Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: The questions that will reveal how much new SoS really knows about us... such as is he aware we also have a dispute in the Holyland?

 

Northern Ireland’s new Secretary of State Julian Smith
Northern Ireland’s new Secretary of State Julian Smith
Franky Zapata
Shane Lowry
John Bercow

By Lindy McDowell

It's been a week carpeted wall-to-wall with Boris. But now that he's finally PM, attention swings to his new Cabinet. We've got Julian Smith! Ummmm... who? Mr Smith takes over as Secretary of State from Karen Bradley who, let's put it this way, won't be the hardest of acts follow.

Ms Bradley's first faux pas (and there were many) was in being stupid enough - although also honest enough - to admit she hadn't known unionists didn't vote for nationalists and vice versa.

So you'll understand why, as you settle in Mr Smith, we'd like some reassurance on just how much you know about us, our odd ways and strange sensitivities.

A few questions, then...

Do you know the difference between a unionist and a nationalist? The difference between a Unionist and a unionist? The difference between orange and green? The difference between Green and green?

Can you tell the difference between the IRA, the old IRA, the New IRA, the True IRA, the Real IRA, the Dissident IRA, the Continuity IRA and a bunch of gangster thugs terrorising their own community?

Was Gerry Adams ever in the IRA?

Sign In

Do you know the name of the man who is the leader of the East Belfast UVF? Are he and his cohorts a pack of drug-dealing leeches? Is the Pope a Catholic?

Do you know how many MLAs have been elected to non-functioning Stormont, how much they are paid and why they are still being paid?

Do you know what happened to our billion - the bounty handed to the DUP in return for the confidence-and-supply agreement? Is it being spent?

Do you know the average waiting time in a local hospital?

Do you know what weight Stephen Nolan is?

Do you know where Fantasy Island is?

Do you know where Ian Paisley goes on his holidays?

Do you know that you can't just flag down any empty taxi in Belfast but that generally you have to book one in advance?

Do you know that tourists don't know this and assume our taxi drivers are just being pig-iggerant? Do you know what pig-iggerant means?

Do you know that once on board a Belfast taxi you must be conversant with the latest developments re Brexit, the price of a pint, tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, Stephen Nolan's weight loss, and the burgeoning number of effing bus lanes in the city centre?

Do you know why we need so many effing bus lanes in the city centre?

Do you know the background to the Derry/Londonderry name dispute - and are you aware of the alternatives available to those wishing to appear impartial? Stroke City, the Maiden City, Legenderry and Foyle... and do you also know the one name that really gets everybody's back up is London-dray (the English pronunciation)?

Do you know how to pronounce Cregagh, Belvoir and Ahoghill?

Do you know why Northern Ireland football fans sing We're Not Brazil, We're Northern Ireland?

Do you know that we too have a long-running conflict in the Holyland?

Do you know any 'party songs' that may be considered offensive - eg The Sash or Come Out Ye Black And Tans? Or even The Sloop John B?

How do you pronounce the letter 'h'?

Have you ever eaten traditional Ulster fare - a slice of Veda or fadge, a crisp sandwich, a pastie supper, a bowl of champ? Or a Boojum burrito?

Do you know that a soda is not a drink?

And never mind have you ever tried drugs, Mr Smith - have you ever tried Lurgan Champagne?

Finally, do you think you have drawn the short straw being sent to Northern Ireland? Did you really want to come to Northern Ireland?

I hope I didn't offend you, Mr Smith, when I suggested earlier that here in Northern Ireland you're not a terribly well-known politician.

But you do know, don't you, that here in Northern Ireland you're not even the best known Julian?

Shane pitches up in dreamland

2019-07-27_lif_52128355_I5.JPG
Shane Lowry
 

Hero of the week has to be Open winner Shane Lowry, the golfer from little Clara in Co Offaly who won hearts everywhere with his down-to-earth humility in victory, his post-victory exuberance and his joyful singsong celebrations. The way he summed it up: "I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and what it's going to feel like then. It's going to be incredible." And you get what he means. That moment when you truly realise that the fulfilment of your dream - it wasn't just a dream.

Bercow’s barnet doing a Boris

2019-07-27_lif_52128523_I6.JPG
John Bercow
 

Is John Bercow, Commons Speaker, attempting to do a Boris? During Prime Minister's Questions this week his hair seemed to have gone rogue. It was all over the place, sticking up at the back, disheveled. Maybe it was the weather. During a warm, muggy spell hair does tend to frizz a bit. But could it be unconscious copying? Imitation, as Mr Bercow will know, is the best form of flattery. Conditioner, as he doesn't appear to know, is the best form of flattener.

Viva Zapata and his flying circus

While one man was this week assuming the reins of power aiming to take us out of Europe, another was taking over navigational control, hoping to bring us closer.

Franky Zapata (love the name) was attempting to cross the Channel between France and England on his own invention, the flyboard - a sort of jet-powered aerial skateboard.

2019-07-27_lif_52126881_I1.JPG
Franky Zapata

He'd previously wowed the crowds with his flying skills when he'd dropped in on the Bastille Day commemoration in Paris swooping aloft with what looked like an automatic rifle. A hip-clenching moment surely for poor M Macron, who has incurred the wrath of les gilets jaunes.

Franky looked like a very large armed ant.

This week he'd been hoping to fly the Channel in as little as 20 minutes travelling at 87mph. But halfway over, coming in to land for a refuelling stop, he clipped the back of the support boat. Franky was fine but his flyboard took a dunt.

Refuelling was necessary because the flyboard is powered by kerosene, carried in the flyer's backpack.

Never mind what Extinction Rebellion would have to say about the ecological implications - what about Health and Safety?

The flyboard does look like fun, though. If mass produced it would be one way of beating the rush hour.

Some day we could all be up there buzzing around like bluebottles.

We could even do short haul to Europe.

The Franky no frills flyboard - cheaper than Ryanair, and with more legroom.

Never mind what Extinction Rebellion would have to say about the ecological implications - what about Health and Safety?

The flyboard does look like fun, though. If mass produced it would be one way of beating the rush hour. Some day we could all be up there buzzing around like bluebottles.

We could even do short haul to Europe.

The Franky no frills flyboard - cheaper than Ryanair. And with more legroom.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph