Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy House.

 Looking through old sketch books can feel a bit like time traveling without a Tardis or any  other form of adequate protection to save one from the buffeting endured by such hazardous hindsight. The experience can throw one into a minefield of memories one has long ago discarded the maps to navigate in relative safety. One wrong step and BOOM! you are back somewhere you thought you had long left behind. Off course the good memories are not a problem but this form of travel entails taking the rough with the smooth otherwise you end up editing your own past and losing all sense of perspective in the here and now. For instance I remember one night way back in the day being attacked in a bar after dancing to the Siouxsie And The Banshees song Hong Kong Garden. An exprisoner who had only recently been released from jail after serving a long sentence and who was celebrating being free by getting very very drunk flew into a rage and decided to take a swing at me. He later sought me out and apologised explaining that when he had gone to jail everyone wore bell bottoms,gatsby jumpers and had long hair and now he thought everyone he met dressed like they came from Mars. He said he had never seen anyone like me in Ardoyne before and when he saw me up dancing he panicked and lashed out. I was so disarmed by the very idea of someone apologising to me after an attack(it just never happened,never,ever) that I accepted it with as much good grace as I could muster. Apologies were so thin on the ground back then I grasped for it like manna stumbled upon in the most barren of deserts. You would have thought that since Ardoyne was such a constant source of such moments for me that I would have developed a better functioning set of street smarts but I never really did. As such those streets remained a sargasso of red brick back to backs I endeavored to circumnavigate despite the warnings glaring from the gable walls HERE BE MONSTERS and I do not believe that a single day passed without incident. The prevailing wisdom with regard to life in Ardoyne was this: you did not need to leave your house to find trouble, it will come looking for you. Sometimes it just waited for you at the bottom of the path...
One night I was just leaving my Ma's house heading over to Mountainview and my mate Morelli's to listen to what new musical gems he recorded from John peel's radio show when I walked into a British Army foot patrol. It was not even remotely unusual for this to happen in any working class catholic area anywhere in Northern Ireland.You could be stopped two or three times in one night. These were the times we lived in.Yet there probably not many terrorist suspects who wore red tarten bondage trousers,a Marlena Dietirich Blue Angel tee shirt,DM boots,huge overcoat and a scarf and orange spikey hair. As I said, these were the times. As usual I was asked who I was,where I was coming from and where I was going,then unusually the soldier who had stopped me asked me to take my coat off so he could search me. It was absolutely freezing with frost glistening on the pavements and the steam of our breath visible in front of  our faces so I thought this was not necessary and even a bit demeaning. I felt he was asking me to do this just because he could. So I said no. Now usually I was so mousey I would be as compliant as it is possible to be.Maybe it was because I had just left the warmth and laughter of my ma's house,our own Happy House, and had barely reached the end of the street where I lived that I felt so emboldened. Whatever it was that pushed the button I just said no. Before I knew what was happening the rest of the foot patrol had gathered round me and were discussing the next thing to do which was to radio for a police landrover. Some kids gathered to watch what was going on. Even the moon seemed to looking down with a frosty interest. When an RUC van pulled noisely up and the doors banged open an officer explained to me that I could allow the soldier to carry out his stop and search or they could take me back to the Old Park Police Station and search me PROPERLY. I totally caved at this, terrified of what a PROPER search might entail. So I took off my coat and allowed this soldier to pat me down, with my arms out stetched, there on that frosty pavement, shivering in my blue angel tee shirt, like some camp scarecrow. Stop and searches were a most common event and they were mostly just a bit of a nuisance which you went along with but which have been known to escalate into all sorts of things, from a feeble protest such as mine to a full scale riot. Just another sign of our troubled times. Back then I tried to catch the moment in a comic strip and I see Siouxsie Sioux managed to find her way into one of my sketches. Why not, back then there were many pictures of her pasted to my ceiling and taped to my attic bedroom walls, in my Gothic Bordello between the roof beams. Happy house, Christine, Spellbound. Siouxsie was my Venus In Furs. Not some Narnian Witch whose kingdom could only be entered through the back of a haunted wardrobe. Siouxsie was a real world sorceress whose kingdom was the late night streets of the city inhabited by the fringe citizens who made all things nocturnal their own. The Queen of The Bromley Contingent, punk pioneers (Some of whom were present at the Infamous Bill Grunday Today interview which sort of propelled cultural awareness of the Punk Seditionaries to a national level.OH,THE FILTH AND THE FURY!)and the toast of the New Elizabethan age, did'nt half sound grand, well to me in my trench in Belfast, it sounded like the court of King Louie, (only the french aristocratic king  not so much the singing monkey with coconut boobs.) I did think Siouxsie was a stunning vision. Her looks so flawlessly achieved it had to be the real thing which at my age back then seemed so very important. You had to own it. And yet ,truthfully, such talk is a load of wiffle waffle, I doubt that Siouxsie would consider herself the queen of anything, not part of any fashionable movement or chic street thing, just a striking being who would not be shaped by the world she grew up in but determined to shape herself as she chose.So many people speak of the glamor borne from the streets as akin to the feathery plumes of a peacock, a bird I had no time for. A bird I find almost vulgar, a bird that sycophantically guarded the homes of aristocrats from the unwelcome attention of the filthy filthy poor, a shrieking showoff not unlike an xfactor winner yodeling pointlessly for the indifferent masses. Some people stood in the gutter with a Wildean view of the stars but some knew how to drag the stars down to our level and wear them in their hair.
               That was the Ju-Ju of Siouxsie Sioux.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The Silver Terror.

