Ann Allan : 99 or 00

There are many important questions needing answers for the citizens of NI and beyond:

Will Edwin Poots succeed in getting rid of the protocol ?

Will Jim Alister ever learn to smile and most importantly:

How will we cope if a 99 becomes a 00?

Having had some investigative experience I set off to find out from the man himself ( who wished to remain anonymous) at Seapark in Holywood where I have in the past purchased a 99 from his ice cream van.

‘What will you do if you can’t get chocolate flakes’ I asked. ‘Will the people of Holywood revolt?

‘I expect there will be some annoyance’ he said, ‘but I’ve called in a mediator and if we have to we will resort to sprinkles. It will just be a matter of reeducation. Holywood people love their 99’s. I never could understand why Holywood golf club and the Culloden hotel wouldn’t let me park my van there but it’s their loss’.

‘Will we recover if we lose the 99 ? ‘I asked

With a tear in his eye and a tremble in his voice he replied ‘ This could just be the tip of the ice cream, 99’s could be lost to a new generation’

I thanked him and told him I would take the matter up with members of the assembly some of whom believe the 99 is only a couple of years old and see what happens.

As I walked away licking my ice cream I thought

I hope this isn’t the end of the 99 as we know it.

Ann Allan: 2020 What a Year!

I didn’t believe that when I said goodbye to the family on the 12 March after my son’s birthday get together, it would be the last time we would be able to hug each other for the foreseeable future. I remember that we all made a joke of touching elbows not realising this was going to be normal life soon. My husband, who is a virologist, warned us that he could see the pandemic spreading rapidly but I doubt if even he could have foreseen how bad it would be. 

Things evolved quickly and we went into lockdown around the 19th March. Toilet rolls became like gold dust. Trollies were piled up with luxury quilt toilet rolls, soft on the bottom but a pain in the butt for those who couldn’t get their hands on them. As a member of the vulnerable, over 65 ‘s, community we cocooned ourselves. We didn’t go the shops. Our children brought groceries and left them on the step. Every item was carefully washed down with soap and water and a dettol infusion to kill the virus should it be lurking on any surface. 

At the time I was writing for VIEWdigital and so I was able to do that from home using FaceTime to communicate. Gordon was already working from home so that didn’t change.

We started walking every day. At first round the block and then driving to beaches and parks further afield. I started photographing every thing that moved and every day putting them on Twitter. I’m so grateful to all those who liked them and commented on them. It made it so worth while. I also put them on Facebook with an account of how we had spent the day. I then got the timelines printed in a book so future generations can see what it was like to live through a pandemic.

So apart from not going to the shops our daily lives remained much the same as usual, though as one who has never ordered groceries online, I found having to write a list of what I needed very annoying.

We were extremely lucky with the weather during March, April and May so no long days stuck in the house. And here I realise how lucky we were. We had a garden, lovely places nearby to visit. I felt so sorry on the days we did get rain, for parents locked down without a garden, young children with lots of energy champing at the bit to unleash all that pent up energy. It was much the same with Gordon when the golf club closed.

As the number of cases came down restrictions were relaxed and Summer arrived. It seems a long way off now.

Then there was a debate about GCSE’s. Exams were cancelled as schools had been closed. A worrying time for teenagers already confined to spending time at home. It was decided to award marks on performance and even this caused controversy depriving some from pursuing their chosen career path at University.

I remember around June answering a tweet from a Twitter friend saying that my husband anticipated a second wave in the Autumn and I just hoped that plans were being put in place to deal with this second wave. Unfortunately it became apparent that this wasn’t the case and decisions on what to do as the numbers rise again is being made ‘on the hoof’.

How has the year affected me personally?

Well I’ve missed hugs from my children and grandchildren. I also have come to realise that there are some people that if I never saw them again it wouldn’t worry me and others who I’m missing a lot.

