Belfast Telegraph

Leah Totton must remember politics requires thick skin

By Robert McNeill

Politics is not for the faint-hearted. Still, having appeared on television torture show The Apprentice, Leah Totton, from Londonderry, doubtless has a heart that beats with gusto.

Leah (26) wants to shake up politics in Northern Ireland, perhaps even standing for election one day.

Currently, however, she runs a skin clinic in yonder London.

It's all part of a cunning plan to develop a thick skin.

Because in politics you need it. Some say a thick head is another advantage.

They also say all political careers end in failure.

So here's wishing Leah every success – by staying out of politics.

Council staff, counselled staff and £50k on mumbo-jumbo

We need to talk about mumbo and, if we've time, jumbo. Mumbo-jumbo is how courses in "emotional resilience" for council staff in Northern Ireland have been described.

Indeed, the very expression "emotional resilience" sounds iffy. Emotions? Things you keep to yourself, no? Not things in which you take courses surely?

The counselling classes are being offered ahead of a massive shake-up in local government organisation, which top worriers fear may lead to stress and fits of the vapours.

Estimates suggest 800 workers from the 26 councils might sign up for the £60 workshops, meaning a bill of £48,000.

I'm not bothered about the money. Unless it's on Trident, massive public spending is a sign of a healthy society and should always be encouraged. It's the very idea of counselling that vexes the doughty few today who still have a stiff upper lip (ie: everyone not affected).

There's much striking of attitudes here. Talk of emotional workshops leads many punters to sprout hairs on their chests and to say things like: "Never happened in my day." Yes, but your day was c**p.

I cannot abide all that backwoodsman, man-up stuff about dealing with problems by the simple expedient of swinging through the trees on a rope. At the same time, I deplore mumbo-jumbo, workshops and counselling. I used to live in a remote and supposedly rugged community where the major traditional industries were fishing, crofting and counselling. Everybody was at it, either counselling or being counselled. It was the answer to everything.

But this news just in: it ain't. Looking more closely at what's being offered to the troubled council workers, we find the overall aim is to create "wellbeing in the workplace". Solution (mine): increase wages. Next.

Next come headings that screw with your head: conscious and unconscious choices (I think that's everything), developing mental toughness (how mental is that?), optimism (you wish), and emotional regulation and managing impulse (er, get back to you on that one).

Och, maybe it all helps. It's good to talk rubbish. And having your job mucked about with is a right hassle. But, for my money, emotional workshops, like the bonding sessions and hotel away-days beloved of right-on private enterprise, are the stuff of nightmares.

Here's a better plan: just give everybody who has volunteered the 60 quid and tell them to spend it on wine, chocolate and a DVD boxed set.

Dr puts the boot in

New Dr Who Peter Capaldi will play the controversial Time Lord in a dark blue crombie coat, dark blue trousers and black Dr Marten's footwear.

Capaldi's designer has "woven the future from the cloth of the past".

However, a top Dalek retorted: "Doc Marten's? In this day and age? Epic fail." Watch this space-time continuum.

DUP's moral guardians fail dramatically

his was the day, lo, that blasphemy reared its ugly head. Blasphemy: the very word reeks of intolerance and the Middle Ages.

Attempts by Newtownabbey DUP councillors to ban a light-hearted revue (left) about the Bible caused lower jaws to drop worldwide. As a newspaper columnist, I try to avoid controversy. I'm particularly reluctant to engage with the irrational.

When such bods blunder along bouncing a big daft ball, the best plan is not to get on the pitch with them at all. Just let them play keepie-uppie with their fixations.

That said, like our religious ball-jugglers, I'm no defender of the modern world. It beeps too much.

And I'm not too keen on the trousers.

But remaining in a state of backwardness isn't an option, guys. For, lo, as Nehemia (son of Hachalia) said to that berk Shemaiah (son of Humphrey): "It's only a play, for God's sake."

A fair city for buskers - NOT

 Once again, busking is proving the musical accompaniment to controversy.

Earlier this year Belfast's Iohah Carpaciu stirred passionate debate – over-egging it here, but bear with me – because he could play only one tune on his violin trumpet.

Still, he got away with it because of his engaging smile. Down in Dublin, meanwhile, they're thinking of sterner measures for buskers: arrests! Fines!

Even human statues face being apprehended for disturbing the peace. In a convoluted statement the city council said it wanted to preserve the "popular art form" – eh? – while simultaneously stopping it.

Yup, sounds like a plan. Or something.

Belfast Telegraph


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