These series of postings that pinpoint parts of my life to precise points on google maps is something i’ve intended to do forever – for completely selfish reasons. I always thought it’d be cool to be able to look at a map and see important [or at least semi-important] places relevant to me at a glance – this is obviously made possible now by the genius of Google Maps.
I don’t know about you, but i’ve been obsessed with Maps in general for a long time. The arrival of Google Maps has just digitised that interest. Not only do i get a glimpse into completely different cultures from the comfort of my own home, but it’s inspiring to see the subtle changes of architecture, city colours, trends and even clothing styles across different places. My mind gets lost on Google Maps sometimes, like when i see a person clearly running [that doesn’t look like a runner/jogger] i’ll think ‘what were they running for or from?’ – or when i look at the historic streetview photographs of a certain location and see it fall into disrepair, i’ll wonder why that happened – ‘did the owner sick or die?’. I know it sounds odd, but i often use Google Maps for inspiration for all my writings – it’s hard to write a dull line when you can see most of the real world in photographs. It opens up a completely new frequency on the brain. Try it!
One of the best eras of growing up is the one where everyone is in one massive group. This is before personal, musical, political and religious opinions start to slowly divide everything in smaller groups. No matter how hard you look, you can never see your crowd fracture, but before you know it, those faces diminish and thats just life. Thankfully, for an awesome period myself and a decent sized group of lovely people would convene outside a grocery store in the city almost every friday, pool our money together, buy lots of snacks and then make our way to this apartment. It was my sister Brendas apartment and she was always out on this night and trusted me to use it to host a movie night with all my friends. We’d always have a recent comedy movie rented as the centerpoint of the evening. It was always a blast. 10+ people, who were all very close, getting together each friday to laugh and grow closer – it was one of the best times of my life. When i look at this place i always just think of ‘American Pie’, so we must have watched it a few times here at least. Like everything else in life, when in this phase, you can never imagine it not being the norm, but it slowly but surely stopped happening as we grew older and started to go out to bars instead of spend our nights in a house – but at least we all knew that transition was coming, so that was alright.
2. John and Declan Quinns Place / First Real Drink 
I still miss this house and this era, too. I got really close to my mate John Quinn during this time. We had been friends for years, but this era was when we truly started to become super tight. He lived in this house [just the left half, as the other half was rented to another couple] with his brother Declan, who is another person i love to death, and it just became a place for me and john to meet up and hang out. It’s wasn’t that far from my home at the time, so it was ideal. I had some amazing times in this house but i’ll mention the most pivotal; the time i took my first real drink ever. Now, i say ‘real’ drink because i have had a sip of alcopops from one of my sisters when i was 16 or so, but this was the first time i had my own alcohol and planned to have it myself. Okay so, the embarrassing part: John and my other friend Emmet were both Vodka drinkers, so i decided just to follow their lead and that was my first tipple. I only had a quarter bottle to their half bottles, but even after mixing it 3/4 full of coke, i still felt woozy after the first drink. Cut to the third or fourth drink and i needed the bathroom for a wee. I obviously bolted the door. However, when i tried to exit the bathroom, everything hit me at once. My head started spinning and when i stood still, my vision was revolving around me – this has never ever happened to me since, but that night it was so intense. I could not, for the life of me, find the lock on the door. I screamed until my two friends came up the stairs and tried to tell me where the lock was, but it was no use – it took me a good 10/15 minutes before i could even figure out how to open the door. This was our place for a year or so and it was an awesome, awesome era.
3. Music College 
When i was nearing the end of high-school, i didn’t really know what i wanted to do next. I did really well in terms of results for someone that spent 90% of his time fucking about and trying to make others laugh – i really did. Music was always my love, but even back then i knew there wasn’t really a future in it for me. However, i didn’t want to do a-levels cause that meant more school and i was bored to death at that point and i didn’t want to go and get a shitty job for the sake of it, so i decided to enroll into music college – or as we call it here – the tech. I had to audition to be accepted, but for some reason, i really enjoyed that part of the process – i definitely wouldn’t these days. Once enrolled, part of the course was that you had to form a band with other people in the year – this lead to myself, ruairi connolly, stephen roddy and philip curran getting together to form ‘Traffic Episode’ [that you can listen to here]. It went great for a long while but then a few members of the band left the music course itself and it fizzled out. In regards to my experience here, i personally didn’t like it. Not because of any other reason than i felt learning about music destroyed music for me. For this very reason i decided not to take my mother up on her willingness to pay for guitar lessons for me – i wanted to just let it flow naturally. Anyways, i stayed in the course until Mascara Story won the Kerrang! competition and then bolted because i felt like i had had enough. [no disrespect to anyone there who helped me – it just wasn’t for me personally].
4. Aileach Valley 
In my last ‘my life on google maps’ post, i showed you my old apartment from 2006, but what i didn’t tell you was that i almost-single handedly got myself and christy kicked out of that place because of partying too much. I was working full time and i liked to enjoy myself when i wasn’t working. I was renting a decent penthouse with a lovely balcony that overlooked the river and it was a lovely spot to entertain or have a nice date and i made absolute use of it and why wouldn’t i? I was single and wanted to stay that way but had a date or two every week that i’d entertain in our apartment. These perpetual parties started to annoy the neighbours and they reported us several times until we got an eviction notice. I’ll always remember Christy bringing in the letter to work and the look on his face. Now, i’ll happily take the blame but we did have a tonne of collective parties in there too, so i feel like it was just the sum of everything. Anyways, after we departed that penthouse, we moved in here. I was never sure about this place because it was so far out of the city and i didn’t drive – and this turned out to be an honest gut feeling. I’d walk to 3 miles to work and 3 miles back every single day as me and christy worked different shifts. I felt so isolated here and i hated it. If you listen to the ‘shiverwrists’ record i wrote, it’s about being here and hating it. I didn’t fit in with the rest of the people because in the end up about 5 of us lived here and they spent their entire time smoking dope and i spent mine in my bedroom. It was an era i’d very gladly erase from my life.
5. Earliest Childhood Home 
This is the house i spent the first 4 or 5 years of my life in. It’s in Greysteel, which is where i was born in 1985. I don’t have many memories of living here other than one that, when i’d bring up as an adult, would mirror would reality and frighten me quite a bit. When i was younger, i kept telling my mother that i had recurring dreams where a man called ‘Johnny‘ would be in my room just staring at me. In addition to this, i could smell cigar smoke at the same time. I am not making this up, this was what i recited to her when i was a young kid. Later in life, i remembered it one day and brought it up as a way of laughing about how over-active my childhood imagination was and my mother let me know there was indeed a man called Johnny, who used to lived next door but died a while back, who smoked a pipe constantly….. It freaked me out. Anyways, most of my memories from this place exist after my family moved to Derry because our house was taken up by my uncle Raymond and his wife Sandra and the house directly across from ours was where my grandparents lived – so we always made a trip down every sunday whilst they were still alive. That’s where i spent a lot of my childhood actually. It’s a pretty boring neighbourhood, even for a kid, but i still have fond memories of that time as we always found something to do!