Belfast Telegraph

Brexit, historic buildings and street lighting... it's time for a few resolutions

As a New Year begins, Gail Walker draws up a list of 20 things that can only make for a better 2017

Old Father Time has torn the last sheet off the 2016 desk calendar and so we stare at a fresh pack of days. And, of course, this year will be oh-so-different. So much so that it's time for a few resolutions:

1. No longer will I pretend to know what people are talking about when they talk technology. No longer will I stand nodding when people talk about saving things automatically to the Cloud. No more.

2. No more 'Br-' (as in Brexit) in front of ordinary words to suggest a phenomenon - or Brenomenon. Or just to jazz up every social intercourse (Brintercourse?). So no more 'I'm not breeling well. I brink I've got a brold.'

3. No more using the term 'populism' as a way of sneering at the alleged simplicity of those who have the sheer nerve to disagree with them. Sneering never wins any hearts - or minds come to that.

4. Time also to face people down who talk about 'Post-Truth' culture or politics and so on. More self-aggrandising waffle from those who would have you believe they are still mystically At One With Truth while those who disagree with them aren't.

5. I'm all for getting out for a daily walk even if it's at night, in fact especially if it's at night which has its own beauty. It's just that given the appallingly poor quality of street lighting in many areas of Northern Ireland (are the lights literally going out here?), I can no longer see any of its charming features and landmarks. Note to whoever is in charge: it's not the 19th century, you know …

6. ... and I vow to master the dog poo slalom that is our pavements (see above). Or - the new version of dog poo - little plastic bags of it left under trees and bushes in parks, when the owners are too dainty to be seen carrying the bulging bags to the bin. Has anyone ever actually been charged with allowing their mutt to soil at will? Either there is more than one offender in my locale, or there is just one mega-serious machine for depositing poo on the loose ...

7. Talking of dark alleyways, let's treat the internet with a bit more contempt. The web is, of course, one of our greatest inventions but between trolls, false news and no-news, the romance has worn thin. Being able to talk to people instantly on the other side of the world is great (though all our friends live within a 10-mile radius!) but the cyberbullies who threaten, abuse and harangue should be called out.

8. I will stop having heated debates with people about whether series three of The Fall was genius or guff. As far as I'm concerned the slow burn showcased the formidable talent of Gillian Anderson, plus stellar performances from Stuart Graham and Chris Patrick-Simpson. And anyway it also gave us more time to keep shouting 'I know that place, so-and-so lives just round the corner and up a bit'.

9. No more Fox Watching on TV. By which I mean the habit of spending literally days watching Laurence, James, Emilia and Edward pout their way through Serious Drama. In British TV Land, you don't have to be related to each other to get on - I don't know if Dawn French, Martin Shaw, Olivia Colman or Ken Stott are related - but, given that starring roles seem to go to the same handful of thesps, it can only help.

10. In fact, having read the last few resolutions, I will watch a lot less TV … which funnily enough I started over Christmas when the offering was so dire I didn't watch a single programme. In any case, having watched an episode of Bargain Hunt where a stall-holder reduced an item from £92 to £49, I finally realised that if the cameras hadn't been there, some poor sod would have forked out the original hugely-inflated price, which was, in fact, based on nothing at all other than greed. Enough of that, thanks.

11. I will - finally - simplify my coffee world. No more mochas, frappuccinos, Kenyan blends, three shot cappuccinos, no more debates about the merits and demerits of coco and cinnamon sprinkles. From now on, I will order a 'black coffee' (not an Americano) or 'a coffee with milk' (not a flat white). If it's good enough for NYPD's finest on stakeouts, then it's good enough for yours truly.

12. I will photograph as many of Belfast's old buildings on my trusty mobile while out and about. At least I'll have pictures of them when, a day later, developers tear them down in the name of quick bucks. The terminal damage to central Belfast over the last 20 years can't be blamed on the Fritz blitz or the IRA ...

13. Basically I will basically not get annoyed with people who basically say basically a lot. Basically I will take a deep breath and remember the old Zen mantra 'This too will basically pass.'

14. I will not get het up by the Nolan radio show. Compulsive listening it may be but getting into a raging one-sided argument with an unsuspecting 'Walter from Dundonald' just isn't a good start to the day ... especially when neither Nolan nor Walter can hear me.

15. I will go to the cinema and watch a DC/Marvel comic movie all the way through and not say to myself 'That could never happen in real life' or 'I wonder who makes Superman's or Batman's outfits?' I mean, Peter Parker, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne can't surely do it themselves, can they? Time to get with the programme and treat these films as serious investigations into the human condition that also deal with the great political/ethical issues of our time ... Yeah. Sure.

16. After the 2010 and 2015 general elections, IndyRef, Brexit and Trump, we finally know that pollsters seek to find their own prejudices reflected in the surveys they conduct. I vow to apply a metaphorical bucket of salt when reading their results. It's always their opinion, rather than the public's. Fool me once shame on you, fool me thirty six times …

17. Keep hoping that Jimmy Nesbitt gets due recognition. His performance as Colin Howell in last year's The Secret was wonderful, on the back of traumatic The Missing. Even from the early days of Hear My Song, Nesbitt has always more than delivered the goods.

18. Stop focusing on famous people who happen to die in 2017 and pay more attention to the legends who survive. Surely this is a better way to recognise the greatness that is Emerson Fittipaldi, Olympia Dukakis, The Fonz, Mary Peters, Fats Domino, Sheena Easton, Harry Gregg, Katie Boyle, Lester Piggott, Mary Hopkin, Noddy Holder, Suzi Quatro - hey, just type 'Suzi' into Google! ... Macca, Olivia de Havilland, Ringo, Vera Lynn, Catweazle ... You get the drift.

19. To learn to love Belfast's gridlock and enjoy low level road rage while listening to War and Peace (unabridged).

20. Finally, because 20 resolutions are enough for anyone and the idea of breaking them all is too depressing, I will insist on not taking anything except serious things seriously in 2017. That's family, friends and furry animals to you and not at all in that order. Starting right now. Where's my CD of Can The Can?

Belfast Telegraph


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