During our many walks by the sea over the past 10 months I’ve collected lots of sea glass. Looking it up on the net I found it was possible to make pictures with the glass so I had a go at it and found out I enjoyed it. I was able to sell them before Christmas and raise money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. We also saw lots of places along the east coast that we hadn’t visited before. Northern Ireland has some beautiful places so get out there and see them.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones due to contacting Covid. Two close relatives had positive results back in September but thankfully with few symptoms and a rapid recovery. I also feel for those elderly people who were unable to spend Christmas with their family and for whom this could well be their last Christmas.

I don’t understand those who try to gain attention by dismissing the virus as ‘just flu’ and refuse to obey regulations put in place to stop the spread.
I’m disgusted by our MLA’s who can’t put issues aside and work together for the good of all. Covid 19 doesn’t distinguish between orange and green.

Now we have a vaccine and although the virus is very crafty and is mutating to find new hosts we are hopeful that when we have vaccinated over 85% we will begin to return to our new normal.

So as we move into a new year and personally I just see it as a continuation of the past 366 days don’t expect life to suddenly change for the better or for that matter for the worse.
However I wish you all a Peaceful and Healthy 2021. Thank you for following me on Twitter, Facebook, Chatter and YouTube and for the craic we have had in this unprecedented year. The year of Covid.







Girls Night Out


It’s Time to be Selfless not Selfish 🦠

As a mother and a grandmother who has had restricted contact with family members since March I am asking those who won’t obey the rules to think again.

I lost my one of my grannies when I was just 2 and the other at 14. I never knew my grandfathers. They were long gone before I was born. Thankfully that has not been the case through the 20th century, as modern medicine and the advancement of science have resulted in the elderly living longer. That is until Covid 19 struck and we were back to bygone days where we had no treatment for viruses and millions died in the 1918 flu.

Looking back on the measures taken in 1918, people wore masks, socially distanced and washed their hands frequently There was still a huge loss of life but the virus was snuffed out due to citizens doing their part and adhering to the protocol.

So why can today’s citizens particularly in those countries with large numbers of patients (and here I have unfortunately to include ourselves) not see the bigger picture and until a vaccine is approved try to stop the spread.
Those of you who are young, we know you think you are invincible and regarding the virus you are probably right but there are those around you, namely your elderly relatives and those who are compromised due to illness who are not invincible and will die an agonising death.

Many years from now as you hold your beautiful new born baby will you and your relatives be thinking ‘ Granny and Grandpa would have been so proud if they hadn’t succumbed to Covid? Or will it be ‘Here mum hold your grandchild. I think she looks a lot like dad.’
It’s up to you, either listen to the charlatans who or trying to tell you that the scientists are misleading you or listen to the Scientists who know what they are talking about. I know which one I am choosing and that’s not just because my husband is a virologist and knows what he is talking about.

So it’s up to you to do what’s right for all. Do what’s right for loved ones and our fellow travellers on this short journey or to be selfish and do what’s right for you. Your family and friends! Your choice!

Ann Allan: The Roots Run Deep

32B29B1D-5451-41E5-8DD3-AA852A8E23A1 I was chatting with my 16 year old granddaughter recently and we were discussing the political situation here in NI following the debacle over the recent funeral arrangements for a Republican funeral. She also told me about comments circulating on Facebook about Noah Donahoe. Horrible sectarian comments that no 16 year old should have to see.

‘Hopefully my generation will sort it out, she said. None of my friends want to see what’s going on. We don’t care about religion, colour or whether you’re gay.’

I had to be honest with her and tell her that every generation blames the last and promises to make changes that never actually happen. For a good many years after the Good Friday agreement I really thought we were at last going to change our society, where sectarianism and all the other isms were a thing of the past.

But like an ancient tree whose roots are buried deep I soon discovered that the roots of sectarianism and evil in our society is deeply rooted.  The roots reach out and push though to the surface occasionally and break up the facade that we see as peace.

We will never get past the them and us mentality while these roots are spreading under the surface and entwining yet another generation.

