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Sport shouldn’t be subjective: The Olympics should just be for Sport.

Controversial one this; I know this because I’ve discussed it with people before and it’s divisive and causes quite an emotive response. I don’t believe that any activity where the winner is decided based SOLELY (that part is important) on judging should be classed as a sport – and therefore perhaps shouldn’t be in the Olympics. Gymnastics Rhythmic Gymnastics Trampolining Diving Synchronised Diving Synchronised Swimming Dressage I would even consider the status of Olympic Boxing (as Knockouts are relatively rare and therefore judging is the usual method of progression), so too for some other combat sports. Judging, whilst of course done against very specific guidelines, is subjective. For example, in some events, some judges have awarded the same competitor a 4 or a 5 and another has judged them as a 7 or an 8. Yes, there is the mechanism of ruling out the highest and lowest – but the fact remains that this is quite clearly subjective. Small differences matter, but considering the margins that people win (or lose) a medal with, this subjectivity pollutes the concept of sport. That a competitor may not win a medal because a couple of judges consider  that their toes weren’t pointed enough (Trampoline), that their arms and elbows weren’t straight enough (men’s gymnastics – high bar), or that the competitors weren’t synchronised enough (synchronised diving). I in no way mean to diminish the skill or athleticism of what these competitors do, they are PHENOMENAL human beings who do incredible things, all of which I couldn’t even begin to dream about being competitive at – however I don’t believe they are sports. They are entertaining for sure,...

Me & The Music Business – All Those Years Ago

So in another life, many moons past, I was a big music fan. I still am of course, but not like then; then I lived, eat, drunk & breathed music. I was kinda late to the party, I enjoyed listening to music as everyone does, then when I was about 16 I suddenly opened my ears to what was going on and fell in love with the whole thing. I’ve never been one for half measures, when I get into something I tend to go feet first and immerse myself, so shortly after this eureka moment, I found a way to work within the music industry and it’s thanks to this that I met my partner!! I had no skills with an instrument and a voice that could upset stone, but I discovered a way to go to more gigs, get more music and all for free. Street Teams. I was living near Brighton at this point (and in fact was homeless for part of it, I used the school computers or whatever local library was close to me at the time), the music scene there was superb – it seemed like every great band that toured the UK would play Brighton, just an hours drive south the coast and if you’re a big-hitting act, The Brighton Centre or maybe The Dome; if you’re a newish band just beginning to break, The Concorde 2, The Komedia or if you were even smaller, The Freebutt, The Ocean Rooms or a whole host of rooms-with-speakers. I began working with a Street Team for Warner Music Group, it was a simple enough...

An Open Letter To Refugees Coming To Northern Ireland…

I consider myself an average Northern Irish citizen, and as such I’d like to extend a warm welcome to any and all refugees coming to Northern Ireland to escape persecution, war and conflict. Hello and welcome to you all – Dia Daoibh agus Céad Míle Fáilte Romhaibh. The difference between where you’re from and Northern Ireland is probably quite massive, so I thought it might be handy to write a wee (little) guide for you to refer to.   1: You may think you know English… disregard all of that knowledge, it’s outdated… we may technically speak English but it’s mostly unrecognisable to the outside world. This blog from Sarah Arnold may help. 2: You should perhaps start taking anti-cholesterol medication as soon as possible, our standard diet will destroy you. 3: Vegetable roll is not for you. 4: Do not… repeat, DO NOT try to go to Primark on a Saturday. 5: Ask NO questions about Daniel O’Donnell, it’s best left alone. 6: Make sure, before you go into a shop, that it is in fact a shop… some of our shops aren’t real, they’re just there for decoration. 7: Larne isn’t as bad as people make out it is. 8: But still, don’t go to Larne. 9: You may have heard of the ‘Emerald Isle’, you should also become accustomed to the phrase ‘Gray Skies’. 10: Don’t be confused by the ‘Westlink’, despite the name, the road runs pretty much North-South. 11: If you will be driving, you should acquaint yourself with the following places and avoid them: Black’s Road, Grosvenor Road, Chichester Street, Ormeau Road, Sandyknowles, Short...

