Why our politicians should be Russian off to make their own calendar
Who said; "The more kindness and love there will be, the more confident and stronger we will be"? Little Mix? Harry Styles? Gwyneth Paltrow? Or Vladimir Putin?
Yup, you got it. It was Vlad whose 2016 calendar of inspirational musing and Kremlin hard man posing has been such a runaway success for the publishers (a Russian newspaper) that it is now changing hands for around 300 quid a time on eBay.
Not a bad capitalistic mark-up for an item that was originally selling in downtown Moscow for the equivalent of 70p.
Obviously the global demand is not entirely fuelled by Russian expats wishing to get their hands on this illustrated tribute to The Brooding Leader. No. It's being snapped up faster than satellite states on account of the fact that it's so ... well ... mad, camp and comical.
But what better way to start another grim January than with a look at one of the grimmest world leaders making a right eejit of himself. For 12 whole months.
January begins staidly enough. Mr P is shown lighting Christmas candles. (They celebrate later in Russia.)
By February he's togged up in Davy Crockett hat and Topshop sheepskin posing with a horse to mark the Siberian winter.
March sees him sniffing on a long stemmed wildflower as he contemplates the beauty of Russian women.
In April he's in the gym. By July those muscles are showing - sort of - as he goes topless for a spot of lakeside fishing. Vladimir Poldark.
Unlike the WI ladies however, he does not take the precaution of resorting to cupcake camouflage to hide his wobbly bits. The Moscow moobs are much in evidence.
In August, now kitted out in full Bear Grylls, he is showing off the sizeable fish he's caught. (No EU quotas there.)
By October he's back to surly, militaristic pouting and then in November he flips to cuddling a furry wee pup. From warlord to Paul O'Grady faster than you could say pratski ...
Anyway, what all this brings to mind is the idea - surely we could get a calendar out of our own Duma up at Stormont?
It's not as though our Assembly would require a lorry load of baked goods to hide its assets. Put it like this - Stormont's assets are difficult enough to spot at the best of times. If individual ministers were reluctant to pose with fishing rod, flower, pup or pout we could maybe talk them into illustrative departmental calendars.
Something such as The DRD 2016 Calendar of Deepest Potholes. The DRD 2016 Calendar of Scenic Standing Water. Or The OFMDFM Calendar of Five Star Fact Finding Travel ...
We could even widen the net to include city calendars. The Belfast 2016 Bus lane Calendar should be a right money-spinner. The bus lanes are.
And what about The Northern Ireland Calendar of Offence for 2016?
Given that not a month - indeed week - now goes by without a row about something offending someone here, this one should be a goer. Of course we'd need enough material to illustrate 12 months. Off the top of my head I can think of only the following....
Flags, cakes, sports shirts, food packaging which mentions Northern Ireland, food packaging which doesn't mention Northern Ireland, anthems, anthems in sports stadia, sports stadia, the Sloop John B, a GAA shirt on EastEnders, flags on furry dice on a car in the works' car park, online sermons, Facebook postings, Frankie Boyle, Tyson Fury, that bloke from Game of Thrones who make a joke about Belfast, a crown shaped statue on a roundabout, St Patrick's Day revellers, Twelfth revellers, orange lilies, Easter lilies, wearing a poppy, not wearing a poppy, street names in Irish, street names in Ulster Scots, Derry/Londonderry and ... umm ... did I mention flags?
Still. I'm sure you can think of more...
Arty beer seems to make men bristle
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Facial hair fashions come and go but was there ever such a widespread fad for exactly the same chin look? And we sneer at North Korea where Kim Jong-un has ordered the male population to adopt a universal haircut.
A visitor from another land would think The Beard is now compulsory for men here too. What’s behind it? It has to be the beer.
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When Ant and Dec Met The Prince... it was always going to be very different from those olde Dimbleby documentaries. Much more down to earth. Much more fun.
Especially since the Geordie pair don’t give the impression that they find wandering through the Throne Room and so on your ordinary everyday, workplace experience.
Their enthusiasm is infectious. Might that work both ways? How long before it’s The Saturday Night Takeaway — By Royal Appointment? Or there's a fresh heir in the Celebrity Jungle?