.

Beanbag and QFT offer alternatives – Indie and Local movies, documentaries and Art films, take part in festivals, and also show films long since out of screening. I’ve posted before about my ideal Cinema – read that here – it’s essentially a huge complex which offers all the latest movies, but also movies from around the world along with regular seasons on a certain theme or by a certain director/actor etc. Not living in a big city like London or LA or wherever, where it seems you have unlimited choice, we basically have to take what we can get, so it’s difficult to get the full Cinema experience while also broadening your horizons. Most of my horizons were broadened by VHS, DVD, and watching late night TV.

Nowadays, it’s so easy to stretch those horizons – a few clicks of a few buttons, and you have anything. It’s one of the reasons why many Cinemas are closing their doors – why go out, when you can stay in? Why spend all that money when you can catch up on the other thousand movies you haven’t seen, then in a few weeks the one you passed over on the big screen will be on your small screen? Why get ripped off on popcorn and drinks prices when you can get a month’s worth at your local store for the same price as a single Cinema outing? Why deal with other people talking and chewing and laughing and looking at their phones and existing, when you can close your doors and curtains and sit butt naked on your sofa? All the old reasons for going to the Cinema are gradually fading away, or are gone together. In the past it took years for a film to come to VHS and TV; now it’s a few months – or in some cases the same day. You can easily make your own Slushy drinks and Popcorn at home now. TV Screens are much larger and of a much greater quality than ever before. So why even bother going to the Cinema now?

For some people, it’s because they have to be first – they want to see it first so that they can avoid spoilers, so that they can be part of the conversation, so that they can tweet about it, or write a blog post about it. I only go to the Cinema now if it’s something I desperately want to see on the big screen (which is precious few films these days), or for something to do with the kids (which is only a handful of times a year). And yet, when I had a Cinema on my doorstep I was there every week, watching whatever was on. That’s where Dublin Road Cinema comes in… but more on that later.

For me, the problem is an equation made up of time, money, and distance. My nearest Cinema is a fifteen/twenty minute drive away – admittedly that’s very small and any US readers are probably wondering what the problem is. Well, for one I don’t really like driving, and for two I’ll almost inevitably get stuck behind a tractor/slow driver/idiot/cyclist/all of these. Plus, when I get to that nearest Cinema it only has so many car park spaces because it isn’t just a Cinema – it’s also a Crazy Golf joint, a bowling alley, a pile of restaurants, an arcade, and an indoor playpark. It’s busy – all the time, and parking is a pain in the arse. So, a twenty minute drive becomes leaving twenty minutes early to account for parking and idiots on the road. Factor in a 2 hour movie, padded out to 2 and a half thanks to all the ads and trailers, then 20 minutes driving home – you’ve quickly chopped 3 or 4 hours out of the day. So time and distance go hand in hand. Money then – if I’m going by myself it’s not such a huge deal. A single ticket is probably five quid, and I stash my own food and drinks inside my coat/pockets. Going with the family – our trip a few days ago to see The Secret Life Of Pets 2 cost thirty quid, which is much less than what I thought it was going to be, but again we’d stashed some of our own grub away. It’s usually closer to forty or fifty quid and to spend that sort of money on a few hours of entertainment when we could get the same at home for nowt, seems frivolous and wasteful.

This all sounds like I hate going to the Cinema. I don’t – I love it. I love the big screen, the seats, the volume thronging through my body, the smell, the trailers, the anticipation, even the communal experience. When I was younger I would have movie nights with friends, but those just don’t exist for me anymore. While Cinema can’t replace the banter and comfort of watching with friends at home, the home can’t replace the uncertain excitement of the Cinema. This post has had a long gestation – I heard about Dublin Road Cinema closing months ago from a colleague who worked there, before it was officially announced. I’ve lived in my current Cinema-less town for almost eight years, and in each of those years I’ve asked why it doesn’t have a Cinema. It’s not a big town and it wouldn’t need a big Cinema, but given the sheer amount of people that my nearest one gets, one in my town would mean that it was another option. There are so many smaller villages around my town that it makes financial sense – people already come here to shop, let them come to watch a movie too, and shop some more, and have something to eat. Like I say, it doesn’t need to be huge – three or four screens would suffice. Five would be nice. If there was a Cinema in my town, within walking distance, I would never be out of it.

