Where's The War?
I'd been in Northern Ireland a whole week now and not once had I been shot at or blown up - what was going on? In fact I hadn't even seen a blown up house or blood spattered pavement. To be perfectly honest the only difference was the curbstones were painted in tribal colours and in some areas the houses had murals painted on their gable ends.
The area I was based in was primarily loyalist although not hardline like some areas. We could leave the camp and go out socially although this was restricted by in-bounds/out of bounds areas. In fact we could lead a pretty normal life.
Which is exactly what 99% of the population of Northern Ireland were doing. Even 10 years ago the outsider perception of Northern Ireland was based entirely on media reports of The Troubles. I had made the mistake that countless others had done of thinking that everyone I met was going to be a member of the IRA, the UVF or any one of the other terrorist groupings around at the time. It's probably worth remembering this after the recent attacks on London.