Tis The Season: What December Means To Me

Christmas has always been an odd time for me… familial instability, constant upheaval and extremely anti-social work hours… this is the first year since I moved back to Northern Ireland that the festive season isn’t overshadowed by work and chaos. I moved to England when I was 11 or 12, I spent every christmas back in Belfast on school holidays with my grandfather or occasionally in Canada with my uncle, I’m not sure I’ve spent a christmas day with my mother since maybe age 10 or 11 – given the constant chaos (for want of a better word) of ‘home life for me in my teenage years, it was preferable. Eventually I moved out and off to Uni in London (that’s another story for another time…) where I spent one christmas day alone in a house (everyone else went home for the holidays) and the other christmas day of my time in London, I have no clue whatsoever what I did… I sometimes think my mind is a series of locked boxes with the keys lost – such little memory of growing up and even now I’m incredibly forgetful. So yeah, I have no clue what I was up to for Christmas 2007 – an entire holiday season remains a mystery. Eventually I wound up back in Belfast and working in the bar trade, and what a burden that is at times! Overall, hospitality is a great industry to work in but never underestimate the effect that unsocial working hours can have on your life. In February my partner and I will celebrate our 8th year together, yet this...

Blogging, Freebies, Ethics & Integrity

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle this morning on social media, twitter user @Belfastfoodman who also operates under the accounts @belfasttravel & @drviks27, was called out by a twitter user for accepting free meals in exchange for reviews. This highlights an interesting question for bloggers in general, where does the line of integrity fall? For me, I find it a tough area to establish guidelines on. I’ve been offered free products before in exchange for promoting, I have refused on every occasion. I self govern with the following rules: 1: Would I promote product X if I didn’t get something for free? 2: Is my opinion skewed because of someone giving me a product for free? 3: Am I comfortable taking a freebie from the company in question? 4: Is the sole purpose of me being given something for free, to solicit me in promoting their product? The answer to these four questions dictates whether or not I’m comfortable getting something for free. There have been occasions I’ve been given product with the expectation of a favourable review, I was asked if I would accept a freebie and I said I would not, they sent the product anyway. It’s this kind of shady operating that calls into question the integrity of the blogger. Recently I was going to The Woodworkers on a friday evening to celebrate my girlfriend finishing her PhD thesis, I tweeted before hand something along the lines of “heading to The Woodworkers, save me a table!” they didn’t respond but when I arrived there was an almost completely full venue, with one table reserved with...

Want To Buy A Church? Feckin’ C’mon Then

This is brilliant. This is what religion was made for. Just £95,000 (or nearest offer…) can buy you your very own church. But not just any church…. ST. FECKINS CHURCH in TERMONFECKIN I’m not making this up. According to Property Pall, This property is a Church built in 1792. It has been closed for use since 2010. The building is laid out as entrance hallway, worship room and alter. The entire measures approx. 158 sq.mts/1700 sq ft. The site measures approx 0.5 acres with a right of way to the local graveyard. So, if anybody is interested…let’s start a kickstarter Feck it, let’s start our own feckin’ religion! The Church of Good Feck Complete with your very own feckin trees and you can sleep your way through a sunday sermon about how feckin will save humanity on one of our comfortable feckin pews     How can you afford NOT to? Imagine Mass here!!! Just a feckin minister talking about what’s feckin good and what’s feckin bad. Feck this, feck that, feck the lot of you. In the name of the fecker, amen....

Here’s Where I’m At

So it’s been an interesting 2015 so far for me, lots has happened, some good & some bad but I’m hoping to get back to using my website for what it was designed, stirring shit and plugging examples of best practice. One of my driving forces in everything I do is around the law of altruism, if you can do something good, you should…if you see something bad, make sure whoever is the perpetrator is called out on it. That’s really been something that has come to the fore this year in my life. There were some significant changes in my work life at the start of the year, and not in a good way, it was a very challenging period but ultimately something had to change. I consider myself to be a very moral person and those morals were being challenged, I had a choice to either stand up for who I am or to cut the cord. It was tough but I’m proud of how I handled it and I know it was the right decision, I’d rather walk away and know I did the right thing for myself and fought for my employees. Which left me in a position I hadn’t been in for 10 years or more..Job Hunting! I’ve sat on the other side of that desk hundreds of times, even on this blog I’ve critiqued job applicants, so this was unnerving. I saw a job that seemed perfect for me, I know that’s a cliché but it’s completely true, the job advert itself could have been written by me, it’s style and low-key humour,...

