Saturday, October 09, 2010

Remember thou art mortal.

Our politician who art indicted
hollowed be thy fame.
Thy kingdom’s gone.
Thy will long done
on earth but never in heaven.
You gave us each day our daily bread
and promised us jam tomorrow;
yet we forgive those who trespass against us,
but you lead us into temptation
and delivered all this upheaval.
For thine was the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
built on the never never.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Torch of the Unknown Journalist

Our Journalist who art unknown,
Hallowed be thy flame.
Thy acumen come.
Thy research be done
on earth as it is in The Guardian.
Give us this day our daily torch,
and deliver us our press passes,
as we ne’er forgive those who govern against us;
and lead us not into sensation,
but deliver us from Evil’s empire.
For thine is the freedom
to distil truth from power and get the story.
Forever endeavour.

Friday, August 20, 2010


This almost Edwardian drama focuses on the upwardly mobile and well connected Servis family, who live in a comfortable townhouse in Adelaide Street just off the centre of Belfast. The family is visited by a man calling himself Inspector Slugger O’Toole, who questions the family about the death of a young girl called Govern. Over the course of the evening, the entire family, under interrogation by Inspector O’Toole, are revealed to have been responsible for the young girl’s abandonment, humiliation, reputational ruin, and eventual death.

The play opens with an evening dinner party at the Servis home. Joe “Public” Servis, a retired wealthy beverage wholesaler and local politician, and his family are celebrating the forthcoming engagement of their daughter Sybil Servis to Severn Trent , the son of a rival beverage wholesaler. Also in attendance, home on leave, is Private Walter Servis, Sybil’s younger brother, who is revealed as having a drinking problem inasmuch as he cannot fund his free and easy living. After dinner and over the port, Joe makes a speech to Severn and Walter about the importance of transparency - that a man must "be open and honest and accountable in all his dealings” - so that when called before “his maker and regulator” he is able to meet him with confidence and an easy conscience.

The party is interrupted by the Servis’s butler Cyril announcing the arrival of Inspector O’Toole, who explains that he must speak with the family concerning the death of a young woman at the local infirmary earlier that day. O’Toole explains that the young woman named Govern killed herself in despair. He intimates that the girl left behind a diary naming certain names, including members of the Servis family, and that it is his duty to question the family and understand their involvement.

Joe, Walter and Severn all initially claim to have no knowledge of the girl. O’Toole produces a photograph of Govern that he shows discreetly to Joe, who acknowledges that he knows her. He eventually admits that he dismissed her from the board of one of his companies for alleged procurement failures, in reality he just wanted her off the board as she asked too many questions, but denies any further knowledge of her or any responsibility for her death.

Sybil enters the room, and despite Joe's attempts to dissuade her, she is drawn into the discussion. Sybil is initially dismissive but after some prompting from O’Toole and sight of the photograph, she admits that she also recognizes the girl. Sybil confesses that she had met her at a client’s wash up meeting and that she thought the girl had mocked her while she was outlining the findings of an Internal Audit report. Given this supposed mocking Sybil had privately recommended Govern’s dismissal to her client but in retrospect Govern’s behaviour had been blameless; Sybil had just had a bad day at the office. Sybil is guilt-ridden and willing to accept blame for her and her father's part in the girl’s downfall.

Mrs Hydra Servis enters the room as O’Toole continues his interrogation He  reveals that the girl also had another name of  Nance. Severn Trent starts at the mention of Nance, though initially admits nothing. Sybil immediately becomes suspicious and, together with O’Toole, force Severn to admit that he met Nance the year before in a hotel bar frequented by consultants looking for work and had later given her money and arranged to see her again. Severn describes her as pretty, but lonely and destitute and in need of help. Sybil guesses that Severn and Govern were briefly lovers recalling a period in her relationship with Severn when he was remote and distant. Inspector Slugger O’Toole then reveals that Severn had installed Nance as his mistress in a friend's flat for several months, promising to take care of her, before ending the relationship and requesting that she move out. Mr and Mrs Servis are horrified, but Sybil acknowledges the truth. Severn, ashamed and distraught, excuses himself. Sensing that he may not return, Sybil gives back the engagement ring she received earlier in the evening, signalling that their engagement is over.

