WELL we met in 2000, so the Pulp song is still a wee bit relevant for my crappy headline writing skills.
Fresh from a public meeting in An Cultúrlann on Saturday, I headed city wards to meet Leslie, one of my proddy mates from East Belfast. We exchanged texts during the week and she was telling me about her new job so I decided we should go for lunch with the intention of squeezing two blogs out of her. One is this and the other is coming up next.
Leslie isn’t one of them people I reluctantly catch up with. When I say we should meet up, I mean it and would never dream of cancelling plans. She’s one of the maddest and most sincere people I know. We might not see each other for years but when we do, we pick up where we left off.
We lived together in an apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. When I say apartment, I use the noun loosely. Check me out, identifying nouns and all. It was really a high rise flat we shared with two other girls, Majella and Lynsey.
Back home Majella was an English girl living in Ballymurphy, Lynsey was from Australia but living in Ballygowan and me and Leslie were the two Belfast-born hallions. Majella and I came from Republican families, Leslie and Lynsey both had connections to the RUC and Orange Order. It sounds like a recipe for murder but it wasn’t. We had some brilliant laughs. We had completely different upbringings but when it came down to it, we were nineteen-year-old single girls who spent our wages on vodka and redbull and were threatened with eviction every week.
We worked in the Great Lakes Science Centre and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as interns. It was here that we perfected our skiving and bullshitting skills. We supervised a huge IMAX cinema. Working here hungover was a gift because it was pitch dark and we could recline and go to sleep five times a day.
It was a competition to see who could spin the yanks the most yarns.
Leslie and I were coming out of the local grocery store one day and a man stopped us and asked what we were doing there. Being young, white European women in the predominantly black city, we appeared to be the talk of the place. We told him we were adult film stars and over shooting a movie. The sucker looked delighted and bid us good day as he more than likely went off to have a wee think about that.
Lynsey and I were working in HMV in the Rock Hall one day when a man over heard us talking away to each other. He asked us where we were from and all the rest of it. I told him that Lynsey’s uncle Rolf Harris got her a job in HMV. Back then Rolf Harris had a decent name. That man now probably thinks Lynsey was fiddled with when she was a child.
Over lunch in The Morning Star sixteen years after our big trip to America, Leslie and I resumed our giggling and the craic flowed once more. But we were deadly sober, a lot older but still not wiser. Seeing her again put me in a really good mood. Maybe Belfast isn’t such a shithole after all.