The riot had taken on a beauty of its own now. Arcs of gasoline fire under the crescent moon. Crimson tracer in mystical parabolas. Phosphorescence from the barrels of plastic bullet guns. A distant yelling like that of men below decks in a torpedoed prison ship. The scarlet whoosh of Molotovs intersecting with exacting surfaces. Helicopters everywhere: their spotlights finding one another like lovers in the Afterlife.And all this through a lens of oleaginous Belfast rain.
Human beings are pattern-seeking animals. It's part of our DNA. That's why conspiracy theories and gods are so popular: we always look for the wider, bigger explanations for things.
If you really have to get shot, Belfast is one of the best places to do it. After twenty years of the Troubles, and after thousands of assassination attempts and punishment shootings, Belfast has trained many of the best gunshot-trauma surgeons in the world.
With gas cookers and chip pans in every kitchen, the chip-pan fire was by far the most popular method these Proddies had for burning their houses down. The second technique was the ever popular chimney fire and number three had to be the drunken cigarette drop on the carpet. Mind you, why they'd be cooking chips at this hour was anyone's guess.
He was one of those characters who felt that a weak handshake could somehow damage his authority, which meant that every handshake had to bloody hurt.
I don't know if that's a year's bad luck, or if that's how it works. But stealing a Christmas tree - that can't be a good thing, karma-wise.
I had gone to New York with no plan at all. I did a lot of jobs - barman, teacher, security guard, postman and construction worker - and I was meeting many eccentric characters, and they were saying funny things, which I always wrote down.
A locked-room problem lies at the heart of my new novel, 'In The Morning I'll Be Gone,' in which an RUC detective has to find out whether a publican's daughter who fell off a table in a bar that was locked from the inside was in fact murdered.
I think the poetry that came out of Belfast, and especially the Queen's University set, in the 1970s and '80s - you know, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Ciaran Carson - that was probably the finest body of work since the Gaelic renaissance, up there with the work of Yeats and Synge and Lady Gregory.