O’Toole’s attention turns to Hydra, identifying her as the head of an independent charitable organisation to whom Nance turned for help. Despite Hydra’s haughty and defensive responses, she eventually admits that Nance had appeared before the charity's committee, pregnant and destitute and asking for financial help. Hydra self righteously declares that she convinced the other committee members not to support Ms Gover/nance’s application, based on her own suspicions that Gover/nance was lying about her past. She dismissed a story told by Gover/nance that the father of her child had offered to give her money, but that she didn't accept it because it was stolen. Despite vigorous cross-examination from Inspector O’Toole, Hydra denies any wrongdoing for failing to help Gover/nance, and declares that the blame lies firmly with the father of Gover/nance’s unborn child.

Sensing what is to come, Sybil begs her mother not to continue, but O’Toole plays his final card and reveals an incriminating hand written note. This  provokes Hydra into saying that the feckless father should publicly confess and accept all the blame. The drunken Private Walter re-enters the room, and after brief questioning from O’Toole, breaks down and admits that he had met Gover/nance and forced her into having sex with him. Walter also admits that he stole £50 from his father's business to pay Gover/nance off. Reacting to the moment Joe and Sybil break down, and the family begin to argue before Walter screams at Hydra and Joe, "You killed Gover/nance not me! " Inspector O’Toole eventually imposes quiet on the family and then abruptly leaves after accusing each of them of contributing to the death of Gover/nance.

After O’Toole’s departure, the family descend again into a violent argument. Walter and Sybil, both tormented by their own guilt and horrified by what they see as the family's collective responsibility for the death, demand that their parents face the truth. Sybil begs her parents to accept the consequences of their actions. Joe and Hydra turn on their children, accusing them of disloyalty.

Severn now returns. He tells them he has spoken to a police sergeant and has been told that there is no Inspector O’Toole on the police force. Joe Servis makes a call to the Chief Constable, who confirms this fact. Severn points out that if O’Toole was lying about being a policeman, then he might be lying about a dead woman.  Joe Servis makes a call to the infirmary who state that no dead woman has been admitted that evening.  Severn  argues that no one knows for sure that each member of the family had dealings with the same woman, after all  Inspector O’Toole was careful to show the photograph to each of them alone one at a time. Severn continues  saying that each of the Servises could have been talking about a different woman, and that Inspector Slugger O’Toole's unifying theory of a single death caused by the whole family cannot be supported. Severn convinces the family that they cannot be held accountable. He then makes a second call to the Chief Constable  to be told that there is definitely no dead body The elder Servises and Severn celebrate to Sybil and Walter's disgust. Joe dismisses the evening's events as smoke and mirrors. He chastises himself and his family for revealing their guilty secrets and concludes that Inspector  O’Toole was planted by a rival politician to try and discredit his business and reputation.

The play ends suddenly with a telephone call taken by Joe. He turns to his family and haltingly says that a girl has been found dead in the infirmary next to an open diary and that the police are on their way to the house to question them.


Here lies Ms Governance
Misused by Joe
Accused by Sybil
Bruised by Severn
Abused by Hydra
Well and truly f***** by Walter
Reputation restored by Inspector Slugger O’Toole


Friday, May 28, 2010

Have I Got News for You

I heard on HIGNFY last night that once again Mazher Mahmood struck gold when disguising himself as a wealthy sheikh with his latest dupe being Fergie Duchess of York. Those of you who have followed Mazza’s career might think that men disguised as Arabs is a modern phenomenon but of course as we older hands know even this particular branch of cross dressing has its own fascinating history. Those who have donned the disguise include such luminaries as Sir Richard Burton who made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and of course Lawrence of Arabia. At the other end of the heroic scale Articles brings you the following tale.

