SQUINTER’S gonna be honest here: he thought long and hard about asking in last week’s column whether Covid-19’s eyes were too close together – or indeed what fut it kicked with.

Fair enough, most people would understand that it was a joke, but as the tighter regulations kicked in and the prospect of a more deadly second spike loomed, he thought perhaps it might be more prudent to hold off on the funnies for fear of having chosen the wrong time. A week on and Squinter can see now that not only was it a joke worth making – but that the DUP believe that it’s not a joke, but science.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots seemingly broke ranks on Friday when he launched an extraordinarily bitter attack on the new Covid rules that his party had signed off on earlier in the week. Actually, strike that last sentence. They were new rules that Edwin himself signed off on, because, let’s see now, what’s the reason?... oh, yes – he’s a member of the bloody Executive.
In an dramatic appearance on Radio Ulster’s Talkback, he said he has “grave reservations” about the new restrictions, that his party had opposed them, but they went along and signed them off anyway because they were in a minority. Which is one of the most bonkers things that Squinter has heard Ed come out with, and be assured that is one crowded field.

Not surprisingly, his intervention threw a hand grenade under the Executive table and in a joint statement just hours later the DUP joined the other four parties on the Executive in urging the public to get behind the four-week Covid circuit-breaker. The complicating factor, however, was that the party had spent the hours after Talkback briefing journalists that Poots wasn’t on a solo run and was in fact on the same page as his Executive colleagues. So in short, the DUP urged people to get behind tough new restrictions that they are fundamentally opposed to.
Ed doubled down on his wireless appearance with a TV interview that evening in which he went much further than merely saying that the new rules were “unsustainable”.
“A lot of this started after the Bobby Storey funeral,” he said in relation to the rise in cases which prompted the Executive response. “A lot of the problems started after that event and people in that community saw the breaking of the rules. That is why there is a difference between nationalist areas and unionist areas and the difference is around six to one.”
In other words, Cóvid (as we should probably call it now) has a distinct whiff of Mass about it; the rattle of rosary beads echoes through the ICUs. It does kick with the wrong fut and its eyes are too close together (or are they too far apart?).


We’ve every reason to prick up our ears when Ed talks about science, of course. As a Young Earther he thinks the planet is 6,000 years old and believes that Noah’s Ark literally happened. So when he opens his mouth about the R rate, comorbidities, pulmonology, mortality lag and epidemiology we’d do well to listen. If you’re chuckling at that, by the way, the bad news for you is that Ed’s got the last laugh. Contrary to what the naysayers claim, dinosaurs could easily have fitted on to the Ark as many of them were smaller than chickens and the immense amount of poo generated daily by 100,000 animals was dealt with by Noah and his seven relatives by an ingenious system of removable racks underneath the beasts which were regularly slid out, emptied and cleaned. So when Ed tells you that Cóvid wears a First Communion dress and likes candles and statues, you’d do well to listen.

As for his funeral claim, well... the early weeks of July after the June 30 event didn’t see the spike in Covid cases that we were advised to expect.
The spike that we’re seeing now began in late-summer/early-autumn, but of course the large crowd of happily inebriated Glentoran fans that gathered on the Newtownards Road to celebrate their Irish Cup win on July 31 and the large number of Apprentice Boys and supporters who attended the South Belfast funeral of Herby Hutton on September 15 played no part in the spike as the many people attending, having no time for Papism or its trappings, were immune.
And as Edwin has shown us, that’s pure science.

