It’s a Funny Old World

Alternative facts, fake news and ‘so-called judges’ are terms that have entered into the crazy new order of Western politics. The truth has become the first casualty of populism.

Comparisons have been made with arch propagandists from the totalitarian school of hoodwinking the people. But this is a new breed determined to sweep away the career politicians with their slight bending of the truth. Truth has no currency with the populists unless it fits their agenda.

Fantasy politics is taking off in the USA. The executive can dispute facts, disseminate untruths, vilify refugees and attack the judiciary, and its supporters seem to think that’s what it was elected to do. If they continue to imprison journalists for reporting on protests, they will be the envy of despots worldwide.

Meanwhile Putin is displaying the same kind of executive despotism. The latest lunacy is a move to decriminalise acts of domestic violence. If no bones are broken, perpetrators may avoid a prison sentence. Those who inflict cuts and bruises will be punished by fines instead.

Valentine myths

Take your pick, St Valentine was either martyred for disobeying an edict by Claudius II prohibiting marriages and engagements, or else he restored the sight of a Judge’s daughter and the Judge converted to Christianity.

There might be some credibility to a military leader prohibiting marriage. The myth suggests that monogamous relationships would weaken the Roman army with soldiers fearing for their lives in battle and worrying about their unprotected wives and children. Married men may have been excused military service. So if Valentine was conducting marriages in secret and Claudius found out, he would have been a bit miffed

In any event, martyrdom for Valentine was accompanied by great brutality. Valentine was tortured, beaten to death and hanged, which seems excessive.

My own contribution to the forthcoming love fest appears on the odd ode or two page on this blog – Dancing in the Waves.

Superb Superbowl

What a game! The Falcons were up by 25 points and it looked like the Patriots were done for. One incredible catch by Edelman and a couple of 2 point conversions and it was 28 all after regular time.


The legendary Tom Brady then found his receivers open and making catches. An opening drive that gave the Patriots a seemingly impossible win.

I’m glad I got up in the middle of the night to watch this one with fast forward speeding through the stoppages and Lady Gaga’s half-time show.

Six Nations

For rugby fans the Six Nations is one of the most exciting sporting competitions. England are the team to beat this year and there are many non-English fans who relish a victory against the old enemy.

Dylan Hartley is not my favourite rugby player, having committed so many fouls including biting, gouging and dangerously high tackles. So it is puzzling to find him appointed Captain by the England coach, Eddie Jones.

Ireland are my adopted team and Wales my heritage team. This makes my allegiance to any one team problematic. I cheer Ulster on win or lose and it’s great to see their players in the national squad. Rory Best and Paddy Jackson will be key players in their matches.

My Welshness comes from my mother’s side of the family rooted in Welsh Wales, the bible belt near the Brecon Beacons and the former pits of the Rhondda. I don’t speak the language and I have never lived there, but that counts for nothing if the men in red are trouncing Eddie Jones’ men in white.

The new rules about high tackles should make for a safer game with fewer concussions. There are problems for players defending their try line against attacking players going for the line very low, but that’s when good refereeing will determine how well the rules are applied.


When words weigh heavily

The agony of crafting good prose can be excruciating. So if my own writing suffers from mediocrity, be comforted that no writers were hurt in the process.

Writers in garrets slaving away over ancient typewriters long into the night fuelled by hard liquor is an outdated characterisation. Some writers still write their drafts in pen or pencil, whilst the majority find it easier to edit their work on electronic devices. Alcohol is optional, but one or two of the new bloods still partake.

Get the words on the page! That’s the experts’ advice. You can then redraft endlessly until it looks like something you wouldn’t mind sharing…I’m not redrafting this though.


Carl Frampton – now the rematch

Bad luck to Carl Frampton, our local boxing hero who was beaten by Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas on Sunday. He’s a brave young man with a chance to reclaim the WBA featherweight title.

Bouncing back from defeats and setbacks is a real test of character. Carl seems to be a young man with loads of character and skill, so I wish him well in the rematch.

It would be great if that happens in Belfast, but Santa Cruz now gets to choose the venue, so it seems unlikely.