Before my time at school, thankfully, it was the custom for Jesuit teachers to listen to a reading from an inspirational or instructional book whilst having their tea. On one occasion the reluctant pressed youth was reading from a published work by one of the above luminaries. No it was not that book, but “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. The schoolboy came to the word “sheikh” and pronounced it “sheek”. One of the Jays cleared his throat and spelled out “s-h-e-i-k-h as in shake”. The youngster continued and again came to the word sheikh, this time pronouncing it “shike”. Another of the assembled said “shake, boy, shake” to murmured laughter. Our hero - as he was to become - continued and again came to the word this time spelling it out quickly and inventing an asterisk adding “Gentlemen the footnote reads ‘The word s-h-e-i-k-h can be pronounced sheek, shike, or shake’ ” and calmly continued reading, without further interruption.

Be warned dear readers, especially teachers, parading your scholarship is a risky game, and remember, dear readers, especially duchesses, sheikhs might not be what they appear to be.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The question arises who is the more stupid

On the radio, I heard Professor Dawkin’s contribution to a debate concerning a local politician’s aim to introduce creationism to the Museum of Ulster. I heard it because I was at home listening in between helping my son with his GCSE science revision. I listened with a wry smile. I will resist the temptation of lampooning free Nelson  McCausland because there are a couple of serious points to be made and neither at the expense of  Mr McCausland.

Here am I a man in my mid fifties who is regarded as very well educated. I recently picked up my son’s science texts. I have to say I was appalled at my ignorance and it was as much a revelation to me as revision for him. Yet I am an educated man.  I went to a grammar school and university; I read popular science books including those belonging to Dawkins; I take an interest in current affairs including global warming, nuclear energy , dwindling resources etc. But having read my son’s texts on biology, physics and chemistry respectively I now realise I know fuck all about basic science. How can this be?

Both you and I know the answer and I shall move on. Furthermore I have been blessed with two bright , well adjusted and decent children who are highly creative but their home environment means that they will choose the arts, when in fact they are more than capable of a career in either arts or sciences, if such a crude binary categorisation still exists.

So the real point is this. Dawkins can continue to take shots at the creationists but  they are too easy a target. He can continue to write popular science which will inform, be bought by people such as me and make us all science lite. I could for example, thanks in part to Dawkins and other popular science writers, write a sentence as follows. “Creationism is nothing less than the black hole of contemporary thinking, a repository of endless negative energy which offers nothing, only sucks in the stupid, whose sole battle cry is “God did it in six days” whatever the science says.”

But what Dawkins et al really need to be doing is shaming the likes of me for thinking of ourselves as educated, for failing to encourage scientific appreciation in our youngsters, for being so scientifically ill informed in comparison to our 17th, 18th and 19th century forebears. Such a challenge might prove to be a much more difficult but rewarding target for Dawkins and for the country.

As my Jesuit teacher used to say “Atheism is just another belief system.” So, professor, don’t get sucked into the black hole of creationism. Forget the stupid and politically motivated, aim for the scientifically ignorant who think they are scientifically literate thanks to science lite.

Until I pass a science paper set by my son I shall now consider myself poorly educated and science lite. The question arises who is the more stupid , the creationist who denies science, or the arts /social science graduate who fails to fully educate his or herself.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

How a man from the Shankill won the World Cup for England in 1966 [The Thirty Nine Steps retold].

I have the honour of acting as legal representative and archivist to one Willie Smith of the Shankill Road who died recently after an eventful life. Among his papers is one in which he confesses to being responsible for England winning the football World Cup in 1966.

 “ As the hour of my death approaches, I have no fear. My affairs are settled and my conscience is clear, save in one matter which I will now confess, with you reader as my witness. ” Willie Smith, Shankhill Road

“ It all started when my long forgotten English cousin picked up a John Buchan novel, slipped and banged his head, and it ended a year later at the World Cup Final in 1966. In between times my cousin was stiff upper lipped Dick Hannay ever alert to conspiracy and betrayal of the motherland. If I tell you also that, by his own account Hannay had escaped, injured and bloody, from imprisonment by a man with a pencil moustache and a Germanic accent you will know that when he knocked on my door on the Shankhill that summer's evening he was already seriously delusional. Gradually as my alcohol and my painkillers kicked in, and in between glances out the window, he let slip the whole story from the very beginning.

