I arrived in Belfast on the morning of March 13th. Dad’s partner Maire O’Hare kept herself busy making all the arrangements for Dad’s funeral, informing all his friends and relatives, dealing with the undertakers, finding the family grave and getting it opened and innumerable other matters. All that remained for me was to come to the wake on March 15th and then the funeral the next day.
I was staying at my Aunt Maura’s house in Carrickfergus. (Mum would have accommodated me at her place in Downpatrick but she had only just moved in about a week before and the place was still a shambles.) And I got to see all of my surviving relatives, mostly on my father’s side, and nearly all of his friends, some of whom had known him since he was a child.
It was this pleasant atmosphere that I left behind on March 21st to come back to the life I’d been leading in Walthamstow, in a bedsit on a main road. To make matters worse, the guy who occupied the room immediately below mine had become mixed up with drug gangs. the upshot of this was there were drug dealers, junkies and other sub-humans in and out of the house in the small hours.
And then, if you please, word circulated that my neighbour and I were police informers and they demanded money from us or, to quote them, they would “f*** us up”. I worte a note to them saying, “We’re not informers. We’re nothing to do with the police. Please leave us alone.” Did that work? Did it heck!
And then, don’t you know, my idiot neighbour had his front door keys stolen by one of the gangsters. Now they could come and go with impunity. And that was the last straw. I vanished.
The place I’ve come back to is vastly different to the place I left in 1991 and this is where I want to live while I still have family around me.