“I’ll throw f**king bleach in your face, I will. I’ll f**king blind ye, swear to God.” It was seven twenty and LSB and I were catching the number 78 into town on Saturday night. We’d called a Foncab but since there were 18 thousand people piling out of the rugby the taxi was a no-show. So down we trotted to Forestside and were relieved to see a bus appear in minutes. On we hopped, excited to be heading to Yugo on Wellington Place, our new favourite restaurant.
Eek, here comes trouble we thought as a fellow came sloping on, his face twisted in a belligerent scowl. It didn’t take long for the ugliness to start. He’d positioned himself at the back of the bus beside a school kid. “What are you looking at? You’re f**king staring at me so you are.” The boy tried his best to ignore him, which agitated his tormentor further. As soon as the bleach was mentioned LSB was off his seat. “That’s not on, I’ll going up there,” he said and off he went. “Enjoying the sunshine? Where are you headed?” he asked the kid. They struck up a chat as the bus inched towards Cherryvale where it reached a standstill, as the queue of cars snaked along the Ravenhill. “Oh shit” I thought. “A traffic jam, just the time to be stuck in a confined space with a mentalist.” I placated myself with the thought that three bigger guys had got on near the Co-op to provide a bit of muscle if things turned nasty. “So where are you from?” spat Bleach boy, turning on LSB. “Just up by Forestside” he replied neutrally. “Where exactly? Four winds? F**king fenian, that’s what you are. You look it, so you do.” Down the bus, big guy number one looked up, then studied a pamphlet with renewed interest. Number two suddenly seemed engrossed in his phone. So I joined the party at the back of bus, sitting beside our sectarian pal, between him and LSB. We tried to have a chat about Spanish with the young lad, about to do his first GCSE the following week. It was all somewhat uncomfortable. Various paramilitary groups started to be mentioned, with whom Bleach boy was affiliated. All nice, convivial Saturday evening stuff.
The bus pulled in and a crew of rugby supporters trotted on. Oblivious to the small drama unfolding, two older gents joined us. They were great, full of craic, and perhaps more clued in than we thought. One guy was from Carrick and we knew a headmaster in common so had a yarn. I tried to drop in as many Protestant names as possible, but it seemed if you didn’t hail from the ‘estate’ you didn’t cut the mustard with our mate. We were all lying bastards apparently. Outnumbered now, he staggered up the bus and demanded to be let out in the middle of a junction: “Let me aff this bus or I’m f**king wrecking it”he asked politely, before finally careering up May Street with a “You’re dead” gesture.
LSB wasn’t going anywhere until the school kid had
met his friend and the nice guys in Yugo were very understanding that we were by now somewhat late for our table. I really, really needed that gin cocktail.
So after the Botantic Gardens incident which went viral and this lovely episode, I think we can conclude the sun really brings out the charmers in South Belfast. But LSB, all eight and a half stone of him. What an urban warrior.