Roesy and The Belfies…

“I can’t have my photo taken with her. I can’t even be seen with her. We’re having an affair and her fella would kill me.”

I was out shooting people on the streets of Belfast. But in the contemporary sense of the word – armed was I only with camera. The idea was to ask people to stare straight into that camera for 60 seconds, while I filmed them.

The antidote to today’s instant ‘selfie’ method of taking portraits. ‘The Belfies‘, if you will…

When you’re talking about a minute, faces get tired. Smiles start to drop. But nobody scowled. It was all for the art. But sixty seconds seemed a bit excessive. Everyone involved was getting awkward.

Then the singer-songwriter Roesy contacted me. A fellow Birr Bog-Merchant, we’ve known each other years. Also a painter, we’ve done art shows together during Vintage Week in Birr. He consistently outsold me in our native town. Not that I’m bitter. I’ve moved on…

So after talking to my contemporary about a collaboration, I went out on the streets to get more “Belfies” for a music video for a track from his forthcoming album ‘Wolf Counsel’. This time around it was cold, and the Christmas market in the background at City Hall was ruining all my shots. Not that I’m bitter. I’ve moved on…

And just like the two nights I spent on the streets of Dublin sleeping rough a few months ago, I knew I had to bring some hardware. So like the last time, I bought twenty fags I’d no interest in smoking. Those essential ice-breakers that worked so well down on the cracked pavements of the capital.

Peddling ‘fegs’, as they call them up here. But I’m not pushing the benefits of respertory illness on anyone. Non-smokers – and children who haven’t decided yet – were obviously exempt. Ironically, a half-naked rugby team sung Christmas carols for a cancer charity behind me, as I filmed my ‘feg’ smokers in action.

As an unexpected result, the first cut of the music video looked like some form of pro-cigarette campaign. Not exactly what I was after. So I had to go out on the streets again.

Lurking around in the Christmas cold, camera and tripod at the ready. Waiting to find another victim to shoot. The obvious target was buskers. But Belfast is home to a breed of busking we don’t see quite as much of down south of the border.

Amped-up with the rest of the strummers and the drummers are a particularly persistent group of buskers. Out on those streets, armed to the teeth with leaflets and optimism. Busking the benefits of Jesus to anyone who’ll listen.

Usually I give them a good run-out – a pre-season practice match to exercise their miraculous patter on a potential convert. But this time I wasn’t biting. I wanted to avoid any sort of buskers – religious or otherwise – seen as this was a music video.

Until I saw an elderly American Evangelist I just couldn’t ignore.

This guy was something special. This guy was carrying a massive metal crucifix over his shoulder. With a little wheel on the end of its base, so it wouldn’t drag along the road as he lugged it around. Like those wheels you see on posh amputee dogs, when they’ve got no back legs.

He told me he’s been traveling across the world with this cross for the last 35 years. Spreading the good word. He had a leaflet, with pictures of himself – everywhere from the Soviet Union to El Salvador. Just him, and his cross. And his bank details. Mastercard or Visa, he was equal opportunities. Someone has to fund his global travel. And Jesus was never known for booking flights.

So after reading his leaflet, I asked him could I have a go on his cross. At first he wasn’t too keen, but my persistence convinced him. So he got out from underneath it, and placed it down on upon my shoulders. It was hollow and light-weight. For a crucifix….

I felt he was cheating a bit, between the dog-wheel and the light-weight frame. I told him I expected it to be heavier. He said it used to be heavier, but he had to change it, now he was over sixty. It reminded me of the bit in Only Fools and Horses, where Trigger gets an award from the council for using the same road sweeping-brush for twenty years. Then Trigger reveals that same brush has had eight new handles, and twelve new heads.

But Jesus or no Jesus, I was still short a few ‘Belfies’ for Roesy. So I went back out shooting people on the streets of Belfast. It was Black Friday, and people were getting arrested for boxing the heads off each other in supermarkets. The Peelers were all tooled-up with armed response units on the Ormeau Road. I never knew people took shopping so seriously.

The significance of Roesy’s song’s title only struck me while I was out there on those cold Belfast streets. His song is called ‘Learning to Crawl’, and maybe that’s what’s happening here now in this city. ‘The Belfies’ have been on their knees for forty years of chaos – the likes of which Roesy and I will never understand – coming from our cosy Vintage Week world of Midlands Ireland.

I keep wondering how the same project would’ve worked out in Dublin, where the Hipsters have no such sense of perspective to remove them from their own holes for a minute to the time for a quick laugh at themselves.

