Crunch crunch, fistle fistle, chomp chomp. Sluuuurp. Crunch crunch……and repeat. Where was I? Was I at a children’s birthday party? Was I at a giant multiplex where film-goers don’t give a fig for other’s enjoyment of the show? You’ll never guess where this transgression of social norms took place, so I’ll fill you in: only at the Black Box at the wonderful 10×9 last Wednesday night! I kid you not. As usual it was rammed, there were even a few people standing at the back. My friend and I had managed to get a table with some other pals. It’s that sort of event, you arrive and inevitably meet people who say “Join us, we’ve a table!” And in you squeeze and chat and then you shut up and respect the brave folk who’ve got up to share their story with you. The stories, as the title of the event suggests, lasts less than 10 minutes, otherwise HONK! and they’re booted offstage. So surely this guy beside us could have set his giant packet of Dorritos to one side and shown a bit of respect? Sadly not.
I was particularly irked because I really wanted to hear this story. The theme last week was ‘Young’ and a gentleman stood up to tell his experience of being a member of a house church in the Castlereagh Hills in the early eighties. His language was rich and poetic and I could picture this group, watching as explosions lit the sky with the wail of sirens in the distance, discussing the Rapture as sectarian violence shook the city below. These were a group of non-conformist Christians, trying to find their way amid the chaos, some seeking solace from a more repressive religious up-bringing. Having had a brush with the evangelicals myself as a teen, I was rapt; or would have been, had it not been for Mr Doesn’t-Give-A-Shit beside me. I whispered “Is he doing your head in?” to my friend, who’s a reasonable sort. “I’m going to fucking choke him” she replied. I sighed with relief. I sometimes wonder if age is turning me into an uptight old crone. In fairness I was always highly strung. Anyway, the people behind him had a quiet word for he left a packet of Tayto unopened, thereby sparing me further anguish.
There’s a lesson here: unless one is at risk of falling into a hypoglycaemic diabetic coma, you don’t chow down crisps during a 10×9. This event is possibly the cosiest on the Belfast social scene and it shouldn’t be marred in such a fashion. The next one’s in May and I urge you to go. Just leave the snacks at home. No one likes a scene.