Bryson of the Bailey doesn’t learn his lesson


“POLICE attended a premises in Donaghadee after receiving a report of a breach of Covid-19 regulations. A number of individuals were spoken to and inquiries are ongoing.”
A fairly straightforward statement from the PSNI after the widely reported incident on Sunday when a number of Rangers fans – variously described as being between 30 and 60 in number – congregated in the Donaghadee FC clubrooms at lunchtime on Sunday to watch Rangers get the better of Celtic.
Master Jamie Bryson, Donaghadee FC manager, the Bonfire Benitez, the Pellegrini of the Province, the Marching Mancini, has donned his wig, thumbed the lapels of his dusty black gown and accepted the brief of defending North Down’s finest in this tussle with the latte-sipping gay metropolitan  elite.
A statement by a club spokesman (hello, Jamie) appeared just hours later on Facebook denying that the club had been raided.
“This is entirely untrue. The PSNI did not set foot on our premises, did not issue any person with any fixed penalty notice and any assertions to the contrary is (sic) utter nonsense and factually incorrect. The PSNI on the street outside of our clubhouse had a discussion with an individual who kindly outlined for them (due to their apparent confusion) which powers they have and which powers they do not have.”
So what are we looking at here? Well, since it was Jamie Bryson who spoke to the police on the street, we have wee Jamie acting as club spokesman referring to himself in the third person. Which is a bit weird, but at the same time utterly in keeping with his strongly developed little ego.
Rangers gave Celtic a footballing lesson on Saturday, but if there’s a lesson to be learnt about staying away from things you know nothing about then the doorman/paralegal/bonfire consultant/taxi dispatcher/coach hasn’t learnt it.
Last month his club were ordered to pay costs estimated in the region of £30,000 after they failed in a legal bid to have the IFA overturn its decision to cut short the 2019/2020 Amateur League season because of Covid. Representing Donaghadee FC was Jamie Bryson, NS, GSTQ, WATP, SYITB.
And Jamie’s excuse after having his wig slapped from his head and his gown pulled down round his ankles? He said the IFA had forked out for a senior counsel to represent them and that was “totally disproportionate. Translation: why didn’t the IFA ask the tea boy to represent them since I was representing Donaghadee FC armed with a diploma in Caravan Protest Studies and a PhD in WKD?

Shock me, momma, like a Wagon Wheel...

A WAGON Wheel with a cup of tea on a wet and dark autumn afternoon provokes an entertaining barrage of nostalgia online. Although perhaps nostalgia is not the right word as Wagon Wheels are still with us, unlike a Cadbury’s Aztec, for instance, or a Cadbury’s Amazin’ (It’s amazin’ what raisins can do...).
Inevitably it also provoked the familiar complaint that nothing is the right size any more, which is fair enough. Squinter had a Mars Bar from the vending machine a few weeks ago (first time he’s had one in years) and it’s almost indistinguishable from the mini one in the party pack.

But the Wagon Wheel has been unfairly traduced, Squinter feels. Because it seems to him that it’s pretty much the same size as it was when he had his first one in the back of a Hillman Avenger on the way to Waterfoot some time in the early 70s. Why they’re described as ‘Jammie’ instead of ‘Jammy’, though, is a question for another day.
Wagon Wheels are a treat for meals,
They’re the tastiest biscuit
You ever did see.
Marshmallow filled, they taste so grand,
The biscuit made to beat the band...
Squinter still vividly remembers the television advert, but even as a boy he wondered how or why anyone would consider a Wagon Wheel a treat for a meal. A cup of tea? Yes. A snack when you ran in from the street from a game of 30-a-side football? Yes. But a meal? Wagon Wheel and two veg? Nah, yer alright, mate.
And in a week of reminiscing, Squinter and pals were remembering the wee plastic green soldiers you used to get – about 200 of them in plastic bag. Some standing up, some kneeling down, some lying in the sniper position. And in the bag you’d get one parachutist – a plastic canopy attacked to his shoulders by four thin strings.


Some people claim they got it to work, but not to put too fine a point on it: some people are lying. Squinter can’t remember how often he hung out the bedroom window, or lay on the porch roof, carefully fluffing the parachute to give the figure every chance, but not once did it flutter to ground the way it was supposed to. Rather, it plummeted to Earth as fast as a little piece of plastic can plummet; or if you were lucky, the parachute threatened to bloom, then went into a spin and landed disappointingly on the grass.
Not to worry, though. You and your brother or your mate would lie facing each other on the living room floor, scores of the wee soldiers strategically placed at your chin. And using a marble-sized ball made of rolled-up tinfoil flick the missile at the opposing forces until they were all gone. Mighty fun, especially when the ball took out five or six enemy troops at once. But the last men standing weren’t half hard to pick off.
Harmless craic compared to the kid across the way who used to line his soldiers up alongside Matchbox cars and trucks and set fire to them because he liked to see the soldiers melting. It was an impressively apocalyptic sight – a London black taxi and a Lamborghini with flames licking the windows beside burning infantrymen shrivelling and contorting until they were blobs on the paving  stone.
He later joined the Foreign Legion. Or was it the UDR?