My lovely niece Reinette being menaced by a clanking old CyberMal. When I say Run,Run!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Never Mind The Sex Pistols.

Was asked the significance of this Pistols artwork from an earlier entry. This was the first piece of artwork I had rejected by the then editor at Fortnight Magazine in what I took to be a lapse in their otherwise good judgement. He just did not feel the Fortnight Readers would see the Sex Pistols as the catalyst for social and political and cultural change that I took them to be in that time long ago at the tail end of the seventies. I thought this was a shame really as it was one of my favorite pieces I submitted for publication in my time with that magazine. I do believe they underestimated how sussed their readership was. They would have got it, even if they did not necessarily agree with me, they would have got it.
Dum Vivunt In Anarchiam!
                                                               (well...When in Rome...)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fightin' Irish.

(From My Sketchbook) Conor Mc Gregor/Irish Mixed Martial Artist and Ultimate Fighting Champion.The first professional Irish fighter to hold two world titles in two seperate divisions(Featherweight and Lightweight Champion.)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

There Was Just No Room At the Inn.

According to the lush mercurial grapevine upon which Oscar Wilde lived and breathed a King was about to be born in the Little Town of Bethlehem. A King whose grandeur would illuminate the world for all the ages to come. Oscar, desperately fashionable as ever, determined to be there at the birth, so that he might enjoy something of the warmth of that grand glow even if its rays might be thought by some to be second hand. No matter, thought Oscar in his singular fashion, it would remain the heat of the son. How ironic was it then that he arrived in Jerusalem just as the Holy Lands current owners, The Romans, had decided to enforce a census of all who lived there. So they might properly tax all to the point of distraction. Which meant The Great and The Good and The Not So Great and The Not So Good had gathered together in order to register for these tax burdens to weigh all down further. This also meant that every major and minor town was filled to capacity and a good room in which to rest a weary head was not to be had for love nor money (two things Oscar adored more than anything else) Worse still no one in town had heard anything about this rumored New King, everything was Roman This and Roman That, no one had time for any parochial nonsense. It was often the way with these unfashionable little back water towns, the locals were often the last to know about the noteworthy social events taking place in their area. Oscar, being Oscar, then decided to visit the notorious Herod Family whom he had heard whispers about on that same wisteria laden grapevine. He had heard they knew how to throw a party. Oscar rode off into that Bethlehem night resigned to the fact he would not make it to this New Kings Birth Day but he felt somehow sure this New King would one day turn up for one of his.

Monday, 9 December 2013

We Are Led By Fools Who Waste Our Lives.

Found this piece of art I did for a cover of an old Belfast Zine from back in the day.I believed this to be true back then and I still believe it to be true.