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Lindy McDowell

After a decade of doom-mongering and gurning, let’s bring on our own Roaring Twenties

Lindy McDowell


Fireworks explode over Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Bruna Prado/AP)

Fireworks explode over Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Bruna Prado/AP)

AP/PA Images

'Australia has been hit by bushfires of biblical proportions'

'Australia has been hit by bushfires of biblical proportions'


Pope Francis slapping his way free from woman who grabbed him

Pope Francis slapping his way free from woman who grabbed him


Fireworks explode over Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Bruna Prado/AP)

This week has been all about the year. Or more precisely the decade. A new one - yaaay! A chance for a whole new start. There's been much reminiscing about the last time we had a Twenties decade - the 1920s, or as it was also known the Roaring Twenties.

I like the sound of that. I'm all for roaring.

The problem with the decade just past was whinging.

We all did a wee bit too much whinging. And sneering and raging and, above all, taking offence.

Taking offence is now the national pastime.

So when some teenager on minimum wage spells your name wrong on a takeaway coffee cup you immediately seek redress on social media making clear that only a full apology, a year's supply of compensatory frappuccino and the immediate dismissal of the poor child will suffice.

And when some old girl mistakenly takes your seat on the train you take revenge by posting footage on social media showing her determinedly holding fast to the armrest while your small daughter fixes her with a glare that would out-Greta Greta Thunberg.

We've lost the ability to keep things in perspective. Nobody rolls their eyes anymore and tells you to get over yourself.

Back in the 1920s they had more to get over than just their own sense of self-importance.

They were getting over a war that decimated a generation.


Pope Francis slapping his way free from woman who grabbed him

Pope Francis slapping his way free from woman who grabbed him


But they bobbed their hair, shortened their skirts, invented the Charleston and went out and had themselves some fun.

Okay, so the same decade also saw more than its fair share of grim headlines. Okay, so like today it helped if you were rich rather than poor.

But it's the spirit of the age that defines it still. The high spirits.

And we could be doing with some of that right now.

Without wishing to sound overly Boris, couldn't we, shouldn't we all just try to cheer up a bit?

One cheering story from the week just past concerned a father and daughter who'd called into a fast food outlet to collect a takeaway.

When asked, the cashier seemed a bit loath to hand over the receipt.

He had good reason. In order to identify the customer he'd written on it a one-word description of the gentleman. 'Bald'.

What was novel - and heart-warming - was that when the (bald) father and his daughter saw what the staff member had written they both fell about laughing. The daughter posted it on social media and it went viral.

In an online environment where the usual response to any harmless ham-fisted comment is to cry that you've been "shamed", you're outraged and that your life has been ruined, people were obviously taken by a man happy to let his hair down (figuratively speaking) and laugh at himself.

What ever happened to having a laugh?

Years ago there was a wee man who walked round Belfast with a sandwich board advising that 'The World Ends Tomorrow, Prepare To Meet Thy Doom'.

As I say, years ago. Obviously his powers of prediction left something to be desired in the pinpoint accuracy department.

But his sandwich board has endured. His doom-mongering has been picked up in recent years by all sorts of factions claiming that we're heading for various forms of Armageddon.

We've just emerged from the divisive decade - Brexit, Trump, Extinction Rebellion, the border poll, cycle lanes, vegan sausage rolls, you name it - nobody could agree on anything.

Everybody was roaring. And not in a good way.

This might be wishful thinking, but you do get the sense that people are finally becoming fed up with all the gloom and the gurning.

So it would be nice to think the 2020s might bring a fresh new mood of optimism and general uplift.

Here's hoping. Here's wishing all a great new decade. Here's to the 2020s. Here's to roaring.

Heartbreaking to see Australia's suffering

Australia has been hit by bushfires of biblical proportions. Lives have been lost, towns devastated and there are warnings of more to come. For many of us on this side of the world who have friends and relatives in Oz it's heartbreaking. PM Scott Morrison has found it less distressing than most, though. He's been criticised for holidaying in Hawaii during the crisis. An upgrade from Nero fiddling while his city burned.

Very odd recruiting drive at Number 10

I think I may be in with a chance of a job in No.10. They're looking for "weirdos and misfits with odd skills". Odd skills like what? Card tricks? Being able to eat a dozen hamburgers in under 60 seconds?

Or just giving advice to the people who are supposed to be running the country?

Besides, don't they have enough weirdos already to be getting along with for now?

Pope delivers a slap on the wrist

I'm thinking the Ulster Rugby team could do worse than signing the Pope.

His Holiness was involved in a spat this week with an overly-enthusiastic pilgrim which ended in what I believe is known in the game as a hand-off.

Pope Francis was proceeding through St Peter's Square graciously reaching out to a lucky few of the faithful as he went.

Inevitably there came a point when the handshaking stopped as he turned from the crowd to continue his progress across the square.

Or at least he tried to.

Unfortunately for all concerned he'd just drawn level with a pilgrim who, dear help her, was very obviously just dying to touch the papal hand.

So she did what instinct dictated. She grabbed hold of him and almost yanked the 83-year-old pontiff off his feet. She nearly pulled the arm off the man.

And then the Pope did what instinct also dictates. He slapped her hands away and stormed off in a strunt. No turning the other cheek there.

Needless to say the video clip went viral.

To make matters worse for the poor pontiff, next day he had to deliver a speech about violence against women.

He has since apologised and spoken of his own lack of patience.

But it's not the first time Francis has shown irritation over contact with the masses - previously he'd been filmed snatching his hand back as well-wishers attempted to kiss the papal ring.

Concerns over hygiene, apparently.

So don't be surprised then if after this latest hand-off His Holiness goes completely hands-off.

I wouldn't expect Meghan Markle style hugging any time soon.

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