I’m not gone…

This is an odd post for me, I’m normally quite content based rather than reflective but I wanted to put this out there for those of you who read my ramblings. I haven’t gone, I haven’t given up on blogging, I am just struggling for time. I had a grand plan for 2015, I took www.belfastbarman.com and began self hosting and putting in place plans for how to really expand this year, some really exciting things on the to-do list (at least in my eyes…) I want to feature more bars, more beers, really highlight the positive stories in this industry. I have some people already agreed to let me interview them which is superb, collaboration should be encouraged and getting to know people is the first step on the way to collaboration… I want to get some other voices contributing on the hospitality industry. There are plenty of things on my “want list” it is just down to a matter of time. I promise I will get back to ranting, raging, mocking and mirth…I will share more views on current affairs and focussing on the issues that matter to me…I will. I will also kick this years #blamemervyn Easter licensing campaign up a notch. I’d like to thank those of you who occasionally pop on this ol’ site of mine and have a read and ask that you stick with me whilst I try to get a better balance of time…or work out how to have 36 hours a day. Until then, overthrow the system and drink good beer....

32 Reasons To Leave Belfast For Ibiza…or anywhere

In honour of Made In Belfast’s Emma Bricknell who recently announced that she was leaving Northern Ireland for the sunnier Mediterranean island of Ibiza…I began to wonder what could motivate such a clearly outrageous plan…I mean, what possible reason could someone want out of our wee province? It was a struggle, but I came up with these… You know you should leave because; 1. Because you treat bomb scares like there’s just an annoying bluebottle in the room 2. Because you’ve heard so many acronyms for terrorist groups that you wonder what Taliban stands for 3. Because you think chips are now an acceptable breakfast food 4. Because “Supper” now just means with chips…the last supper was just Jesus and his friends having their last “with chips” 5. Because some local politicians think that velociraptors are only a couple of thousand years old…and the giants causeway was just caused by Noah doing a handbrake turn on his ark 6. Because you treat taxi companies like off licences 7. Because no driving exam could ever prepare you for the roadworks here 8. Because Belfast has 7 quarters….and 5 seasons  9. Because this is what passes as street art…   10. [REASON REMOVED DUE TO PETITION OF CONCERN FROM THE DUP] 11. Because you can no longer tell if someone is drunk or just speaking Ulster Scots 12. Because you’re not sure what a Pasty is supposed to be… 13. Because when you order scallops there’s no knowing what you’ll get  14. Because you don’t want to share an island with Larne anymore 15. Because even yer ma says yer ma...

Larne Museum & Arts Centre – Who’s a “Dick”?

Whoever is in charge of Web management at Larne Museum & Arts Centre needs a talking to…they unfortunately didn’t know that when you put an image online there is a setting whereby you can name the caption…This bearded fella is apparently a dick. It is available for all to see in the gallery section of the website…simply click on the thumbnail image of the poor guy to see what Larne Museum & Arts Centre think of him… of course, he could just be called Richard. Do you know him? Do you work for Larne Museum & Arts Centre or Larne Borough Council? Let me...

The 8 Essential People in Every Workplace

Every workplace is a melting pot of the dull to the bizarre, but I believe there are some individuals that you just can’t do without no matter what the business. See anybody you recognise? Yourself maybe? 1. The Nutcase  Every single workplace, whether it’s the most professional of offices or the most casual of cafés needs that person..the one who stumbles in 4 seconds before they were due to start still carrying last nights guilt heavily on their shoulders. The one who has a Vokda Martini for breakfast just to “Take the edge off”, that begins each day with “you won’t believe what happened to me last night” but you do believe them, of course you do. The one that can’t remember what season it is never mind what day, but still manages to put in a good shift. It’s important for those in the workplace who never socialise or go wild to have someone to live vicariously though, and for those who occasionally do like to let their hair down and photocopy their various body parts…they serve as a cautionary tale, a reminder of what happens when you ignore that voice in your head that says “sure, we’ll just have one more…” 2. The Jobsworth There has to be one person in every business who thinks of nothing but getting the job done, everything else is superfluous and pointless. Partly so that someone is doing work the morning after the night before, partly because as much as we might bitch and moan about them, we know that they know what they’re doing and if things get really bad...