Belfast and the fermented cough syrup that is Buckfast

Living in Belfast

As a native of Washington, Tyne and Wear, the idea of a town overrun by hoards of ********* ******** was nothing new. In fact, I was convinced that I had seen it all in the 18 years that I had lived, relatively peacefully (only two black eyes and a bruised lip), amongst the burgeoning underclass of one of the North East’s premier charv melting pots. Teenage pregnancy, village centre brawls, bus shelter copulating…why these rituals were de rigueur, a mere insight into the social anthropological workings of the unevolved, nothing too threatening or surprising.

It was therefore with a care-free, easy going manner that I originally regarded the charv population of my new home, BELFAST. At first only subtle differences could be spotted by the naked eye. For example in Belfast the term is Spide, for the male of the species, Milly for the female (a interesting verbal distinction is made between the two sexes, which is probably for the best, as generations of in-breeding is making a visual identification more and more difficult). Also, the tipple of choice for the discerning charv, is, like many of his Scottish cousins, the fermented cough syrup that is Buckfast. For those you unfamiliar with this little pallet freshener, it is a 15% vol ‘Tonic’ Wine and available at pretty much every offie or supermarket in Northern Ireland, with the exception of Sainsbury’s. Featured in Rab C Nesbit and Trainspotting, the wine is essentially liquid speed, ensuring that no matter how much you drink, or what time you pass out at afterwards, you’ll be up bright as a button at 6am, looking to chin some Goths. Why, many a good night at Shine or the Nerve Centre has been had under the influence of a bottle of bo, or Lurgan Champagne as it is often known, and a couple of pills courtesy of a local paramilitary group.

Anyway, on early inspection the Spide population appeared to be pretty much as standard. Low, but typically so. Oh how wrong I was. The question I throw out to you now is how on earth do you bring out the utter worst in the utter worst? Why throw in a good old dose of sectarianism that’s how. In almost tribal fashion the Belfast Spides deck themselves out in either Celtic or Rangers strips, and stick pretty much to there respective ghettos, which are of course territorially marked with Tri Colours or Union Jacks, and various wall murals. Violence, as with all sects of charvadom, is expected, but remember this is Belfast, where people can and do have guns, and can and do throw petrol bombs at each other. Need I say more.

How grim is your Postcode?

On the morning of 12th July Spides of a Protestant/Loyalist persuasion, flock out onto the streets of Belfast to drink Buckfast and Tennants, get steemin and support British marches that often insist on walking into predominately Irish areas. They then set fire to a number of bonfires throughout the city. This is encouraged by some politicians and church officials. I’ll repeat that: they encourage the spides to set fire to things. On the evening of the 12th July Spides of a Catholic/Republican persuasion will drink Buckfast and Harp, set fire to vans/lorrys etc and fight with the peelers. Pretty much everyone else gets the hell out of Belfast for at least four days in and around this time.

So the next time some wee charv pesters you for a tab, or gives you grief because you won’t go to the offie for him, don’t get pissed off. Just smile and think to yourself, it could be worse, I could be living in Belfast.