I was up in Belfast last week for the funeral of the mother of a good friend of mine. Mr. Waffle persuaded me that it would be better to take the train than the car and in many ways it was (no parking problems, environmentally sounder, less tiring etc.). It did mean, however, that I was dependent on a Belfast taxi man to get me from the station to the church for 10 am.
A perfectly correctly behaved cyclist went past us and the taxi driver said, “I hate those bloody cyclists; they keep weaving in and out and disobeying the rules of the road.” Could I let it go? I could not. We had a robust exchange of views on the way to the church. In fact we parked outside the church and I could see the hearse being unloaded and still he wouldn’t let me go. I was forced to concede that perhaps we could all learn something in the hopes of getting out before the coffin was carried into the church.
The funeral itself was a nice one. A lovely church (St. Patrick’s, Donegall Street); nice music and readings; and the parish priest knew the dead lady well and is a close friend of her son’s so gave a really good homily pointing out that she had been baptised in the very same church in 1930 and gone there all her life. The priest was also careful to welcome people of all faiths and none which we never bother with in the South. The fact that the deceased had brought up six children through the Troubles was also touched on. My friend does have some slightly hair-raising stories like when he was a little boy, he ran to get his ball from under a car and everyone started roaring at him and a soldier ran over and grabbed him – there was a bomb, apparently, or at least, a bomb scare.
I then went for a brief wander about Belfast before heading home on the train. It struck me as pretty depressed (although I suppose nowhere is at its best on a rainy Tuesday in November) and a lot less busy than Dublin or even Cork, and quite pricey too. I don’t quite know why that should be – is it the Brexit uncertainty, the absence of an Assembly, the collapse of industry or just maybe November rain? Poor Belfast.