autumn oak leaf

It ‘s in the air already .That feeling of Autumn’s sly creep. There’s a ,crispness to the air so I can imagine it will not be long before the drone bees  are pushed out of the hives to die in indolence and uncared helplessness.The remaining worker bees will shake out their aprons and dust down their palms before turning their backs on them.”What the hell”, they’ll be musing, “We can make another lot come Springtime when they’ll be of some use again …nudge ,nudge , wink , wink”.

It is the way of nature ; the natural order of things .Soon the trees will shrug too, sniffing the air before beginning  to withdraw their sap into their wooden depths, leaving green leaves equally helpless to curl dryly into friable tissues of russets, ochres and golds, before skimming down into a carpet of frangible rustle. I have to admit, I love that too…kicking  my feet into those dead leaves …even at my age .Ha! …and why the hell not, eh?

It doesn’t seem like a craic since this time last year. Soon we’ll be back to that smell of freshly picked  apples.Is it only in  my imagination that we were getting ready for another political crisis somewhere around this time last year in Norneverland. Maybe it was a little later…a moveable thing …maybe a week or so either way…that’s possible .It’s easy to get a little time-warped in this place .We have a “Marching Season” here ..that’s another season besides the usual lot of Spring , Summer, Autumn  and Winter. They’re still arguing as to whether or not we had a “Summer” at all this year. Some are still awaiting its arrival, vainly.

So there I was thinking  that we really love a bit of political crisis. In fact , we seem to thrive on an injection of crisis every so often. It’s what has really passed for politics in this place for years. We manage to stumble from one crisis to another without a hint of irony .If we have n’t got one to tussle with,  we tend to invent one to give our politicians some sense of  purpose. They love to have these “Big Crisis Meetings” every so often to remind us that they have a raison d’etre as they might say down at my barber’s place  .So I was thinking why not have a “Crisis Season”  every year between say, the end of the Marching Season and just before Autumn fully arrives. ….just when the children are going back to school.

This year TV Mike Nesbitt  of that  little Ulster Unionist Party got the ball rolling because no-one else was in the mood and he hadn’t much else to do. Everyone else was away on holidays and there he was twiddling his thumbs trying to invent something that might supercede glass or maybe invent that perpetual motion machine  or something new to do with used Punjana tea bags ….anything !!. “A crisis !! That’s what we need” , he thought. Before you could shake a stick , another Big Crisis was underway and everyone was going to gather and talk endlessly just like they did last year ….and the year before …and the year before…… all around a Very Big Important Table.There’ll be photographs and tea and biscuits, just like old times.

Now , you might ask , why any of would be remotely interested because we don’t appear to have had  any kind of political movement these past ten or twenty years..We like to talk alright , but then , the Irish were always very good at talking , telling yarns and that…..I’m not so sure we are very good at politics .Somehow we managed to set up a political system so convoluted that like an overloaded aeroplane  that was unable to lift -off the runaway, we created a form of political too-ing and fro-ing that literally kept us spinning in circles and getting nowhere….a spinning top of absurdity standing on a very fine and delicate point.It was a sort of device that the UK and Irish Government in the Republic of Ireland had cobbled together to keep our hands busy and out of mischief.

We made up a very odd device in the basement   called  a “Petition of Concern” which makes our politicians invulnerable. They are like Superman or the Hulk. Nothing can harm them when this magical machine is turned on . They can commit any crime they like before our very eyes and we can do nothing about it. It’s  like that debacle with Nelson McCausland and the  Red Sky contract with the Housing Executive . His special advisor Stephen Brimstone was actually promoted for keeping his mouth tightly shut about any jiggery-pokery  and Mc Causland was protected by this weird device.

That is only one instance of course . There are many more but essentially no one can be censured for any wrong. They’ll get paid their monthly wages should they sit on their hands “while their arses make buttons”…as my late mother was prone to say. It’s really a good recipe for doing nothing when you think about it . It’s like a dream job for laggards, just a level short of a dictatorship in that respect.So would  we miss our politicians if they weren’t there? I’m not sure we would because they haven’t really been able to do any of the things they promised they could. Today , they are back from their Summer holidays, but they ‘ve decided that they not really going to do any real “work” this term. They are going to pretend to work instead. People are asking should their wages not be stopped while they scratch their heads but again , they’ve set up this system in such a way that they’ll be paid whether or not they even exist. I dare say that if we get Direct Rule back , there’ll be a “Special Clause” about wages.

Maybe if they actually get around to talking and  sorting a few things out, the first thing that should be chucked in the bin might be that “Petition of Concern” thing and a “Wages on Production” should be introduced to put a little fire in their bellies .After that, let’s do all that stuff over again and reopen things like the Red Sky scandal  and this time put the blame where it belongs. We need some political kryptonite mixed into the recipe so that errant politicians can have their arses smacked when they are in the wrong or when they tell us lies.We really do know they are telling us lies after all.

Like the drone honeybees there should be a seasonal cull of those sly politicians at the end of term,a Crisis Meeting ,  sometime after the end of the Summer …just before Autumn creeps in . We’re already getting into that habit already.Now’s the time to do it right.