Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strange Sights

Walking into Bangor along Groomsport Road, a taxi pulled into Ballyholme beach car park. Nothing strange about that, except the taxi had a southern registration - "An MhĂ­," or Meath I believe it is in English. This was confirmed by the sign on top which said "Meath Cabs."

It pulled up by the beachside. A man got out of the driver's side door. He was a tall, slightly rotund, bearded man, with a crown of long, curly greying hair. A bit like a tubbier Billy Connolly. Two small young dark boys got out as well. I heard them refer to the big fella as 'Daddy.'

'Lets go Daddy!' they said. And then they all stripped down to their underwear. It was a showery day, and it had just started to rain heavily.

As he was removing his trousers, the man looked at me. I looked at him. And then he said, "Sorry, did you say something?" in what I took to be a broad Meath accent.

I replied "No, I didn't say anything." Because I hadn't. I was thinking a number of things, but I hadn't said anything. Then I did say something. "Long old drive from Meath, that's some fare those young fellas have totted up!" I remarked in what I hoped was a humorous fashion.

In response, he turned his back on me and waved a dismissive hand, as if being stripped to his underpants in a car park in north County Down, far from home, on a damp afternoon, was the most natural thing in the world.

The rain got heavier. As if in response, he and his two sons ran into the sea. I walked on. As I went out of sight, I looked back to see them wading about in the sea up to their chests in the soaking rain. They looked as if they were having a good time. They had the beach to themselves.

I'd like to know the story behind this. Did the gentleman get up in the morning and say to his sons, "Stuff the taxiing today lads, pile in, we're going north!" I do hope so.


I went into Bangor and did my messages. The weather improved and it became warm and sunny. On the way home I saw the second strange thing of the day. In Ballyholme Park, there were a bunch of Italians. I know they were Italians, as I have a smattering of their tongue.

On a small hillock was a stern faced, grey haired gentleman. He had a little digital video camera set up on a tripod. Below were a bunch of teenagers, about ten in number, male and female.

The elderly gentleman barked some orders in his native language and the teens took up what seemed like prearranged positions below. Then they began to dance in set moves. The tune they were dancing to was the theme from 'Fame' - you know, 'Fame, I'm gonna live forever.' But they didn't have any sort of sound system, they were singing the tune in English as they danced.

Soon, the teens collapsed in a huge fit of giggles. The stern faced gentleman didn't laugh. He seemed aggrieved at this. He barked out some more orders, which I took to mean 'Lets take it again from the top,' as the kids all resumed their original positions. After he gave them another order, they recommenced the dance as before.

What was going on?

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