Monday, October 09, 2006

You've got your Troubles

Sticking with the anal theme, this time we hop on a ferry and cross the Irish Sea to Belfast. Bit of an emotional one, this. It was the first image submitted specifically for inclusion in this proposed project, way back in autumn 2005. Hats off to pioneering correspondent Eilidh Gordon for playing the game early doors, and for popping The Filthy Pen’s contributional cherry.

A place infamous for its highly-charged political and paramilitary graffiti, it’s heartening to see that the Northern Ireland peace dividend has made its presence felt on the walls as well as in the economy. But wait - the word ‘sex’ has faded to near-invisibleness, and that circled A for anarchy is another sign of age. Why, this is no recent post-ceasefire addition - it could be at least a quarter of a century old.

Let’s imagine that it dates from 1981, and let’s travel back in time. They were dark days in Norn Iron. Republican prisoners in the Maze were on hunger-strike, making their point by refusing prison nosh and dropping like emaciated flies. Tensions were running sky-high across Belfast with the city poised on a knife-edge. And amid the riots, demos, turmoil and unrest, someone was prowling the streets with a can of black paint, on a mission to find and deface a suitable wall. Oh well, life goes on.

So if the anal sex wasn’t concrete, what exactly was it? An implied threat? A hopeful plea? Post-pub bravado? We can only speculate. The true meaning has been lost in the mists of time, and now all we have left is theory and supposition. It's like the riddle of the Pyramids, the mystery of Stonehenge and the question of who shot JFK all rolled into one big tricky arse-related head-scratcher.

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