A Broad Brush
A Broad Brush

of the written text


13:55 Sunday the 9th of July 2023

When was the last time you said something, you should not have said?

Mine was last Tuesday.

There is a habit I seem to have refined over the years, where I will write something in the moment, with little consideration for the wider landscape or personal consequences.


It is only once I have put what I have written out into the outside world, do I begin to learn, what I had written had far less to do with the landscape I thought I was depicting, and far more to do with some negative aspect regarding my own character.

Last Tuesday I wrote a piece while sitting in a café in Belfast. I gave it the title THE TWELFTH, knowing that most people that read it might have no idea what The Twelfth was. It reflected how I felt at the time. But re-reading it this morning, I see in it, an entitled man who has achieved enough in his own life not to worry about his own identity. It was written from the position of an Anywhere talking down to a Somewhere.

I could also see a man with a return ticket in his back pocket (or on his phone). A return ticket back to a moderately secure life in anonymous suburbia.

And again, I see a man, who finds it easy to point the finger at what he thinks to be the crime, at the same time as doing nothing to rectify the perceived crime in question.

What follows is what I wrote last Tuesday.

Crow on wall
The Lone Crow

09:51 Tuesday the 4th of July 2023

You are invited to...

But before I tell you what you are invited to, I want to tell you that tomorrow I will be under Spaghetti Junction. I will be there celebrating painting the twelfth of the 25 paintings that I am doing there, on ‘my’ wall, one on top of the other. And this twelfth painting is to be of my Brace & Bit. I have had this Brace & Bit for over forty years and have been using it in the building of all forty of the beds that I have been in the process of building around the world.

Last week I was under Spaghetti Junction my broad brush painting over in white, the last painting I had done there. That last painting was the head of The Lone Crow.

White Wall
A White Wall

But anyway, right now I am not under Spaghetti Junction nor even building a bed, I am sitting in an empty café in Belfast having a breakfast that I wish I was not having. As in this is not the breakfast I was hoping for. And my mind keeps drifting. I guess that’s what minds are for.

I mean imagine a world where minds did not drift. With no drifting minds there would be no new thoughts.


I mean...

How many times do you need to go to Belfast in one lifetime?
How many flags do you need to fly before you feel secure in your identity?
How many pieces of writing do I need to write about this city?

To answer the first, first... It was on the 30th of July 1957 that I first came here, and I seem to have been coming here ever since. Having no family ties to the place, or any particular vested interests in the place, it seems to make no sense. But here I am again. And if that bus around the corner or the heart attack waiting to happen, does not get me first, I guess I will be back here before long.

As for the flags, it being the Marching Season, Union flags are out in full force. I hate all flags. I hate them for all the obvious reasons to hate flags of any colour. Maybe I am being elitist about it, but for me the urge to fly a flag, always symbolises a deep insecurity in one’s personal identity. As in the more Stars & Stripes that Donald Trump felt the need to have hung behind him, when he was delivering whatever shite he was puking up, the more desperate it made him look in my eyes. And the same goes for Belfast, whatever the colour of the flags they are flying.

As for history...

As in the history tied up in these flags, fluttering on the lampposts across the road from this café.

We can either use history to learn by the mistakes our forebears made in the hope we might not make them again. Or we can use history to hide behind. And if we are hiding behind history, we are not learning fuck all, but merely using it to justify making the same type of mistakes again and again and again.

As for how many times I will not be able to stop myself writing about this place, this city, this Belfast – I have no idea. I know I have written really positive stuff about Belfast, about coming here to this big glamorous city, as a kid in the late 1950s and early 60s. Then again coming here in the early 1980s with Echo & The Bunnymen to play at the Ulster Hall, and how those were some of the best shows The Bunnymen ever played back then. Being at the Ulster Hall back then, one felt like it was being part of something that was worth being part of.

And then of course, writing about how brilliant Big Time by Rudi was. I mean you have heard Big Time by Rudi? A pivotal 45.

But anyway...

This time, or at least this morning, Belfast feels shite. It isn’t even all the flags flying marking the Marching Season that makes it feel shite, it was walking through the city centre looking for somewhere to have breakfast that felt totally shite. It just felt like any other city on its uppers. There was nothing but the chain shops and cafes. There is no sense of its own identity, an identity that should be worth way more than ten thousand flags. And when I finally found this café that was open and wasn’t a chain, it too was shite.

But maybe it was me...

Maybe it was me just feeling shite in myself and projecting all my shite-ness onto the city around me.

What I had been looking for was a proper full on Ulster Fry for breakfast, with soda bread, black pudding, tattie scones, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, beans and fried eggs and...

And all I could see on offer was a Subway, and a Café Nero, and a KFC, and a Burger King, and a Weatherspoon’s pub and all the other shite chains that are infesting cities around the globe.

But anyway...

As for why I am here in Belfast, that does not feel shite. The reason why I am here are good (or I think they are) and the people that I am meeting up with are good (or I think they are). And they have all stayed faithful to their city and not strayed to sunnier climes and greener pastures.

But my thoughts shift...

They shift from sunnier climes and greener pastures, as I gaze out the window and across the street to where a giant Union flag is tied to a lamppost and is fluttering against a threatening sky. And I am no longer thinking about Rudi singing Big Time or The Bunnymen at The Ulster Hall and the good people I’m visiting. Instead I am thinking about all that other shite stuff.