Because of all the people on the streets of Belfast I approached, only a few turned me down.

Not that I’m bitter. I’ve moved on. And to me, that’s what they’ve done here too, as far as my experiences shooting people on the street goes.

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It’s a Rat Trap – And You’ve Been Caught

When I was twelve a turkey introduced me to my favourite song. I played Bob Geldof and Dustin’s cover of ‘Rat Trap’ by the Boomtown Rats over and over again on my new CD player. Pure high-tech stuff. It was 1995.

It was a decade after Live Aid, but I’d never heard much of Bob Geldof. I wasn’t even born when the Boomtown Rats were big. I was in nappies for all that Band Aid stuff, and I was only aware of Live Aid because of my obsession with Queen. I was far more interested in Dustin – the North-Sider trash-talkin’ turkey from The Den on RTE, who’d have probably done fairly well for himself in Love/Hate if he was still in the game today. Geldof, on the other hand, looked like he wouldn’t last five minutes on Love/Hate.

So to my twelve year-old eyes, Bob Geldof was this curious creature with a weird facial hair arrangement, who seemed very angry. But more importantly, he was a man who played second fiddle to a turkey. That’s enough to anger any man, before you even begin to consider world hunger or dodgy facial hair.

But then I grew up and I learned what a legend Sir Bob Geldof is, and how he saved Ethiopa along with Midge Ure and Elton John and Phil Collins and Freddie Mercury and a whole load of other multi-millionaires who’d never even seen Athlone, never mind Africa. But either way, Live Aid in 1985 was the biggest television broadcast of all time – a stunning 1.9 billion people watched it at a time when there was only 4.8 billion of us in the world.

150 million was raised for the Ethiopian famine crisis, with donations from 150 countries. It remains the biggest and best example of the whole world clubbing together to help our fellow humans. It was a beautiful moment of pure global empathy – incredible. And it was all down to Bob Geldof, ranting and raving at us to “give us yer fucking money.”
Then 19 years after his famous rant on live TV, Bob did a second Do They Know It’s Christmas? single in 2004 – again for famine – and guilted us all into buying it. And now a decade later he’s at it again – third time around – trying to make us all feel guilty for not downloading yet another re-hash of that same single. And it’s not even for famine this time. This time it’s for Ebola. Well I’m not having it. Not this time Bob…

Because while you were spot on with the relevance of your campaigns in the past, lets look at the facts on your current project. Ebola is not the ‘end-of-days’ plague we were first lead to believe. So far, it has claimed the lives of 5,800 people. In stark contrast, 191,000 Syrians have been slaughtered in the past three years. That’s 32 times as many people that have died from Ebola. So Sir Bob has sat back and watched the most brutal civil war witnessed in modern times unfold, without feeling the need to pick up the phone and call One Direction to try and sort it all out.

And if we’re talking about releasing singles for relevant charitable causes, what about the First World’s plague of the modern age? 365,000 Americans die of obesity-related diseases every year. That’s 63 times Ebola. There are currently 2.1 billion obese people in a world of 7.2 billion. 66% of Irish men are obese. That’s an epidemic Bob – we are on the verge of wiping ourselves out, total annihilation, self-destruction by frying pans and pints. But Bob’s not bothered with that one either.

And then what about us here in Ireland? In ‘Rat Trap’, Bob sang about the social depravation of Dublin at the time, and how they were screaming and crying in the high-rise blocks. They’re still screaming and crying in those high-rise blocks. There’s mothers sleeping in their cars with their kids cause they couldn’t pay their rent. Where’s the charity single there Bob? Or are you too busy having lunch over the phone with Phil Collins, while reading your name on The Sunday Times Rich List? Get real Geldof, or get off the pulpet. Your harassing of the Scottish people on which way to vote in their independence referendum was yet another example of your increasingly bizarre antics. But then maybe that was in the small print of your OBE…

I havent seen the new version of Bob’s new charity single. The only thing I’ve heard about it is they’ve changed Bono’s iconic line “and tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.” That was the best bit. Hair-raising. But maybe it was a bit too close to the bone for our Bob – on that Sunday Times Rich List – while all those people are still screaming and crying in the high-rise blocks he was singing about, all those decades ago.

Your work here is done Sir Geldof. You’re already a legend. So take up golf, go for a swim, or write some more songs. Because if you continue with all this wild unfocused ranting and raving, you’re in grave danger of becoming a mouthy parody. Just like your mate Dustin the turkey.