It has become more apparent in recent days that some of those who are supposedly working for the good of all of us my not be entirely invested in that objective and their roots came to the surface at a time when we needed to be looking out for each other. It became obvious that it was a case of do as I say not as I do.  Many of us who lost relatives were unable to attend their funerals or comfort their families. Not to mention the fact that we do not wish to spread the corona virus by encouraging large gatherings.
Now what was going to be a peaceful 12th July has led to a ‘tit for tat ‘ situation with bonfires springing up in areas where there had been an agreement to have none. 

Could no-one read the room? Could no one see that the misguided actions of a group of people would cause hurt to all sections of the community, including their own followers.

Their actions have led us to a situation where the Assembly is once again in danger of a possible shut down. Our deputy first Minister is being asked to step down in a repeat scenario of 3 years ago when the First Minister herself was also asked to step down. This led to the suspension of the Assembly.

I can’t see a future where this will change, where we will live along side all our neighbours peacefully.  It may be that like the corona virus we may just have to live with it and expect that the roots will break through to the surface from time to time. Only time will tell. I hope my granddaughter’s generation will be able to make a bigger success of it than we have.

May his Memory be a Blessing

For days now ever since we learned that Noah Donahoe was missing, we have all invested in the hope that he was safe and well and would soon be found.
He became our son, our bother, our family and we willed him to be ok.
The community bonded together and everyone set out to look for him. It was a concerted effort  and some came long distances to join in.  There was always a hope that he would be found alive and well, but that was not to be.

This morning we heard the sad news that Noah had been found. No one knows what happened other than those who are dealing with the situation.

But that didn’t stop the faceless gutless key board warriors crawling out of the woodwork with their theories of what had happened to Noah. All without foundation and intended to rise tension and maximise the hurt that the family are suffering at this time.

They have no shame in posting false information. Passing on something they have heard from a friend of a friend of a friend.

All the efforts of a community who had come together to find Noah tarnished with the comments appearing on social media.

Please stop and think before you try to seek a bit of attention by pretending you ‘ are in the know’ In actual fact it’s none of your business and I’m sure the family are hurting even more with each new conspiracy theory.

Whatever happened, a lovely young boy has been taken too soon and a family is grieving. My condolences to his mother and his family.

May his memory be a blessing.


Asian men are cycling road bike in the morning

The Comber Greenway is a 7 mile traffic free section of the National Cycle Network running from Belfast to Comber along the old railway line which closed in 1950. It is a flat bitmac linear path.

Before the pandemic it was a quiet peaceful path to walk along, to listen to the sound of the birds and to count the number of discarded poo bags along the route.

But not anymore. It has turned into a racing track where cyclists donned out in the latest apparel disregard the right of walkers to be able to walk without being knocked down. 

Gordon and I used to walk it most days. Going from one section to another. But no longer. We have been driven away by cyclists.

Now don’t get me wrong many members of my family are cyclists but it only takes a few to act like Tour de France competitors to make it unsafe for others.
For the slightly hard of hearing there is no noise to signal that a cyclist is approaching and very few appear to know how to ring their bell. A gush of air as they pass and you jump into the ditch to avoid being mowed down.

I have just read an account on our Nextdoor app that a young child on a bicycle was knocked over by an adult cyclist on the Greenway at the weekend,  both ending up in the ditch, the child winded and distressed. This was backed up by other complaints of a similar nature. 

With the summer months ahead what is the solution?  No one wants to ban cyclists but neither do we want to end up with a fatality. 

I don’t have a solution other than to have cycling hours so that walkers get the chance to walk without fear of being knocked down. But I would  appeal to the cyclists to be more considerate. You know who you are. Now take the joggers …, don’t even start me on joggers.


Ann Allan: An Honest Account of Day 34 Self Isolating

I head off to bed at 2 a.m. It’s been getting later and later as the weeks go on. The tears well up for a minute as I go up the stairs thinking that the last time my family had gathered together in our family home was almost five weeks ago. When will I be able to hug them again.

Gordon is snoring and I nudge him and he turns on his side.  I guess I eventually drop off after trying not to dwell on the fact that that the last thing I read on Twitter was that there may be a shortage of some medications. I worry about Louise who’s a Nurse. I worry about Paul going into shops. I worry about grandson Chris working in Tescos as University is closed. I worry generally.

