Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson and I are in total accord over the young ones

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

It's not often I agree with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of Londonshire. Once, I offered the fuzzy-headed fop a lift from here to Dublin, but he declined, which was a shame, as I'd planned to pair him up with a Scottish Marxist in the back seat and had looked forward to the entertainment.

Boris talks a lot of tripe. But he has said something perceptive, and we are all familiar with the glow that comes from making common cause with an enemy (in his case, an enemy of reason).

I can't follow all of his reasoning, and certainly not his premise, but I agree with his conclusion: the young persons of today are "nicer, kinder, more well-balanced and more emotionally literate" than previous generations.

I, too, have found this. Much of my contact with young persons comes from being served in shops and restaurants, but I've been taken aback by their pleasantness, even if it is performed on pain of being sacked for behaving otherwise.

But, in evening classes and sometimes just in the street, when I am begging for money, I have noticed it too. Against all the odds, and for reasons I don't quite understand, today's young persons are nicer than we were. Perhaps we - not Boris and his wicked Tories - laid the groundwork with our Age of Aquarius hippy malarkey. But Boris adduces a different reason: new technology. He believes that the whole paraphernalia of selfies, online messaging, texts, shared videos, smartphones and handheld games consoles has liberated the young and given them outlets aplenty through which to vent their feelings.

Crikey, as the man himself might say. Or, indeed, as he does actually say with typical wordular dexterity: handheld gizmos offer "myriad pipette drops of self-affirmation". Pipette drops: that's what I was going to say. It's a novel way of looking at things. Most experts thought young persons were becoming depraved by their handheld, er, gizmos.

Life has got them by the gadgets. We see them walking down the street entranced. Critics compare them to lizards with lidless eyes.

I see. But Boris believes they have warm hearts not cold blood. And I, for once, agree with him. What a wonderful world.

Friday: Down with this sort of thing

Glad to see Salome passed off at the Grand Opera House in Belfast without embarrassing placards of protest.

However, while the biblical burlesque's nude scene aroused no ire, several leading ratepayers were discomfited by the beheading of John, a Baptist, particularly in these days of decapitation by nutters in today's Middle East.

Our man Malachi O'Doherty reported: "(The) least shocking part was the nudity." I have spoken authoritatively and to no effect on such matters before.

Our "entertainment" contains too much gruesome violence. Accordingly, I propose this show be banned in future and that people greet it with embarrassing placards of protest.

Saturday: I'm in chocolate heaven

Healthy chocolate is the holy grail and a new bar called Ohso is the latest contender.

At only 63 calories a bar, it also contains good gut bacteria.

To test my gut feeling, I've ordered 21 bars online. Let's see if I lose weight during the two days of consuming them.

Sunday: Affair few cheating hearts in Britain

Adultery news, and it has emerged that one million Britishers have joined an American adultery dating website.

Is "dating" the mot juste here? Dating sounds wholesome and apple pie.

It implies a milk shake somewhere, followed by an evening at the cinema, with something by Pixar preferred over Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Well, call me green, but these adultery figures shocked me. I'm no good at maths but my researchers say a million is a large number. In pounds, it might take a footballer 10 days to earn.

I cannot think the million Britons includes Northern Ireland, parts of which not only affect to be more British than the British, but which has an admirable backbone when it comes to matters of the flesh.

The Ashley Madison website's slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair." The premise is incorrect. Life is actually quite long. It's marriages that are short - once affairs are discovered.

Monday: Remote chance my best pal is a spy

Big brother may be watching, but big flatscreen is listening, according to disturbing news about "smart" televisions.

These are fitted with secret ears so they can be voice-activated by couch-imprisoned punters who find that pressing buttons on a remote interferes with their busy schedules.

Well, I didn't get where I am today by activating anything.

So, my old-fashioned box won't be hearing my conversations and sharing them with third parties.

My television is my best friend and I'd be devastated if I found it was spying on me.

I might even punish it by switching the thing off for a whole day.

Tuesday: We're top sexy talkers

A poll by top educational institution Asda found that Northern Irish was the UK's sexiest accent.

Well, you all knew that. The Scottish accent came second, which surprises me as I always associate it with hitting people over the head with bottles.

I deplore my own accent (Scottish), not just because of its tone (elf on helium), but because I changed it when I went to a school (State) whose pupils came from posher parts (not difficult) than I did.

People who retain their childhood accent speak confidently, at least among their peers.

Celtic people generally don't speak well on television, because the correct, official accent is southern english.

Accordingly, I was surprised that Essex was adjudged least sexy accent. I like it and, indeed, all regional accents, particularly that of Lancashire.

To me it's not coincidental that Lancashire's warm-toned folks are also the condiment of the Earth.

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