It’s not often I quote myself at such length, but my thanks to Joe Dwyer for reminding me how prescient I was so long ago. And no, he [Colum Eastwood] never did take me up on it.
I know, I know – never trust the media. Just when you think that they’ve settled on a semi-permanent basis to bashing the Shinners, out of nowhere they turn on you. It’s disgusting – have they no sense of proportion, no self-respect? So I want you to know: I feel your pain.
But what to do? Of course that focus group report should never have seen the light of day. And yes, I know if you’d been there you’d have shredded it or ate it or anything rather than allow it to pass into the hands of the BBC. It’s happened, though, and the thing is, how do you claw your way out of the crock of you-know-what it’s currently landed you in?
Now I don’t mean to be personal so don’t take this the wrong way: lose the Zapata moustache. Yes, of course Belfast’s Shinner Lord Mayor has one and it’s probably got something to do with Mouvember, whatever that is. But lose it. Now. You’ve a nice fresh young face and the public need to see as much of it as possible.
And don’t be ashamed of saying you’re middle-class. Or even that you’re middle-aged,which I know you’re not, but I’m talking about the principle of the thing. If somebody like Mark Carruthers starts chuntering on about how middle-aged the SDLP is, ask him is he ageist? And if he says something about middle-class, ask him is he classist? Turn your weakness into a strength. Like judo. Only different.
Finally, and we’re sort of leaving advice and asking a question now: remember that thing you said to Mark during the interview about Alex Attwood? How he was really capable and not particularly un-young, and (and here I’ll quote you if I may – you were talking about the European elections) : “I’ll take on a bet with you now – Alex Attwood’s going to win that seat”. Carruthers, of course, chickened out. Tight isn’t the word for these BBC types. But the thing is…will I do? I mean, I’m normally not a gambling man but I just have this gut feeling that maybe you’re…wrong? So what say we make a little bet – I’ve got a £100 note that’s been itching to be of some use since I got it off Eoghan Harris – will you give me even money? I’m not even asking the 10-1 odds Harris gave me, since I know you’re still young and not that awfully rich. All I’m asking is even money, straight bet of £100 Alex doesn’t take that seat next May. OK? Get in touch and we’ll get someone to hold the money.
I hope you don’t think I’m being unfeeling in all this. I have your interests at heart. I’m middle-class myself and it’s a fair while since I was middle-aged as well. So I repeat, I feel your pain. But I hate to see a bet going to waste and I’m going to have a hole in my expenses after Christmas. So contact me, OK?And I’ll take the bet Carruthers hadn’t the cojones to accept.
Yours sincerely and sympathetically