So for complex reasons, which I have no intention of sharing with you, I went to Belfast.
I found it gritty, and I say that as a long-term resident of W12. If you were thinking "Hey, but they're not fighting any more, what have they got to be gritty about?" think again:
1. No-one is pleased with the peace agreement. No-one has won, they all still hate one another and they're liable to start throwing rocks at any moment. All their elected officials are inveterate rock-throwers with no experience of or interest in peace time governance. Something people kept talking about was "finding someone who it was ok to lose to." I thought that this was an interesting idea. I reckon I probably lose more battles than I need to, personally, because of my notorious predilection for grinding my jackbooted heel into the face of the conquered.
2. Ulster Unionists consider themselves to be patriots who owe direct allegiance to the Queen. It's properly weird.
3. The Protestants were terrified that Scotland would become a real country and then there would be 0 argument for England hanging on to Ulster. Obviously since we bought Scotland's major bank off them that's looking increasingly unlikely but...
4. ... they're vulnerable to whatever change in the fragile political gestalt this massive recession produces, and let's face it, it'll probably be shit.
5. The Troubles attracted loads of sympathy money, particularly off the EU, which is demeaning for everyone because it's a totally transparent attempt to hide the complete lack of justice or resolution. If you had a relative killed then you automatically get £12,000 off the government irrespective of whether that relative was a civilian, a member of the security services or a terrorist of either stripe.
6. It rains all the time. They're the only people in the world ever to have envied the Mancunians for having somewhere less dangerous and rainy to live.
7. Their advertising is all shit.
So don't think about going over there all cheerful, they'll slap that right out of your stupid smiling face.