At the start of this year there was a terrible series of snow storms and blizzards that struck the island of Ireland, so tremendous that it was issued a red alert. The entire island had been shut down. Supermarkets stripped bare, electricity went out, roads were blocked- for an entire week the island was brought to a stand still.
One of the only good things about living right next door to Britain is that in times of these mighty storms they seem to take the bulk of God’s wrath. The island usually takes more of the heavy blows while we get a lighter sentence. It’s the same thing with heatwaves and other weather conditions. In fact the only exception that comes to mind is that Hurricane that hit us last October.
The snow’s worst affected areas in the South, particularly Cork. The heaviest casualties however were suffered in the Dublin area, where they only found the bodies when the snowed thawed. Most of the victims were homeless.
I say this because the week before the snows came I was out in Belfast and experienced one of the worst nights of my life- all thanks to the Cold.
Our story begins in late February. I’d just come back from Barcelona and was adjusting to the Cold. It was still Mid Winter and I was still at tech doing…something. I can’t mind, I can’t mind half my life.
First day we got back to Tech all the teacher could talk about was questions about Barcelona, which my colleagues happily answered. I on the other hand retained my stoic/creepy nature by just sitting about in complete silence doing…work? I guess? I can’t mind.
All I can mind is that the lads were very happy with their trip, as was I. There was a student who looks the spitting image of Quentin Trantino that curted some doll from Brazil- which we were all proud of. The Little Lesbian was still half in love with this Catalonian woman, it was adorable.
The teacher on the other hand was appalled at our living conditions, seeing that all the girls had to sleep in one room and how all the media guys had to sleep in one room as well. Eight guys, two weeks, one room- if there was a Pig Sty in Hell, it would smell sweeter than that.
I seriously can’t explain to you how terrible that smell was. It was so bad that I the closest way I could define it was via the Metric of Whores. Now a dirty Whore wouldn’t care about how they smell because, well, they’re a whore- who’re they going to impress?
The average whore could smell as bad as two guys combined. Two whores could smell as bad as four guys. Four whores could smell as bad as eight guys. Despite our numbers, you’d need at least two dozen whores to get the same aroma as that room. That’s how bad it was.
It’s a flawed metric. For one it doesn’t take into account that most whores are clean, mainly because most whores are women and women are by far more cleanly than men. That’s just a fact of life.
Our teacher was very troubled at such living conditions and said that if she’d have gone, we’d have gotten a different room. The students responded that they know she would, despite the fact that they were all secretly relieved that she didn’t go. She’d have ruined the entire Sesh.
At one point the Little Lesbian told us this story of me dancing. To which one of the other students was extremely surprised and he immediately asked me; “Were you dancing, Des?”
“Aye,” I said “I was that Drunk.”
A rule of thumb; if you see me dancing I’m either drunk, out of my mind or being paid to do so. There is no in between.
So a week or two after I got back I received a message from my friend, the Chinless Wonder, asking if I was interested in heading to the Warzone that Friday. I, a man who had fuck all to do, accepted with such ease that it would amaze.
My friend never responds to my messages so deciding what time we ought to get the bus is always a wearisome experience. So to cut out the middle man I went straight to Maghera, bought two bottles of cheap red wine and went straight to his house. His parents are lovely people and they let me stay over on countless nights out. In this case however I believe they weren’t home.
I knock on the door and Chinless takes his time answering it. He invites me in with a parade of insults, as is custom. We talk about stuff. Jog hunting, alcohol, politics. I tell him a brief account of my time in Barcelona, to which I told a story about how I was rejected by a girl from the Canary Islands and in my embarrassment I wandered the streets of Barcelona to which I suffered a brief descent into Madness, only to emerge with a euphoric sensation and a new appreciation for life.
I don’t think he heard any of that. Perhaps I didn’t tell it right.
It’s about an hour and a half bus journey to Belfast from Maghera. It’s a strange journey to behold, like you’re taking the gradual stepping stones to civilisation. The opposite effect happens when you head into the direction of Derry City. Everything seems to twist and squirm, the soil is so bad the only businesses that can survive are supermarkets and pubs.