Because I love the Cinema experience. Some of my best times have been in front of the big screen, and some of my favourite movies (as well as many not so great ones) were seen in Dublin Road Cinema. I saw the last two Matrix movies there, I saw the last two LOTR movies there, some of my first dates with my wife were there. I went to Queen’s University which is about a ten minute walk from Dublin Road Cinema, and because my lectures were spread through the day and week, my only options between times were going to the pub, going to the library, and going to the Cinema. Two out of three of those were more frequent than the other. When I moved in with my then girlfriend, we lived off the Ormeau Road – fifteen minutes from the Cinema. On Fridays we would get drunk in The Errigle Bar and on Saturdays we would go to the Cinema – if we didn’t, I would dander down the road myself on Sunday morning and hang around until the Cinema doors opened and go in myself to enjoy the latest torture porn. It was the perfect place for a Cinema – within walking distance of most of my favourite bars and beside a little square where I would sit and ‘do things’ to girlfriends before my wife came along. It was on the main road walking to University from the Bus Station, meaning I could check out all the posters adorning the outside, then on the rest of the walk I would work out which movies I would see that week. The layout and decor of the interior I’ll never forget – when I imagine my ideal Cinema, it’s always Dublin Road I think of.

So, how do we stop this from happening? How do we keep our Cinemas open? It’s a complex question with complicated answers. We have to do our part – even with my excuses, and your excuses, even with our distractions and other options – we have to keep going. It’s still a one of a kind experience. It’s up to the Cinemas to accentuate those unique positives they have to convince us to keep going. It’s up to the big chains to allow the smaller ones to keep breathing. It’s up to the entrepreneurs and smaller companies to follow their dreams and create niche alternatives, and it’s up to governments, towns, cities, investors to fund those dreams and allow them to become reality. I still say the Cinema Experience can be heightened by having chat rooms and bars installed – places people can go to talk about the movie afterwards. I still say that that we should exit through the gift shop – have posters and shirts and memorabilia and toys and junk from each movie on display, so we can buy or peruse on the way out. I’m clearly no Businessman, but why no go Blue Ocean on Cinemas? Exploit what is unique about them and find those ways to increase revenue that haven’t been tried or considered before. Calm the hell down on your current pricing, because that will be your death knell. Give us something we can’t get anywhere else, and give us a reason to sacrifice our time and money for it, aside from big ‘splosions and a Marvel or Disney logo.

How do you think Cinemas can be saved? Do you think they need saving? Has your favourite Cinema closed down? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman’s Random Five Favourite Things About USA (or how I forgot to say Happy 4th of July)

Yes, we’ve finally done it. We’ve reached that point in writing subjective lists that we’ve jumped the shark completely and are now creating lists of the most pointless ‘things’ fathomable. We’re just one step away from ‘Nightman’s Top Ten List Of Best Lists’ and when that happens, there’ll be nothing else for it but to tuck your unmentionables inside your sweaty flaps and flail wildly until matron comes to tuck you in.

The United States of America, eh? Not so UNITED now, are ya? LULZ! Here you are, on the cusp of one of your most important Holidays (and another which is completely worthless to the rest of the world), a day in which you celebrate independence, freedom, and um… guns? I don’t know. I’m not American and I don’t really care. Nevertheless, your country is a wonderful place filled with wonderful people, wonderful places, and wonderful things to do.

<Incomprehensible noises>

So here it is, a list of things that I love about your home – a view from an outsider who has only been over to say ‘howdy’ a few times. Enjoy your day, but seriously, stop fucking up so much – you’re making the rest of us look bad.

Theme Parks

The child in me never grew up – he’s merely cowering behind my copious body hair and gargantuan testicles. One thing I loved when I was young was theme parks, water parks, fairgrounds. The sounds, the smells, the rides, the unreality, not-being-in-school of it all. Where I live, meaning my country as a whole, we don’t have our own theme park. Seriously. I mean, there are places we can go to try mini-rides and every summer temporary ones are set up but they are terrible. We have to fly to England to get anything anyway decent, but even Her Majesty’s finest are a pale imitation of the almighty Disneys, Universals, and Six Flags of your fair land. If I was rich and free I would take a year and just go to every single park in the US, trying every ride, and loving every second of it. Those Youtube guys who travel around the world or around the US making vids of coasters and slides – that’s my ideal job. It makes me cry that I can’t just get a ticket and walk into one of these places whenever I want. So many tears.


