5. An IRA man named Ó Conaill always makes a point of drinking more whiskey than any Protestant he may be drinking with, but this policy makes him bad company: He has to go to the toilet every few minutes because he lost a bit of his bladder in a shootout with the RUC.

4. Kevin Myers, our author, believes his car will soon be bugged, but he isn’t sure when or by which side. In addition to taping a bit of paper to the driver’s side door at the end of each day, he leaves a 50p coin on the dashboard. He figures that a British surveillance team would leave the money, whereas IRA men, being poor, would snatch it up.

3. Kevin lands an exclusive radio interview with an IRA man on temporary release from the infamous Long Kesh internment camp. Kevin asks the IRA man several times to describe conditions in the camp but elicits no response beyond a vacant stare, which Kevin attributes to his recent traumatic experience. Finally, after the third or fourth repetition of the question, the IRA man blows a raspberry, grins contemptuously, and vomits what appears to have been a gallon of stout all over the booth.

2. A group of UVF men get in a drunken argument over whether it would be possible to attack two particularly secure Catholic pubs. Almost everyone denies it can be done. The one man who says it would be possible to bomb them excuses himself, returns a few hours later, orders a pint, takes a sip, and says he’s just done them both. Everyone at the bar cheers.

1. Kevin turns up late and hungover to a Catholic funeral. Before he can enter the church, a coworker comes up to him and hands him a shovel, saying that the gravediggers are on strike and it’s his turn to pitch in. While digging the grave, Kevin vomits repeatedly. Eventually the procession approaches with the casket and Kevin tries to climb out, only to fall back into the grave, which has been pretty thoroughly carpeted in whiskey vomit. The pallbearers haul him out.

Articles by Helen Andrews

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