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Eunuchs in a Harem

Brendan Behan

For a tiny island on the edge of Europe, throughout history we’ve always punched above our weight in the arts.  Whether it’s painting, poetry, music or literature, the volume of Irish heavyweights has been consistently impressive.  But now all that central heating and cups of tea have suffocated our imaginations, and we’ve become complacent.

Gone soft around the middle, we’re no longer the warrior poets outside in the rain.  We’re the drunken poets inside by the fire, talking about all the great art we’ll someday make.  With our collective imagination dampened we’re now resigned to looking for decent sequels instead of creating true originals.  How many times have you heard the phrase ‘the next U2’ applied to an up-and-coming Irish act?  The same can be applied across the arts in this country.

Recently I was at an ‘up-and-coming’ Irish film festival.   The international shorts were spectacular.  600 films were submitted from 52 different countries, and we were treated to a selection of about 20 of the best.  Raising the bar one after the next, each film squeezed different juice from the packed audience of twisted melons.

Each film left you pondering for a period far exceeding their actual playing time.  Jarringly intense, they lingered with you and invaded your thoughts for days to come –  like any great work of art should.  Each film left me questioning my own capabilities as a filmmaker, compared to the masterpieces unfolding in front of me.

The Irish short films however, failed to provoke any such reaction.  Not from me anyway, I was bored.

A morbid sentimentality took grip upon the venue as each filmmaker tried to be Lenny Abrahamson.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Lenny Abrahamson. A post-Tiger poet, his minimalist method honed to perfection, every beat expertly measured.

But it took Lenny Abrahamson years to be Lenny Abrahamson, the same way it took U2 years to be U2.  Neither was borne from a desire to be ‘the next’ anything.  So you can’t just start out as a filmmaker by copying Lenny Abrahamson.  When Lenny Abrahamson does Lenny Abrahamson, it’s spellbinding.  When anyone else tries to do Lenny Abrahamson, it doesn’t quite work out the same way.

But that’s what happened.  One film after the other – a series of wordless wonders featuring well-known actors not saying much – played out before us.  Bereft of dialogue the collection of shorts became an altogether sombre affair.  It was as if the stars of each film were being paid by the line – and the budgets were extremely tight.

Except judging by the logos in the credits, the budgets weren’t tight at all.  Most of the shorts in question had serious funding secured from various bodies, and featured extensive cast and crews. I’m always suspicious when I see two hundred names in the credits of a five-minute film.  How can those international fellas make fantastic films with a budget of five euros and only two crew-members?  They seem to have a hunger we’ve lost.  Perhaps they don’t have central heating.

I asked the festival director had the short film programmers purposely curated a sombre selection, when it came to the Irish films.  He told me they were genuinely the best of the Irish submissions.  So it was nothing to do with the programming.  It was the same team that curated the mind-blowing international section, as selected the Irish section.

It’s easy to be critical for the sake of it.  It’s also easy to fall into the cynical trap of automatically thinking anything from abroad must be better than anything homemade.  But as an Irish filmmaker I don’t subscribe to either ideology.   I left the Irish films feeling deflated, disappointed that such a critical gap had opened between the international and the homespun.  But I was even more disappointed that they all appeared to be following a singular trend  – trying to be decent sequels instead of true originals. A dangerous trend that has contaminated all areas of contemporary Irish culture, leaving everybody on the hunt for ‘the next…’, instead of trying to find ‘the first’….

Maybe it’s just me.  Perhaps my tastes are averse to this contemporary trend for silence.  But I can’t for the life of me work out why this fashion for non-verbal filmmaking has emerged in a country so famed for it’s gift of the gab? Our sharp wit, turn of phrase and general fear of silence has contributed greatly to our status as the cultural heavyweights of Europe.  It seems almost an act of self-sabotage to ignore it.

But that’s just my opinion.  And as I’ve found out through the process of making my own films, unfortunately everybody’s got one.  But then as Brendan Behan said –  “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem.  They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done everyday – but they cant do it themselves.”

Harsh words indeed.  But they were uttered back in the days before we lost our edge, and became resigned to a life of searching for sequels.

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More Eamonn Holmes than Gerry Adams

maradona

I ducked my head as we walked through the grilled security cage on the front entrance of the pub.  Now a tourist attraction, the cage was erected to vet punters after a shooting there in the 80’s.  It was my round and she wanted porter.

Her Belfast accent was soft – more Eamonn Holmes than Gerry Adams.  An artist, she worked in the same studios as me, just around the corner.  We sat down at a table under a signed photograph of Diego Maradona scoring his Hand of God goal against England in the ’86 World Cup.  Beside us a group of fellas wearing Celtic jerseys tried to perfect the party-trick of catching flipped beermats.