There’s an obesity problem in the USA, everyone knows that, and yet there are numerous reports of hundreds of thousands of people starving or requiring food stamps. It’s another example of the weird dichotomies which exist there. Here’s the thing, whenever I’ve been to the States I’ve always been amazed at how cheap the food is – you can buy mountains of the stuff for hardly anything. Where I live portions are much smaller and costs are much higher. Another thing you guys pioneered is the ‘all you can eat’ mantra – meal deals, restaurants etc all featuring these offers. It’s only in recent years that I’ve seen a few select places offering similar deals where I’m from, and generally only in the major cities and towns (ie – Belfast). The same goes for drinks – free refills on whatever you want, cheap booze, and never scrimping on shot sizes. Here you can get plenty of booze cheap, but in supermarkets or Off-Licences – pubs and bars are generally quite steep, and if you ask for a shot they’ll measure out the exact measure of drops without ever given a sniff more. I’ve always been pretty thin – good genes and an obsessive fitness regime when I was younger, but I’ve no doubt that if I lived in the US I’d be double or triple my current size.


This has always been one of my major jealousies of  the yanks. While part of the pomp and pageantry is sickening, and the patriotism which sometimes comes along with it is completely bewildering to me, you guys really know how to celebrate. All the big ones – Christmas, Halloween, New Years, get such reverential treatment that it makes how we celebrate look like that one guy who turns up at a gig and looks like he wants to be anywhere else. Christmas and Halloween are two of my favourite times of the years – Easter and New Years I couldn’t care less about. Thanks to our weather, Christmas is rarely a snowy affair but it’s more about the way we celebrate. It starts too early, usually Christmas stuff is selling in the shops before Halloween – I’d rather it only began on 1st December and that we gradually increased the festivities as the month progressed. Again it’s only recently that we’ve started to adopt Christmas parades and Christmas pop-up shops. Christmas does have enough magic of its own though that it’s still good – just, watching all those 80s and 90s Hollywood movies set around Christmas – it seems so much bigger and more fun than here.

Halloween is where I get most jealous. Halloween used to be a bigger deal when I was younger – anyone could get their hands on fireworks and everyone had parties. Now you need a license to get fireworks, with enough hoops to go through you’d think we were trying to buy an army. I can still make my own of course – years of having my own Devil’s Night debauchery taught me many a technique – but your access to mini nukes is amazing. I always here about the movie and TV horror marathons you guys get, but here the coverage of the event on TV is simply non-existent. Maybe once every two or three years you’ll get a new documentary – a film maker recounting his love of all things Halloween or horror, or maybe an updated list of TV’s scariest moments or some such balls, but where’s my Elvira? Where’s my list of nightly horror movies to sit up and watch similar what we have for Christmas? This isn’t simply a matter of regular TV not feeling the need to show horror movies anymore because of Netflix etc – every year at Christmas we have literally hundreds of Christmas movies and traditional movies being shown, yet at Halloween they don’t even put on Halloween. You guys go all out with the Halloween decorations too, and I get the impression that everyone gets into the spirit – over here it’s usually one or two houses and before long you have the idiots labeling you as a devil worshiper, because clearly it’s still the 1600s. Tying in with Theme Parks, you also have those Haunted House experiences and walkthroughs – I’d love to do something like that and again if I was rich and free I’d make one myself. Then again, do we really need that when walking through Belfast on a Friday night you’ll meet any number of murderers, lunatics, and ghouls?

Oh, and while I’m at it – you guys celebrate St Patrick’s Day more than we do – for us it’s just an excuse to get drunk earlier in the day than usual and… that’s about it really. I have plenty of stories I could share about the antics I’ve got up to on the day, but I’ll save those for another time. You guys do it bigger and better. The only thing I will say is – IT’S PADDY’S – NEVER PATTY’S!

Nerd Expos

I’m an old school nerd – you know, before it was sexy and all that. I was the one trying to find friends who liked Hero Quest (our version of D&D) to set up a game (I never did find any). I was the one who would collect and paint the miniatures. I was never a big comic guy, more to do with the fact that growing up in a small town in a small country we had no such things as comic book shops to allow me to actually get into them. That’s one of many reasons why today’s Marvel and other assorted Comic movies leave me cold – the main reason being that they’re simply not very good. I was always more of a regular book, TV, and movie nerd – collecting toys and accessories, rhyming off dialogue, and knowing the names of every episode, guest character, etc etc etc, all before the days of IMDB, Google etc – back when you had to set up the VHS to record something, and then pause the credits to get more info. It seems like everyday you guys have a new comic or movie conference – where all the biggest stars show up and you can meet them for several (hundred) bucks. The closest I got to this was Bond fan or Corgi car fans shows when I was young – and even then that was just a bunch of other fans and collectors hiring a church hall or function room for half a day.

