You know what it’s like. Well I’m hoping you do . Let me elaborate a bit more.
It began after a bout of flu which floored me. I lay in bed for almost a week, feeling listless and looking like another clean blouse would do me. But then I began to feel better and decided I needed to do something to improve my appearance. I’m overweight so I immediately vowed to go on a strict diet, exercise more but go for a bigger size in clothes until I reached my ideal weight. Well who wants to feel uncomfortable while trying to force oneself into a pair of too tight jeans. A new image is what I need I thought, as I ate my way through the remainder of a box of chocolates. (I was brought up not to waste food) What can I do while I’m waiting for all this weight to drop off? ( I knew it could be a slow process ) As I had always laughed at those who had resorted to Botox and facelifts, I decided there was very little I could do to my face so the only thing left was my hair. I’m always the first to be recognised in photos as my hair is snow white and I stick out like the proverbial thumb so maybe something could be done to make me blend in better in a crowd.
So with that in mind I made an appointment with the hairdresser. I had visions of me looking younger and possibly blonde but stunning nevertheless. After much discussions the hairdresser convinced me that what I needed were highlights, black highlights. They will look terrific in your hair, she said. Nothing too dramatic, I ventured. No it will be subtle. Just a few light strands scattered through your hair. And that my dear reader is how I ended up looking like a badger.
I have shampooed my hair on a daily basis for the last month, sometimes twice a day. I guess I’m just going to have to wait until it grows out. I have mentioned my hair to anyone I meet as a greeting. Hello, yes I know I look like a badger, bit of a mis-calculation with the old hair dye. I wake up most mornings stumble to the bathroom and every morning I get the same feeling of panic when I catch my reflection in the mirror.
So I’m surmising that we all think at some stage that we are not happy with our appearance but before you decide to do something about it, think twice or you too could end up looking like a badger.
I have a confession to make. I was one of those listeners who made the Nolan show the biggest show in the country and I’ll hazard a guess if you’re reading this you did too. I hate to admit it now but I can look back and see how I helped make the big man a big hit in NI. In the past I listened most mornings particularly after I knew that a big story was coming. I’d shout at the radio and laugh at some of the inane ideas and beliefs being bandied about. And even though I disagreed with them, like a guilty pleasure I kept listening. I also have to say that when Stephen tackles a story without the naysayers he does it well and should be proud of it.
However over the past few years I began to see a pattern developing. Instead of furthering a constructive discussion where points of view were backed up with facts and rational views we began to hear voices from those with extreme views and they were becoming more prevalent and even the norm.
On LGBGT issues we had Jim Alister , Norman from Bangor and Mrs White being allowed to spout dangerous and insulting comments around the subject of homosexuality. David McNarry with his scare tactics about the ILA and Brexit. Edwina Curry pretending to be an expert on everything. Jude Collins pertaining to speak on behalf of the Nationalist/ Catholic community. Jamie Bryson ranting about just about anything that went against a liberal point of view. And in the middle Stephen setting them against each other by adding fuel to the fire with incendiary comments.
Now I don’t listen to his show on Radio 5 but I understand it is dignified and completely different in tone. Is that because the audience across the water wouldn’t switch on if it was a similar format to the NI programme?
I’m open to views from anyone who does not direct hate or intolerance to any other section of our community. I’m a liberal, I believe in live and let live if it’s not hurting anyone and I believe we need to act in a responsible manner in putting out extremist views in our fragile society. So until the show changes and starts to help the community moving forward I will not be listening to or watching Stephen Nolan.
In the light of comments on my blog
‘It’s well past time to move on’
the majority of which were favourable one comment made me think. The writer accused me of being idealistic.
What is an idealist? : someone who believes that very good things can be achieved, often when this does not seem possible…
It made me think. Was he /she right?
