Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Why I've reached my breaking point with Sinn Fein tripping us up and refusing to shoulder blame for political deadlock

By Lindy McDowell

In a week in which Brexit has dominated the headlines, I've been focused on a small Brexit of my own. My own breaking news ... the other night walking up stone steps with some friends I misjudged my footing. Like Theresa May, I hit a hard border.

Charlie and Donna and Jim helped me up. The pain was matched only by the mortification.

I have a history of tripping. I once hurtled full-speed through a family group of sightseers in Beijing. I was trying to do that thing where you try to outrun the fall. You never can.

As I scythed through the crowd, I clipped a small girl who'd been blowing bubbles, knocking the bubble pot one way and the thingy she'd been blowing through the other. The child howled. The crowd glared at me.

Why had this rude European woman suddenly launched herself at our wee girl?

Nobody rushed to help me up.

I once fell as I left a health food outlet in Tel Aviv where I'd just been a bit snooty with the sales assistant. She was the one who patched me up with products from her first aid range. There's karma.

I also tripped at the historical site of that famous battle near Drogheda. Like Marshal Schomberg, I too fell at the Boyne.

But mostly my injuries have been minor. This time, turns out, I've broken my shoulder.

It took me a couple of days to work this out. Mainly because I was in a state of denial. I've never actually had a fracture before. How to tell if an injury is serious and not just, say, a pulled muscle?

Eventually the state of denial was outweighed by the state of ongoing, excruciating pain.

At the time of writing (this column is brought to you by a mix of ibuprofen, paracetamol and the one-handed typing skills we have all honed as a result of texting whilst multi-tasking) I am awaiting surgery to get "a pin put in".

You'll forgive me then, that I haven't been devoting too much thought to the detail of the Brexit negotiations.

To the tough talking about hard borders and soft borders and the constitutional ramifications.

What has happened to me is minor stuff. But all over this country there are people dealing with much more pressing and long-term health concerns, there are people in dire straits, schools having to send children home early ...

But where in Northern Ireland are our politicians?

Previously in this column I've sneered at all MLAs and suggested they should all lose their pay packets.

But this is unfair. What can SDLP MLAs do about the current impasse? Or UUP MLAs? Or independents or whatever? The DUP, in fairness, also appear to want to get back to business at Stormont.

Let's be blunt, Stormont is in abeyance because Team Sinn Fein have picked up the football and walked off the park and said they won't be back until the goalposts have been moved to suit them.

Gerry Adams has been churning out a wishlist of demands like a six-year-old writing a letter to Santa with the Argos catalogue propped before him. One of those, one of those and, yes, one of those.

This, apparently, is about an 'equality agenda'. Where's the equality agenda, Gerry, for people needing operations or pupils missing out on education?

We are all being denied democratic representation. Not just democratic debate about Brexit. But, every bit as important, debate and action on health and education and giving local public service workers the money they're due.

How utterly shameful that in 2017 we are sending pupils home early - endangering their education - simply because schools cannot cope.

Brexit is big. But it isn't our only breaking point.

Elton lucky row didn't break mum's heart

Life's too short for petty fall-outs with your nearest and dearest. And Elton John is lucky his dear old mum's life was long enough (she's just died at 92) that there was time for a rapprochement after a telephone row soured their relationship some years back.

"To my utter amazement, he told me he hated me and then banged the phone down. Imagine! To me, his mother!" said Sheila Farebrother at the time.

Recently though, mother and son were happily reconciled. Life, as Elton knows, really is too short for silly rows, which all too often entail a lifetime of needless regret.

We're kissing goodbye to common sense

I am not a great fan of policing by Twitter. But, come on, who really, truly believed for one minute that, when the PSNI tweeted: "If you bump into that special someone under the mistletoe tonight, remember that without consent it is rape", they were suggesting a quick kiss was on a par with serious sexual assault?

It was a bit clumsily worded, yes. But that's what comes of a 140-character limit.

Have all those offendees got nothing better to do with their time than to feign outrage? Or are they really, truly - and, in every sense, literally - that stupid?

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