Again, recent years have seen us catching up and having our own expos – games, movies, TV etc. Usually it seems to be an excuse for socially awkward people (or at least more than I am) or sexual deviants to cosplay or perv on the cosplayers. To be honest, I haven’t been arsed going – there’s too much focus on fandoms I simply don’t care about – Marvel, DC, Star Trek, Dr.Who. I am a moaning bastard though – I complain that we don’t have them, then yap when we do. Ah well, if I was supposed to be happy I’d, you know, be happy.

One Land

Have you ever been to Wisconsin? No, neither have I. How about Arkansas (which should be pronounced Ar-Kansas not Arkinsaw, or else Kansas should be pronounced Kansaw)? No? Well, the point is that you can get there, very easily, right now if you wanted to. You just need to hop into your car, and away you go. You have virtually an entire world on your doorstep and every conceivable way to get there. There are a lot of terrifying studies out there showing how your average American doesn’t own a passport, can’t find England or Australia or Russia or wherever on a map, but is it the same for within your land? Can you pinpoint the majority of States? How often do you travel out of State, and to how many States have you been? Man, if I was rich and free I would be on the road visiting every State and exploring as many cities and towns as I could, meeting all the weird and wonderful people, hearing their stories, learning the history, eating the food, and checking out the local sights. That’s maybe the point – because you have so much, on your doorstep why would you bother going anywhere? Just keep becoming insular to the point that it’s USA and her allies, then USA against the world, then my State against the others, then my city or zipcode against the rest, my street, my house, MY ME.


You see, I don’t know much about America but I know a little something about insular and about hatred. I grew up on and still live on a small island. You know it as Ireland, you know – that place your grandparents didn’t come from. You’d only be half right, because I’m actually from Northern Ireland, you know – that place where everyone shoots and bombs each other. For generations, for centuries, we have been a divided land – divided for reasons I don’t give one moldy shit about and kept that way by people who don’t deserve to be in the same presence as my moldy shit. We are a backwards land, ruled by archaic religious and political minority laws which…. wait a second, does this sound familiar? It should, America – it really should. You don’t want to end up like us – we’re only just clawing our way out of the depths of the void we once found ourselves in and there are those among us who would love nothing more than to drag us back in.

You have so much to offer the world, and each other. You have so much to see. I… I didn’t intend this to go all woolly. What I really wanted to praise was the fact that you live on this massive expanse of land with some of the greatest cities and sights in the known Universe – man-made or otherwise. Don’t let them go to waste. What I really wanted to express was that, while the scalp of this little island I call home as its fair share of sights – it’s nothing compared to what you have. We have all those green fields you see on TV when you’re thinking of visiting us, but they’re only green for 3 months out of the year – the rest they’re either brown, in the process of becoming brown, or so shrouded by rain or cloud that you can’t see how brown they’ve become. I can’t just hop in a car and see New York. I can’t just take a train and be in DC. I yearn for the time when some intrepid billionaire finally builds a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland, connecting us with the rest of the world – I could drive to Scotland, down through England, into the Channel Tunnel and suddenly have France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Scandinavia, Russia, China on my (very long and wide) doorstep. You guys don’t have to do dream, because you have it all already.

Let us know what you love about the USA, about your own Country, and what (if anything) you’ll be doing to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Northern-Irish Television Adverts: A Terrifying Descent Into Horror

Australia; the land of sun and sea, of summer Christmas and backwards swirling toilets. You would be forgiven for thinking it was a dream-like paradise shorn from the imagination of God, but you would be wrong. You would be ignoring about the regular shark attacks, the irregular shark attacks, the thousands of snakes, spiders, outlaw cannibals, ex-pat convicts, washed-up soap stars, and Steve Irwin’s ghost. Yes, Australia may look pretty on the surface, but underneath it is a nightmare of Cthulu proportions which will swallow your body and soul within moments of you setting foot on its scorched earth if you aren’t armed with the responses of Royal Marine Commando who specializes in Ninja tactics. Basically, unless you ARE Steve Irwin, Australia will eat you up, and look what happened to him.  Suffice to say, only the toughest or most foolhardy specimens dare to visit or emigrate the country which looks like an inverted pair of testicles from space.

