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Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Sometimes we piss into the wind and fart against thunder,
become the budgie on the ladder, the rat on the treadmill,
steering ourselves and our kin through the rapids,
avoiding the craters and potholes on life’s highways,
diverting left and right, dodging slips, trips and falls,
despising the bulls and bears and the boom-bust-boom-bust bankers,
carrying the depression of the recession, our shoulders forced to slink,
falling exhausted into the armchair, feeling like the weakest link,
preferring to stash any cash in a bucket under the sink.

Then flickering on the screen in the big box in the lounge,
not Zippy, Bungle but George looking shifty, on the scrounge,
he tells us times are harder and the best of friends are few,
reminding us the whole world order is “out of order” too,
and we try not to think of any Chancellor as a curse
until we check for our share and find there’s nothing in our purse.

Compared to how Dick Turpin went about his chosen task,
maybe George works in a different way…. but wearing the same mask.”


"Noah Surrender" or "Ark Now Hear" - from "A Belfast Kid" AUDIO: BOOK:

Saturday, 16 March 2013


Yesterday, I had the good fortune to spend time with veteran and legendary Belfast-born actor James Ellis and his wife Robina.  It was Jimmy's birthday and we had a nice lunch and a great chat.  I met Jimmy for the first time in the summer of 2010 when we were involved in a BBC TV documentary on the actor Stephen Boyd.

When it was time for me to go, Jimmy gave me a copy of his poetry book "Domestic Flight" with this inscription:

"For my dear friend and fellow Belfast-man Joe Cushnan, with fondest wishes, Jimmy Ellis."

It is a wonderful book and I urge you to seek it out.  Here's a poem:

for Paddy Devlin

I crossed a bridge and thought to shake the dust
From off my feet, but it was not to be;
For though I fled across the Irish Sea,
Nursing resentment and profound disgust

That individuals had betrayed their trust
And held the public stage in ignominy,
Events o'ertook the ancient enemy,
And time has mellowed memory, as it must.

Homeward I crawl, a wretched prodigal,
To bide awhile, and then again depart -
To leave once more, once more to feel bereft -

Your picture album in my mental holdall,
The hills of Antrim etched upon my heart,
For truth to tell, I never really left.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


I was reminded by my brother Kevin (Twitter handle @cushnakm) of my attempt to write a tribute song about Harry Chapin, following the singer/songwriter's death in July 1981.

Chapin was/is an exemplary storytelling songwriter and humanitarian and it is a big regret of mine that I never saw him in concert - whereas Kevin did several times in the Ulster and Grosvenor Halls.

You will notice a reference to "electronic needle" in the chorus and that, children, is a reference to something called a stylus that we ancients used to drop onto LPs to create sound.....

Anyway, for better or worse, here are the lyrics to the song:


You took me to some places
and not once did I say no
from the deck of a sinking ship
to some local radio
You took me higher than an eagle
and you never let me down
you taught me simple lessons
of a world a-spinning round

It's so sad that Harry's gone but I can bring him back
with an electronic needle on a hundred album tracks
It's so sad to lose a singer before the final song
now the angels buy his music
it's so sad that Harry's gone

You made my dreams a little sweeter
and my smile a little wide
You made me laugh a little louder
and cry deep down inside
You took me by the hand
and you told your stories well
but when the wheel stopped turning
there was still much more to tell

It's so sad that Harry's gone but I can bring him back
with an electronic needle on a hundred album tracks
It's so sad to lose a singer before the final song
now the angels buy his music
it's so sad that Harry's gone

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


To the tune - Home On The Range.......

Oh give us a Church that’s not in the lurch,
That’s not prone to pontiff-icate,
Where always is heard an encouraging word
And no scandal-words ending in “gate”.

Rome, Rome on the edge
As the Cardinals are having their say
About a new guy as Pope to give the Catholic Church hope,
Will the skies be white smoky today?