Archive for January, 2013

Belfast, from the Sublime to the Flegs

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I promised I would write about my lovely Norn Iron and the ‘Flegs’ protests. You might say flags, you will find that most Norn Iron folks say flegs. To be honest, this is not a post that I will enjoy writing. This is my country and yet again we show ourselves, in your eyes, to be intolerant, divisive, even destroying ourselves from the inside again? Tempting as it is to type, ‘You might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment’, here I go.

The flag dispute has come about because Belfast City Council have voted to only fly the Union Flag on ‘designated’ days. This already happens most other places and to many wasn’t a huge deal. However, certain Unionist politicians took umbrage at this and decried the continuing erosion of Protestant culture and tradition. They shouted and roared, some of them stirred up their supporters talking of protests, ‘get out there and object, show your loyalty to the flag!’. This   has placed the whole country in a maelstrom of protest, riots and endless talking.

So, as I see it, the politicians yet again stir people up. That’s the thing about Norn Iron politics, any and every discussion always seems to start with the divisions across the religious and/or political divide. We have our own political news programmes and they bring together many opinions but, sure as eggs is eggs, the ‘debate’ doesn’t start with Education, health or employment, it starts with a pop at the other side. And they demand that we grow up? I listened to BBC Radio Ulster this morning and had to turn it off when the politicians started talking. I know this is wrong, I know I should be interested and involved in my country. I am aware, I listen and read but when I see so much childish tit-for-tat it makes me mad. I am sure citizens from most places feel like this in some way about the pettiness of politicians but I don’t see my country making real progress until our politicians grow up.

There is also a more insidious effect in all of this. In the 1960s and 1970s there was a strong manufacturing presence in Northern Ireland. For the working class, especially Belfast Protestants, you walked from the school gates through the doors of Harland and Wolff or Shorts, your life was mapped for you and you didn’t have to worry. That certainty had an impact, it reduced the need for ambition. Credit for this certainty was always claimed by the politicians, ‘look how we take care of you’. In the 21st Century that certainty is gone. A lack of prospects and an education system that creaks has left us with one, perhaps two, generations of people who don’t have hope. What does it matter to you when a restaurant or shop closes, further chipping away at the overall economy, when you couldn’t afford to go there anyway?

I have had a bit of a rant haven’t I? And you are perfectly entitled to ask me what I think the solution is.

Simple answer – politics about issues and not beliefs coupled with an integrated education system. While people are divided by words and upbringing they will always be divided. Those other people aren’t monsters, they are your mirror image. Until everyone in Northern Ireland lives this way there will always be that suspicion and separation. Sad, isn’t it? Feel free to tell me your thoughts….

Addition to original post – please don’t think I am an apologist for violence, those who do it are wrong and should be subject to the law.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading,

Lesley

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January 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm 6 comments

It is the Little Things….

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I haven’t been here for a while. I should perhaps apologise but can only say that I lost my words for a while. Hard to lose your words, you know you should be writing but the letters will only float about in your head, they won’t come together to make anything coherent. Feeling like that I thought it best to be quiet, I write enough nonsense to know when to leave well alone.

But now it is the New Year, all hail 2013. I am feeling better, more refreshed and ready for what is out there. Have you made your resolutions? I have done the usual healthy eating promise to myself. You know the one don’t you? Eat less, move more is the mantra:) I have my low-fat dinner prepared and am enjoying the new exercise regime. When you get to my age walking isn’t enough, you need to get a bit more vigour into your life and so it’s me and Davina. I don’t plug on here but promise that the new Davina workout is good and I am enjoying it even if my stomach muscles are off sobbing in the corner.

Beyond that, what do I want from 2013? World Peace? Unfortunately, I think chances of that are slim. While we have people who know they are right and everyone else is wrong then compromise will never be part of the picture. Watching the news about my own country proves that to be so. (I am considering a blog about what we are going through at the minute but it will take time and effort so will be one you have to wait for, at least for now).

So, should we have an end to hunger? Please Sir, let them have more? Another one on my big list. Alas, again I think we aren’t going to solve this one in 2013. And again, doesn’t it come down to mankind? Politics, power, greed drives so much pain in this world and my feeling is that curing this will cure hunger, disease and poverty. Pity the big pharmaceuticals can’t make a pill to cure that.

What then are we left with? We are left looking at ourselves in the mirror. Take a long hard look folks. Are you happy with what you see? I’ll wager we all struggle with that long hard look, I know I do. How do we make ourselves feel better? I think it is simple. Do something that isn’t for you. Do something to make someone else smile or their life just a little better. I have read reviews of the new book by Lucy Mangan and how she worked through 2012 by doing one good deed a day. Lovely idea and a great book so why don’t we all take a leaf from Lucy’s book. Stick a pound in a collection box, visit an elderly neighbour, volunteer. These can all be done with only a little of your time or money. Perhaps that is what we should all aim for this 2013. Do the little things and hopefully they will start to impact the big…..

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading,

Lesley

January 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment


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