Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: Why we’d rather MLAs and the Royals didn’t try to do anything

Look, it's either going to be about the elections or the Royal family this week, ’cos let's face it, those are the two main planks (and I use that word advisedly) in the news currently.

I apologise in advance for bringing up either of these subjects, ’cos you've probably OD-ed on both already, but needs must.

Column inches must be filled, opinions must be given, thoughts must be aired.

So, firstly, election leaflets. Y’know it's spring when all you can hear out your newly opened windows (that heat would kill ya, wouldn't it?) are the sounds of hedge trimmers and lawn mowers (middle class areas), or more kids than usual shouting unintelligible loud things long into the evening (less middle class areas).

Under it all, the intermittent push and splatter that is the sound of those election leaflets coming through the door.

I always know I'm not really gripped by whatever book I'm currently reading, when I find myself perusing this literature.

To be fair, it's usually done in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil, in the spirit of, ‘Well, I've a couple of minutes to fill (my kettle's very slow), I might as well soak up a few platitudes while I'm waiting’.

One thing strikes me this year. Word to candidates — if you're gonna put photos in your leaflets, please identify the people you're posing with.

On one level, I'm an intelligent person, who reads the pledges and claims of the manifestos.

But on another, I'm a vacuous airhead who really only likes looking at the pictures. And they say the first bite is with the eye, so let’s get the eye candy right.

And now the Royals. It just struck me that the only thing the Queen and Edward and Charles and William and themmins have to do in life is to be themselves.

They're only wanted at events to be a Royal. Be the Queen. Be Prince Charles.

The Queen will go to Croke Park, but she won't do anything. She'll be a symbol. In a matching jacket, hat and dress.

The trouble with the Royals is when they do try to ‘do’ something. Like Andrew, who, in trying to ‘do’ inward investment, ended up in hot water for having unsavoury friends.

If he'd just stuck to being Prince Andrew, opener of shops and talker of small talk at horsey events, it all would've been ok.

In a way, we've probably had a similar approach to our politicians here. For years we've really only wanted them to ‘be’ themselves, symbols of an aspiration for green or orange.

And now, now that they're actually |having to ‘do’ something, it's confusing for us, for them and for the people who lay out election leaflets.

But this is the brave new dispensation we all want, so let's embrace it!

After this week's sad surfeit of symbolics, it's now time for tough talk and hard work.

Bring it on.

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