Belfast Telegraph

Appearing near you ... that other Christmas panto

By Lindy McDowell

Belfast 2012 - a Christmas Pantomime.

Union Jack and the Beanstalk ... Once upon a time in a land not too far away, a young boy called Jack lived with his Granny Robinson and his Granny Nesbitt. One day Jack's grannies gave him some leaflets urging him to go the Continental Market as there was a great sell-out due to take place inside the City Hall.

Jack hurried on his way but before he even got to the market he came across Aladdin A'Mask.

Aladdin gave him some magic seeds of protest and told him that, once planted they would just grow and grow.

Excited, Jack returned to his grannies who assured him that he had a legitimate right to grow protest.

So he planted the seeds of unrest and before long there were great big protests springing up all over the place.

Jack was thrilled with the outcome. But his good friend Snow White was appalled. "You have no idea where these things will end up," she told him.

Jack thought to himself she might have a point, so he decided to climb up one of the giant protest plants to see where it led.

As he climbed he met Cinderella coming down. "Cinders!" he cried, "Don't you have a ball to go to?"

She shot him a filthy look. "Thanks to you and all your protests the ball has been cancelled," she said. "The hospitality industry is being hammered and city centre trade decimated. I hope you're proud of yourself."

Stung by her harsh words Jack clambered back down and hurried to consult his grannies.

"But you have the right to these legitimate protests," they repeated. "Oh, yes you have!"

"Oh no you haven't," cried his neighbours Fordy and Basil who overheard their conversation. "There was no sell-out at the market. Even Billy Hutchinson admits that, back when he was in the council, he was going to vote himself for Ali Baba and the Fifteen Designated Days."

"Ignore them, Jack!" instructed his grannies. Granny Nesbitt was so angry, in fact, she threw Basil right out of the house.

Gazing upon the protests Jack saw that there were many decent people who had been made angry by his grannies' leaflets.

But on some of the protests he also spotted a large number of Robin Hoods ...

"And look," he exclaimed. "Isn't that Uncle Jackie and some of his friends over there? Uncle Jackie, what are you doing on this protest?" Uncle Jackie explained that he and his friends were venting their frustrations.

Jack's grannies meanwhile, were becoming uneasy. "This is growing out of control," they said, "The genie is out of the bottle. But we must stress, Jack, this has nothing to do with us. Oh no, it hasn't."

Granny Robinson sought out her old friend Squire McGuinness.

"We must cut these protests down," they decided. "We must work together to find an agreed solution."

"Bit late in the day for that," cried the traders. For they were angry that their businesses had been ruined and jobs put at risk.

"All year the pair of you have been prattling on about the goose that would lay the golden egg at Christmas. But all we've ended up with is Buttons. What possessed all of you to start this nonsense at this time of year?"

Shoppers throughout the land, the traders pointed out, were now searching online for glass slippers and other fitting gifts for the festive season.

"What a pantomime this has become," cried poor Jack, when he heard their words, for he was genuinely dismayed as he surveyed the mayhem all around.

"Surely all the trouble in this place - it's behind us."

"Oh no, it isn't," said the Robin Hoods ...


From Belfast Telegraph