As we drank our stout Sarah told me she was Catholic, but her twin-sister was Protestant.  Her parents came from opposite sides of the fence – during the height of the Troubles.  But because of her mixed upbringing, she said she never experienced much sectarianism.  Even during the Troubles, it wasn’t part of her environment as a child.

Therefore she thought everything from your political opinions to the way you walked and talked, was down to nurture – and not nature.  She reckoned she was the perfect case in point – Catholic, but with a Protestant twin and mixed parentage.

Quite a complicated identity, in a city where they prefer straight answers.   A city obsessed with identity.  You think you’re immune at first, but Belfast has this way of making you aware of who you are.  Maybe it’s just this city confronts you with scenarios alien to the cosy Vintage Week world of Midlands Ireland.   Or anywhere else for that matter…

So while it’s impossible to be oblivious, the key is to not get knocked over by that initial wobbling dart of identity.  It’s like meditation – allow the thoughts to enter your mind, but make sure they leave again fairly quickly – preferably before you join a paramilitary organisation.  It’s important to keep yourself balanced.  Centred.

Grounded.  The pints went dry and it was her round.  Left momentarily alone under The Hand of God, one of the beermat-flipping fellas leaned over and asked me where I was from.  The binary switch flicked on his face once he heard my accent and realised I was ‘Mexican’ – from south of the border – and therefore probably a Catholic.

Feeling suddenly safe, he launched into a tirade about Peelers, Prods and getting arrested for public order offences.  His identity was bursting out of him like a child who’d grown out of his school uniform.  He got even more excited when he started talking about 90’s Britpop.  Oasis in particular.

I told him I liked Oasis too, but I preferred Blur.  The casual, friendly tone of the conversation dropped through the floor and he squinted at me with the head on him like a bulldog that’d just licked piss off a nettle.

Completely insulted, he could barely get the words up his neck as he announced with great passion his hatred for all things Blur. When I enquired as to the reason for this venom, he looked at me like I was properly thick.  Then he explained the reason he hated Blur was because he loved Oasis.

I was stunned by his logic as Sarah arrived back with more porter.  Here was a man so riddled by polarized thought it had metastasisted through his whole system.  A Stage Four siege-mentality, an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, a black and a white – applied to every single aspect of his life, trickling all the way down to his consumption of popular culture.  Your enemy’s enemy is your friend – like Diego Maradona on the wall up above us, scoring with his hand against the English.

Once he recovered from my Blur slur, the man in the Celtic jersey explained you could tell the difference between Protestants and Catholics by the way they drive their cars.  He reckoned Protestants are much more careful about the rules – they do everything properly.  Catholics, he said, are all over the place – bending the rules left, right and centre – parking cars on curbs, reversing around corners with no indicators on.  An altogether more freestyle kind of driving.

I wondered would Sarah and her twin-sister drive differently to each other, as a result of their sectarian divide?  Unfortunately upon enquiry, neither her nor her twin can drive, so his theory remains yet unproven.

As we said goodbye to The Hand of God and walked out through the security cage and back towards the studios, I wondered whether it was strange to have such fundamentally different people come from this same small city?  And whether your mentality – not just to Oasis and Blur, Protestant and Catholic – but to life in general, truly depends on nurture, and not nature?

On the one hand you’ve Sarah – far more Eamonn Holmes than Gerry Adams – and on the other hand the beer-mat flipping Celtic jersey, his whole thought-process so polarised he can barely talk about music without taking offence.

Yet they come from barely a mile apart.  But then I’ve found not much in this city can be applied to other cities.  And anyway, it’s better not to ask too many questions – especially when you’re a ‘Mexican’…

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The Irish Shorts at The OFFLine Film Festival

Searching for Sequels

For a little weather-raped island on the edge of Europe, throughout history we’ve always punched above our weight in the arts.  Whether it’s painting, poetry, music or literature, the volume of Irish heavyweights has been consistently impressive.  But now all that central heating and cups of tea have suffocated our imaginations, and we’ve become complacent.

Gone soft around the middle, we’re no longer the warrior poets outside in the rain.  We’re the drunken poets inside by the fire, talking about all the great art we’ll someday probably never make.  With our collective imaginations dampened (or central-heated) we’re now resigned to looking for decent sequels instead of creating true originals.  How many times have you heard the phrase ‘the next U2’ applied to an up-and-coming Irish act?  The same can be applied across the arts in this country.

