4 Summer 1969

Heaney was in Spain at the very moment riots were exploding on the streets of Belfast. His personal discomfort (I was suffering only the bullying sun of Madrid) paled into insignificance when compared with RUC (constabulary) using firearms against Catholic communities (deemed mob) around the Falls Road. His personal daily schedule included some serious reading (life of Joyce) as he cooked slowly (casserole heat), unable to escape foul odours (stinks from the fishmarket) that reminded him of his Castledawson origins (reek off a flaxdam). Evening brought tastes of Spain (gules of wine), youngsters heard but not seen (sense of children), elderly widows (old women in black shawls) enjoying the freshness of evening (near open windows), the sounds of Castilian rising […]