I wake in a cold sweat. I dreamt that I was on a bus and the driver wouldn’t let me off.  I feel as if I’ve stepped out of a bath but in a strange way it is a comforting feeling and I haven’t the energy to get up and change.

I wake up when Gordon puts his head round the door to check that I’m still alive. He’s moved into the back room during the night as I’ve been snoring. Moi, never. It’s 930.
I lift the phone. Check social media’.  Like a few things on Twitter and Facebook.  I doze for a while.  Hear an alert. How does William Spence know I’m awake?

Gordon brings up breakfast. It’s 10-30.  Tea and a warm croissant.  ( frozen variety from Marks)  and the tablets I need to keep me going.

I make the mistake of dozing off again.

Hubby appears by the bedside.  Do you know it’s 1230 and it’s a gorgeous day ? Shit I’ve slept away the morning.

Struggle out of bed. Look in the mirror. Where the hell did all that hair come from? Where is it going. It’s sticking out in all directions. There is no way Gordon is going to cut it. I used to complain that my hair was quite thin on top but now when I can do nothing about it it’s growing like crazy.

Have a shower and while I’m in there clean it at the same time.  Much easier that way.
Look out and see the sun and dress accordingly.  Put on my Apple Watch so I can record my walking distances.

Husband is having lunch when I eventually grace him with my presence. He is an expert at making nice salads now. Only took 50 years.  Missed son as he delivered groceries while I was asleep. Damm!

Gordon brings in groceries from front door. Go through daily procedure.  Wash everything with soapy water and leave to dry. Wash hands. Throw away packaging. Wash hands again. Put away groceries. Spray surface with Dettol. It’s become routine now. I wonder how long we will have to do this.
Watch the news. Doom and gloom but feel I have to watch. Perhaps looking for a glimmer of hope but it’s hard to find. Suggestion is that this could go on for another couple of years. Husband who is a virologist agrees with this theory unless we develop immunity or a successful vaccine. Otherwise we succumb to corona and take our chances. Scary thought.

Walking time. I always feel, and today is no different that I can’t do it but once I’m out my spirits lift and I enjoy the walk.
Today we go onto the Greenway at Knock. The goal today is Cyprus Ave. Our most ambitious yet.  A beautiful walk marred by inconsiderate cyclists. Not all, but some.  It’s not a wide path and some of the cyclists do not veer from the middle of the road. Others come up silently behind you and some even cycle in pairs.

We reach North Road and head back through Ballyhackamore, stopping to take a photo at Cyprus Avenue. I always have my camera ready and I take lots of photos on our walk.
There seems to be a lot of cars on the main road. Not many walking. Only Marks, Quickfit and the greengrocers open.  All the restaurants usually full to the brim with customers lie empty. Tables waiting for the day customers can return.

We’ve clicked up 3 miles on the watch. For someone like me who up to weeks ago wouldn’t or couldn’t walk the length of herself this is a big achievement.

My hands have tightened up during the walk and they are hard to bend. Dehydration and arthritis I think. Wash hands. Drink plenty of water and rub in lots of moisturiser.
Post has come.  Spray comes out again. One from the Tax office. Time to fill in tax return. Letter from medical centre telling husband he is on the vulnerable list. We presume this is due to him having Type 2 diabetes.  Don’t feel that was necessary. His diabetes is in control and he is a fit 70 year old. Worries now that he will have do not resuscitate on his notes if he gets corona. It hurts so much to know that over 65’s are now considered dispensable. We try to laugh it off but it’s just another slap in the face. Through the neglect of the NHS we may have to die before our time so that others can live.

With this weighing on our minds we settle down to watch Gov Cuomo give his daily brief. I edit my photos and put them on Facebook and a few on Twitter. Don’t want to be too pushy by forcing others to look at my snaps but if those who can’t get out enjoy them I will continue.

It’s warm sitting with the sun shining in the window and tired after our walk I drift off to sleep. Gordon wakens me to say it’s dinner time and Paul and Ben have delivered my diet cokes. Drat missed them again.

