It’s my guess that when Jim Wells goes home in the evening, he’s as nice a man as you could find. Not a bit stiff or tight-lipped or monotone. Chances are he’s a ray of sunshine, glancing cheerfully off loved ones and domestic appliances in the Wells household.
Why, you ask me, don’t the rest of us see this sunny side of Jim? Because Jim isn’t Marilyn Monroe. What I mean by that is, while the camera loved the blonde bombshell, the camera does not love the member from South Down. In fact it appears to have a grudge against him and takes every opportunity to show him in stony-faced, grouchy terms. Far from fair, indeed. I emphasise this contrast between Media Jim and Domestic Jim because a few months back I was up at Stormont and I heard Jim deliver a short address about the developing world. Well strewth and blimey! You’d have hardly recognised him as the same man: eloquent, witty, smiling, at ease – all the things that the camera and microphone rob him of.
So I beg you to take these things into account when you judge what Media Jim had to say about the GAA people who were packing shoppers’ bags in South Down. Even had Jim said “I love puppies and warm woollen mittens”, chances are it’d still have come out sounding grim and begrudging. Besides, Jim was right to say the supermarket baggers should have worn armbands saying “Bryansford Ladies GAA Club” and not simply “Bryansford Ladies”. It was courting confusion in the shoppers’ minds. They could have been “Bryansford Ladies Devil Worshippers” or “Bryansford Ladies Vivisectionists”, for all the good people of South Down knew. Had they for an instant suspected this was the hideous GAA at work, they would have kept their money in their pockets and packed their own bags. As it was, they were left enveloped in a cloud of consumer confusion.
So all right, Jim may have sounded tight-lipped and unforgiving, maybe even a wee bit divisive in his remarks about the GAA the other day, but keep in mind two things: he isn’t Marilyn Monroe, and it’s not his fault the Ladies GAA of South Down choose to skulk in the supermarket shadows, armed with anonymity and cruelly deceptive plastic bags.