Balls! Inverted balls!
Balls! Inverted balls!

Thanks to the internet, 24 hour news channels, and Neighbours, most people are aware of Australia’s dual charms and dangers. However, there is another place. A place which most people will not be as familiar with, a place whose varied dangers are inexplicably told only to those who already carve out a meager existence there, as a damning, sick reminder that you basically have no hope of getting through the day. As one of those people, and in the year where we celebrate the Centenary of the Titanic’s build and launch (yes, only our country would choose to celebrate something which caused so many deaths) I feel it is my duty to warn any potential guests to STAY AWAY from Northern Ireland.

Don't make me tell ye twice, ya wee shite
Don’t make me tell ye twice, ya wee shite

Thankfully, those aforementioned reminders can serve me in my mission to save the lives of as many gap-year travellers, and folks on a pilgrimage who think they’re Irish because their great-grandparents came (escaped) from here at some point. If you have no interest in coming here then I applaud your wisdom and send you back to your cosy, sheltered existence, but if you are one of those people who has seen images of sweeping vistas of green land, ancient castles clinging on to cliffsides, or snug little pubs with jolly locals telling stories of giants and leprechauns and want a piece of it, let me remind you first that it wants a piece of you; so, pull up a swivel chair, cellotape back those eyelids, and prepare yourself for some unsavoury viewing. This is not for the faint of heart.

9. Fireworks

I feel like I should break you in easily with this one, as it points, more than anything else, towards the stupidity level of the people you may encounter here.

People kinda like me
People kinda like me

Now I’m sure some of you naysayers will be saying that you deal with stupid people on a daily basis, and that they are harmless, but would a harmless stupid person do this:

For those of you too lazy to click the link, the ad tells the joyous story of a computer generated arm returning to a clearly, still lit firework. The fact is, that you may be enjoying a cigarette outside one of those pubs you have fantasized about visiting and find that you left your lighter at the bar. So, knowing that the locals are friendly you ask for a light and one of these buffoons hands you firework with a millimeter of fuse left. As you feel your eyes melt down your face in the aftermath of the explosion, you’ll probably wonder why you were so stupid to ignore my advice. You will be dealing with morons and in a place where even the bushes try to eviscerate you.

Come closer, my pretties, it will only hurt for forever
Come closer, my pretties, it will only hurt for forever

You should respect the fact that these morons are not harmless, but as deadly as a grenade painted with a smiley face.

8. Prank Call

Now, I enjoy a good prank call as much as the next idiot, but here in Northern Ireland, we seem to have a bit of a fetish for it. According to the current Health and Public Safety Minister, these are costing us £3 million a year. That’s impressive for a country with a population of just over 1.5 million. It’s a well-known fact here that certain groups get entertainment out of calling the emergency services to send a patrol to a specific area, only for those emergency services to be attacked with bricks, bats, fists, bombs, and guns. Now, it isn’t just the Police who have to endure this sort of behaviour, it’s the fire and ambulance services too. Vehicles will arrive, promptly be set upon by masses of chimp-like youths, and will eventually be set on fire in some sort of bizarre pre-historic sacrificial ritual.

All Hail Lord Summerisle!

Those whose job it is to save lives will find themselves fighting for survival to escape being set alight too, as an added bonus. And it happens every. Single. Week. This advert is all the more horrific given the fact that we know those making the hoax call get so much delight out of their prank, that they will not be caught, that there’s little anyone will do to stop it, and that they will do it again.

On a similar, more embarrassing note, a recent series of shorts featuring CG characters barely capable of coherent speech has been plaguing the airwaves. You’ll notice with most of these adverts that they come with a tagline. Thee are usually cringe-inducing local lines given a new twist when set to the aftermath of something nasty. These ones simply have  – Are we getting through? Well, no and you probably never well because as the lowest of us like to say ‘We’re not Brazil, we’re Northern Ireland…and we don’t give a fuck’!

You can take your pick of those, and there are plenty more. The fact that there are so many of those shorts is a pretty damning, honest indictment of an awfully common trope.

7. Abuse

Unlike some of the commercials higher on the list, those which cover domestic abuse have so far failed to hit the terrible heights which leave us as trembling wrecks. A few come close, and don’t make pleasant viewing, but fall short of making a genuine impact due to some atrocious acting.

