Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Thursday, 8 October 2015


I've just returned from a visit to Belfast, a city which, when I left it twenty-something years ago, was enmeshed in strife and despondency.
Nowadays, post-Troubles, the area is a vibrant and dynamic hub with much to offer in terms of craft and culture.
My daughter and I visited the Cathedral Quarter and were greatly impressed by the many examples of public art, not least the amazing wall murals, one of which is pictured below.
(Lest there be any confusion, I'm the person sitting on the only three-dimensional object in the picture, a red bench.) 

Photo by Carolynn Forster 2015

Another wall in the same courtyard is adorned with images of a group of famous Ulstermen.
In a massive, if unlikely, gathering, C S Lewis rubs shoulders with Kenneth Branagh, Seamus Heaney, George Best, Van Morrison, Liam Neeson, John Hewitt, Rory McIlroy, Brian Friel and many others, while another gable -end depicts scenes from Belfast Shipyard where the world famous liner Titanic was built.
I particularly liked one corner where muralists have elected to display the well-known local rhyme, The Ballad of William Bloat.
The ballad is a classic example of Ulster black humour, dark and rich as a pint of Guinness.  

Photo by Carolynn Forster 2015

The Ballad of William Bloat – Raymond Calvert

In a mean abode on the Shankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat;
He had a wife, the curse of his life,
Who continually got his goat.
So one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He cut her bloody throat.

With a razor gash he settled her hash
Oh never was crime so quick
But the drip drip drip on the pillowslip 

Of her lifeblood made him sick.
And the pool of gore on the bedroom floor
Grew clotted and cold and thick.

And yet he was glad he had done what he had
When she lay there stiff and still
But a sudden awe of the angry law
Struck his heart with an icy chill.
So to finish the fun so well begun
He resolved himself to kill.

He took the sheet from the wife’s cold feet
And twisted it into a rope
And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf,
‘Twas an easy end, let’s hope.
In the face of death with his latest breath
He solemnly cursed the Pope.

But the strangest turn to the whole concern
Is only just beginning.
He went to Hell but his wife got well
And she’s still alive and sinning.
For the razor blade was German made
But the sheet was Belfast linen.

Click here: Famous Ulstermen

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