John McCarthy: Journalist, and former hostage during the Lebanon Hostage Crisis, held captive for five years from 1986 to 1991. Now making a documentary series for the BBC with Sandi Toksvig called Island Race.
Big Tony: Taxi driver for AA Taxis on the Lower Ormeau Road. Sound big fella.
Act 1. Scene 1: The A2 between Belfast and Bangor, 1995, hedged rural landscape. Dawn is just breaking and the taxi’s headlamps are on. We see the car from behind, rolling calmly along the otherwise deserted road in the half-light. Big Tony is a reliable driver, and has been specifically sought out and tasked with collecting John McCarthy early in the morning. He knows who is in his cab. John is going to Bangor to visit his old cell mate Brian Keenan.
[We can hear the conversation from inside the taxi]:
Big Tony: Do I know you from somewhere?
John McCarthy: I’m John McCarthy.
Big Tony: The hostage? From Lebanon, like?
John McCarthy: Yes, that’s me.
Big Tony: Jeesus. That’s something there. Pleasure to meet ya. Must have some stories, eh.
John McCarthy: Yes.
[There is a slightly awkward pause]
Big Tony: Here: maybe you’d feel more comfortable in the boot. Will I pull over here and you can bounce out?
[Tony puts on the left indicator]
John McCarthy: Ummm.
Big Tony [Laughing]: Only messin’! Welcome to Belfast!
[The brake lights flash on for a second as the car tops a rise in the road and disappears].
~~~ Fin ~~~
Previous pieces by Jason O'Rourke here and here.
About Jason O’Rourke
Jason O’Rourke is a writer and musician based in Belfast, Ireland. He writes primarily about the experience of living in this historical city of contrasts, in a series of short notes which present the reader with literary ‘snapshots’ of everyday, ‘vernacular’ events. An assortment of different voices and genres are used, in order to examine Belfast from a variety of viewpoints, thus reflecting the social, cultural, and political diversity that exists there. These ‘Vernacularisms’ are compact, and often tend towards the poetic in their use of language.
Jason has published a number of essays and articles about the history of the Medieval Book, and has made several recordings of Traditional Irish Music.
The Belfast Notes can be found on his blog at http://vernacularisms.com
Music is available online at the usual channels or at his MySpace page:http://new.myspace.com/jasonoruairc