Take this first one; A Billy Mitchell-lite goon screams his partner onto the floor, while a child sits terrified on the stairs, before Mitchell spots the cameraman and chases us out of the house. Now, aside from looking like he would blow over if the child farted, or would get destroyed in an arm-wrestling match by Sweetchuck from Police Academy

I'm The Daddy
I’m The Daddy

The message is clear – abuse can happen behind any closed door, between any two people. Ironically (as this isn’t what they were going for), the ad conveys the fact that the abuser, often like the school bully, does not have to be large, muscular, or even remotely scary – they can be the quiet man, the small man, the business man, the neighbourhood joker, the elderly gardener, the nurse, the policeman, the bullied, the wife. It may be more powerful by outside viewers, but for a Northern Irish person, the abuser just reminds me of the wee scumbags you’ll see on any Saturday night, strutting all of his 10 stone stature around like he’s carrying two bags of spuds under his arms, only to run away and shout from three streets away at the first sniff of retribution.

The second commercial I’ll offer hits more of the right notes, being suitably chilling without actually showing anything graphic. It’s abuse through a child’s eyes, and doesn’t suffer from bad acting or insulting localisms.

Ah kids, love ’em or beat ’em, you can’t help but marvel at how much they pick up. What’s interesting is how the other family members react – the son seems passive, and reverts to watching TV, while mum stands in the background, looked both hurt, saddened, and scared. What I take from this is that she is more worried about getting another beating once dad finds out than the effect the abuse is having on her children. I’m sure this isn’t intended, but perhaps the commercial would have been more potent had they not shown mother or son at all. Still, it’s a dark, and necessary glimpse into an all too common problem.

6. 2012 – year of culture

I’m guessing some of you braver folks are giggling in your shirts rather than quaking in your boots at this point. So how about something a bit more visceral?

This is bound to end well
This is bound to end well

This advert is the most recent from our famous Driving Safety advertisement board and it appears to target everyone from students on their way to class, children playing football, city workers, pensioners, and people simply trying to make it home alive from the shops. The advert is ironically called ‘Just Because’ a title chilling in its apathy; you’re laughing with your mates but suddenly get crushed into teenage pizza-why!? Just because. You’re jogging down the road whilst looking like Cordelia Chase

Don't you have an elsewhere to be!?
Don’t you have an elsewhere to be!?

but get wiped out in a cloud of gore- why, Lord, why!? Just because. You want to make drivers and pedestrians more aware of what is going on around them, but make yet another excessively graphic advert and inadvertently scare us into staying indoors and lobbing petrol bombs at any cars which pass within a hundred yards of our homes – for the love of all that is holy, why!? JUST BECAUSE.

5. Shorts

In keeping with the theme of car massacres, I would like to present some of the shorter ads we have produced over the years. Northern Ireland has a history of high road accidents and fatalities, and an equally long history of adverts warning us of the dangers of being a driver, passenger, cyclist, human. In my inadequate and drunken research for this article (Rum and Buckfast combo) I couldn’t find some of the better remembered ads from my youth, proving conclusively that someone must have stolen the originals, and all copies, and buried them in a piranha infested lava pit somewhere below the Ardyone. Luckily for this article, the DOE are still producing enough shorts to make us choke on our spuds as they pop up unexpectedly between halves of Coronation Street.

The first one isn’t too graphic, but does remind us that if (or more likely when) we hit a motorcyclist, that it isn’t just a loner biker that we’ve ticked off our bucket list, but that other family members and friends are impacted just as strongly. Fair enough, until BAM, the shot of a biker’s head falls into view, his lifeless eyes firing so many guilt arrows at us.

The next short starts innocently enough with a man and woman enjoying a pre-orgasm, and apparently psychic, drink together. The man sets his car keys on the bar and the woman gives him a ‘not tonight’ look for no apparent reason. We are to understand that the fact he has keys on his person means that yes, he will be getting bladdered and attempting to drive home. The woman disdainfully projects images of suffering into his brain, and joy of joys, we get to experience them too. Naturally it’s all R rated stuff; two shrieking men trapped in the wrecked shell of a car, covered in blood and glass shards, while a fire officer wonders which one to ‘cut out first’; a maimed female attempts her first gruelling steps after an apocalyptic injury; an elderly couple struggle to decide who will look after their zombie son after they are gone (presumably this is not a typical zombie-bullet-head-scenario); two police offers despair over how to break the news of a child’s death to a parent. It goes on like this to the gentle strains of a woman singing ‘just one look’ until the man decides to put his beer away. He gets some poontang, and we can all move on with our lives, trembling ever onwards.