Getting fed up cooking. Dinner tonight is bacon egg sausage and tomatoes with French fries. I bung it all in the oven and poach the eggs. Tastes yummy.

Facetime daughter in Carrick. Catch up with what everyone is doing. Tell them all I love them. Hold back tears as we blow kisses knowing it will be a long time before I can hold them.

Only one soap tonight and I don’t watch it.  It’s fecking depressing anyway. My cousin Brid plays a move on Word with Friends. A life saviour during this time. She is a champion and beats me more times than looses but tonight I win 2 games and I’m delighted.

Sort of watch Holby while tweeting.  More depressing story lines. What are they trying to do ?

I’ve tweeted about the cyclists. From the replies seems  others having same problem.

Gordon is watching Our Girl which like Holby is doubly depressing. Are there no happy programmes anymore?

Check Facebook. Some lovely messages regarding today’s photos.

Watch Jake Tapper which we recorded. Will watch Quiz tomorrow for some light relief.

Then Trumps election campaign rally , sorry,  Coronavirus conference,  comes on and I swear like a trooper at every lie he utters. He mumbles his way thought what sounds like the yellow pages and looks as if he might keel over at any minute. Highlight when he is challenged by a reporter and threatens to walk off.

It’s 1am. Time to empty the dishwasher.  Set out the dishes for tomorrow’s breakfast. Leave out the tablets for tomorrow and take the other four I need before bed.

As I slump into bed I don’t feel sleepy and I go over in my head  what’s in store tomorrow and then I think Fuck it. Take tomorrow as it comes and I drift off to sleep.







Ann Allan: Me and the Beeb.

After the birth of my second child in 1977 it did not take an Einstein to realise that we were going to have to add to our income. In 1979 six months after Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister interest rates hit 17%, the highest since records began in 1694. Yes 1694. Now that may have been wonderful for those with savings but for those of us with a mortgage it was crippling. So it was decided that I should look for a part time job. Not the easiest proposition with two children and no family living near enough to babysit.


So operation ‘find a job’ went into action. The Belfast Telegraph had a jobs section on a Thursday night and every job was scanned in great detail to see if anything would suit.

Nothing suited and I began to panic. The car was becoming a liability and we really couldn’t patch it together any more. Which reminds me of an embarrassing incident.

In those days, most mornings the car needed a push to get it going. Gordon cycled to work leaving me the car to do the school run, but he always started it to make sure it was ok. On this particular morning it wasn’t, so he called me out to sit in it and steer while he pushed. Still in a nightie and with a flimsy dressing gown on I got into the car. After a few minutes pushing, the engine sprung to life. Take it up to the top of the park, Gordon shouted, it will charge the battery. I did so and as I turned at the top of the road the car stalled and refused to start again. No mobile phones in those days.

I knew Gordon was on his way to work and there were two young children alone in the house. There was nothing else for it. I got out of the car and in my flimsy night clothes charged down the road, tears tripping me, trying to ignore the motorists who were wondering who was  this mad women. I swore I would take the next job I saw whether I liked it or not as long as we could get a new car.

But I digress. One evening, after all hope of finding anything suitable was fast disappearing, an advert appeared on TV. They were looking for Interviewers for BARB, the audience research department of the BBC. It seemed ideal. I could arrange it around play school, primary school and Gordon’s lunch time. And I could work in the evenings. 
I applied, got an interview and headed confidently into Broadcasting House. There must have been about 40 others there and my confidence began to wain.

I see you have two children Mrs Allan, the lady from the Beeb said, Who will look after them?

Sorry, I said, Why do you want to know?

In fact I went further and said I’m not sure you are even supposed to ask that.  Would you ask that of a man? 

Part of me was saying, shut up Ann, you want this job but I couldn’t let it go.

My children will be fine I said. Oh well I said to myself as I left the Beeb at least you got an interview. Back to buying the Belfast Tele.

You can imagine my surprise when that evening I got a phone call offering me the job.

