Belfast Telegraph

Run for it! Sammy ‘the Slasher’ Wilson is out on the rampage

By Nuala McKeever

The Cuts are coming! The Cuts are coming! Have you heard? They're coming!!! The Cuts!!!! Quick! Run! Hide! Do something!!!!

Every time you turn on the news or open a paper, there's someone telling you that the Cuts are coming. And that's how it's put; Cuts, with a capital C. It's like a 1950s Sci-Fi horror movie — it feels as if we're in some pre-apocalyptic hiatus, just waiting, helplessly, for these dreadful monsters, The Cuts, to come and attack us.

“Coming soon, to a public sector near you. The Cuts, starring Sammy ‘The Slasher’ Wilson”.

Poor Sammy — like the know-it-all in every single disaster film ever made, he keeps warning us that “that there mountain's gonna blow” and we just aren't takin' it seriously enough.

He's the Chief of Police in Jaws, begging the town mayor not to open the beach, to believe the scientists who say the shark's gonna kill.

But we, like that pesky mayor, well we just don't wanna hear all that bad news.

We've got a town to run, money to make, jobs to keep, we just wanna keep on going, business as usual, lookin' forward, with our eyes on the prize and our heads in the sand.

But just what can we do Sammy? What's the point in stirring up a storm of warnings to us townfolk? It's not like there's anywhere we can run to escape The Cuts, is it?

It's not a nuclear bomb that's coming — we can't all just hide under the kitchen table at the first sign of trouble and hope to sit it out.

In fact, loads of us don't even have kitchen tables anymore — all those lovely new kitchens, bought when we were on the pig's back, without a care in the world about repayments, they've all got solid islands or breakfast bars or ‘central hubs’ in the middle of the floor.

There's literally nowhere to hide. Can't see a family of four surviving on jars of pesto and breadsticks while crammed into one of those woven basket-type drawers so popular in the noughties-style kitchen/diner, can you?

If Sammy's all doom and gloom, the Shinners are the equivalent of the guys on the rooftops, proposing to hold off an invisible alien force with pre-WW1 shotguns. Words, rhetoric, strikes — nice idea but their day is past. Unless the whole country just comes to a stop in one huge strike, central government won't stop rolling.

Sammy says the Shinners are unrealistic. But he doesn't offer anything other than a warning bell.

Where's the imagination? Where's the lateral thinking on this from our devolved government?

If we are facing the coldest economic and social freeze imaginable, over the next four years, don't we need now to be re-assessing everything?

Isn't now the time to be discussing what we as a society actually value and what we can do without?

And isn't it beholden on those in power to lead by example when it comes to belt-tightening?

The thing is, people don't mind so much about going without, if everyone around them is going without too.

What sticks in the craw is being told to go without and then watching the tellers carry on regardless.

We can fight a common ‘enemy’ if it's us against them. But if it's us against you and them, none of us will survive.

I know, I've seen the movie.

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