Recently I was at an ‘up-and-coming’ Irish film festival, The OFFline Festival in Birr.  The festival was a roaring success, featuring filmmakers from across the globe.  The international shorts in particular were spectacular.  600 films were submitted from 52  countries, and we were treated to a selection of about 20 of the best.  Raising the bar one after the next, each film squeezed different juice from the packed audience of twisted melons.

Each film left you pondering for a period far exceeding their actual playing time.  Jarringly intense, they lingered with you and invaded your thoughts for days to come –  like any great work of art should.  Each film left me questioning my own capabilities as a filmmaker, compared to the masterpieces unfolding on the screen in front of me.

The Irish short films however, failed to provoke any such reaction.  Not from me anyway, I was bored.

A morbid sentimentality took grip upon the venue as each filmmaker tried to be Lenny Abrahamson.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Lenny Abrahamson, he’s my favourite contemporary Irish filmmaker.  A post-Tiger poet, his minimalistic method honed to complete perfection, every beat expertly measured.

But it took Lenny Abrahamson years to be Lenny Abrahamson, the same way it took U2 years to be U2.  Neither was borne from a desire to be ‘the next’ anything.  So you can’t just start out as a filmmaker by copying Lenny Abrahamson.  When Lenny Abrahamson does Lenny Abrahamson, it’s spellbinding.  When anyone else tries to do Lenny Abrahamson, it doesn’t quite work out the same way.

But yet that’s what happened.  One film after the other – a series of wordless wonders featuring well-known actors not saying much – played out before us.  Bereft of dialogue the collection of Irish shorts became an altogether sombre affair.  It was as if the stars of each film were being paid by the line – and the budgets were extremely tight.

Except judging by the logos in the credits, the budgets weren’t tight at all.  Most of the shorts in question had serious funding secured from various bodies, and featured extensive cast and crews. I’m always suspicious when I see two hundred names in the credits of a five-minute film.  How can those international fellas make fantastic films with a budget of five euros and two crew-members?  They seem to have a hunger we’ve lost.  Perhaps they don’t have central heating.

I asked the festival director had the short film programmers purposely curated a sombre selection, when it came to the Irish films.  He told me they were genuinely the best of the Irish submissions.  So it was nothing to do with the programming.  It was the same team that curated the mind-blowing international section, as selected the Irish section.

It’s easy to be critical for the sake of it.  It’s also easy to fall into the cynical trap of automatically thinking anything from abroad must be better than anything homemade.  But as an Irish filmmaker I don’t subscribe to either ideology.   I left the Irish short film screening feeling deflated, disappointed that such a critical gap had opened between the international and the homemade.  But I was even more disappointed that they all appeared to be following a singular trend – happy to be decent sequels instead of true originals. A dangerous trend that has contaminated all areas of contemporary Irish culture, leaving everybody on the hunt for ‘the next…’, instead of trying to find ‘the first’….

Maybe it’s just me.  Perhaps my tastes are averse to this contemporary trend for silence.  But I can’t for the life of me work out why this fashion for non-verbal filmmaking has emerged in a country so famed for it’s gift of the gab? Our sharp wit, turn of phrase and general fear of silence has contributed greatly to our status as the cultural heavyweights of Europe.  So it seems almost an act of self-sabotage to ignore it.

But that’s all just my opinion.  And as I’ve found out through the process of making my own films, unfortunately everybody’s got one.  But then as Brendan Behan said –  “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem.  They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done everyday – but they cant do it themselves.”

Harsh words indeed.  But they were uttered back in the days before we got central heating, and became resigned to a life of searching for sequels.

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Jesus & Fig-Rolls

jebus

Is Jesus in your heart?  That’s what he asked me, while he held a sign that said ‘John 3.7.’   Busking religion, in city centre Belfast.

Belfast is a hot-spot for buskers.  Amped-up with the rest of the strummers and drummers are a particularly persistent group of buskers.  On the street armed to the teeth with leaflets and optimism, busking Jesus to anyone who’ll listen.

I only approached ‘John 3-7′ to inquire if he was with the GAA.  You always see it in Croke Park on TV, those big signs in the crowd at hurling finals saying ‘John 3-7.’  I often wondered what that meant.  I presumed there was no direct hurling reference in the Bible, no half-time advice for struggling corner-forwards.  So I thought it must be some passage that mentioned team spirit.  Or perhaps playing against the wind…

But the guy holding the sign told me it was just a way of getting Jesus into Croke Park.  He said they’ve been doing it since the early ’80s – born-again Christians from Belfast.  Why Jesus can’t go online and buy tickets like everyone else – or get them from his local GAA club – didn’t seem up for debate.  Not to mention he’s been getting into GAA matches without paying for the bones of 30 years.