Being an interviewer in Belfast in the troubles was problematic, to say the least. Many interviews were carried out door to door. Suspicion was rife. Was I secretly trying to find out if the household had a television licence ? 

Was I trying to find identities of those in the household? Many refused to give names which meant after doing a whole interview I couldn’t use it.  The introduction ‘I’m from the BBC ‘ didn’t always go down well as in some areas the Beeb was seen as biased against certain communities. 

Many interviews were on the street and I would park the car along side where I was interviewing and on days when I was stuck for someone ( Gordon) to keep an eye on the kids they would sit in the car.  Fifteen interviews a day for five days on a quota basis meant chasing the last two or three interviewees to fill the quota. Usually the hardest category to find. 
However there was plenty of work and I threw myself whole heartedly into it. I must have impressed the bosses as out of the blue I got a telephone call from the big boss in London, offering me the post of Assistant Supervisor for the southern half of Northern Ireland. 
This entailed being on duty two mornings a week, dealing with queries, interviewing new staff, accompanying new interviewers, but the best bit was that every two years during the time I worked for the Beeb I got a trip to London and to the BBC.

Now I have never been a good flier so on my first trip I opted to travel by boat. When I mentioned the trip to my mother she mentioned it to my aunt and they decided they would accompany me. They would shop while I ‘worked’’.  I happened to say to a friend where we were going and it turned out he was driving to London on business around the same date. He offered to take us with him so we traveled from Liverpool by car.  It was turning into quite a trip. 
It turned out to be a very stormy night. The three of us had a cabin with bunk beds. My mum and I were violently ill. I can still see my aunt, perched on a top bunk,  opening a plastic container full of tomato sandwiches and trying to get us to eat one so as ‘ to line our stomachs.’ On her third attempt I lost it and told her where to stuff her tomato sandwiches.

We arrived in London late afternoon and booked into our hotel. After the boat trip I felt like I was constantly tilting to one side. Not a great feeling. Went for a short walk outside and passed Jeremy Thorpe. The notorious M.P. Later that evening my brother who was in London on business arrived at the hotel intending to stay the night. There were no rooms available so the hotel moved an extra bed in with my mum and my aunt and my brother got mine. This was turning into a right family affair.


The next morning I left the oldies with my brother and I took the tube with my NI colleague into the city and we made our way to Broadcasting House.
 After an information session we went to a nearby Italian restaurant lunch where believe it or not I had my first Italian meal. Profiteroles for desert. What a treat.

The afternoon was spent in the special effects department in Television Centre where we were able to smash bottles over each other’s head. Made of sugar glass  of course. So interesting to see how it all worked. Costume department was next.  Beautiful period costumes made for the dramas that we were seeing on tv in the eighties. 
We then were taken to the news room where the 6 o’clock news was about to go out. We were able to sit in the  viewing gallery and watch. It was, on that occasion,  read by the late Peter Woods. Although I was unaware of it at the time it turns out that Peter Woods was a distant relation. 

On our way to the green room for dinner we passed through the Top of The Pops studio where a show was about to go out. The audience was being warmed up and the acts appearing were the Nolan sisters and I think Cliff Richard.

After a lovely dinner with an after dinner speech from a young Michael Burke we headed home by tube exhausted after a long day.

The next morning I headed back to Broadcasting House to collect my expenses for the trip and then headed off to look for a pair of white shoes for my 6 year old who was a huge Shaking Stevens fan. I actually found them and he was delighted. He loved to imitate Shaky which I know will embarrass him now.  He did a great version of Green Door. In the afternoon my mum, my aunt and me headed for the Paris theatre for a recording of a radio programme which I’ve forgotten the name of but it was hosted by Sue Cook and Clive James was on the panel.

In the evening we met up with my friends and headed off to the Savoy theatre to see Noises off.  Not sure whether it wasn’t as funny as was made out or we were unsophisticated culchies from Northern Ireland and didn’t appreciate the slapstick humour but it was a unanimous decision to leave at the interval and head back to our hotel.

