Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: Positive outlook from Stephen Nolan would melt icy front

They say the cold sharpens one’s concentration. Pope John Paul II used to study with no heat on, for that very reason.

But it also sharpens other faculties. At least for me it does. There is a part of my brain that only seems to get stimulated when the thermometer drops below freezing. It’s the part that makes me want to shout obscenities at people driving cars with personalised number plates.

OK, to be fair, those ridiculous number plates wind me up whatever the weather, but being stuck behind one in the slow, snowbound traffic this week really sent me over the edge.

You know the sort of thing... a guy called Nigel who forks out a fortune to get NI6EI on his bumper. Or a woman called Sue who obviously thinks it’s cool to drive around in her sporty two seater with SU5AN 1 on her rear.

GET A LIFE!!!!! If you want everyone to know your name, get a big black marker and write it across your boot and bonnet! You could list your job, your annual income and your body measurements too, while you’re at it. Like we give a damn.

The odd one’s amusing — Bill Hastings of Hastings Hotels has BIL 1066. Neat.

But it’s the ones where the numbers and letters have been contorted to sort of look a bit like a name but not really, that are pure naff.

They only work (vaguely) if you really squint and don’t know how to spell in the first place.

Sitting in gridlock this week I ended up having a nightmarish fantasy about being stuck overnight with all the NI6Els and SU5ANs out there.

It was so distressing I had to turn on the Stephen Nolan Show to give me something even more irritating to take my mind off it.

As a tactic, it worked.

I rarely listen to the SNS and I know why.

Every time I tuned in this week he was banging on and on about untreated roads and footpaths.

The problem I have with his approach is that what seems to start out as a genuine desire to demand public accountability from our government departments and councils, quickly descends into puerile point-scoring.

He doesn’t want a solution to a problem because that would put an end to his preferred activity of cynical sh*t-stirring.

Stephen kept badgering the government official (who sounded exactly like a NI6El) who was stating, in a pursed-mouthed way, that the government couldn’t commit to treating every road and pavement. Nolan did admit later on that he accepted this, but that didn’t stop him going on and on about who was accountable.

In contrast, I happened to catch a news report on RTE television on Friday evening.

A government official there was asking people to look in on elderly neighbours, to help out with clearing snow and ice, to take some responsibility themselves, for the sake of their community.

He stated, briefly, that there’s no way the government could possibly treat every road or pavement.

RTE didn’t feel the need to keep badgering him. He was talking common sense in a common-sense way.

Maybe we need civil servants here to come on the radio and just say: “Listen, Stephen, cut the cr*p, mate. Wise up. Find another patsy to bully and get back to me if and when you actually want to have a positive conversation about this situation. Right?”

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