Archive for the ‘Life & Stuff’ Category


Mike Moloney

In Life & Stuff on April 23, 2013 by Miche

I remember the last time I saw Mike Moloney. It was on the Dublin Road – he was walking south towards Shaftesbury Square, I was heading north towards the City Hall – and we didn’t stop to have a chat. But I walked on feeling a little bit lighter, a little bit happier. He was a good man, Mike. Just seeing him put a spring in your step.

Like so many in this town today, I feel adrift, nonplussed. As if someone told me Shaftesbury Square wasn’t there any more, or the City Hall fell down.

I remember one time we did have a chat, in the back bar of the Errigle, years ago. He wasn’t long back from Australia, and he told me he’d been there when 9/11 happened, and that he’d felt a pang of longing to be in Belfast. Why? “For the jokes, Miche. I wanted to be here for the jokes.”

Well, Mike, I know you loved our gallows humour but I’m afraid I’ve let you down. I’ve racked my brain to think of a joke. There aren’t any.

I remember the first time I met him. I was a young scared actor doing Shakespeare for the first time, and I had to dance on stilts. I couldn’t have wished for a more patient and kindly teacher. He talked me through it, walked me through it, reassured and encouraged me. And as I progressed from tentative to confident, he shared my pleasure in discovering that I could, indeed, do that thing I’d been afraid to try. A proper teacher, that man.

You walk around Belfast and, now and again, get a glimpse of those big yellow cranes. I think I’ll always half expect to turn a corner and see Mike in his Drizabone coat and hat, and nod hello, and walk on with a spring in my step.



Flaunting it

In Life & Stuff on June 17, 2012 by Miche Tagged: ,

“They’re out on the streets! …Flaunting! Flaunting this deviant practice!… We’re coming down with gay parades, for goodness’ sake.”

I’m not going to go off on a rant about Lord Maginnis’s Radio Ulster appearances lately. The fallacy of his “rung of the ladder” argument is obvious, as is the hypocrisy of saying “I respect…” a group of people he repeatedly called “deviant” and “unnatural.” If there’s a coherent case to make that marriage equality would undermine civil life, he was unable to present it. I just want to say a word or two about flaunting.

"Muppets" at the marriage equality march, Dublin 2011

I’ve just been to Tesco (don’t judge me). There were lots of different-sex couples doing their shopping, bickering gently about which cereal to get, giving their kids a ride in a trolley, one couple absent-mindedly holding hands as they looked at televisions. Heterosexual and not caring who knows it. Is that “flaunting?”

Sit down round a table with a group of men who don’t know each other well, and within ten minutes each will have revealed his orientation. He’ll mention his wife or girlfriend, comment on the shaggability of a female pop star, or make sure his admiration of some footballer is not misconstrued: “I bloody love him – not in that way, like!” There may be an element of insecurity sometimes – a need to assert masculinity, which is erroneously equated with heterosexuality – but mostly it’s just what happens when people talk. We reveal things about our lives, looking for common interests and common ground. Our partners and our orientation are likely to be revealed unless we’re being careful not to. If there’s an exception at the table, it’s likely to be a shy gay/bi guy who hasn’t yet worked out whether he’s going to be welcomed.

I never wander round Tesco and think “Look at all these people flaunting.” I never sit at that table and think “Why oh why do they have to harp on about being straight? Do they have shove it in my face?”

Belfast Pride, 2011

As for the Pride parades with which Northern Ireland is “coming down” – one a year in Belfast and one in Derry, out of hundreds of marches every year – of course they are part protest, part celebration, part campaign and part flaunt. I suppose there’ll be no need for them when we’re equal, when we’re not made to sit at the back of the bus. When we know our young LGBT friends are able to speak about who they are as matter-of-factly as anyone else, we won’t need to make a noise about it once a year. Maginnis may yearn for simpler times when men went out to work, women stayed at home and made traybakes, and homosexuals stayed furtive and lonely (or at least took the boat to England), but we’re going to carry on flaunting.

Dublin 2011: "I have a sign."


Belfast is Buzzing

In Life & Stuff on June 15, 2009 by Miche

It doesn’t take long to walk the length of Royal Avenue. But if you stop to take a picture of every sign announcing retail and/or office space to let, it slows you down a bit.