Belfast is quite the opposite; you can grow anything in Belfast. There’s a shop that sells nothing but bath soap. You can’t sell that in Derry, it implies the people there bathe.
We get into Belfast at around half nine, spend about a good hour at the War-zone until I get bored. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a nice venue- but if you’ve been there once, you’ve been there a dozen times. It can grow a little stale.
So we opted to get some KFC, walked about a little and then returned. I didn’t particularly care for my wine but I drank most of it. We discussed the possibility of missing the bus in favour of going to a Rave, one of the more stupid ideas that we got from these complete morons from Derry.
Upon returning to the War-zone we encountered three gentlemen who were remarkably excited at our appearance. All three of them were from Derry city. One of them looked the spitting image of Tom Holland, the other looked like that rat faced cunt from Recess and the third one…actually, I can’t recall what the third one looked like.
All I could recall is that for some time he was missing and the other two were looking for him. Tom Holland practically screamed in excitement at the site of us, saying that on the car ride up they saw the two of us waiting for the bus and proclaimed that the two of us were going to the same venue as them- mainly because Chinless was dressed in some appalling punk get up.
Rat-Face wounded up opening his heart to me for some god damn reason. He said that he had fancied a girl but it was some what unrequited, or at least it would be if she knew of his affections, The reason that she didn’t was because his friend had let on that the girl was in a relationship with some cunt and thus was unavailable. But the plot thickens! It turns out that the friend had lied to him and that she was in fact single.
He said he was devastated at the betrayal and was looking to contact the girl immediately. I could sympathise with the man, if I gave but one fuck.
The man then talked about his friend that was currently missing, saying that this girl from Belfast was trying to call him or something. The girl had the same name as this girl that I once loved, who I talked about previously.
I froze for a second, I think I had a strange look on my face because Chinless turned to look at my reaction to the name being uttered. I was honestly surprised that he remembered her name. I only talked about her with him a few times, mainly when were going through a fight. He didn’t give any good advice and neither of us enjoyed talking about her. I assume she’d enjoy that fact, if she weren’t so hostile to my assumptions.
The best way I could describe the moment of the name drop would be a shot-by-shot comparison of that scene in the Great Gatsby in which Gatsby’s name is first dropped in Daisy’s presence and she says “Gatsby? What Gatsby?” ugh, I can’t believe I just compared myself to Daisy Buchanan. I feel like a neurotic moron.
The moment soon passed as I quickly realised that it wasn’t the same girl. I don’t mean to be an asshole (he says, right before being an asshole) but the girl I knew was waaaay prettier. The woman Rat-Face was talking about was this emo doll wearing this oversized t-shirt, with a short skirt and fishnets.
I hate fishnets, they’re neither comfortable nor warm- they serve no purpose. Now I know what you’re going to say; “Uhh, Des. They’re not supposed to be comfortable- they’re supposed to look good!” and that would be a compelling argument, if Fishnets looked good. To which they do not. They’re terrible and you look terrible.
If a Girl wears fishnets all that tells me is that she’s too tacky to be a mermaid. If Black Canary, one of the greatest fighters in the DC Universe, can’t even pull off Fishnets- what makes you think that you can?
As you can see my main pet peeves are with stupid clothes and superheroes, y’know- normal people concerns.
Tom Holland talked about his hometown, mainly about how unbearably shit it is. It took every fibre of my being not to agree with him, purely out of politeness. For some reason in Northern Ireland the religion of a stranger is always brought up within a few paragraphs of a discussion.
Tom Holland said that he was a Protestant, but not a cunt about it. He liked Catholics and the Irish in general, but he wanted to remain in the UK- probably because like I, he had gown fond of the pound. Chinless responded; “It’s ok to be a Unionist, but it’s Loyalists that I have a problem with” Tom Holland agreed. We revealed ourselves to be dirty Catholics, and we were at peace.
I wasn’t so offended at the fact that he was a Protestant or a Unionist, but more so that he was from Derry.
