A conversation started in work the other day. There were four of us, all from different areas, with different backgrounds and a slightly uneven mix of sexes but with two things in common. We were all born between the early 70’s and early 80’s and grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Three of us were born here and one moved over in childhood.
Many people in Northern Ireland were never touched by The Troubles but unfortunately our areas, Belfast and Lurgan, were. People I know from other countries have said their local news reports made it look like a war zone and maybe it was but for us it was normal. We were born into this and honestly, it never phased us.
As we reminisced and told our stories, from both a Protestant and Catholic perspective, we laughed. Other people joined in and told their tales and we laughed some more. Not because it’s funny but because our childhoods were surreal. Standing at the top of the road watching a riot, your mum (and everyone else in the street) opening the door when there were gunshots (why, someone has a gun out there?), stepping over soldiers to go out to play, young guys practicing shooting rocket launchers in side streets and having to give a police statement when a car bomb went off on the way to school. This is a mixture of all our stories. Town centres were closed off at night to prevent bomb scares. On day trips to Belfast the major shops had guards who checked your bags, scanned you with a metal detector and patted you down before you could enter. When you were watching TV and a message flashed up on screen asking for the key holder of whichever shop to report to the premises we knew it was a firebomb. My town centre got destroyed and I heard nothing.
The death toll and the ruined lives are frightening (www.wesleyjohnston.com). My family have suffered loss but I was never brought up in a sectarian (a polite word for hatred) way and honestly, the majority of us weren’t. Although we have the Good Friday Agreement we’ve never really had peace. There’s always been an underlying ‘something’ and it seems like we’re always teetering on the edge. Our politics is based on religion and not enough people are brave enough to step away – it’s how things are. Children are still being brought up in hatred and so it continues. All four of us have children ranging from adults to toddlers and we don’t want our kids to grow up like we did. Not that our childhood was bad but it was definitely strange ……
This is not the type of stuff I normally write but for some reason I felt like a needed to
Peace (for the love of whoever the higher power is) and love xx
I can still poem
I can still write
I can still feel
I can still be
More than I’ve been
I can still lift this fog from my life
I can still make
Something of this
I can be more
I can make the next leap
I can’t let this
Ruin my life
I can still stand
I can make things change
I can step up
I can be me
For me nothing breaks up the day like a large latte in a chilled coffee shop, a day enclosed within the 4 walls. I know I could be cleaning or doing something productive at home but honestly, I’m not the sort of person who gets pleasure from that! I know it’s not for everyone and according to all the money saving professionals I could be saving £££’s by constructing my own caffeinated beverage and during times of maternity pay those £££’s matter but at what cost? My sanity trumps cash any day of the week!
So every afternoon me and Arlo (and sometimes the boyfriend) get ourselves ready and make that trek up the town. All the cars parked on the pavement stopping me getting the pram past give me thoughts of having a stiffer drink (sorry, it’s a personal gripe!) but a baby in a bar that doesn’t serve food is generally frowned upon so coffee it is!
Over the course of (too?) many years I’ve refined my list of preferences. Here goes ….
– It must be independent. Although it’s not always possible to apply this to everything in life, I do it where I can and with sit down beverage drinking it’s mostly possible.
– The staff need to be nice. It’s always good to be treated to a friendly face and have the staff fing out your name and know your regular order. On a side note – ideally it’s good to eventually become Facebook friends with some of the staff and even better to become drinking buddies but I know that’s a rarity!
– The coffee has to be good. I’m a latte girl. Boring I know but hey, such is life. I throw in the odd americano but only if I’m feeling brave …… Everyone who works there needs to make a decent cup – coffee roulette ain’t my game!
– There’s gotta be some comfy seats. You might not always get one but it’s nice when you do.
– It needs that special something. Whether it’s mismatched furniture, cool pictures on the wall or innovative décor. These are my things but each to their own!
– And my newest addition to the wish list is baby and pram friendly!
I’m lucky enough to have 2 of these in my small town so if you’re ever in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, 54.4635N 6.33346W (though I can’t imagine why!) you should definitely check out Love Coffee and Icons Coffee House Tell them I sent ya!
Peace and love.
(Apologies in advance – I found an old poetry book and felt the need!)
That ‘great’ unwritten rule book
The one that dictates what we do
Who we are
What we wear
Depending on the decade of life
We are stumbling through
The one that stops us from embracing
And makes us think too much about
A future which may never come
The one that hinders so many people
From living their own life
And being the best they can be
All because they follow the rules
Of how they ‘should be’
Those rule followers
Who look down on those of us
Who have chosen to ignore the constraints
Who dress, do and feel
How we want
Not how society expects
Or thinks we should
The girl who drinks alone in the bar
The people who get tattoos with meaning
The people who embrace their true selves
And don’t blindly follow trends
Those of us who have managed
To live as the free thinking minority
Despite the pressure surrounding us.