Belfast Telegraph

Forget about Black Friday, it's going to be a Black Christmas for us all

By Nuala McKeever

I'm sure I'm not the only person who didn't actually spend a single penny on Black Friday. Not on purpose, just didn't have the chance to do any shopping, between rehearsals and other work. Did catch a glimpse on the news of people beatin' seven bells out of each other to get a cheap television set. And you just know they'll get it home, plug it in, set it up and go: "Huh, TV's rubbish, there's nothin' on!"

Funny name, Black Friday. Despite rumours, it's not called that after all the pages that were blacked out in the report into the Iris Robinson affair, which was released last Friday. That was just a coincidence.

Amazing that it took four years to get that report out. There's been so much water passed since then, it almost didn't register on the interest scale at all.

Just a few resigned: "Aye, just what we expected" and then it's back to all the other much more scandalous events taking place right now.

Once all the proposed budget cuts are imposed, we'll be lucky if anyone has a job at all. Things are going to be very very tight. We'll have to reduce, reuse, recycle.

And while we all burn in Rome, down here in the real world, our political masters up on the hill appear to be disregarding our pain.

All the hullabaloo over Gregory said this and Gerry said that and Michelle said the other and Peter said whatever he said, it's pathetic.

Could our political class insult us any more? We the people, are the ones bearing the brunt of job losses, no money, lower benefits, no prospects, depression, despair, disillusion.

And they think it's appropriate to use their speech time to reiterate their tired, old dogmatic attitudes that have got us into this hole in the first place.

Devolution promised much, but boy has it failed to deliver.

And now, in this climate of worry and uncertainty, when our political overlords need to challenged more than ever, people are so afraid to criticise the budget holders, for fear of losing their funding, that they're censoring themselves.

It's gotten so bad that people worry that a wrong word might antagonise politicians and result in funding cuts to their organisations. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Democracy is based on debate, interaction, argument and the right to say no, I don't agree.

But here, in this devolved set-up where each department has been "given" to a particular party and where ministers are able to carry their own private, religious, party political ideologies into their policy making, people are running scared of saying no, in case the head of the relevant department marks their card.

Unlike Gregory Campbell's childish, nasty comments about the Irish language and the Irish Language Act and Gerry Adams' sinister comments about equality being the Trojan horse of republican strategy, political debate ought to be about what is good for people, not about long-held grudges and narrow-minded bigotry.

I can't afford to get necessary repairs done on my house, but I have to pay for second-rate politicians here spouting useless drivel from the comfort of their well-paid jobs and secure positions.

Can we please have a revolution for Christmas? Please?

Food for thought on Thanksgiving

Funny how Thanksgiving is the one big American holiday we haven’t appropriated over here. Yes, yes, I know it’s about them giving thanks for their forebearers being able to take over the Native American’s world and make it their own, but still. Most people in the UK aren’t religious, but Halloween has become all the rage over here.

Could it possibly be because there’s no commercial side to Thanksgiving? Oh sure, you can send a card and buy food, but there’s no mass dash to overspend on costumes or presents or decorations. Pity. It’s the one holiday I’d like.

Car trouble drives me to take stock

As I write this I’m sitting on the hard shoulder of the motorway in my car, waiting for a recovery service to come and change a flat tyre. Just up ahead there’s a fork in the road, but right in front of me there’s a huge fork of a different kind.

In my thinking. I can either sit here and complain: “Poor me, why did this happen, what if someone crashes into me, oh no, just my luck!” Or, I can be hugely grateful for mobile phones, friends, car insurance that includes roadside recovery, daylight and hazard lights. There’s always another prong to take.

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