No Surrender?
No fuckin’ Surrender?

They surrendered as soon as they voted for Brexit.
They surrender every time they attach a Union flag to a lamppost.
They surrender every time they build a bonfire for that day in the calendar next week.
I mean...
King Billy never really gave a shite about them.
He was just using them for cannon fodder, so he could get his hands on the family jewels.

Have you surrendered if you attach any significance to the following years...


But back to having surrendered by voting Brexit, just look at the state of this city, can self-harm be anymore bloody. Take back control? What? So every global brand can come into your city and suck it dry of any sense of self that isn’t aligned to the self-harm you have been doing to yourself for more than a hundred years now.

I mean...

The rest of the UK does not give a shite about you.

The rest of the UK does not give a shite if there is a border down the Irish Sea or a border between Derry and Donegal. And they don’t give a shite what the Good Friday Agreement was or wasn’t.

The rest of the UK just thinks you are a bunch of Paddies that somehow mistakenly think you are British. And I can tell you, you are better off not thinking you are British. You may as well get off that rat infested sinking ship and get your green passport and get back into that other Union that is worth being in union with.

I mean...

Have you been down South lately? And no, I don’t mean down the Ormeau Road, I mean when was the last time you have been down to Dublin?

I mean, the ship building is not coming back to Belfast. And there are only so many tourists that want to do the Titanic and murals tour.
I mean, get your fuckin’ shite together.

I mean, look at the Union flag that you keep flying on your lampposts, with that Saint Patrick’s Cross of yours shoved right at the back. And them in London, couldn’t even be bothered to make the lines join up. They did not give a shite about you back then when they let you into their shite Union back 222 years ago. At least in the European Union, all the stars are of equal size.

Have you seen the state of those crumbling Orange Lodge buildings now?
You may as well do yourself a favour and throw that sash your father wore on the bonfire next week.

And I should know I’m a Proddy Bastard by birth.
Hun to my rotten core.
Know the words of Red White & Blue are the colours true.
For fuck’ sake my name is William.

Brace & Bit on wall
Brace & Bit


Back to what I was going to invite you to.

You are invited to the Curry* & Bonfire Night at The Curfew Tower, up in Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim. It starts at 7pm on the evening of Wednesday the 9th of August 2023, as in four weeks after The Twelfth.


On that night we will be celebrating the continued existence of the Artist Republic of Užupis. And if you don’t know, the Artist Republic of Užupis is in Vilnius. And Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania.

The Artist Republic of Užupis were supposed to curate The Curfew Tower in 2020. But Covid had other plans. So we shifted it to 2021. But Covid had further plans. So we shifted it to 2022. But in 2022 Putin had other plans.

Lithuania was next on Putin’s list of countries to ‘liberate’ once he had ‘liberated’ the Ukraine. This meant that only three artists from the Artist Republic of Užupis got over to the Curfew Tower in 2022.

But over these previous three years, as a global pandemic, a major war, and the hurdles put in place by Brexit, caused visa application forms being turned down again and again, nothing stopped the Artist Republic of Užupis, from celebrating in their own republic, the very existence of The Curfew Tower. They built scale models of The Curfew Tower on the banks of River Neris as it flowed through Vilnius. They projected silhouettes of The Curfew Tower onto the passing clouds above their republic.

To honour this and honour the fact that three of their artists did make it over the hurdles and across the seas to do time in The Curfew Tower, we are going to celebrate the very continued existence of the Artist Republic of Užupis in all its glorious ways.


The Curfew Tower is to be the Embassy of the Artist’s Republic of Užupis on the island of Ireland until the end of time.


Just so you know, Zippy Kearney (The Keeper of the Keys to The Curfew Tower for the past twelve years) was, on Saint Patrick’s Day (17th of March 2023), Knighted by the Gleb Divov (The First Minister of Foreign Affairs for Užupis). But this Knighthood was via email, thus not in person.


With this Knighthood, Sir Zippy Kearney was thus ordained as the Artist Republic of Užupis Ambassador for the North of Ireland.

Sir Zippy Kearney’s “unprecedented hospitality, humour, vigour, fitness and greatness in small deeds” were all given as reasons why this Knighthood was conferred on him.

We are very much hoping that the Gleb Divov (The First Minister of Foreign Affairs for Užupis) will be able to join us in person, on the evening of Wednesday the 9th of August, at The Curfew Tower, so that Sir Zippy Kearney’s conferment can be done in person, but those hurdles of visa applications have yet to be surmounted.

But anyway...

We, as in The Curfew Tower, The Artists’ Republic of Užupis, The Bonfire, The Vat of Curry, Sir Zippy Kearney, The Lone Crow, A Broad Brush and myself, hope you can make it.

And remember – bring a log for the fire and of course a bottle of wine. Or maybe some cans of whatever...

See you there...

a local artist

Brace & Bit with a local artist
Brace & Bit with a local artist

And oh yeah...

If you don’t know where The Curfew Tower is, ask someone. It looks like this...

The Curfew Tower (2021)
The Curfew Tower (2021)
Paintings painted by a local artist
Photographs taken by Tracey Moberly

*Chicken Curry made of course by Tracey Moberly. I will attempt to make a vegetarian Dal from my mother-in-law’s cookbook – The Dal Cookbook by Krishna Dutta

And if you want RSVP to so we get some idea of how much curry we should be making.