I was in Downpatrick on Sunday past - taking part in an afternoon of Creative writing at the Down Arts Centre. It was a lot of fun - like all writers' groups there was a mixture of people taking their first steps and some people who seemed to write with ease. I arrived early (I got my times wrong) and so I spent about an hour strolling around the town, from 1pm to 2pm. Like nearly every town in Northern Ireland Downpatrick has a split personality - there are some gorgeous streets and some grim ones. There's a sense of old money, some of it on the slide. Most depressingly though, I've never seen so many shutters in one place in my life before.