How at an early age Brockwurst, Pieters, and von Mooren moved from communist East Germany to West Ham United, how they became Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby Moore, and how they progressed from the youth team, incidentally always leading the communal singing, to full England internationals. By far the most dangerous of the three was the blonde, blue eyed and brainwashed von Mooren who was a trained assassin primed to be triggered at a crucial moment.

Well …my astonishment was matched only by concern for my cousin's welfare …but more detail was to follow.

Seemingly, accordingly to Hannay, the three footballers were controlled by a mysterious figure located in the Scottish Highlands known as Angus McHilter. Incredibly my cousin had managed to steal a manuscript entitled “Och ma stroogle” which gave brief biographical details, and more importantly, particulars of a fiendish plot. In sum, forced by circumstances to live in exile, in what McHilter considered a backward country, where music had not progressed beyond the 15 th century, and where men wore skirts and not manly lederhosen, it was McHilter's plan to avenge the humiliations suffered by his beloved Fatherland and to regain his personal honour. What better than to humiliate the England football team at Wembley by ensuring England lost all their games and to assassinate Her Majesty the Queen. The only outstanding question was how and when this foul murder was to occur. The only clue was the recurring phrase in the manuscript “The thirty nine steps”.

Well my astonishment was now matched only by my concern for my own welfare. Here was a man, my cousin no less, who at the very least was clearly paranoid delusional. And I admit I wanted to talk to someone about him, preferably someone wearing a white coat. My fear subsided temporarily as my cousin lapsed into a drug and alcohol fuelled oblivion. I took stock. Forget my cousin. Here, to all intents and purposes was Richard Hannay, a man of absolute moral certainty who had discovered a conspiracy and had set out single handed to frustrate the fiendish plot and there was me…….. cousin Willie Smith.

I, wanting to find out more about the World Cup, went out and bought a football magazine in addition to my usual Belfast Telegraph . I needn't have incurred the extra expenditure. There staring out from the front page of the Tele was a picture of myself without moustache without spectacles, but according to the caption it was Bobby Moore. Thus on that fateful day I learned that I with the habitual sick note for games, the champion school duffer, could be an exact double of the England captain - the world's greatest football defender.

I had to think quickly. Nothing. I tried thinking slowly. Still nothing. I reflected. Was it my problem, our problem or his problem? My cousin began to show signs of awakening and it came to me in a flash. It was his problem; let him worry about it, and I hid in the bathroom and waited. I glimpsed myself in the mirror but there was no trace of shame. I became curious however and removed my spectacles and lathered my face with a shaving brush, and slowly ever so slowly, shaved off my waxed moustache. Ever so slowly I became Bobby Moore.

Too late I realised what a damn fool I was! This placed me in even greater danger. In addition to Bobby Moore I was now Von Mooren, enemy of the state, part of the conspiracy, and alone in a flat with Dick Hannay. Now it was my problem.I had to think. I thought better of it and decided to improvise. I left the bathroom, entered the sitting room and held out my right hand. I have never ever forgotten the ensuing conversation as I gradually warmed to the task of entering and controlling his world.
“I congratulate you, Hannay, you are a formidable opponent. Nothing in my training prepared me for your English bulldog spirit; you are truly indefatigable. To survive.. to escape… to evade capture… was incredible enough but to post your cousin with the secret of the thirty nine steps together with a ticket on the QEII to New York was nothing less than a masterstroke. Indeed we are all at sea , and I must assume that the authorities have been forewarned. I can do no other. Take my hand Hannay, it's over, you've won”.

The pause was short but significant. He had accepted my new persona.

“What are you doing here Von Mooren? How do I know this is not a trick?”

“Because you are alive Hannay. Think man. You are alive because you are no longer a threat to my plans that, sadly, are now in ruins. In choosing to run with the hare your brave Shankhill cousin escaped a very painful death, spared your life and saved your Queen. You're men after my own heart, Hannay. What is it that they teach you on the playing fields of England and Ulster that they cannot teach us in Prussia ?”

Hannay took a step back, assimilated the information about his cousin and at last said, “I'll not shake your hand Von Mooren but tell me this, what will happen to you?”

I thought quickly again. “Nothing, both sides pretend none of this ever happened and start again. Already we have new orders.”