We got the magnificently terrible idea to head on down to a rave from these cunts. Chinless and I looked at each-other and agreed we could skip the last bus out in pursuit of the moment. The moment however took quite a while to arrive as we spent about a good hour walking around, following Fishnets and her compatriots closely.
We’s lost the guys from Derry, whom Fishnets had aptly named “Derry Girls” for those outside of the UK, Derry Girls is a comedy-drama on Channel 4 that is highly popular in the province. Apparently it’s good, but I’ve decided to never watch it. I refuse to support anything about Derry.
What, me? Irrational? How dare you.
We’d lost the Derry Girls to another group from the War Zone who said they were going to a different party, while in actuality they were going home. The Derry Girl’s misinterpreted it, probably because they can barely speak English.
The hour long dander wasn’t too bad. The entire group started singing Irish Rebel songs, which delighted Chinless because he’s basically a Dissident Republican. Seriously, he’s got a Provos Jumper and all. I’m baffled where he got it. On one hand part of me knows he bought it off eBay for an absurd price, but on the other hand it’s just as likely that he dug up the grave of Martin McGuinness and stole the jumper from his coffin, all the while singing the Fields of Athenry.
I was a little embarrassed because I don’t know the lyrics to most of the songs that they sang, so I had to smile and mumble along like Trump singing the national anthem- hoping nobody wouldn’t notice.
We eventually got to the place, after being lost for about forty five minutes I finally took out my phone and types in the address and we drunkenly followed the eyes of Google. All the while Chinless here is trying to concoct a plan for us to get laid by telling girls that we are experienced fighter pilots who’ve gone on an array of deadly missions and have definitely killed a man.
The only problem with such a genius plan about engaging in Stolen Valour for the hopes that we could release some bodily fluids, is the fact that the man concocting the plan could barely grow a moustache- let alone come off as a fucking war hero. Also, and I can’t believe I had to explain this to him, we were in the wrong region of the UK to brag about being in the Army.
We arrived at the destination only to find that the venue that Fishnets told us about was closed. So we wandered about some more and eventually found an actual Rave that was going on. Initially the bouncers wouldn’t let us in, saying that it was too full and was about to close.
However Fishnets slipped through, probably because she was a woman. While the rest of us had to fork up some cash to bribe our way through. Chinless suggested that we tell them that we’re special forces and therefore we’ll get in for some reason. I decided not to do that, but instead opted to pay for both our entries.
Chinless was so grateful, marvelling at my degree of altruism. I on the other hand just couldn’t be bothered breaking a tenner.
The Rave was pretty good. Went on for about an hour. I lost track of the group and decided “Eh, Fuck it” and started hopping up and down in the mosh-pit like a madman. I jumped around for intervals of twenty minutes with slight breaks, either because someone stepped on me or elbowed me in the face.
I also wanted to find the group I was with. I never found the lads again, but I did see Fishnets curt this randomer and then found Chinless emerge out of nowhere, shirtless for some god known reason.
We danced around for a while, I was in the moshpit with this super tall skinny guy who’s face was covered in shadows. He was great and we enjoyed shouldering each other. Then 3AM crept by and the venue shut down, we were aptly evicted onto the street.
Chinless started tailing to these randomers, the conversation was boring so I opted to move about- seeing if I could talk to someone. I never did. Even when I found the tall guy again he didn’t talk to me. There’s nothing more lonely than being by yourself in a crowd.
It reminded me of this motivational poster I saw back in school;
Worst. Motivational Poster. Ever.
After ten odd minutes the crowd dispersed and I found Chinless again. We lost Fishnets and the gang. We were now stranded in Belfast, and so we did what all drunk stragglers do in Belfast at 3AM- we went to McDonalds.
You’ll never find a better example of a human watering hole than Belfast McDonalds at three o’clock in the morning. All creatures are about; Chavs, Goths, Jocks, Junkies, Nerds, Date Rapists, Wasters of all shapes and sized and of course a variety of different sub species of Drunk Girls. There’s happy drunk girls, sad drunk girls, angry drunk girls, passed out drunk girls, sick drunk girls- all the drunk girls under the rainbow.
