dedicated blogsite to Dave Wood's participatory poetry project in Northern Ireland. Started late August and finishing September 2004, it does a compare and contrast with previous visits 1988 - 1998. Also see

18 Dec 2004

Thursday – Omagh (beginning section of diary to be completed)

Didn’t get much sleep. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores but it affected me the rest of the day. Already I feel I have written myself out of words and I’ve done enough writing for three weeks, not just three days. I’ve been complaining that I’ve never had the concentrated period for writing that I’ve needed and now that I’ve been presented with it, I cluck like an old hen.

It’s strange the difference between what we perceive and what happens with a simple cheap camera lens. Even from two mile distance of Belmont Road, where I’m staying, the eyes see the two cranes Samson and Goliath looming paternally (and majestically) over the Belfast water. The eyes draw the vision in, considers the full picture, notices the yellow, concentrates, produces metaphor, is satisfied with outcome. The camera lens flattens and dulls the picture down. I fear for my photographs but not for my memories.

Belfast’s Belmont Road dog-legs onto the Holywood Road, which is pronounced Holly and has no significance or relation to the American Film Industry. Although, Holywood, though he may not have known it at the time, was an album title from schlock rocker Marilyn Mansun.

It’s a different bus today – a number twenty. It’s rush hour and I am forced, like a typical Englishman, to waddle upstairs for a seat on his own rather than share a cushion with a complete stranger.

For the first time during my return to Belfast, I was caught off guard. The overhanging branches on the Holywood Road cracked against the windows. For a milli-second something jumped. There was nothing logical about it. But the crack was as sharp and crisp as gun-shot. It must have been a morning thing. It happened again as we passed through the estate and I never flinched, so there.

Anyway, the bus took me along the same route as yesterday. Along Belmont, past the gloriously old fashioned independent cinema on the right, down Holywood and passing the estate where the Union Jack flags still desperately cling to their poles. Some seem more resolute and to attention. Some just look like sad old dish-rags.

The vision of Samson and Goliath got closer, the cars still with lights slipped easily on. It was just before nine o’clock and I expected the place to be gridlocked at least.

Today I was to visit Omagh. Part of me was already writing the piece honouring it. Part of me was panicing as to how I should compose the piece and another part (the realistic part) waded in and told the rest of me to wait until I got there.

To be continued