I KEPT thinking, “They’ve made a mistake, they must have made a mistake”, but I kept those doubts to myself as I sat in my doctor’s surgery, waiting to get my first Covid jab. I was relieved I had to wear a mask, considering I was surrounded by the elderly and the infirm. I half expected someone to put their hand on my shoulder and say, "Sorry son, you shouldn’t be here."
I desperately tried to understand and justify being in the queue; I do have a history of asthma and, being coeliac – well, those two combined surely would make it essential I got the vaccine? But the doubt remained, even as the nurse adeptly and, with no pain, injected my dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
My relief at getting the vaccine was therefore tainted by lingering guilt… until I told my wife, who burst out laughing. I pointed out it was no laughing matter; being in the public eye, if it became known I’d gotten the jab before I should have, I’d never live it down.
Still sniggering, she said my worries about ‘being in the public eye’ were delusional, before explaining the reason I’d got the jab was because I qualified as being both infirm and elderly. Me? Infirm and elderly? No way! How could I be, don’t I walk over the Cave Hill three times a week? I was reminded my hill-climbing was completely dependent on the state of my back on any particular day, and what about the mornings I needed help tying my shoelaces?
Of course, she’s right. In fact, there’s every likelihood somebody else sitting in the same vaccine queue was looking across at me, thinking: "What am I doing in this queue? I’m much too young! Look at the shape of thon baldy oul fella with the grey beard sticking out the bottom of his face mask."
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MONDAY past marked International Women’s Day, when the achievements of over half of the world’s population are marked and celebrated.
Women’s struggle for equality has been a long history of highs followed by periods of stasis. The suffragettes’ battle to win the vote climaxed in the 1918 general election, when Countess Markiewicz became the first female MP in the House of Commons. While there’s obviously been improvement, that women in the 21st century still earn less than men while doing the same job proves much work remains in the fight for equality in the home, the workplace and in wider society.
While history commemorates famous women, the real heroes are those women who go above and beyond in their workplace and home. Sadly, the contribution of ordinary women will never be acknowledged in any history book.
I’m sure many other men will join me in acknowledging the amazing work our partners have done in home-schooling our children during the pandemic. My stock response, when asked a question by my children, has been, "Ask yer Mammy."
I shudder to think where they’d be if their home-learning had been left up to me.
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THESE are hard days for unionism. Having been shafted by the Tory government with the Northern Ireland Protocol, they’re now being patronised by Boris Johnson and his ludicrous Irish Sea bridge feasibility study. Anyone watching the debate in Westminster couldn’t help but notice the barely concealed smirk on Johnson’s face as he spoke about the benefits to Northern Ireland of the scheme.
In reality, this is nothing more than a cynical political ploy to placate enraged loyalists. The proposed bridge would be built on an estimated million tons of munitions dumped in Beaufort’s Dyke by the UK between the 1920s and 1970s. Then there’s the engineering challenge of building a structure across one of the wildest sea channels in the world.
Finally, does anyone really believe this government is going to spend £20 billion building a physical connection to Northern Ireland when everything they’ve done in the past couple of years proves they can’t wait to wash their hands of us? There’s as much chance of Boris Johnson building his bridge as there is he’ll finally tell us how many children he’s fathered.
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I’M AWARE most of the world was glued to their televisions during the week, watching a pampered multimillionaire couple talking about how terrible their lives were. Sorry, but my sympathy lies with the parents who’ve gone hungry during this pandemic so their children can eat.
The royals have finally succeeded in proving one thing: they are indeed just like every other family – well, in the sense of being completely dysfunctional.