Chinless ordered a few chicken nuggets and chips. I refrained from ordering, mainly because I know for a fact that McDonald’s is poison. We sat outside on a bench and watched the the caravan of debauchery move along. At some point we saw Fishnets again, she walked right by us- didn’t even look at us.
We’s sang Come out Ye Black and Tans together and she wouldn’t even acknowledge our existence. Typical Pub Talk.
At this point in time we realised that we were right and truly fucked. The last bus out of Belfast had left near two hours earlier and we had nowhere to stay. I proposed that we just wander the streets until daylight when we’re sober and can get the first bus out of here.
Instead what happened is that we walked around for half an hour, grew incredibly tired and decided to find somewhere to sleep. We found this wee car park between a block of flats and then discovered some long pieces of cardboard we could use as blankets. Chinless here suggested that we sleep on opposite sides, however I insisted that we cuddle up for warmth.
It took a while to explain to the little Provo that spooning each other for warmth was not at all gay, and if it were I’d rather spoon a man with a chin. So we laid out the cardboard and cuddled up, begrudgingly.
It was a terrible nights sleep. I only clocked in a couple of hours. All the while I was worried about Chinless due to his raspy breath. I tried to snuggle up closer, even tried extending my jacket over his chest to keep him warm. But it was no use. I suggested we change sides, so I could take the bulk of the wind. In this position we were facing each-other, my belief that out breath would keep each-others faces warm. But that wind was cold.
When we awoke it was just before dawn. I felt terrible, I could barely think. We got up from our sleeping positions and made our ways towards the bus station.
Have you ever been cold? Like really really cold? I have. I couldn’t get rid of it, even when I was in the bus depot trying to warm myself up. The night I spent outside had frozen me, I was cold to the bone.
At first I was dazed, then gradually grew angrier. The bus wouldn’t come for another hour or two so I said we should get breakfast. Now if I had gotten a meatball sub that very morning, my mood would have been far better. It was the antidote to my cold little heart.
But I didn’t get my meatball sub. I spent thirty odd minutes looking only to find Subway wasn’t even open yet. I was so goddamn angry, but I knew we had to get food anyway. So we went into Centra and got this shitty hot dog that barely tamed my rage, if anything it made me angrier.
My angry state seemed to upset Chinless. He wasn’t in the mood for talking, the cold had made him dim. Or at least dimmer than usual. I lead him back to the Bus depot, we were like George and Lenny.
We got the first bus out of there at around half six. We weren’t in the mood for talking. We were too cold. On the way back home I was still cold, even with heating on. I wondered how it might feel to be a homeless guy- to have this exact feeling every goddamn day. I felt a great shame that our society let this happen to people.
I said farewell to my friend as he got off on his stop. I called my home and said I was in Dungiven. I wasn’t, but if I told them I was leaving Maghera they’d take their time picking me up and I was not in the mood to wait in the Cold.
I got home at around ten o’clock in the morning and went immediately to bed. Took a few hours for me to feel anything other than cold. Like I said, it was in my bones. It lingered like a scent.
It was a miserable experience, but believe it or not it was ultimately rewarding. As the entire thing was the inspiration for my short film Cold, which is about a man who becomes homeless and how that effects his mental health. It stars one of my friend’s who’s an actor, I’ve talked about him previously on the blog.
I hadn’t really seen him much for about a year so the entire thing was a great chance to hang out. Initially I wasn’t looking to cast him because he’s like a proper professional actor and I assumed he’d be busy (and looking for money, the bastard) so I casted the Acne Ridden Manlet who right from the get go wasn’t too enthusiastic about the whole thing, citing that he didn’t believe he possessed the acting prowess for such a titular role.
Eventually I recast him because I didn’t want to bother him with filming while he had exams to prepare for. Finding a date with him was also difficult cause he was at University most days of the week and worked on weekends. But with my Actor friend it barely took a week to get the whole thing filmed, mainly because he wasn’t as busy as I had assumed.