Next morning we headed for the station to take the train to Holyhead where we caught the boat to Rosslare. Thankfully it was a calmer crossing than the trip over.

This was the first of two trips. If I’m self distancing for the rest of the summer I may recount the second trip when I almost bumped into Rolf Harris!









It’s  that time of year again. Seems like no time since last Christmas and yet personally and politically it has been a memorable year and not always in a good way.

Gordon had two major operations in 2019 and I discovered during a long year who were our true friends.  You find when things get tough some people just don’t want to know. So thanks to all of you in the real world and twitter world who sent messages of support (especially Lisa) or went out for coffee with me and for those who just gave me a hug when the tears flowed. Thankfully Gordon is on the mend. He had a difficult time and just when we thought we thought he was on the road to recovery from the first op he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and so it all began again. He coped as I would have expected, complained and moaned about everything, but at the end of the day just got on with it. Love you Gordon.

Please make sure if you are over the grand old age of 60 that you don’t ignore ‘that envelope‘ when it arrives in the mail. Bowel cancer screening is so very important because no symptoms is not necessarily a indication that all is well. Make sure and maybe save your life.

Politically it’s been a crazy year and unfortunately it hasn’t ended like I had hoped.  Looks like we are at least partially leaving the EU and we have a crazy man at the helm to steer it through. What could possibly go wrong? In America, his twin brother from another mother, is ruining the office of President, an office which was once held in high esteem whether or not you respected the policies.

Impeachment is close and I personally can’t wait to see a vile, foul mouthed, narcissistic and uncaring man out of a job.

Good things happened too.  The pro – remain and centre parties in NI took the majority of the votes. DUP and SF saw a drop in their vote and the majority of us saw a tiny glimmer of hope. Maybe the voters are tired with the same old, same old and are voting more maturely and tactically. Worrying about the union and what flag is flying doesn’t put food on the table, cut down waiting lists and help those on the poverty line. Time to reject the bully boys who want to bring us back to a time before they were even born.  Don’t these guys have lives like the rest of us like emptying the dishwasher, putting out the bins, doing normal things? Ok I’m being trivial but it must be very wearing constantly fighting against the majority of us who just want to get on with our lives and look after our families.

The rise in the suicide rate of young men here is horrifying. Impossible to tell what prompts someone to take their own life. Pressure from paramilitaries? Pressure from drug dealers ? Or is it just the reluctance to talk and alert others to what is troubling them? Whatever it is, it needs money to investigate more thoroughly and to provide more counselling facilities.

I am lucky this Christmas, thanks to the NHS I will have my husband and I will have my.    children and grandchildren with me at Christmas but my heart goes out to those who are dreading Christmas. Many of us have lost loved ones at Christmas, many are suffering from depression and Christmas reinforces the anxieties. Many are on their own and will spend Christmas alone. For some this will be their last Christmas so once again a donation of £300 will be made to the Children’s Hospice. Thanks to those who viewed the blog and who decided that watching a video for a few minutes was worth it to raise some money for the children’s  hospice. #JingleAllTheWay


My last video/blog is online but I hope to get back to writing again. There are many stories of life in NI in the eighties I could tell.

So I’ll end as I did last year wishing you a happy Christmas and a happy new Year. But please look out for those who won’t be happy this Christmas.

Maybe 2020 will be the year that a new assembly sits and sorts out the problems
 currently plaguing N.I. You owe it to your constituents.

Ann Allan: Memories 25 (1977)


As we settled down on New Year’’s Day to watch Charlie and the
Chocolate factory we were unaware that the year was going to be once more dominated by violence, another workers strike and the 
emergence of the notorious Shankill butchers. Many of the IRA targets were now business men, the majority of whom were gunned down at their place of work. 


Saturday 1 January 1977

A 15 month old baby boy was killed in a car bomb explosion at Harmin Park, Glengormley, near Belfast. The car bomb had been planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and an inadequate warning given. 

