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Lindy McDowell: Theresa the Tenacious has to be admired for fighting spirit

Polished image: Prime Minister Theresa May
Polished image: Prime Minister Theresa May
A tousled Boris Johnston

By Lindy McDowell

Say what you like about the Brexit "deal" Mrs May has negotiated with the EU, but Theresa herself is one tough ticket. Watching her over this last week, you cannot help but think - how does the woman do it? How does she keep going? You may not like her. You may hate her deal. But you have to give her points for work ethic.

A bruising question-time in the Commons is not, of course, without precedent. Many a PM before Theresa has taken a drubbing at the despatch box.

But for Mrs May the pressure in recent times has been relentless. Not just the pressure of trying to wrangle from those patronising, unelected tsars of the EU some sort of acceptable exit package, and then selling that to her Cabinet, her colleagues, Westminster, the public, the DUP...but to do all that juggling her other tasks as party leader and PM.

Not so long ago she was the dancing queen of the Conservative Party Conference. Since then she's been sashaying between high profile engagements, delivering major speeches, and representing the nation at the emotion-charged Great War commemorations.

She's clocked up more air miles toing and froing between London and Europe than Prince Andrew.

She has the extended stamina of the Duracell bunny. And something of the same jerky dancing skills.

On and on she goes. Amid the onslaught in the Commons this week she seemed impervious to the attacks and digs that would - emotionally anyway - fell many another of us. Not the daggers thrust by the Jacob Rees-Mogg and other known opponents. But the added twist of the knife by those she may have counted as friends or supporters anyway.

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Politics is a dirty game. But even among her enemies there must be some admiration for how Mrs May has handled the pressure. She is a diabetic. And while that condition is, of course, manageable, it is something else she has to keep an eye on as she sticks to her gruelling work pace.

A few weeks back, when her arch critic Boris was himself in the eye of the storm, he looked it. A man buffeted by the foul wind of intolerable pressure. The hair even more awry than usual. The clothing askew.

Mrs May, in contrast, has stuck to the Not a Hair Out of Place dress code. The lipstick a blood red line of defiance. Those big beady necklaces she favours, as weighty as affairs of state.

Cynics might say appearance does not matter. But politics is its own form of showbiz. And what Mrs May continues to signal is damn my critics, the show goes on.

Being second anything is never a great thing. Theresa May was never going to earn her place in history by being the UK's second female Prime Minister.

But thanks to Brexit she will feature in the school lessons of the future.

There are many, not least here in Northern Ireland this week, who would envisage her going down as Theresa the Traitor.

But history may remember her as Theresa the Tenacious.

YouTube stardom is child’s play

Viral video of the week features a toddler from Dublin called Daisy making a pretend telephone call. She is just the cutest wee thing, with a fabulous range of facial expressions and an acting talent to rival Meryl Streep. And, we're told, she even has her own YouTube channel now. She's three. Daisy's parents are obviously loving and understandably proud. I'm just not sure about children having their own YouTube channels. A star is born? This one's hardly out of the cradle.

Putting the focus on business ads

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. It's been wall to wall on the news channels. After a while you start to lose focus. You find yourself homing in on the background action. Who are those odd looking folk milling about in the background? Watching Adam Boulton doing interviews on Sky, I noticed a large van with a prominent ad for property sales hove into view. Lucky timing, I thought. Shortly afterwards, a very large lorry with another ad could be seen reversing into shot. Coincidence? Hmm. Obviously somebody somewhere is already cashing in on Brexit.

Christmas adverts leave shoppers cold

Not content with squeezing the last penny out of us at Christmas, the big supermarkets and stores want to wring tears from us as well.

The now traditional battle of the Christmas ads is in full swing.

As the long recognised chart-topper in these things, John Lewis aptly enough have enlisted pop singer Elton John to do the business for them.

The ad features Elton playing Your Song as he looks back over his illustrious career which, the message seems to be, may never have got off the ground had the infant Elt not been given the gift of a piano. (You wonder what this says about those of his contemporaries who only got guns?)

Obviously Elton will always score points over Kevin the cartoon carrot (Aldi) but the real competition for the "most talked about" title comes from Iceland.

Cleverly they've trumped everyone by producing a commercial which has been banned for being too political. It features a small orangutan in danger of extinction as its natural habitat is pillaged in the production of palm oil.

Inevitably on the back of the ban, the film has gone viral across the globe. Millions have watched it.

All laudable of course. But let's not lose sight of the fact that this is big business trying to sell us something.

And a bit of a mixed message surely, an ad calling on us to save one endangered species - being used to encourage us to fill up our trolleys with frozen cuts of various other, more common creatures.

Belfast Telegraph


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