“And they are?”

Growing more confident I found myself saying. “Why to win the tournament, climb all those steps and collect the World Cup for England of course. What could be more proof that this never happened?”

“Very clever. One last thing Von Mooren, should you triumph and climb those steps, ah yes, those thirty nine steps , make sure you wipe your dirty Bosch hands before greeting Her Majesty…because I'll be watching you. One false move and you….”

I interrupted. “Don't worry remember she is my Queen too, she is of the House Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. One day the Fatherland and the Motherland will be united. Until that day we will continue to meet on and off the field. I promise you that you will not always win. Enough. Goodbye for now Hannay”.

The accumulated knowledge that his provincial Ulster cousin, Willie Smith, had saved his life and more importantly Her Majesty's, that the riddle of the thirty nine steps was so simple, and that seed of doubt about his beloved royal family was too much and my cousin hyper-ventilated, stumbled and fell to the floor - hitting his head once again. Quickly I put the recently purchased Charles Buchan Football Monthly in his hand and offered up a silent prayer. By the grace of God when he awoke he was no longer Dick Hannay.

And now looking back after all these years I wonder. What if my cousin hadn't come to my door? What if he hadn't revealed his delusions? Would he have taken it upon himself to eliminate Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst in the belief that they were the German assassins Von Mooren, Pieters, and Brockwurst. What if I hadn't confronted his demons? Would England have won the World Cup? What if, what if, what if…

All I can say definitely… is that for a brief time my cousin had the motive, the means, and most importantly, when he returned to his job as the England team barber, the opportunity.

“They think it's all over”. It very nearly was before it even began. Without me, Willie Smith from the Shankhill Road, England would never have won the 1966 World Cup and we in Northern Ireland would never have had the World Cup rammed down our throat by the English media ever since. I beg forgiveness from the Almighty. ”

Willie Smith

Signed in the presence of his solicitor.


Sunday, May 09, 2010



Stephen Nolan: Welcome to the new game show “ It’s Childs’ play” where two teams of PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS are asked to plan a project. The PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS are given an opportunity to ask questions and are then asked to identify the key factors which will ensure success. The teams reveal their conclusions and if they match the factors revealed by “Mr Oh! No!” they are awarded points. The more points they score, the more prizes they win for their school.


Stephen Nolan: Quite simply we present two teams of PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS with a real life situation and say “You’re in charge, you’re the adults TAKE IT AWAY ……….…..”

Stephen Nolan: Introduces team 1 Reginald, David, and Basil and team 2 Peter, Nigel and Arlene. Now team 1 won the toss and go first.

Stephen Nolan: So, you are the parents of a family who are going on holiday for the first time. You have one minute to ask me any question you like before we plan the project. What would you like to ask me? TAKE IT AWAY.

Reginald: How will we get there?
Stephen Nolan: Entirely up to you

David: How many kids have we got
Stephen Nolan: Lets say three, one of each, a boy, a girl and a baby

Basil: What time of year is it?
Stephen Nolan: “Summertime, when the living is easy….”

David: Can we afford the holiday
Stephen Nolan: Yes, all paid for in advance

Reginald: When can we go?
Stephen Nolan: Right now, Time’s up. On to the next stage


Stephen Nolan: My question is quite simply “what should you take into account to increase the chances of a happy and carefree holiday?” But first choose one of the following categories. The categories are: 1 Before you leave; 2 Transport; 3 Documentation and 4 Destination.

Reginald: Category 1 please

Stephen Nolan: So Team 1 have chosen “Before you leave” You have one minute to plan.


Stephen Nolan: OK time’s up. What have you got for me, team 1 on category 1.

Reginald: Well, we have to pack, pack everything we need. We have to turn off the lights, turn off the telly, turn off everything, close all the windows, tell the neighbours.

Stephen Nolan: Any more?

Basil : Have to remember to cancel the papers and the milk.

Stephen Nolan: Any more? MiaaaaaaaooooooW

David: Oh yes, put the cat and dog in the kennels

Stephen Nolan: OK time’s up and let’s hand over to Mr Oh!No!

