The Tale of the Third City

Coming of age

So, we are all agreed. The sole purpose of those early trips into town were indeed, to find and buy the records we were hearing on the Peel Show. Well now I get to tell you – we were also quick to suss out they weren't only the things there on offer. Granted, Caroline music was the centre of attraction and no matter how much praise I give to that old shop, and those two edgits who ran it. The truth is - it was merely the tip of the iceberg. Like I said.... it didn’t really take us that long to realize there was so much more for us to discover.

As I have already pointed out, Caroline Music was much more than just a record shop. It was a meeting place for likeminded people, who were, or simply wanted to be different but at the same time they all shared that one thing in common. You must know a friendly atmosphere will always leads to strangers sharing their conversation with one another, this being the normal way in which friendships usually start.... and it was no different were we were concerned either. The more we attended, the more we got to know the ones who would frequent the shop on a regular basis. While there were those who liked or just wanted to be secretive. There were others who were more than willing to share their stories with us. It was they, the one spreading those rumours who intrigued the three of us the most and I can tell you.... The things you can learn while ‘eary wigging’ on the conversations of others.... can be amazing but at the same they can be a bit misconstruing.

That's why I say, I am not a 100% sure if it was there, in Caroline Music, that we first heard the stories of the Viking and of the Young American’s. Or whether it came through our usual source, you know Big Ronnie via Ken, but I can tell you. Such stories would circulate and quite frequently too among the Caroline congregation. What we heard, usually turn into a topic for discussion on our way home. Although I will admit, we did get things wrong from time to time. For a long time we actually believed those rumours, the stories we had overheard were about the Viking in Church Lane, not the legendary Venue in Bangor.

If I am to be honest, then I would have to admit, we hadn't even heard of the Bangor scene, let alone the location of this mysterious venue that was being spoken off. There again, this mistake was an easy enough one to make considering the two locations, meaning the Viking in Church Lane and Caroline Music in Anne Street, were merely a stone's throw away from one another.

I am now aware that by the time we had gotten round to visiting Caroline Music. The Viking was coming to - if not - had already reached the end of its era but still this mysterious venue, around that time, was being spoken off. Today; those telling the stories of the Viking, still hold the old place in the highest esteem. In their hearts and minds 'the Viking' has been immortalized and many still see it as the true birth place of the Ulster Punk scene but back then we weren't to know all that. We were three teenage boys in search of our new found love, those elusive records we so desperately craved. So without even knowing anything about it, we had innocently found ourselves right bang in the middle of things. The place where this story had actually first began.

From that very first time, all those years ago, to this very day. For me; there has always been something different, something special about where Church Lane meets Anne Street. Walking around that same area today, you’ll find that not a great lot has changed. It still has the same handful of tiny little shops, on the same little street, situated right on the edge of Belfast’s once “infamous” ring of steel. They may have different owners, some may even have different functions but sadly, the thing that is really noticable, is there’s also a different aura about the place today. Although thankfully, the security gates have long since gone, but so too has 'Image'. The hair dressers where those early experiments with colours and cuts first took place. There is no more Viking to inspire those future generations, sadly replaced a long time ago, by a betting shop of all things and, of course. There is no more “Caroline Music”.

We have this computerized world in which we live, with its modern day progression that we all so desperately crave to thank for that. Ah yes, progress has seen the demise of record sales, as now the download takes control of things in that department. The irony of all this has seen the expansion of a fashion bouquet that once stood quietly beside Caroline Music for so many years ‘virtually unnoticed’. So yes; the old place does looks the same, it's simply lost its spark. This once vibrant corner of Belfast no longer possesses the imagination that once produced those creative minds who dared, and cared to be different. Without Image, the Viking and Caroline Music; all that's left are the memories of a select few.

Many of whom, may well see the ghost of their colourful past each and every time they pass through this area but the rest of us won’t and as I said earlier, they are only a select few. As far as everyone else in this City, the Country, no let's push the boat out here and tell it how it really is. As far as the entire world is concerned. No one, apart from them, knows nothing of what happened here. Not a word, of those creative and inspirational individuals who once lit up the streets of Belfast has ever been spoken off ever since. So do you not think, it's about time, you agree with me in saying? It would be a real sin for us to simply let those memories simply fade away and die…. They were important times for us back then, but the more I probe the more I convinced myself, they could really prove to be even more important times for this tiny little island right now, who knows what the future could bring, once the truth is known?


These extracts have been taken from first dratf chapters, even though they are displayed on this site they may not necessarily appear in the book, but I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever, they most certainly are part and parcel of the "Trilogy Story"! So if you buy the Book, you like it and want to read the Chapters that are not included, they will be available from this site! Remember its 40 years of memories and 5 years of research!

I would also like point out, that we are in search of photos of the era, so if you can help please send copies of whatever you have to, don't forget to leave your details so we can credit you. Thanks