Title dream a long-haul nightmare for Reds fan
Spare a thought today for Malcolm Hunter, a fanatical Belfast-born Liverpool supporter who's halfway around the world and back on a beaten docket.
Malcolm (37) lives in Melbourne and as his football heroes closed in on the Premier League title he decided to jump on a plane to savour the 'celebrations'.
It cost him an arm and a leg for the last-minute return flights but he said he just had to be there when his idols were crowned champions.
Malcolm managed to get his hands on a ticket for the crucial game against Crystal Palace the other Monday in London. But he watched in abject horror as the Anfield men tossed away a three-goal lead and in the process kissed goodbye to their hopes of glory.
Poor Malcolm flew home broken-hearted to his wife Emma and son Charlie.
"I thought I was onto a winner when I organised my spur of the moment trip. I was convinced it was our year. I couldn't believe how everything fell apart in London," said Malcolm, who's from the King's Road area of east Belfast and who at least managed to pop home for a catch-up with friends and family before heading back down under.
Malcolm was a regular visitor to Anfield with his father David before he emigrated several years ago. But he's lost none of his passion for his beloved Reds.
And he still reckoned it was a great season for Liverpool and their Carnlough-born manager Brendan Rodgers. "I have no doubt that Liverpool will be back."
And so, no doubt, will Malcolm.
JB's show in pole position
Armagh artist JB Vallely has so many strings to his bow he could probably start his own orchestra.
Not only is he a gifted painter but he's also a talented piper and a sporting enthusiast with a penchant for GAA football and hurling and that Armagh peculiarity, road bowls.
And as if that wasn't enough, Brian also finds time to organise a piping festival every year and he's also been behind athletics and cycling events.
Naturally Brian was in his element when the Giro (the glamorous trophy for which is pictured above) pedalled into the city and county of Armagh.
But now after too long an absence, Brian is mounting a major new show exhibiting his skills and his passions at the Eakin gallery on Belfast's Lisburn Road. His subjects include accordion players, fiddlers, Uilleann pipers and road bowlers.
The exhibition runs until the end of the month and the paintings can also be viewed on line.
Legal choir courts fine cause for charity gig
The jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on a group of singing lawyers, barristers and judges last weekend – guilty of entertaining them and raising much needed funds for the hospice.
The tuneful Pro Bono choir, who take their name from the legal term for carrying out work for free, acquitted themselves well at their summer concert at Campbell College.
Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir got the legal eagles off on a high note as he rehearsed them before the start.
The 55-strong choir, plus their two marvellous soloists Melissa Markwell and Karl McGuckin, sang classics like Stars from Les Mis and Ol' Man River from Showboat.
And the concert raised over £3,000 for the Hospice whose PR Siofra Healy was there to thank the singers who weren't intimidated by the presence of Fr Eugene O'Hagan from the Priests watching them from the front row.
Great War centenary celebration
Plans to mark the centenary of the First World War in Northern Ireland are gathering momentum.
And some of the main players behind a huge variety of initiatives on the Great War gathered in Belfast this week to outline what's on the way.
Officials from the two universities here and our museums are collaborating on a £500,000 Living Legacies Engagement Centre. Stories, diaries, letters and other artefacts will be collected and shared by researchers hoping to help future generations understand what life was like from 1914 to 1918 with the aid of drama, exhibitions and monuments.
The centre will work closely with community organisations and investigate contested loyalist and nationalist histories of the war which of course broke out at the time of the Home Rule crisis.
City is favoured port in a storm
Galway wasn't quite at the races last week as bad weather forced a major cruise ship to seek out any other port in the storm.
And tourism officials here rowed in to the rescue as the Thomson Spirit (right) diverted away from Galway to the calmer waters of Belfast.
Twelve hundred passengers who had left Cobh had been due to see the wonders of the west but the wind and the rain were against them.
Even with with such short notice, Belfast somehow managed to find enough facilities to cope with the unexpected influx of tourists and keep them happy for the duration of their surprise visit.
Bond baddie Colin now a good guy
My thanks to Peter Wilson from Holywood who reminded me of another Ulster connection to the action-packed TV series 24.
Last week I wrote how Coleraine actress Michelle Fairley was playing the baddie and Peter said the cast also includes Bond villain turned 24 good guy Colin Salmon who in 1988 married a daughter of the late BBC controller here and Ulster History Circle stalwart James Hawthorne.