Mr Oh!No!: Well I think they had that pretty well covered there apart from poor puss and Team 1 was on the right lines in that they wanted to take with them what was necessary for their holiday and wanted to ensure what they left behind was there when they came back.


Mr Oh!No!: But Oh!No! there’s one big flaw! There’s something fundamental missing

Stephen Nolan: Over to you Team 2. Can you supply the missing link?

Peter: They don’t know where they’re going. If they have no strategy and don’t know where they’re going, how can they pack the right clothes, take sun block or brollies, book a plane or a train. It’s fundamental.

Stephen Nolan: What do you think Mr Oh!No!

Mr Oh!No!: Quite right and so its three points to Team 1 but five points to Team 2.

Stephen Nolan: Right now we’ll take a break and be back in a couple of moments with “IT’S CHILDS’ PLAY”, the brand new game show for PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN.



Monday, April 26, 2010


It’s as good as time as any to update the crossroads metaphor. Who now stands at the crossroads?

The parties

Well not the UUP. They’re going round in circles having tied themselves to the Tories, the same Tories who, if elected, will slash and burn after the election. Odd given that NI plc is the biggest government job creation scheme in W. Europe. And in return, at best, a seat at the cabinet table for Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting). What’s more, they’ve being going round in circles since Sir Reg took over; is one leg shorter than the other?

Verdict: Ulster Unionists on the roundabout with the wheels coming off.

Well not the DUP. Peter ”Much ado about nothing” Robinson has made his mind up. “They’re all liars”. Meanwhile an election has been called and there’s another temporary hold up on the very long and extremely winding road to Damascus. But wait what’s that coming over the hill? Is it the TUV? Will Ian Paisley and Jim Shannon, held up at the barriers, get across the line first?

Verdict: DUP on the level crossing looking over their shoulders.

Well not SF. Crossroads have connotations of crises, of doubt and uncertainty, of decisions right or wrong to be made. Best be avoided then just like Westminster. SF are above all that. At the last count there is a SF policy on everything, no doubt there. To be fair however SF categorically refute that political leadership and doctrinal authority have been fused in an elite.

Verdict: SF on the fly over [ no the bridge, not the helicopter].

And what of the SDLP? As is customary in the recent past bringing up the rear. Margaret Ritchie made the right decisions in not pulling Fearghal McKinney and in not making pacts with SF or FF. Let’s hope for the future of SDLP, the future of democracy, and the future of N. Ireland the decisions were made on principle.

Verdict: SDLP successfully negotiating the crossroads

Many  will never vote for either the DUP or Sinn Fein, and in the past many have voted for both SDLP and UUP, and in the future can see themselves voting also for the Greens and the Alliance should the opportunity for a useful vote arise. I suspect that there are quite a few  who vote tactically.

In the day to day business of politics outside of the elections I would hope that the UUP and SDLP in time see some common centre ground where they can usefully build structures founded on mutual trust. SDLP must therefore be a party with whom the UUP can do business, and vice versa. That requires morality, personal integrity and party ethics.

Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting) has chosen to attach himself to the Conservative bandwagon thus temporarily taking a roundabout detour but in time his successor will return to the crossroads and will be faced with the crucial decision.

For all sorts of reasons the DUP and SF have reached their zenith and they are now in long term decline though the occasional event might indicate otherwise. The UUP and SDLP have to be ready when the DUP and SF implode.

What is your constituency called?

And can you sum it up in a few words? Visitors to the USA will be familiar with the American car registration plates which show both the registration number and the state of origin together with a pithy phrase which sums up the state e.g. Florida The Sunshine State, or Alabama The Heart of Dixie. Can you do the same for your constituency. Here are some examples.

                  Upper Bann                         Strangford
                 XYZ 1234                   XYZ 1234
   There’s a roundabout here for you!    Don’t worry she’s gone.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


World exclusive by Articles

Articles can exclusively reveal that world famous actor Ben Kingsley has said YES to re-creating his role of Mahatma Gandhi and YES to leading a peace march down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown. This latest initiative to end the long running Drumcree dispute is the brainchild of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey who hopes to score a knockout blow in his titanic make or break election battle with the DUP’s Reverend Willie McCrea for the constituency of South Antrim

Articles can exclusively divulge that the idea came to light in a document mistakenly left on a Stormont photocopier. An embarrassed spokesman for Sir Reg initially denied its existence but later called back to confirm its authenticity. Sir Reg Empey himself refused to comment immediately but invited Articles to a press conference to be held Monday of next week.

