10 things he learnt when he moved to Belfast – by Clare Bowie
So, you’ve travelled the world, lived in far flung places like, erm, Glasgow and Cardiff, and now you’ve dragged your poor, unsuspecting, significant other back home with you to Belfast. He knew there would be cultural differences and language barriers etc. but he never expected that many bread products in an Ulster fry.
1. The slaggins, oh the slaggins. He had no idea he would be so mercilessly ridiculed and laughed at; and that’s just by your family. He still recalls the day he bought herbs in Asda and was called Jamie Oliver, twice. TWICE! He daren’t wear his “dapper” red trousers again after random strangers shouted “alright Santa?” in a drive-by slagging attack.
2 .The bread; So. Much. Confusion. He’s never even heard of a bap. He calls a burger bap a bun, a bun a cake and he’s deeply suspicious of the sheer volume of bread products within an Ulster fry. He still can’t remember which one is soda and which is potato and you can be sure he’s never scooped out the inside of a bap to stuff it with crisps.
3. He complains about the shops not being open on Sunday mornings pretty much every Sunday morning and you hear yourself muttering “pagan”, even though you totally agree with him.
4. Only in Belfast. There is a lot of head scratching about the “designated area” for wine in the supermarket, the fact that many companies refuse to deliver things to this country and why a lot of maps simply don’t bother with Northern Ireland at all.
5. His childhood memories do not have any references to bomb scares or incendiary searches. His memories were more; picnics in the park than “do you remember the time we got evacuated when they launched a rocket at the judge’s house?”
6. The dark, dark humour. He’s still learning what’s acceptable and when it’s ok to laugh. At a kids event he was told by another dad that “he’d rather take a punishment beating” than endure another of these events. Translation: This is funny and does not (necessarily) mean that this man is involved in terrorist activities or has paramilitary contacts.
7. Sports. GAA sports are a total mystery to him. Hurling?? What is that? Is it football with hockey sticks? And why is cricket only played in some schools when everyone plays it where he’s from? It’s all so different here! Sigh.
8. It’s a man thing. For some reason the number plates are different over here, which means he can’t tell how old a car is from glancing at the number plate. Not sure why this matters but it just does!
9. The language barrier. Even when he’s feeling deeply misunderstood and bloated from all the bread, he still sniggers every time you say the word “merr” (mirror).
10. What now? He can’t understand the constant desire local people have, to unnecessarily re-affirm things, so he can’t.
By Clare Bowie