LAST time Squinter watched something through his fingers was Ian Óg Paisley doing his ‘What did we ever do to you?’ Brexit betrayal speech to the Tories in the House of Commons. The past two Sunday nights he’s been watching through the finger-fence again as the BBC drama Bloodlands unfolded on our screens.
Squinter should point out first of all that a lot of what’s risible to him about the series will go over the heads of a British audience – the weird location switches, the accents, the cloth-ear for local patois, Hugo Duncan on the car radio at nighttime. And, of course, it’s the massive audience in Britain that this travelogue-thriller is aimed at and as far as they’re concerned, this could just as well be set in the Faroe Islands.
But Squinter can’t bear to watch it. In fact, he can’t bear to watch it to the extent that he watched the second episode just to confirm that he can’t bear to watch it. He particularly liked the first big action scene. Two IRA men launch a warning raid on the PSNI outside a Belfast police station (whose security gates, opened manually by two uniformed officers, are the same as the gates at the bottom of Squinter’s drive). And the operation? Two men, one of them unmasked, throw petrol bombs at a marked police car, which immediately catches fire. The petrol bombers then flee on foot pursued by police officers. Cue mental Benny Hill music. Marvellous.

And then there’s the dig scene. It is decided that a number of long-missing people could be buried on a small island in Strangford Lough. DCI Tom Brannick (Jimmy Nesbitt) orders a dig and on the same day a full search team is on the island with specialist equipment. It finds the bodies on the second go. Dave from Dagenham and Cathy from Coventry are thankfully unacquainted with the grinding reality of the search for victims’ remains.
The awful script, the parish hall am-dram acting, the tortured plot – all of these would be enough and more to banish Bloodlands to the sin-bin of Norn Iron drama. But it’s the Ladybird Book of the Troubles view of the tortured/dark/hidden (delete as appropriate) past that really rankles. There’s not a Devil’s Own/Prayer for the Dying cliché left unbothered. 
•Hard-bitten, cynical but decent ex-RUC man.
•Gorgeous green locations.
•Wide-eyed young assistant.
•Gorgeous green locations.
•Obstructive senior officer.
•Gorgeous green locations.
•Shadowy, ruthless, but well-meaning British spooks.
•Gorgeous green locations.
•Wordless, hulking, skulking IRA men.
•Gorgeous green locations.
Squinter hasn’t made his mind up whether or not to watch the third episode. There’s a certain masochistic draw allied to a curiosity to see whether it can get any worse. And there are those gorgeous green locations...

Master Jamie’s scrape with the criminals


JAMIE Bryson has received widespread support from political parties after his car was vandalised outside his home while his six-year-old son was inside. The story also drew the attention of the local press who gave Master Jamie a sympathetic platform to outline the seriousness of the attack.
Here’s the picture (right). It was taken by the traumatised victim in order to illustrate the seriousness of his plight and the perilous position that he and his son found themselves in as the attackers descended on his home. And so you have to assume that this picture is  the worst of the damage caused. But, not to put too fine a point on it – the car’s hardly a write-off, is it? In fact, if Jamie wants to keep his no-claims bonus a bottle of T-Cut from Halfords will probably have that fixed in five minutes.
Also, it’s entirely possible that the scrape was caused by a trolley in the car park of Asda or by the pedal of a passing bicycle. But let’s assume for a moment that the attack – if we can call it an attack – was indeed carried out by sinister elements. What kind of message is the gang sending by inflicting a shallow scrape low down on the bodywork?
•Next time we’ll egg your windscreen?
•Behave yourself or we’ll we’ll let your tyres down?
•Bend the knee or we’ll write ‘Wash Me’ on the bonnet dirt?
Squinter’s often intrigued by what passes for news in the local press. But he has to say that ‘My child was in the house when my car got scraped’ is one of the stranger super soaraway page-turners he’s seen. What hasn’t attracted the attention of the politicians and the press to the same extent is another attack on a home which had rather more dire consequences for the family involved. John Paul and Barbara Whearty and their three-year-old son are now living in Dublin after loyalist mobs attacked their new home and business in Whitehead, not by scraping the family car but by first surrounding the place with loyalist flags and then putting in their windows – twice.
Feel free to search for a mention of the family’s flight on the local news sites (hint: you won’t find one).

Another one to crack us all up


 HERE’S the scene in Squinter’s kitchen after someone made scrambled eggs on Monday. It’s a first, Squinter’s gotta say.
There’s a lot of wee things that happen about any house that kind of grind your gears, but putting cracked eggs back in the egg-holder when the food recycling caddy is six feet away is a new one on him.
Squinter is in the process of drawing up a list of household annoyances that singly are nothing more than a brief inconvenience, but cumulatively are liable to drive the mildest of men to the edge. They include (so far):
• Lid off the toothpaste. Not only does it look awful, it means you’ve to squeeze a thin line of toothpaste past the congealed mass at the hole.
• Crumbs in the butter. Toast is the biggest culprit (well, not toast, but the people making the toast). Pretty easy to clean the knife as you go, but even easier just to keep dipping it in as it gets crumbier and crumbier. (Note: this category includes jam in the butter.)
•Empty shampoo/conditioner bottles in the shower. Squinter doesn’t use conditioner, but as the bottles are indistuinguishable from shampoo, it’s a problem. Use the bin, people.
•Used teabags in the sink plughole. See also eggshells in the egg-holder. The added trouble with throwing teabags in sink is that over time it stains the chrome.
•Empty sweet wrappers in the tin (mostly, but not exclusive to, Christmas). This has overtaken used matches in the matchbox with changing household habits.
•Toilet... (that’s enough, Ed).