I went out on a Friday night, alone, and in an unknown city. Shrugging off the niggling feeling of panic, I descended the steps of a pub, and as I was entering its dark interior, my heart skipped. I was in. Defence against any lecherous advances ready should I need to use it: polite, but firm. I really am fine on my own. By far happier than in certain company, in any case. So I ordered my Guinness at the bar, and found my place in the pub, close to the small stage at the far end of the room. The music started, and I settled into my solitude, like slipping in a pair of old comfortable shoes before going for a long walk by the sea. Breathing in the fresh air already. Metaphorically in this case, of course.
I’m in Belfast for a couple of days, on my own. One of the things I’ve wanted to do here is go out, preferably to a pub, drink Guinness and listen to some live music. But I’m travelling alone, and I don’t always feel safest on my own. I sometimes think this is easier for blokes. I feel vulnerable, preyed upon at times. And I hate feeling that, and being restricted in that way. I feel silly for feeling that way. Also, it’s a bit paranoid, I know. So this time I decided go for it anyway. I did, and it felt oh so good!
I loved comfortable darkness of the pub, the shady red lights reflecting on the red wall paper, making it look magic. A velvet curtain dripping a red warm glow in the same light, the light that gave its drab folds life it doesn’t possess in the daylight. I missed my camera which was left in my hotel room. And I relished the taste of just poured Guinness in my mouth.
The pub was called the Empire, and the music was fantastic! Just a guy with a guitar, playing away. One of the songs that seemed to particularly resonate both within the singer and the audience went like this:
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
I wonder whether by singing this powerful song by the Who (see also the lyrics for Won’t Get Fooled Again) the singer was thinking about the recent events in this region. 5 February 2010 was an important Friday for Northern Ireland, as the agreement was reached that the responsibility for policing and justice will be devolved from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Assembly, i.e. giving Northern Ireland the control of its police and justice system. In any case, I hope this seals the peace in this land.
I return home with the determination to travel alone again. Soon. And to learn how to make potato bread and wheathen bread, to which I’ve become addicted. If you know a good recipe, drop me a line, and especially if you have any tips for women travelling alone. Cheers!