I recast the character without updating the Acne Ridden Manlet, only telling him on the second day that I was shooting. Felt like a right prick, but alas he couldn’t give a fuck either which way.
Pre-Production for the film was a bitch. There’s something about being graded on a film that makes the entire process much less enjoyable. I only wrote one draft of the script, in which there was little to no dialogue because I knew right out of the gate that sound was going to be a problem- no dialogue, no problem.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about the whole project and upon shooting the film, neither was the actor. He was very unimpressed at my laziness and severely amateurish direction. Most of which can be summed up as; “Look Sad!” or “Walk towards me!” I didn’t have a proper shot list so to him it seemed like I was just filming random scenes on the whim in random locations. Which…isn’t wrong.
He also resented the fact that he had to carry some of my shit. I had four bags with me- two school bags full of cardboard, a camera bag and a tripod bag. We ended up walking long distances with that shit two, all the while talking about acting and dancing upon the razor thin edge of sectarian banter that makes our relationship all the more dicy.
The second day he was less enthusiastic about the whole thing. I assumed either because he was tired or had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend. I ought to stop these assumptions, it’s quite rude. But then again my assumptions are usually right. We finished up the day shoots quickly so he could go to an audition. We met up in the evening and finished the night scenes.
I paid a friend of mine to show up for like one scene. Keep in mind the actor friend was doing this for free, but I had to pay her £50 to show up fr twenty minutes. And the cheek of it, her Dad told her to ask fro the money up front in case I’d cheat her out of the pay. The outrage! ….Granted, that’s what I tried to do- but the outrage!
We finished up filming and fucked off back to our respective shit holes. I paid the doll within a week, after she kept pestering me.
I spent the next three weeks embroiled with editing. I must have watched that film over at least two hundred times. Honest to fuck I was sick of looking at my friend’s, how do I politely put it? Ah yes, Donkey Face.
Three weeks and it didn’t take long for me to grow numb to the picture. There’s a strange thing that happens whenever you write something or edit something for a long period of time where you’re incapable of determining the quality of your work. Is it good? Was it ever good? I don’t know. It’s like you have this warm fluid flowing through your fingers and you can’t tell if it’s molten gold or liquid shit, all you know is that your hands hurt.
I finish the film, put in about 80% of my efforts- as Hank Green suggests. I get the approval of my tutor and then publish the film. I share it with my friends and was going to share it on Facebook, but my other friend- Blondie- beat me to the punchline. The bastard.
It got great reviews overall. Blondie told me it was his favourite short out of all his friends (we’re both aspiring film makers and we hang out with people like us) other were just as positive. Strangest comment I received was from a woman who said that the actor was “Too handsome to be a homeless man!” which…I don’t know about that.
I mean he’s not ugly, but he’s not that handsome either. He looks pretty enough to be a homeless guy that gets brutally raped by other homeless guys.
Then there were people who complimented the actor’s performance which baffled the shit out of me since he pretty much phoned it in. I didn’t even give him that much direction either so it really was a sub par performance, then again- you get what you pay for.
I’ve applied the short for a few film festivals but I’ve either been rejected or have yet to hear back from the organisers. It’s not likely to win any awards but despite that I’m quite pleased at the reaction I’ve gotten. Even though I wasn’t too enthused with the project at the start I’m glad I was able to create something I’m proud of, especially when it’s inspired by a shitty night out.
The lessons you learn here are as follows; engage in class, even if you don’t like talking. Respond to your messages, even if your friend is a bit of a cunt. Avoid red wine and try not to judge a book by it’s cover- even if that book is from Derry. Be aware that even a bad situation can be used to create some good. Be respectful, be empathetic, try to avoid pub talk and above all else- try not to get stranded in Belfast. It’s a bad idea- and find some place to sleep.
Otherwise your friends will chastise you with such remarks as “You’re a retard” and “why didn’t you go to a YMCA?” but if they say that, just bring up their insecurities and berate them with insults. That’ll make you feel much better, might even warm you up.