I have just read that Led by Donkeys is responsible for the very moving Covid memorial beside the Thames and next to St Thomas’ Hospital. Well done them. I hope it remains.
Today I have been in Belfast. It was hot, and by the time I arrived at the bus station to come back here I was weary. Belfast, I realised today, is a city not designed to give shelter to pedestrians. In warm weather you bake, in wet weather you get soaked.
After a brief visit to the Linen Hall Library – no visit to Belfast is complete unless this is on the itinerary – where I enjoyed two exhibitions, I dropped into tourist information for a free street map. Then across the road to City Hall and beyond, heading for the university quarter, where the Ulster Museum sits in the Botanic Gardens.
But before my next culture hit, I had lunch. I was sad to see the wonderful falafel place I enjoyed two summers ago has closed. Fortunately there’s another place a few doors up the road also offering Lebanese fare. It was good. Then into a bookshop, because who can resist them? Not I. Only as I was paying did I realise this was No Alibis bookshop. I have bought books from their stall at the John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh. I exclaimed and explained. It was then David, the owner’s turn to exclaim. They have a fine array of photographs of cats at the counter. These are pictures of cats belonging to the staff. Then there are other cat bits and pieces too.
The gardens were beautiful, and fairly busy with people enjoying the sunshine. I recommend the exhibition about La Belle Époque. I am so glad I was born after the days of floor length dresses, corsets and other daily impediments to freedom of movement. Beautiful these garments may be, but so restricting. Fashion as a form of control. There was also a fascinating exhibition marking 100 years since Irish partition. One of the details that caught my attention was a bit how each side of the new border new mythologies and identities were forged. The republic claiming dramatic scenery, religious faith and rural life; the north industrialisation, skilled labour and urban life. Protestants in the north who had previously identified as Irish, now started calling themselves British. So divisive. So damaging.
I have some pictures of the day. Maybe later I’ll add them to this post, or include them in another one.
Stay safe. Keep well. Hold your politicians to account.