The final short is one which I remember being forced upon school children. As if exams, bullies, teachers, and forbidden breasts weren’t enough to contend with, pupils had to be reminded about the true evils of texting and heterosexual relationships. Not stubby fingers, or teenage pregnancy, hell, not even STDs. No, mobile phones will kill us all because of their ability to suck us into a Final Destination zone of traffic blindness. One step onto the street without giving a look both ways will see you struck head-first by a blue van and sent flapping through the air with a QWOP leg hanging uselessly to the side.

Something has gone wrong
Something has gone wrong

As amusing as this was when we first watched it, time has a habit of letting these images creep up on you, so that before long you’re leaving the house with a carrier pigeon for communication instead of a phone, and a suit of armour instead of vintage shirt and tie.

This will also help with the bullies, but may stifle attempts at forbidden boob touching
This will also help with the bullies, but may stifle attempts at forbidden boob touching

Do we really need the explosion of gore from the boy’s mouth? Was it necessary to show the grim funeral march aftermath, accompanied by jolly 1950s pop rock? You decide, I’ll hide.

As an interesting bonus, this short was featured heavily on NI television, although it originated in England. It’s one for you fans of Asian-style ghost children, with snapped bones and limbs re-adjusting, or those who simply get a kick out of watching dead children sliding gently backwards up a concrete minefield. Sweet dreams:

Naturally, there are more, but I’m starting to feel ill. For some truly harrowing stuff, visit which features adverts (shown on tv frequently) which are basically interviews with the parents of the recently deceased.

4. Fire Safety

Lets take a well deserved break from the streets and focus on the dangers we face indoors. One of the few lessons I remember from primary school was that woolen jumpers stick well to brick walls, especially if you throw them high enough. Another lesson I remember is never leaving a chip pan unattended, because that will ALWAYS end in choking, smoking, burning death. There are a whole host of these adverts, stretching back as far as I can remember, but the DOE really hit their stride when they announced their catchy Just Do It Nike –esque catchphrase for their Fire Safety Adverts. ‘You forgot the battery, mummy’ has been lurking around billboards and interrupting dinner time for over a decade now, in ads like:

or this one, where Daddy gets the blame:

or this one, where every possible Summer treat is shown to be a gateway to hell:

However, the one I want to focus on is probably the most famous, featuring a Beetlejuice-type afterlife waiting room, where victims of fire or smoke are mocked by a ghoulish receptionist. The only thing more horrific than the acting is the content:

Number 3: Teens, walls, legs, heads.

Leaving the fires behind, it’s time to heat things up for the top 3. And to that there is only one possibly course of action- to return to what we do best- film irritating youths getting pointlessly mutilated for our own entertainment.


Ok, I’ll admit I’m cheating a little with this one, because it’s actually two. But there is so much horror out there that I feel a duty to share as much of it as possible with you. There are quite a few similarities with this one – both feature teens getting wiped out, both feature pumping soundtracks (to appeal to the kids who like their scenes of death peppered with pop hits?) and both feature concrete wall cuddling. I’ll be the first, and probably last, to admit that here in Northern Ireland there aren’t too many places where two teens can show affection towards each other, and even though I’ve had my fair share of embraces outside a random countryside house, I don’t think it’s the norm. Anyway, all of that is simply set to contrast with the blood and guts.

Now, there’s no messing around with this one – we get about 4 seconds of plot – girl wraps legs around boy in loving road-side-top-of-wall embrace – and 1 minute of shrieking horror as boy is hammered into oblivion by somersaulting car.

The second begins in a similar fashion, with another slice of brick wall, country-lovin’. We know things won’t end well when the lovebirds neglect to clunk-click in the back seat. You may think that you could get away with a minor lapse in concentration, but not here in NI, where BMW drivers like to drive at high-speed up the middle of the road instead of keeping to their own lanes. Cue thirty seconds of slowed-down, ballet carnage, as skulls mash brains, faces erupt windows, a random third car arrives to make the only threesome in history no-one wants to be part of, and we’re left with the cosy image of bodies snuggled up in the back of an ambulance. And it wouldn’t be complete without the ironic strains of Samantha Mumba’s Body To Body.