What I want to achieve is to leave the past behind where it belongs. It is gone, can’t be retrieved, what is done can’t be undone. We should have learned from it of course but many haven’t. We need to compensate the victims and then plan for the future. We are where we are and the present and future is what we need to concentrate on.
My ideal future is a non-sectarian society where religion is a personal matter; where we live and let live; recognising that others views are to be respected; where nationalism and loyalism and those who are neither can co -exist without sniping and harbouring suspicion of the either side; recognising each other’s aspirations and using legitimate arguments to persuade voters. And where we stop harping back to the past.
But how to get there? Looking at the current situation I see both main parties stuck in a quicksand, sinking deeper and deeper. Every taunt, every jibe and they sink a bit further. The smaller parties are on the edge and aren’t influential enough to reach the sinking parties. But then an election will come along and lo and behold voters arrive and give the two main parties a helping hand. Tribal politics wins out again.
What if we allowed the two main parties to sink and voted for those who want to live side by side and practice real politics? But hold on! The problem then is that in NI there is no way that some voters will opt for a party that doesn’t have a view on the union and so the stalemate continues.
Our only hope is that the younger generation will opt for non- sectarian politics. But then my generation had high hopes for that also. Would this mean a United Ireland or a revamped Northern Ireland secure in its own identity.? I don’t know. Personally I see myself as Northern Irish and am happy that Northern Ireland remain as part of the United Kingdom.
I don’t know what is going to happen but realise it won’t happen in my lifetime but maybe my grandchildren and the next generation will help to break this vicious cycle and the past will be just what it is the past. So, yes, I am idealistic but there’s no harm in hoping.
I realise I could have written this 20 years ago, even 10 years ago as nothing much has changed.
I am almost 69. If I am lucky I may have a few years still to go. Since I was 20 my life has been lived with the spectre of the ‘troubles ‘ hovering over me. The troubles have defined my country, my life and those of my children. I do not want them to define the lives of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have mourned with those who have lost loved ones, I have grieved for their loss. I have condemned each atrocity and hoped it would be the last. I have sat up until the wee small hours to ensure my children got home safely, listening to the hourly news in case another bomb had gone off in town. I have stood on the Ormeau Road on internment day while the city was erupting around me. I’ve lain in bed listening to the sound of gunfire and the sound of petrol bombs hitting their targets. I’ve worked in areas of Northern Ireland where it was a relief for my family to know I was home safe at the end of the day.
I’ve had enough. I no longer want to think about it. I’m sorry for those who have lost love ones. I too have lost love ones, albeit not by a terrorist hand. But loss is loss no matter how it happens. I remember them but I don’t allow their loss to dictate how I live my life. The chances of catching those who committed these horrendous crimes are rapidly diminishing. Meanwhile relatives and friends are allowing their lives to be defined waiting for justice. Well I don’t want to grieve anymore, I want to put the troubles behind me. I want to get on with my life without listening to the rhetoric that has made up our news over the last few days. I would imagine to the younger generation we might as well be referring to the atrocities of the two world wars for all this means to them. We are not allowing our young people to move on, so instead of moving on they are moving out and crossing the water. Most of them will never return.
Life is very short. You look in the mirror or you look at your grandchild and you think how did I get here so quickly. It seems like yesterday…………I would appeal to those involved in politics and those who can influence them to draw a line under the past. Both sides have been guilty of atrocities. Go back into the assembly. No red lines. Get back in. Sort out our day -to -day problems. Deal with Same Sex Marriage and ILA when you sort out health, education and compensation for those victims waiting all these years. Time is short for those on waiting lists who may die while waiting for surgery.
I know some won’t agree with my thoughts on this but you know something you get to an age where it doesn’t matter what others think. I have no intention of offending anyone. I would say to those relatives and friends of the victims, don’t let the terrorists define your life anymore. They have already taken away most of your quality of life. Live and enjoy what is left of it. I imagine your relatives would want you to be happy. Grieving has to end at some stage. Remembering a loved one doesn’t.
