The troubles

In Northern Ireland you never asked someone what religion they were, whether they were Catholic or Protestant, it was just rude. You asked people what football team they supported and if it was Rangers, you knew they were Protestant, if it was Celtic you knew they were Catholic. If it was Liverpool or Man U, you knew you were being told to fuck off and to stop asking personal questions.

We called it ‘the troubles’. We never called it a civil war but that is what it was.

We used to pass this sweet,  little old lady’s house every time we went on patrol. It was a corner terrace. She had a Rangers flag in the window. “God bless you lads.” she would say from her doorstep. It was good to meet people who liked having us there, good not to be spat at and called names, good not to have things thrown at us.

One day we were locked down by a fire-fight further down the road, and I was crouched in her doorway in the rain, waiting for the ‘all clear’ “Would you like a sandwich dear?” she asked me.
“Thank you Ma’am,” I said, “that would be lovely. We may be here for some time.” The rain soaked through me, through my combats, through my soul, I hated Belfast. The sandwich was thick and bulging and the smell of ripe cheddar and pickle warmed me.

My corporal came screaming across the road and bashed it from my hand, just as I was about to take a bite, called me a fucking idiot and bitch slapped me. I watched the sandwich land in a puddle and spill open, watched the little blue pellets of rat poison roll from it into the gutter.

16 responses

  1. Holy shit!

    12.04.27 at 02.47

  2. Fuck.. Rat poison? This proves my theory of never trusting old ladies with that creepy sweet smile.

    12.04.01 at 17.10

    • now i know better lol

      12.04.01 at 17.14

  3. SweetP

    Really?? Wow, I guess being bitch slapped wasn’t so bad afterall.

    12.03.31 at 13.45

    • he loved me – we all loved each other

      12.03.31 at 13.46

  4. Fuck me sideways, reading that gave me chills. Nice work Kyle.

    12.03.30 at 21.37

  5. This is an awesome piece of writing about how awfully hateful some people are.
    We visited Ireland with my parents in 2001 and they were so proud to be McCartans and my friendly parents would bring it up with the Irish. My mom and I bought a bunch of glassware and porcelain from a small antique shop and they were shipped without any packaging material. All but two things were smashed in my box and all but one in my mothers. I think it was the Northern Ireland name. We had no idea…

    12.03.30 at 16.34

    • hundreds of years of hate run through that part of the world – i am sad to say that it is mostly the fault of the english – it is terribly sad – i only saw a very little of it, people were rotten to us but we were not much better and, on occasions, worse. McCartens is a very Northern Irish name. sorry to hear about your antiques – thanks so much for commenting

      12.03.30 at 18.03

      • So being McCartan is just as bad as McCarten? When you tell someone, they don’t hear the spelling anyway.
        That sucks. I had never felt prejudice towards me before, but we had suspected it when she wasn’t very friendly…

        12.03.31 at 02.19

        • its so sad – i live in london now and there is no prejudice here – it is very cool – i feel like i live on a planet, not an island

          12.03.31 at 11.10

  6. Gillian Colbert

    Profound .. wow

    12.03.30 at 15.58

    • it was emotional

      12.03.30 at 15.59

      • Gillian Colbert

        I cannot truly fathom that … so this is a real-life piece then? I thought it might be but didn’t want to assume.

        12.03.30 at 16.00

        • i think it best if you don’t know

          12.03.30 at 16.04

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