Number 2. Boy, fence

As if those weren’t bad enough, one advert caused a public-kiss-between-homosexuals level of controversy when it was first shown pre-watershed (note, only idiots would be offended by a public kiss between homosexuals, but those who complained about this ad were arguably justified). As with most of these ads, viewer discretion is advised, but this one comes with a special warning due to its refusal to self-censor. This is a brilliantly made piece, a high-budget, clarity-inducing, thought-provoking sixty-something seconds, but you’ll likely only be able to stomach it once.

Like a few others on the list, it lulls the viewer in gently with an idyllic scene, and has a prominent soundtrack. Viewers are known to immediately switch over as soon as they hear the opening notes of the song which is played in the background, I dread to think what would happen if the song was played on the radio whilst driving. Actually, maybe that would be an effective deterrent. Anyway, we see a boy playing football in his back garden juxtaposed with a man finishing a football match with his mates. Everything is going well until this happens:

You can imagine what the rest of the commercial covers. For those moments when you get distracted or pissed off driving home, you owe it to yourselves to at least watch this one.–DGl8

Number 1. Cats in the cradle

I feel like this post has been a little too focused on car crashes, but that will all change with our number 1 choice. For those of you outside of Northern Ireland, you probably associate the country with years of war and violence rather than abuse, fire safety, and road disasters. For those of you from Northern Ireland, over the age of twenty, you probably knew what the number 1 choice would be as soon as you saw the name of the post. Now, I know that many of you probably just scanned this post and didn’t watch all of the videos, but I implore all of you to watch this mini-epic – show it to your family, show it to your friends. Although time has moved on, and we are largely a Troubles free country (at least when compared to the past) the message is still relevant, powerful, and can really be played in any country with a history of violence. All inappropriate humour aside, it’s the single greatest thing Northern Ireland has ever produced. You’d be best avoiding the comments on this one, or any of the other uploads (finding a decent quality version is difficult), of the same commercial that you find, as they will present some of the most dire voices ever given breath.

So maybe now you’ll think twice about coming over? No? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂

Thanks to the makers of The Simpsons, Police Academy, The NI DOE, and all the groups who created these adverts for much more than puerile entertainment purposes.

Here’s a compilation:

(Note: originally written in 2012)

William Joseph “Joey” Dunlop, OBE (25 February 1952 – 2 July 2000)

Joey Dunlop

“Joey was THE MAN. He was the one every other rider looked up to, and all the other road racers wanted to beat. Some people just wanted to be able to say ‘I raced against Joey’. He was so cool, so laid-back and he did it his way. It’s one thing to be known by everyone, but it’s another to be respected by everyone, and that’s what Joey had – respect.”

Jeremy McWilliams

Season In The (Sun) Abyss. Land Of Ire.

Summer time is upon us.    Rejoice!                                                                                                                                    Pretty boys are in short skirts, bees are chasing children, and everywhere the sunshine smiles.                                                                                                                   Where do you going for your holiday vacation?                                                                 Hawaian?American?                                                                                                                          Spainan?           Carribea?                                                                                                                                  Those are all a good, but a better good is on your doorstep.      Yes.                                                                                                                                            Ireland. Come To Ireland.                                                                                                  There is a North and a South, but no West or East, except in Belfast (which is not right).                                                                                                                                             The land of Leprachauns.                                                                                                        The land where giants cause ways and sheep are better than women.             Visit our famous cities: Newtownards, Portavogie, Aughnacloy, and now Strabane!                                                                                                                                       Come on on in and see what we bees havin for ye.                                                 Sights which your eyes will not believe and your eyes will not stomach.                                                                                                                                    There is the Scappo Tower, The Mourning Mountains, Jesus and Goliath where the big ship disaster was made.                                    

Kiss the Bloody Stone and get three wishes and leprosy.                                      Also, with added tramps, the walled village for Londerrydon. Lododnerry. Derrylon. Londodnerry- I don’t know- the place which is not a place.       

You too can throw brick at the RUNI.                                                                              

We have many famous and not welcome people, like Julian- now on the UTV, heart surgeon Dr. Paisley, local buffon Stephen Carton, and visit the grave of the best footballer of ever- Donald Goalposts.                                                            Yes, we have all the things; Sun, Sea, no Sand, and Sexies.                                                                                                                                         Come to Northern Ireland. Come To Southern Ireland. Come To Here-Land.