It was Sunday morning. The grandkids and the dog had been staying with me for almost a week but were now returned to their rightful owners. I was enjoying the peace and quiet. And then I heard it. Someone was opening the patio doors downstairs. You can tell even from upstairs that someone had slid the doors across and didn’t seem to be too worried about being heard.
Shall I lie here or get up and confront him I thought to myself. Just lie there I thought, hopefully he’ll go away. But no, suddenly there was a sound that seemed to echo up the chimney behind my headboard. It was a loud raking sound accompanied by the sound of steel upon steel. After a few minutes it stopped and I heard the cloakroom door open. I knew it was the cloakroom door because the original handle dating back to 1929 is still there and there is a distinctive noise when it opens. I heard the rustling of plastic bags. There is, by the way, an endless supply of plastic bags in our house cause I end up buying at least two every time I shop.
The door closed again and by this time I was becoming agitated but still didn’t want a confrontation. The clanging of dishes and pots and pans followed. The dishwasher was being emptied. Suddenly I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, the door opened, banging the side of the wardrobe, per usual. Well did you enjoy your ly-in? said the hubby, setting a cup of tea, a croissant and my morning tablets on the bedside table. Didn’t want to wake you, but I’ve cleaned out the fire and emptied the dishwasher while you we’re sleeping and nipped out earlier for the croissants. Great for some having a lie in, he said. You can guess what I was thinking but I said nothing.
I returned to Stormont on Tuesday evening to attend an event in aid of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Two years ago I attended the same event with my friend Olive Buckley. On that occasion Olive spoke bravely about her diagnosis of Pancreatic cancer and reinforced her attitude to dealing with it, which showed her inner strength and determination. Sadly Olive passed away in September last year and until she passed away she remained upbeat and was still dealing with issues connected to Unite for whom she had been a strong advocate.
It was encouraging to see that although Stormont is no longer a working entity a number of MLAs showed their support by turning up.
Nichola Mallon opened proceedings with the sad news that a former teacher Mrs O’Sullivan had passed away on Tuesday due to pancreatic cancer.
Mark Taylor spoke about the advances in treatments some being pioneered by the University of Ulster and Professor John Callan. Very encouraging.
We also heard Ivan McMinn talk about how it has been six years since his diagnosis but because of an early diagnosis and thanks to the expert care from Mark Taylor, he is fit and well and looking forward to the future.
Mark Taylor also acknowledged the presence of Olive Buckley’s partner Gary and how Olive’s contribution on Talkback had helped raise awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. She also asked that Abraxane be made available in NI and this has now happened.
We miss Olive very much and hope that in the future the outcome for others will be more positive.
Thanks to Pancreatic Cancer UK for hosting the event
For more information and symptoms
Classic pancreatic cancer symptoms can include:
Painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine, itching).
Weight loss which is significant and unexplained.
Abdominal pain or discomfort which is new-onset and significant.
Wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to go along to see’ Free Lunch Society’ The venue for the pop up cinema was the Ormeau Baths where we were greeted by Aaron the producer of New Notions Cinema and his associates. This was the first showing of
this film in Northern Ireland and it was disappointing to see a low turnout. But those of us who did turnout were not disappointed. A new concept on how we should be living. The prospect of how life will change as robots take over leaving us with more free time to pursue other things. A basic income paid by the government would allow citizens to live without worrying about money. Work would be a choice. Many counties including Namibia ( take note President Trump) are already carrying out trials and Alaska have it up and running. You need to watch to find out how.
Followed by a discussion and a Q&A from the audience it made for a good night out. But please comfortable chairs required for old ladies like me.
The film is on YouTube and I recommend you watch it.
Deat President Trump
My name is Ann Allan and I live in Northern Ireland. I am a few years younger than you, married and have two children and four grandchildren.
I grew up in the sixties and during the Cuban crisis and remember until now how I felt sitting at my desk in school in fear of the world ending with a bang and then the relief when we heard that we could relax that the crisis was over.
