Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Saturday, 29 August 2015


In the early Nineteen-Seventies I rented a shabby little flat on Lisburn Road in Belfast, during the years when The Troubles took their toll on the nerves and lives of those of us who chose, or had no choice but, to live in Northern Ireland.

Those were interesting times. Most of us lived on a bilious cocktail of dread, anger and constant anxiety.
Day by day, the bloody associates of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness went about the business of abducting and torturing people who disagreed with their particular vision of Ireland, or often simply murdering them.

A version of the Swinging Sixties had finally arrived in Ulster and there was a certain wild abandon on the social scene. A wartime recklessness, too, infused relationships between the sexes because the threat of sudden death or injury was never far away.
Love affairs and liaisons were conducted in a climate beyond the understanding of the British public, safely ensconced on the mainland, and IRA bombs, targeted on civilians, were a daily occurrence.
One such bomb demolished my little flat, but not before I’d enjoyed many exuberant evenings there with friends and lovers.
Music played a vital part in such evenings and scores of vinyl albums stood, cheek by jowl, with much-loved paperbacks on my makeshift shelves.
Tracks by Van Morrison, Bob Seger, Joni Mitchell and Melanie Safka were played and replayed till they became embedded in my memory, never to be erased.

There was something in the music of those days that addressed the strange mixture of joy and sadness I felt, adrift in my middle years.
To this day, I can't listen to a Bob Seger song without being transported back to that time and place. 

Melanie Safka, too, though not the world's greatest singer, had a poignant quality to her voice and delivery that transfixed me. Her heartrending version of the Jagger/Richards classic, Ruby Tuesday, can still bring a tear to my eye and send me whirling back through the squandered years to Belfast and those vanished friends.

Click here to hear Melanie at her best: 

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