The Mill for Grinding Old People Young

Born in Belfast in 1961, Glenn Patterson was brought up on a housing estate on one of the city’s sectarian boundaries which was inevitably traumatised by the outbreak of the Troubles.


He attended Methodist College and later graduated from the University of East Anglia (BA, MA) where he was a product of the UEA Creative Writing Course under Malcolm Bradbury. In addition to his novels, he also makes documentaries for the BBC and has published his collected journalistic writings as Lapsed Protestant (2006).


Patterson’s recurring theme is the reassessment of the past.


He has been a Writer in Residence at the University of East Anglia and the University of Cork, and is currently a tutor in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast.


On page 53: “It was the custom in those days, among the younger townsfolk in particular, to make an excursion on Easter Monday to the Cave hill, the last and most prominent of the hills, streching from Collin through Black Mountain and Divis, walling us in on the west. Ferris and Bright were astonished to learn that these festivities has so far passed me by. ‘But where did you go as a lad to trundel your egg?’ Bright asked…”


Page 58: “The lower slopes of the hill, when we arrived there, breathless, less than a quarter of an hour later, were dotted with the less energetic revellers at their rest: parents perhaps, prevailed upon to wait by sons and daughters who were even now halfway to the summit and, if what I had heard was true, all the promise of licence that that held out. Higher up, the path got rougher, the undergrowth thicker, and the overhanging branches became more of a hindrance. In some of the dimmer recesses campfires burned. There was laughter, here and there a flash of vivid colour among the black tree trunks. We three pressed on, without a word, emerging eventually a little below the first and largest of the caves (already colonised), some few hundred winding feet from the plateau.”


….”Far ahead, three separate fires burned on the side of Black Mountain. It was the season for them, for gorse gone dry, and idle boys with glasses. The smoke plumes were angled in the breeze, a uniform forty-five degrees. It might have been a race from Cave Hill on the right to Collin on the left, the progress as stately as boats across a pond.”