Saturday, July 02, 2005


I had a juggling job in Larne last Saturday . I always make a habit of asking any photographers taking pictures to send us a copy, they never did until today. Its not a particularly good shot (I think you need to be a juggler as well as a photographer to get good juggling shots) but it was nice to receive it anyway.
Larne is a funny place for a festival. For those of you not familiar with Northern Ireland, Larne is where most of the boats from Scotland sail to. But Larne doesn’t feel like a coastal town. The port is a big ugly blot on the landscape that just spews out all the freight traffic on to the dual carriage way to Belfast about 20 miles down the road. So you can’t blame them for trying to breathe a bit of life in to the town with a festival, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel right. The people just don’t seem to get it. The parade went well enough but the street we’d been given for our show was so depressing, it was at the back of the town and was populated by 2 charity shops, a butchers and a shoe shop.
The shoe shop was a story in itself; we didn’t pay much attention to it at first but then noticed an old man coming out of it. He tottered about like he was drunk, but I think it was more the effects of age than drink.
His shop had closing down notices in the front window, which, like the deck shoes and espadrilles, were bleached by the sun. A local told us that the notices had been in the window for about 20 years, and that the owner was 95. Later he came out with an old shoebox full of sweets for us and started telling us about his shop – how he was retiring soon and how some bloke had said he would buy his old stock. Its enough to bring a tear to your eye isn’t it .

Yet another victim of car culture - with the pile em high sell em cheap superstores offering free parking, and everything under one roof he could never compete. What was once probably a thriving street was now full of boarded up shops with just a couple left fighting to survive.
So as Larne strives for an identity by throwing a carnival once a year, they destroy any sense of community by allowing the big boys to move in and put the small shop owners out of business. A story being repeated all over the country, if not the world.

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