Belfast Telegraph

Christmas is the season to be Malled

By Billy Simpson

It was one of those mornings when dawn arrived late and looked like its heart wasn't in it. The sky was grey/black from horizon to horizon and the air felt like it had bounced off a few polar bears before it got to me.

The kind of day for building up the fire, getting out a good book or an old James Stewart western on video and cosying down by cinder park.

I was mulling over whether to screen The Far Country or Where The River Bends when my reverie was kicked into touch.

"Get up. You're taking me to the Mall." Daph informed me.

Today again? We were there yesterday.

She bought a kind of sweater/top/T-shirty kind-of-thing which boasted more colours than Joseph's technicolor dreamcoat.

" I'm taking it back," she said. "It's a bit ? a bit ? Well, anyway I'm taking it back."

Why should that surprise me?

If you don't count husbands, women rarely live with their mistakes anymore.

They take them back and exchange them for a different mistake.

Probably something in the same size but roomier.

At the Mall, she led me to a wooden bench and said: "Sit there till I come back. And don't wander off."

I thought for a moment she was going to slap a label on me saying 'If found. Return to Daphne Simpson. No reward.'

I sat down and wished that I'd brought something with me to read.

Sitting at the other end of the bench was my mirror image.

Another bored, sad-eyed man whose wife presumably left him there with the infamous lie on her lips: "I'll be back in five minutes."

Daph often tells me she'll be back in five minutes.

Sometimes holding up her hand and spreading her fingers in case I can't recall what five minutes means. I do. It means half-an-hour minimum.

This time of year the Malls of Ulster are full of bored menfolk who have been dragged along to act as chauffeurs and parcel mules.

Occasionally we exchange embarrassed and sympathetic looks but mostly just sit there checking our watches every five minutes. We could do without Slade hammering seven bells out of a festive hit from the 70s on the tannoy. But we don't.

Still it's Christmas and this is the price men pay every year for a turkey dinner.


An inebriated punk with a multicoloured Mohawk haircut was walking up and down the train carriage being obnoxious to anyone who dared to look at him sideways.

He came up to an elderly passenger who was reading a newspaper and snarled: " What are youse lookin' at Granda?"

The old man said: "When I was young I had a mad, passionate affair with a parrot. I just thought that you might be my son."

(Courtesy of Stewart Mackay)


"Middle age is when anything new in the way you feel is most likely to be a symptom" - Sidney Body


"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint" - Mark Twain

Belfast Telegraph


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