People, Places, Things
Throughout February, we’re getting people from all over Northern Ireland to contribute personal pieces in the run up to the election on March 2nd. 28 days in February for 28 different voices.
There are still a few spots left to fill so get in touch!
When it rains I get the bus to work. The 521 to Waterloo is a big red Routemaster, which means it was made in Antrim by a company based in Ballymena. And that makes me feel nothing at all.
Yes, I certainly grew up in the country where Wrightbus makes the things but I feel nothing for the same reason that Carl Frampton’s accent and an Ormo label don’t get a reaction either. Because being Northern Irish doesn’t actually matter all that much to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong; that bus is a great piece of engineering, the boxer himself is a titan of the sport and never a better wheaten there was, but is the fact that they’re tied to that piece of land meant to enhance my patronage somehow? I think that does them a disservice really.
These quirks of culture, the way we say “shower” and the homely comforts we pick up have nothing of substance. And that’s fine when all that’s at stake is a barm brack. But it’s certainly not fine when we let it influence how we treat others and hinder objective systems of government.
Let me be clear, I abhor the tendency to let tradition define us. Adopting beliefs on the basis of being brought up a certain way is a kop out of the highest order and a concrete rejection of reason.
Infuriatingly, this atavistic dependence on outdated ideologies has always been part of Northern Irish politics and is as boring as it is predictable. But it doesn’t have to be.
Same old, same old?
As an investor, I expect share prices to eventually move back to their historical averages. Once big hits like the 2008 financial crisis and Brexit are absorbed by the market it’s generally business as usual. In fact, over the long term you’d be hard pushed to even spot when they happened. And here’s where I’m hoping we’re different.
We’ve had something of a scandal ourselves recently and, rather predictably, the familiar rusty battle swords have come out. We can either have the same old chat in “civilised outrage” as famous Seamus would say (unlike Phil Hill, I’ve never toasted the queen) or we can make sure this is the point we break away from the historical average.
If it’s coming across that I favour one side, I don’t. I’m here to say that it’s completely fine to be disillusioned by it all. In a country that’s heads or tails (often with eye-rolling caveats) more people should be spinning on the edge. Feeling let down by major parties doesn’t mean not taking part though. On the contrary, it is the very time to speak up.
Human rights, not ideology
Let’s base our votes on the people inside the borders somebody drew once, not which version of the illiterate shepherd fairy story you follow. And if that stirred something in you, ask yourself why.
I will be voting for true freedoms, be they for a gay couple to access the rights they can anywhere else in the UK, or a woman’s right to simply consider her own health. Hopefully it kickstarts the country’s journey into the modern era and away from crying over material hanging from poles.
Far from waiving my right to weigh in on local issues, living away from the painted kerbs means I don’t have to pretend to align myself to anything apart from the things that matter. Our rights trump outdated fear and suspicion every time.
There’s this painting by Goya called Fight with Cudgels that shows two men beating the head off each other while they’re both stuck in the mud up to the knees. Too proud to stop and too arrogant to admit they’ll probably kill each other. Doing what we’ve always done just because we’ve always done it means the country’s in a similar position and it’s just not good enough. Let’s help each other out of the mud.