There are very few ordinary people in Northern Ireland. By ordinary I mean, nine to five job, a wife or a husband, two kids, a dog and a mortgage. About three weeks ago my twenty two year old son Mark came into my office in West Belfast and I suggested we go grab some lunch in a cafe a few hundred yards up the road. When we went in, the place was pretty busy; it’s a nice place good food at a good price. We were about to leave as there were no tables when I heard my name being called, Joe! It was a man I went to school with and who I now meet from time to time around Belfast and sometimes have a beer with.
Gerry Kelly called me over and he and his girlfriend offered to share their table with us. So my son and I thanked them and we sat down, we made small talk, I mentioned that I had just finished a book and he told me he was working on a book as well, his life story. Gerry is a Junior Minister in Northern Ireland he holds jointly the second most important job in our Government. Over the years while he has been in office I have never really considered the importance of his position, when in his company I always looked on him as just an old schoolmate. It was my son who brought it to my attention when he said to me that it was kind of funny sitting talking to that guy, when I usually only see him on television. This got me thinking about the unique situation that is Northern Ireland. Go into a bar anywhere in West Belfast there would most likely be a guy or maybe two, responsible for the death of several people and now released under the ceasefire agreements. This guy or guys would be sitting at the bar and would be regarded by every one else as just another customer very rarely would their pasts come up in conversation nor would anyone think any more or less of them for it.. Although while some would think of them as mass murderers others would regard them as freedom fighters. Then there are other situations when at a charity bash or community event there would be two or three people present who are on first name terms with the President of United States of America. How many Americans will ever get the chance to shake a hand that has shaken their Presidents hand, but I have. What a melting pot this little place is and out of this very place as I write we have the best golfers in the world emerging, we have champion boxers, rock stars and film stars but more important we have people with stories to tell, it is said everyone has a book in them, well everyone in Northern Ireland has a fantastic book in them. It is so easy to prove you are a good golfer, just get the ball in the hole. It’s easy to become a champion boxer, just go out and beat the crap out of your opponent. It is even easy to prove you are a talented singer or actor but no matter how good an author you are, ninety nine times out of a hundred you were always going to be told. “Yeah it’s good but I’m afraid it’s not for me”. That is until now. eBooks!! Watch this space, in fact watch this little country of ours.