Then ‘John 3-7′ started telling me about his own transformation.  The obligatory story of chronic addiction and wasted life all miraculously turned around.  By Jesus.  Overnight…

Then he asked me to pray with him.

That was the line in the sand.  I’ll happily listen to the sales pitch, the life-stories, and the spectacular road to redemption.  Which again, always seem to happen overnight, so in road terms, more a by-pass than an actual motorway.  But the minute they seek to involve me in their convictions – like trying to get me to pray with them on the street – that line in the sand is crossed.  And I think that’s fair enough, considering most people don’t even look at these Born-Again-Buskers twice.

Where as I give them a good run-out – a pre-season practice match.  They get a chance to exercise their miraculous patter on a potential convert.  I give them the whiff of excitement, the fleeting notion this might be their first – their very own personal convert.  In busker terms, like as if someone dropped a wad of fifties into your guitar case.  And then offered you a record deal.

But that’s the trouble with these religion buskers – it’s a very fine line.  Give them an inch, and suddenly they’ll be looking for you to bow down and repent upon your whole existence, on the strength of a five-minute sales pitch.  On the street, at lunchtime, on a Saturday.  They really need to learn some boundaries…

As I ran away from ‘John 3-7′ before he made me pray, only a hundred metres up the street I met the the next Born-Again-Busker.  This guy was something special.  This guy was carrying a massive metal crucifix over his shoulder.  With a little wheel on the end of the base, so it wouldn’t drag along the ground as he lugged it along.  Like those wheels you see on amputee dogs, when they’ve no back legs.

He told me he’s been traveling across the world with this cross for the last 35 years.  He had a leaflet with pictures of himself and his cross, everywhere from the Soviet Union to El Salvador.  Just him, and his cross.  And his wife.  She played the guitar.  But of course…

I asked him could I have a go on his cross.  At first he wasn’t too keen, but persistence convinced him.  So he got out from under it, and placed it down on upon my shoulder.  It was hollow and lightweight – for a crucifix.  I felt he was cheating a little bit, between the dog-wheel and the lightweight frame.  I told him I expected it to be heavier. He said it used to be heavier, but he had to change the design, now he was sixty.  It reminded me of the bit in Only Fools and Horses, where Trigger gets an award for using the same sweeping-brush for twenty years.  Then he reveals that same brush has had eight new handles and twelve new heads.  Disappointed by his laziness, I gave him back his hollow cross, took a leaflet, and walked on…

Then standing outside MacDonalds was a chap taking a radically different approach.  His sales pitch was focused on the evils of cigarette smoke and how to quit.  Using Jesus, and the Bible.  Whatever about GAA strategies, I’m pretty sure there isn’t much on smoking cessation in the Bible.  If there is, that book is a whole lot more comprehensive than I’d given it credit for.

I collected all the leaflets for later consumption, like the way you steal sachets of sugar from a cafe.   To enjoy at my leisure later on, and possibly choose which direction I’ll take.  No point rushing into these things.  But try telling that to a Born-Again Christian. Everything seems to happen overnight once Jesus gets involved.

The one thing all the Born-Again-Buskers had in common, was their rejection of the notion of the church, or any sort of organised religion.  They all said it was about your own personal relationship with Jesus – cutting out the middle-man.  Which in a world of organised religion, is probably why these outsiders operate out on the street, instead of inside prime real-estate surrounded by goblets and frocks.

I came away from my encounters with the Born-Again-Buskers thinking about Fig-Rolls. In many ways, what they’re offering is the keys to the cash n’carry.   By going directly to the source and cutting out the middle-men, you eliminate your exposure to grumpy supermarket cashiers, you won’t bump into anyone you don’t want to meet, and you won’t feel guilty about not giving money to that fella collecting for Ataxia outside the supermarket door.

However, like the man holding the ‘John 3-7′ sign – or the disappointingly lightweight cross – you risk looking a bit fucking mental, going all the way to the cash n’carry just for a packet of Fig-Rolls.

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The Iron Man

Thatcher with crop4

http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/the-iron-man-and-the-secret-he-hid-in-his-garden-shed-30585093.html - Sunday Independent article

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imbXyVa_BxU - Official Trailer

https://www.facebook.com/MichaelThatcherFilm - Official Facebook Page

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