Ever since then I have gone to sleep at night with the assurance that the USA was watching out for the world and that we were able to sleep easy in our beds. We had confidence in those who held the post of POTUS to act prudently and lookout for any threats and deal with them quietly and discretely.
But then you became President and that feeling of security has gone. Your ‘off the cuff ‘remarks and tweets leave me fearing for the future of my family. You sound belligerent in your rhetoric towards other countries especially North Korea and Kim Jung Un who let’s face it comes across as a young kid trying to be up there with the cool kids.
Why don’t you spell out to Kim Jong that you don’t want war, that the rest of the world don’t hate the citizens of North Korea and do not mean them any harm. I suspect many actually sympathise with a population so brainwashed that they actually feel under threat. You need to start a personal dialogue with him for the sake of your grandchildren and mine.
When I woke this morning the first thing I did was to check the news to ensure you hadn’t started WW3 while I was sleeping. How frightened the younger generation must be feeling. They deserve to be brought up in a world where the threat of nuclear war is not occurring almost on a daily basis. You have called out previous Presidents for not sorting it. Well now is the time to put your money where your mouth is and sort it.
So please for all those who just want to get on with life , which is short, please take advice from those who have the experience and wisdom to do the right thing
Remember that the NK situation will need a win /win resolution .Any thing other than that will be disastrous.
And by the way stop putting on the hypocritical act of praying with the evangelicals. They are a throwback to biblical times and I know deep down you accept their adulation for the sake of votes
Finally have a nice day.
A citizen of the world
I only got involved in politics in 2013 when I was introduced to NI21 by my late friend Olive Buckley. I liked the fact that it was different from other Northern Ireland parties and it was new. I don’t need to tell you how that ended but safe to say I was bitterly disappointed and vowed never to join another political party again. However interacting on social media with others I couldn’t keep stop putting my h’pennys worth and I couldn’t resist commenting on something in the news. My favourite programmes were now The View and local politics shows. Talkback with William Crawley was a must and if I wakened in time I’d dip into the Nolan show. I began to read articles, Famiarize myself with the elected political figures and the parties they represented.
Not long ago I was asked to join a group who were contemplating launching a new party but I had been through that before and at my age I needed a party that was well established, fulfilled at least 95 per cent of my beliefs and was non sectarian. I had voted at the last election for Alliance. I had interacted with members of the party on social media and in my role as a member of the steering committee for opengovni.
I found them to be approachable and Alliance, represented by Stewart Dixon, was happy to meet us and discuss what open government was all about. I was delighted when Naomi Long become leader as I felt she could transfer a lot of what she had learned in Westminster to the assembly and to the broader party. It would be impossible to get a party that ticked all boxes but Alliance comes closest to my wish list. I was pleased and impressed when my 16 year old grandson also became interested in politics. He also joined the Alliance party ( that reduced membership fee was a great incentive for younger people) and so the two of us headed to Stormont on Thursday night to a ‘meet and greet ‘for new members. The long gallery was packed with new and some ‘old’ members. A huge turnout. After some interaction and a quick cuppa with the other attendees and after some introductions the lady herself, Naomi Long, took the stand and despite a long and tiring day gave a rousing ‘call to battle’. Hopefully not a ‘brutal ‘ election as some have predicted. So come election day I will be voting Alliance in East Belfast and hoping that this is the time that the voters will step away from orange and green politics and vote for ‘bread and butter ‘ issues. I know Naomi will do a grand job in helping to normalise politics in our ‘wee country ‘ and challenging those who seek to undermine it. She will hold other parties to account and she will be fair and measured in her responses. I admire how she stays calm on social media when confronted with trolls.
I hope in this upcoming election, Alliance, and indeed all the opposition parties do well and will come back stronger and in a position to challenge the openness and transparency that are lacking in today’s assembly.