I was heavily pregnant and still trying to make our new home habitable. We hadn’t exactly been given a rousing welcome to our new community. One of our neighbours( who turned out to be the bane of my life, and of others), worked out that I was a catholic. She told another neighbour that it was ‘ such a shame to see Catholics moving into the gardens’  She assumed we were both Catholic. Many years later I had to send her a solicitors letter as she started making wild accusations about us. But that’s a story for another day. 

I rarely made a visit into the city. The worry of a bomb going off and the hassle of being searched and waiting in queues to get into shops was too much to contend with at this stage of my pregnancy.

We had eventually got the storage heaters working. While it was  
great to have heat it was impossible to set them and as a result they were either belting out heat on a mild day and not enough on a cold day. However it would be another couple of years before we could afford central heating. 

Louise and her cousin were now attending play school three mornings a week. It gave me a chance to get some rest before the arrival of baby no 2. In those days there were no scans so it was a complete surprise as to whether we would produce a boy or girl.  It was difficult picking a name so on a Saturday evening a week before the birth while watching Starsky and Hutch we decided on Paul Micheal, if it was a boy.  Starskys real name. Charlotte if it was a girl. But with the amount of kicking I was convinced it would be a boy. When it came to the baptism we added on Samuel after Gordon’s dad.

On Saturday 12 March 1977 my waters broke and after a reasonably short labour Paul Michael Samuel Allan arrived. Husbands weren’t allowed in to the delivery room in those days so Gordon was phoned in the middle of ‘Match of the day ‘to say that his son had arrived.  I needed stitches and filled with gas and air I can remember to this day with some embarrassment, asking the doctor if he darned his own socks.



Friday 29 April 1977

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), warned in a statement that if the British authorities failed to alter its policies then loyalists might have to consider taking over the administration of Northern Ireland.

This time the men at the shipyard didn’t back the strike nor did the workers at Ballylumford as Paisley couldn’t get widespread support.


Paul was baptised in St Bernadette’s.  We didn’t have a church to identify with at that time and we were not yet ready to advertise the fact that we were a mixed marriage.  Again we all came home to our new house to a cup of tea and the usual accompaniments. There were no glasses of wine or alcoholic drinks mostly cause we couldn’t have afforded them and drinking in the middle of the afternoon wasn’t the done thing.

Paul was a placid baby who continually smiled. Not sure whether this was because I didn’t fuss as much as I had done with no 1 but he still has that placid nature and smiles a lot. Okay,  so he’s 42 now!

In June of 1977 Anglia TV showed a documentary which was supposed to have aired on April Fools Day but for some reason it was delayed. It was narrated by ‘scientists ‘ who claimed that the Earth‘s surface would be unable to support life for much longer, due to pollution leading to catastrophic climate change. Physicist “Dr Carl Gerstein” (played by Richard Marner) claimed to have proposed in 1957 that there were three alternatives to this problem. The first alternative was the drastic reduction of the human population on Earth. The second alternative was the construction of vast underground shelters to house government officials and a cross section of the population until the climate had stabilised, a solution reminiscent of the finale of Dr Strangelove. It claimed scientists had already a colony on the moon and were gradually moving there.  To say I was terrified was an understatement. How could they do this and not tell us? What was going to happen to us?  I think it was the next day when it was revealed it was a delayed April fools day hoax . I was so upset I hadn’t noticed the cast list at the end. It was called Alternative 3.

On the 16 August the king of rock and roll died. As a teenager I’d watched all his films. His first film ‘Love me Tender’  was the start of many , following the same theme: boy finds girl, boy loses girl: boy serenades girl with romantic songs and wins girl back. Slushy but innocent and very appealing to adolescent girls. It wasn’t a huge  surprise to hear that he had died but such a loss. Great stage presence and wonderful voice. 


Tuesday 11 October 1977

Lenny Murphy was found guilty of possession of firearms and sentenced to 12 years in jail. [It was later revealed that Murphy was the leader of the ‘Shankill Butchers’ a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang which was responsible for the killings of at least 19 Catholic civilians.]

As in other years the IRA announced that there would be a ceasefire at Christmas. This would be broken on 13 January 1978