Sir Reg Empey sets out his proposals in a memorandum addressed to fellow unionist Harry Hamilton, the Freddie Mercury impersonator, who is standing for election in Upper Bann, the constituency in which Drumcree near Portadown is located. Empey speculates as to the possible reaction of key players, emphasises the need to massage public opinion in advance and ends with this appeal to Mr Hamilton “If we want to end this impasse, we cannot be impassive, we have to be imaginative, we have to be creative, we have to break free.”

In detail, the proposal envisages Sir Ben Kingsley dressed as Gandhi hand in hand with Sir Reg Empey and Harry Hamilton together with the Grand Master of the Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge leading a small procession of Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road singing a peace song the chorus of which runs:

“We’re going Gandhi
Down the Garvaghy
With Sir Reg Empey
And Freddie Mercury
Everything’s raji
It’s a kinda of magi….c”

The vision continues… “The massed Garvaghy Road residents will part allowing the Orangemen to walk through and then fall in beside them singing from the same sheet. The whole drama to unfold in the absence of any security forces in the anticipation - carefully choreographed beforehand - that all parties merely wish to bring the present dispute to an end and start afresh and that there are to be no winners and no losers.”

Reaction on the ground was immediate and mixed. A spokesman for Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge said “Gandhi you say - which Gandhi is that then, where’s he from ..Delhi? ah LondonDelhi you mean. But seriously if you’re asking me whether our reaction would be positive then the answer is yes. We are determined to walk the Garvaghy Road, if Empey can fix it and this fellow Gandhi wants to come along too, then we’re right behind them”

Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Resident’s Coalition was more guarded and recalled memories of David Trimble and the Reverend Ian Paisley dancing a jig. “We’ve been through too much to let them (the Orange Order) through just like that. I’d have to be convinced of their sincerity. Perhaps if the Orangemen forgot their suits and sashes for the day and dressed up like Gandhi - OK they could keep their bowler hats and their umbrellas - just so that the symbolism is clear to all, well we could possibly run with that.”

Meanwhile Mr Hamilton refused to take my call. A spokesman claimed not to know of the document’s existence raising the possibility that the Freddie Mercury impersonator has disassociated himself already from what is the latest in a long line of political initiatives from the ever creative Ulster Unionist leader and strategist.

Sir Reg Empey’s opponent in South Antrim, the Reverend Willie McCrea, was less reticent “He can’t sing, he can’t dance and he can’t find a seat. It doesn’t matter where this fellow runs for election; East Belfast, Upper Bann in the future or South Antrim this time around, the good unionist people of Ulster will not vote him in.”

Last night, the final word fell to Mr. Kingsley who speaking from his London home said “I am willing to do anything I can to help bring peace to a troubled community.”


And for those readers puzzled by the word “raji” the Ulster Scots Agency confirms that it is Ullans for great news.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


“With seasonally adjusted temperatures we could eliminate winter…”


What this blog is about.

Surveys, including those biggest surveys of all, General Elections, increasingly show that a growing number of people are turned off by politics. Thus a great many people will consciously and sub-consciously ignore the forthcoming General Election. But I believe that politics can be fun, funny, sometimes very funny and occasionally funny peculiar. And from time to time so funny if it wasn’t so sad.

This blog therefore aims to tool you up with essential facts, disarm you with some genuinely interesting trivia and finally to arm you once again by poking fun at the body politic, politics and politicians. Along the way you’ll be given things to do .

How this blog will help you.

When you really cannot take any more of Election 2010 ! Then, with any luck, you will be able turn to or recall at least something herein which casts an amusing light on that which has irritated you. And having read and absorbed all of the information in this blog you will be qualified for any or all of the following:

• Ambushing Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting) on a doorstep far from home;
• Ringing Wendy Austin and addressing the nutters on an equal footing;
• Heckling a soap box orator “Wee Jeffrey, we still canna see you!”;
• Redefining Einstein for the 21st century with CaitrĂ­ona Ruane [E3=MC];*
• Writing erudite pompous prose in the local rag - stand aside Lord Trimble

But first a health warning….

