Monday 2 February
Marks the start of a week-long stag do for my teetotal brother Barton which will culminate in double-clubbing on Friday and as close to an authentic hangover as I can possibly muster for the lad come Saturday morning. But like a groom being cast off onto an eerily silent lake, with no tangible means of return, rudderless, and with the only available wind organically sourced from his own raw bottom, Barton’s stay begins calmly enough. Womb, upstairs on King Street, is a restaurant of the highest order – a former Gentleman’s club only opened to women after a particularly political Belfast girl chained herself to the rice pudding, it boasts huge windows through which one may follow (with a soupcon of disdain) the ever-so glutinous shoppers that populate this part of town. As we scoop up scallops under gaslight, my bro-haha remarks that we could easily be mistaken for lovers who dare not speak their names. Yet in truth – our receding hairlines racing each other to 40 like two middle-aged, denim-clad celebrity charioteers – we have never looked more like siblings; our strong brows and lips still drawing the occasional fan (in Barton’s case, poor soul, quite fatally).