SUCH was the popularity of last week’s journey into the world of steel grooming products, Squinter has decided to give the people what they want. And leaving behind the iconic steel comb of the 70s and 80s, he this week gives you the equally famous nit comb. You may know it as the fine-tooth comb, but if you did you didn’t go to school with Squinter.

Squinter’s pretty sure there wasn’t a home in the city – or on the island, for that matter – that didn’t have one. And he’s pretty sure that every mother was as expert a comber and nit/egg cracker as his mother was.

The routine was the same in Squinter’s gaff every time he brought home a note from school about an outbreak of nits; or sometimes she’d do it when she caught one or more of us scratching our heads with suspicious regularity. His mother would sit and spread a newspaper on her knees and have him kneel in front of her with his head bowed over last night’s Belfast Telegraph. Then she’d methodically comb Squinter’s wet hair with the comb with the finest teeth (’parntly the comb with the more widely spaced teeth was for very thick hair or a beard). And if any little critters had nested in Squinter’s thatch she’d spot them in a flash as they fell on to the newspaper. With practised ease she’d place each between her thumbnails and dispatch it to Nit Nirvana with a surprisingly resounding crack. The softer eggs were dealt with in the same manner, although they went to meet their maker with a less dramatic sound.

The second line of defence against head lice was the school nit nurse. Classes would queue up outside her temporary clinic and we’d go in one by one. She had a little glass stick – about the size and shape of a thermometer –  which she would swill in disinfectant before using it to part Squinter’s hair and search for nits. Squinter’s not really sure what happened if nits were detected, but he thinks we might have been given prescriptions for anti-nit shampoo – called Prioderm, some Twitter friends reminded Squinter. Or in severe cases there were dire tales of boys being sent straight to Cupar Street Clinic to get their heads shaved and disinfected.

Strangely, Squinter and his missus have never used a nit comb on any of our children, much less cracked any nits or eggs. None of our friends or family have either, and it seems that the nit comb has just disappeared from the scene. 

Why this should be so is not exactly clear because notes are still sent home from school advising parents of nit outbreaks and there is no suggestion that nits are any less of a problem today than they were in the 60s and 70s. Doubtless the Daily Mail would blame it on the disappearance of personal responsibility, the Nanny State, the Woke Mob – or possibly all three.

Back to the future for parade

ST Patrick’s Day came and went without the usual round of us-and-them nonsense, Squinter’s happy to report. A big part of the reason seems to be that more and more young people are starting to get the message that 24-hour street drinking sessions in the Holyland are not that good an idea after all. Which is good news for their university careers and for the long-term residents who’ve been putting up with the nonsense for too long.

But even though the largest city centre St Patrick’s Day parade in years and the myriad celebrations elsewhere in the city and beyond went off with a satisfying lack of fuss, the imperative to create division where none existed is nevertheless alive and well.

DATE STAMP: The picture was in a Belfast Telegraph report from 2015

DATE STAMP: The picture was in a Belfast Telegraph report from 2015

A loyalist by the name of JamieBe (no, not him), who has pictures of Weetabix and the Sopranos on his Twitter bio page, was outraged to find that the city centre Paddy’s Day crowd had burned a union jack – and not surprisingly he was keen to share his indignation. Alongside a photo of the incident (see above) he wrote: “Is your child here? Perhaps you would explain to us all why you brought them up with so much hatred for the same people you want to convince that this will be an island of equals.” And equally unsurprisingly, some unionists were quick to share his outrage. A number of prominent politicians and commentators retweeted the pic and message to their followers. A former DUP special adviser chimed in on Twitter: “Another good day for those who believe in a ‘new Ireland!’… as former Irish president Mary McAleese has said, children in Northern Ireland are still being taught to hate.”

Other Twitter replies included:

• “This is exactly how we will be treated in a New Ireland.”

• “Excitement on St Patrick’s Day for these delusional young people who will end up living and working in England.”

• “Look at the state of them. The picture is howling of B.O.”

• “Belfast’s finest chavs.”

• “Fenian simpletons.”

• “Terrorist offspring.”

• “I wish to report this as a hate crime.

Can you pass this photograph on to the relevant department of the PSNI?”

• “No convincing needed. These loser assholes will still be burning the flag 30 years from now when a UI will be no closer. Hate-filled dumb cretins who know nothing about anything; this is all they’re good for.”

• “Oh, Michelle O’Neill, inclusive love? Na I don’t think so you twat and these little bastards are ignorant brats.”

• “Scum being scum. The dregs of society.”

• “Scum. That’s all.”

• “Tarrier [Celtic] front and centre. SCUM.”

And of course Squinter would be happy to share the sense of anger and righteous indignation that this kind of thing is still happening in the year 2022. Except it’s not. The picture is of an incident in the city centre in 2015. Spying a shop or two in the photo that isn’t there any more, Squinter Googled ‘city centre union jack burnt’ and found the pic in under 20 seconds. Which is not exactly investigative reporting of a Woodward and Bernstein quality – but it was nevertheless a basic check that none of the above enraged loyal Ulster folk bothered to make.  

Elsewhere on the day, Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl was pictured joining in the St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside City Hall. It was a picture that caught the attention of My Cousin Binny (yes, him) in his elegant, book-lined chambers in North Down. Adjusting his wig, thumbing the well-worn lapels of his black robe and clearing his throat, the Donaghadee Attorney General opined: “Excellent; hopefully the Mayor will equally be celebrating the 12th July celebrations, in order to represent all those who live in the city.”

And around This Here Pravince a mighty cheer went up as the countless thousands who have had it up to here with two-tier policing, the union-subjugating protocol, the war on Protestant culture, the discredited parades commission, the elite nationalist network and latte-drinking Marxists found their hopes and fears crystallised in another short but perfectly-formed rhetorical flourish. Just one little little fly in Jamie’s cure-all ointment, though: the Lord Mayor steps down in June so she won’t be around to have her feet held to the bonfire.