Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Now that roads are clear I feel it's time for us to get blocked

To all those who went off drink for the whole of January, I say, "Well done!".

Obviously I say it fairly quietly because a lot of them will have been on the lash all weekend to make up for a dry month and are probably feeling a tad delicate today.

So now we've got all that post-Christmas penance out of the way and a new month is upon us, can we start looking forward properly?

Things are looking up all on their own, even without an expensive ad campaign. We're backin' Spring (nearly), never mind Belfast. The mornings aren't so Stygian and leaving work in daylight is now a possibility.

A lot of roads are now passable all the time, bar the odd roadworks. Checking the news hourly to hear about the latest fleg outrage has become a memory. Slowly, slowly, we're emerging from the nightmare of the past two months. The Dark Ages. Literally, politically and socially.

I don't want to overstate the case, but it feels as if we're in that convalescent phase that comes after an illness. We're not exactly well yet. We're weak. We're not eating and drinking as normal.

We're certainly not going out and partying or spending like we used to, but we're able at least to contemplate the idea of normality, even if we can't quite manage it all yet. We're teetering around on unsteady feet but the dreadful delerium and violent vomiting has passed. Aaaaahhhhhhh..... a life worth living might just be possible again. Hope has returned to our world.

As with real sickness, it is probably a good thing for us to be reminded every now and again just how precious our health is. Not to take for granted how wonderful it is, just to live our "boringly normal" lives. You never miss the water 'til the well runs dry.

Who'd've thought you'd ever miss the Lower Newtownards Road? And then it was blocked on a daily basis.

I'm currently in rehearsals for The Ulster Kama Sutra. It's a sketch and song cabaret, with puppets, looking at our attitudes to all things sexual in NI. (You think we have hang-ups about religion and politics? Wait'll you see how emotionally constipated and uptight we are about affairs of the heart and groin. At least with the Union fleg, we can rely on getting it up on designated days.)

Rehearsals are in Belfast city centre so I've been in and out every day (sorry, my language is unfortunately prone to innuendo this weather, must be the show).

One of the cast is English and he said he'd heard about the warm friendly people here, but even so he was overwhelmed a couple of Saturdays ago to see how many locals came out to welcome him with flags waving. "How did they know I was coming?" he asked.

It's been fine telling him about the awful riots and protests without him actually having to experience them himself. Apart from the constant rain, he thinks this place is great. And it can be. I'm not a huge materialist or spender of money, but I want to support our city which is on, if not its last legs, certainly very weak legs.

There's never been a better or cheaper time to socialise in the town. It's time to come out of the sick bay – let's eat, drink and be grateful...

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