This site will equip you for a political career and, unless you become a proficient practitioner, this will cause drowsiness in others. On no account let them operate machinery.

…..and a personal message from the Prime Minister

Dear voter

Hi, (flex jaw throughout)

I thought it important that you, as an individual voter, should know why I (toothy smile) as Prime Minister) want you to vote at the next General Election. Now please note that I didn’t ask you to vote for me (disarming grin); all I said was vote, you can’t vote for me in Northern Ireland anyway, heh heh. This is not a party political broadcast (hand on breast) rather these are my personal thoughts for you in the comfort of your own home (quizzical raised eyebrow) narrowcast I believe is the contemporary word.

I want to share one incredibly important fact with you (elbows on lectern hands outstretched, palms open). Quite simply the principle of one person one vote is the basis of our democracy (palms close and interlock fingers). If you, like I, believe passionately (hand on breast again) in democracy then please cast your vote on election day.

At the moment, I have the privilege (pause) of being on watch (pause)on the bridge in this great ship of state (pause)we call Brittannia. I want you to know (rhythmic reading), that following parliament’s dissolution, and during the period of the campaign, and whatever way the campaign unfolds (pause and raise chin) I will still be keeping a weather eye open.

Thank you.

Yours ever

Gordon Brown

Prime Minister


Write to the Prime Minster pointing out that there is no obligation to hold elections on a Thursday. The use of Thursdays is a result of custom and practice only but not electoral law and the Prime Minister could choose otherwise. There are precedents. A General Election was held on a Tuesday on 27 October 1931, on a Wednesday on 15 Nov 1922 and 29 October 1924, and on a Saturday on 14 December 1918.

Explain that the election date of 5 May 2010 clashes with your six monthly dental appointment, or other such significant event and demand another date for the election.

File the bog standard no 10 response together with a copy of the original and in the event, always possible, of acid rain and volcanic ash and the Prime Minister co-incidentally switching the date you have in your possession an exclusive for the Belfast Telegraph.

Election Stunner. Tele reader pulls Gordon’s poll.

* E3=MC, Equality, Equality, Equality = Mixed Comprehensives


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This is my first ever blog and to mark the occasion I want to give something to the world. Ladies and gentlemen .........

Present Without Listening  verse aka  PWOL Poetry

Some years ago in the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown  I found myself listening to advice on how to avoid heart attacks, strokes and stress.  Mid way through  I attempted to answer the obvious question “Why am I still sitting alongside carriers of said heart attacks, strokes and stress at the company health day.” After admitting truthfully to myself that the answer was money, but consoling myself with the knowledge that I too was a carrier I allowed my mind to wander. And so was born PWOL verse.
My enforced attendance gave me my first line of thought, “I could have been”. The prospect of a weekend away gave me my second and third lines “in Bordeaux”, and “in a chateau”. Another  awful rhyme of “sipping Pernod“ sadly could not be resisted but I fought back with a vengeance using irony “But I want to be here “ and “in the Seagoe”.

Yes, seriously bad poetry complete with seriously bad irony  but nonetheless a new verse form [ABBBCB]was born. And how quickly the day passed.

I now proudly present  PWOL verse to the world.  This new verse form  deliberately careless with metre and stress leaves you free to concentrate on the rhyme should you find yourself
  • in the wrong place,
  • at the wrong time
  • for the wrong reason
  • and you wish to be PWOL – Present Without Listening.
Quite simply a rhyme scheme with the rhyming words determined by the name of the location, in this case the Seagoe Hotel.

eg 1
I could have been
Robinson Crusoe
dipping my big toe
in the eau
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe

eg 2
I could have been
a baseball pro
making big dough
“say it ain’t so Joe”
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe.

eg 3
I could have been
dancing toe to toe
saying hello
to Marilyn Monroe
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe
Just remember not to stay at The Ritz.
PS especially useful when listening to speeches made by Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting)