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An Ulster log: So, where do dogs go when the bell tolls for them?

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 19/12/2015

Bel with Bonnie
Bel with Bonnie
Philippa as Red Riding Hood

Newspaper columnist and author Bel Mooney is going a bit far when she proclaims that if there is a Heaven and her dog Bonnie, who has just died, isn't allowed in then she doesn't want to go there either.

However, if she studies certain verses in the Bible, Bel might find some reassurance on the subject this Christmas time.

Job 12:7 declares: "In God's hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind."

Proverbs 12:10 adds: "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." Do many people think of measuring righteousness by this standard I wonder?

And, in regard to the direct question about animals in Heaven, Ecclesiastes 3:19 is more succinct.

"After all," this chapter of the Good Book makes clear, "the same fate awaits human beings and animals alike. One dies just like the other. They are the same kind of creature. A human being is no better off than an animal, because life has no meaning for either."

And Ecclesiastes 3:20-21 adds: "They are both going to the same place - the dust. They both came from it; they will both go back to it.

"How can anyone be sure that the human spirit goes upward while an animal's spirit goes down into the ground?"

Of course, the human animal can make choices in regard to Godly belief, but not the four-legged beasts. However, I'm convinced Scripture makes it clear that there will be animals in the new world after this ragged old one is folded up.

The Bible tells us that God knows about every bird that falls to the ground and that he cares about animals. As a matter of fact there are some churches that hold a blessing of the animals service.

I occasionally wonder if I'll see again either of my pets, Kelly the golden retriever or Nancy the cocker spaniel, who have both passed on. It does occur to me, before you point it out, that they could be in Heaven without me and I am aware this can be a touchy subject for some folk.

But I have to tell you that now and again, especially at Christmas, I occasionally feel something warm and furry brush my leg.

Two sisters in pantos... oh yes, they are

You’d be inclined to think that one member of the O’Hara family in pantomime this Christmas would be enough, but it’s a double star time for sisters Jolene and Philippa from west Belfast.

Jolene is Cinderella in the Cinders production at the Waterfront, Belfast until January 3 and Philippa is Little Red Riding Hood in the Market Place in Armagh.

Both shows are being produced by Joe Rea, who will tell you that the O’Hara girls were obvious choices for their Christmas roles because of their passion for traditional panto since they were young.

Jolene spends time between London and  home and has played in musical theatre and dramas including a part in I Never See The Prettiest Thing.

It’s ghost Christmas present for Charlotte

I love ghost stories at Christmas and actress Charlotte Ritchie, who will be seen as midwife Barbara in the Christmas Day special of Call The Midwife on BBC1, is making sure I’m not disappointed this year.

Charlotte has one big fear with the drama being produced at Longcross Studios in Surrey.

She thinks the set could be haunted and has talked to a props man who says he has heard voices in the attic.

“I’ve never seen a ghost,” admits Charlotte, who took over from Jessica Raine in the long-running series that is particularly popular with Ulster viewers.

“But I get this funny feeling. I’m so spooked. I stare into dark corners almost willing a ghost to come out.”

However, Charlotte, who hails from Clapham, doesn’t let her ghostly notions interfere with her acting. She promises to sparkle in this special production.

She will be remembered for her time in Fresh Meat and will be back in her role in Siblings in the New Year.

When Rome tried to censor Santa

Little Jimmy Boyd was only 12 when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952 and became an international star as it soared to the top of the charts and did exactly the same thing the following year.

It is still a Christmas favourite and down the years has sold more than 20 million copies. It was written by one Tommie Connor. Boyd's record earned him two gold discs and Columbia presented him with a silver-mounted saddle because in his adult years he owned horses.

The Catholic Church tried to ban the song on the grounds it mixed sex with Christmas and Boyd made worldwide news when he met with the leaders of the Catholic Church to explain the song.

James takes to the airwaves

It's going to be a special Christmas for James Martin, the 23-year-old son of broadcaster Ivan Martin.

And not just because he has been appearing on his dad's Christmas Day radio show (10am-2pm) for the past nine years.

You see, in the New Year, James - who has Down's Syndrome - is being handed a permanent job by his dad's U105 station.

He will be interviewing young people with conditions like himself in conjunction with the charity Mencap.

"It's a very worthwhile occupation," says James, who has a brother, Daniel, at university. "Dad and mum are thrilled about it, too."

We've been there... so very often

Could you name the longest running stage show in Northern Ireland? I'm going to tell you anyway - it's Do You Come Here Often?

The great and the good of the showband era have been making comebacks on it and appearing, filled with nostalgia, down the past 18 years with the 19th series coming up at the Waterfront and then in Londonderry's Millennium Forum later this month. With Dickie Rock in session, tribute will be paid to the late Simon Scott (Ivan Vaughan) who died tragically recently after a career with the Dave Glover Showband and then The Plattermen.

Do You Come Here Often? is hosted by George Jones, but be warned - promoter David Hull says next year's 20th series will be the last.

Belfast Telegraph

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