Sunday’s Inspiration: Why Did I Ever Ever Travel?

“Where do you go? Buttoned in your favourite coat, stepping out to a different world.
And you might be home late.”- Ocean Colour Scene.

“Where do you go? Buttoned in your favourite coat, stepping out to a different world.
And you might be home late.”- Ocean Colour Scene.

Aged 17 I flicked through the CDs in His Master’s Voice record shop in Belfast city, the Northern Irish passion-drenched capital. Imagine the thrill of it all. Life was amazing. I just loved Belfast when I was aged 17-18. Nothing else ever ever really ever really compares. It just won’t. It just won’t. 1997 Belfast kicked some ass in a shotgun cloud, targeted by the sundry emotionic love affair this city pushed upon my soul, inadvertently. Glentoran Football Club (heartigating) aside, I should add. Move over Churchill…

Back in 1997 – Belfast student loving the life

So back to the point and the quote, I picked up an Ocean Colour Scene single called Traveller’s Tune after Tech (college) in Belvoir Park one day. It didn’t fit my dreams to travel back then, but I loved the song. It sent a message subliminally to my 1986 mind (that of 1986 World Cup nostalgia) which was drenched in Norman Whiteside metaphors only Steven Penney could have penned or only Paul Ramsey could have rammed. I hummed the Ocean Colour Scene song the next day (insert a random unknown date in October 1997) to Johnny Kerr, Keith Thompson, Julie Cole and Vicky Everitt at Belvoir Tech. They must have thought “who is this Bangorian buck eejit?” but we hummed along and later I tried to play it on guitar, and failed. Thankfully so…
“I’ll have my way, in my own time” – Noel Gallagher.
windsor

Saturday night in the Windsor, Bangor. When I was young.

But life as a 17 year old is bliss. I still cite that year of studying in Belfast as the year that really changed my life. I was an innocent child finding my feet. I had passion, poetry and I passed my journalism course with sky driving parchment colours, not without a beer or two or hat-tricky or the odd need to stand out from the crowd. 1998 came round, I passed the course, got a job as a stock controller for Tesco (6 a.m. starts) and I forgot the whole purpose of life again. Happiness probably left my life the very moment the last journalistic bombscare sun raised its weary head over Belfast’s Belvoir estate. You want to know a confession? (it’s a bit below…)
“This is the straw, final straw in the roof of my mind” – Gary Lightbody.
(What have I become? truth is nothing yet)

This is the straw, final straw…

Despite the fact I played football and there were numerous pitches in Belvoir, I haven’t been back there since. 20 years last month. TWENTY YEARS, Belvoir! That was it. When the course ended and I passed, I took my certificate down the pub, wrote a few football fanzines, sent some articles to music magazines (about Oasis, Ash and Manic Street Preachers) and that was that. Journalism career was just hearsay to me, a dream uninspired, a course wasted. A life pro-in what I believed in.
“Is anyone here prepared to say just what they mean? Or is it too late?” – Liam Gallagher.

Selling fanzines at Windsor Park for the Spain home match in 2003. We drew 0-0.

Five years later I found myself living in Bournemouth in the south of England. The smiles were back. Later to be gone again. You probably don’t dwell too much on life like me, but I need to. This is a reality show but it ain’t always the best. That’s why I don’t care. I just write MY STORY. Read it or leave it. Simple. Oh yes, Bournemouth…
“Up the Cherries, in all departments!” – All real AFC Bournemouth fans ever.
Local celebrity spotting with Eddie Howe, manager of AFC Bournemouth.

AFC Bournemouth Northern Irishfan and the man we all love at Dean Court – Eddie Howe’s Barmy Army.

I moved to Australia and it was amazing and my happiness was surely back. Then the smiles were gone again. Was it depression, was it belonging? Something so strong I could not contemplate it.
“I’m shoving angels instead” – Robbie Williams.

Sweet home Parramatta back in 2010. Can you find me??

A light of ray was the Hong Kong angel, unrobbiewilliamic, Panny Yu, whom I met again the following day and moved to Hong Kong.
“I believe without a doubt in you” – Robbie Williams.

Panny Yu and I deep sea diving off the coast of Honduras.

And we know that all fell apart…
Why? Probably my fault.
No. Definitely my fault.
“If you find yourself standing on the corner while you’re thinking of a different world. Then you might see me waiting on the corner staring through you in your different world…” – you guessed the artist.
Then came Pozzie (that fateful night in Poznań in 2015) and my brief stay and toyagation with Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. After some time in depression, in came the message from long time friend Rafał Kowalczyk, “Jonny meet me down the pub. Beer, football, comedy moments”. And that was that, I stayed in Poland…

A local lady and I drinking grzane piwo in Pozzie in 2015

I bornigated the new project Northern Irishman in Poland and attempted to be 17 again.
esa school kids

I’m getting too old, I’m trying to be happy

I look older now. I feel older now. But in my heart, I’m still loving myself as this shy Bangor boy studying in Belfast city aged 17 and dreaming the world up again. I have to keep loving it, or I’ll die of depression, or kill myself. 160+ countries down, there’s only really one quote left…
“It’s the same world. Same world everywhere you go” – Neil Finn.
Jonny Blair a lifestyle of travel tubing in Vang Vieng - how not to go tubing!

Chaz and I in Laos 2012… #belfastchild #belfastboy #ulsterczyk

“The days are leaving me behind, there are no hills left. To climb” – Jonny Blair.

Dobranoc, world…

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