We are guilty of some crazy behaviour in Northern Ireland, though some of it actually makes us all the more endearing.
Just some of it mind. Most of it is just plain crazy.
Here are some of the weird and wonderful eccentricities that go hand-in-hand with life in Northern Ireland.
1. When we say ‘Happy Birthday’ by way of a soiled rag
So you’re driving down the M1 and you notice a bedraggled bedsheet hanging over a motorway bridge which appears to be advertising the fact that Jim (or possibly Jean) had just turned 50 (or maybe it’s 60).
Not only is broadcasting a birthday by this means irrelevant to 99.9% of the people who drive past it, but even those who are ‘in the know’ will do well to decipher the message being conveyed by the makeshift banner.
Wind and rain are pretty much guaranteed on the hour, every hour in this country which will inevitably whip the sheet out of shape and cause the lettering on it to blot into an indistinguishable smear. After a few hours in the elements it looks more like a dirty protest than a celebratory gesture.
2. When we ask for the ‘proper’ time
If you spend long enough wandering Corn Market someone will approach you and ask you for the ‘proper’ time.
Not some fake time you’ve pulled out of the sky. The actual, real, proper time.
What’s wrong with these people? We can only assume they’ve been burnt badly in the past when asking for the time and missed out on last orders as a result.
3. When we use members of the public as figures of authority to trick children
We’ve all been there – walking through a department store, you see a child crying and his mum is trying to comfort him and she sees you and says, “Oh no, here comes the man who owns the shop and if he sees you crying he’ll throw you out”.
Classic parenting that works almost every time. Though can you imagine what would happen if you actually played along with it and gave the child a full-on rollicking then marched him out of the store?
4. When we say things that aren’t scientifically possible
Picture the scene. It’s a cold and rainy day (not difficult to picture). And someone, who is old enough to know better but young enough not to care, is running around in a T-shirt and shorts.
You’ll find it difficult to count to five before a person of pensionable age utters the line, “Away and put some clothes on, you’re making me cold just looking at you”.
We get the sentiment, but you’ll do well to find a scientist who’ll backs up the claim that sight and body temperature are intrinsically linked.
5. When we make jokes in inappropriate situations
Us Northern Irish are famed for our sense of humour and it seems that’s the mechanism we use to cope with the most difficult of situations.
For example, where else would you hear the line, “Never worry about losing your job, at least now you’re at home every day your wife will have to knock that affair on the head”.
6. When we don’t make jokes and it still comes across as inappropriate
We’re not the best at translating our feelings of sympathy into messages of comfort. Take for instance these poorly chosen words of comfort from a recent funeral…
“When you think about it, what with ISIS and the awful weather we’re having, now’s probably not a bad time to pass away in your sleep.”