Belfast Telegraph

Was there really a winner in this awful, brutal presidential poll which saw US politics since to new low?

By Lindy McDowell

By the time you read this it will all be over - bar, of course, the shouting, the recrimination and the traditional, interminable in-depth analysis on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the time of writing I still don't know who wins the race to be US President or, as they like to call it, Leader of the Free World. What I do know is this. Trump v Clinton. It went on far too long.

Like a box set you start to think you'll never get to the end of, it was the election that seemed to last forever. And not just in America.

Over on this side of the pond, it has also dominated the headlines for months.

There was a time when we didn't care an awful lot about US politics. Now I think we care too much.

Aleppo, Mosul, even Brexit. These stories were nightly overshadowed by Donald and Hillary cutting lumps out of each other, and revelations about both candidates that anywhere else would have had the pair of them ejected from polite company never mind the political process. But no. On and on it went.

America has a population of circa 324,118,787. I think over the last couple of months I've seen every single one of them interviewed individually on the tea-time news.

It's impressive the number of bouffant hairdos and slogan T-shirts they managed to squeeze into each news bulletin. We've nightly been to parts of small-town America that even Billy Connolly didn't get to visit.

Donald and Hillary became as familiar to us as our own dear politicians. Indeed, more so. It wasn't so much their policies (does Trump have policies outside of wall construction?). It wasn't even their sniping at each other and (disgracefully) each other's supporters. It was those odd wee personal tics.

That constant, camp habit Trump has of making an O with his thumb and middle finger to emphasise a point. And Hillary's chipmunk cheek smile of insincerity. Even when Trump in a TV debate was lobbing terrible jibes about her husband at her.

Both candidates overdid that pointing, waving to people in the audience thing, yelping with delight as if they'd just spotted someone they actually recognised. Or even cared about. You held your breath watching as Hillary took her time coming down the steps of planes. You kept expecting her to trip up. Let's face it, she probably did, too.

Donald tripped up endlessly - though not necessarily in the physical sense. Sometimes he looked like he'd explode with his own bombast. He did a lot of strutting/bounding about on stage. Not exactly a great look for a man of his girth but commendable for a man of his age.

In fairness, both of them were poster pensioners for late-life stamina.

Their partners, Bill and Melania, were occasionally thrust centre-stage, something neither seemed especially to enjoy. Melania had the wonky, wooden movement and frozen-solid smile of the half-terrified.

Bill, being bad mouthed by Trump in the debates, sometimes looked mortified, sometimes looked sullen, but mostly, unexpectedly, he looked frail. The ghost of a president past.

As for their political partners - their running mates - who they? Trump's is named after small change. As for Hillary's running mate, at one point I assumed that was Katy Perry.

The story isn't over yet. But the election battle is and we are hardly likely ever to see one so awful again. It was brutal, it was divisive, it was low and it shamed American politics.

And it went on and on and on. Almost as long as Downton Abbey. What will we find to talk about now it's all over?

Back to Angelina and Brad perhaps. Weren't they getting divorced or something? And Kim Kardashian.

It says something about the low to which American politics has now sunk that neither story can match US Election 2016 for bitterness. Or vulgarity.

Cop this ... police training way off the mark

Some really bizarre details have emerged about the training of young police officers in Northern Ireland.

A report details methods at the training college as "more associated with a pseudo-militaristic training environment".

Recruits were apparently forced to do press-ups in uniform and run distances in business attire.

Given that once they're in the job most of them will be desk-bound or so hidebound by rules that they'll do more time on Twitter than actually pounding the streets, it does all seem a bit, well, unnecessary.

More than one bad apple spoiling the bunch

This may seem like an odd subject to discuss.

But it's time we did. Apples.

What have they done to apples?

My sister Heather mentioned this to me and she's right.

Apples don't taste like apples anymore. They don't taste like anything.

I bought a stack of different varieties at Halloween and they all have the consistency of turnips and taste like water. A lot of fruit has become like this. Good to look at.

But utterly insipid and tasteless. Why has this happened? Why have we let it?

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