After my alarming yet unilluminating reunion with Hazlitt I soldiered on to the family seat of 5 Elmhill Drive. Elmhill Estate had been quite a fortress in it's early eighties hey day. The kerbstones ran red, white, and blue and Union Jacks and Orange Lodge flags fluttered from every house, like a never-ending royal jubilee. The Elmhill streets of Drive, Road, Avenue, Manor, Mews, Street, and Court, Elmless and not what they claimed to be, once housed a vibrant community of working class Belfast protestants. Well, as vibrant as you can get in only four colours.
Screaming lads, myself included, skirmished in eighteen odd a side football played the whole length of the street. Hoofing and tackling in a dirty denim scrum all for a newsagents cheap plastic football in a gauntlet of cars, parked and moving.
In the summer grown ups drank in their front, terraced, gardens; three foot of concrete from door to waist high iron railings, rusting below the paint. Roaring and cackling, loving with threats, front windows opened full to hear their turned up stereos in the back rooms. Patsy Cline, Pink Floyd, Bucks Fizz, and the radio mingled with the violent shouts of our game endless til teatime while the wee girls watched us wee lads and whispered.
The nearby motorway droned sluggish, occasionally the railway tracks rattled and a strained ear could pick out the muted blare of navigating ships horns. At night the motorway quickened and overhead was the soft whirr of helicopter blades seeking out bad men among us.
I'm probably taking some poetic licence there admittedly, but then I was only six at the time so all I've got are memories filtered through childish senses to go on, so what else can you do?
However, the eighties were a long time ago, and only one street now still stood from the high days of Elmhill. Elmhill Drive.