TIS the season, when the City fathers sit down and decide who is brave enough to switch on our Christmas lights. The lucky button presser would need to be a spide repellent, politically neutral with no career to protect.
Peppa Pig it is then. Who could be offended by a flamboyant non gender person wearing a big pink suit?
Better not invite Pootsy.
It takes me back to when TV couples were popular switcher oner’s. Not that time Bill and Hill came, the other loved up couple – Philip Schofield and Sara Green.
In 1980’s Lenadoon, every kid in the estate was entertained by Gordon the Gopher. We got our craic from a squeaky puppet and his heartthrob sidekick Philip Schofield. Who in turn got his craic from Sarah Green, who for all you youngsters – would be today’s Holly Willoughby.
It was a time when Donegal Place was entered via a turnstile.
Separated into two queues, men were searched by male soldiers and women and children searched by female soldiers. All under the careful watch of moustachioed six foot tall RUC men.
I don’t often talk about my Ma, but today I’ll make an exception. She was crap at keeping an eye on children. Me especially. I did more wandering than Dora the Explorer.
Expectedly, not far from the turnstile I slipped away from mother dearest.
I wanted a better view of Philip. And I knew, if I went to the Cool FM box and declared lost child status – I’d get a goody bag, my name called out and reunited with my adult.
But the crowds were too thick and I couldn’t get near the stage. I panicked and started crying as child after child got lost and found. All the goody bags would be away and I wouldn’t even get to see him.
Where Karen Millen is now, there was a tiny newsagents. It was here I sobbed my heart out as I was pushed and shoved in the chaos. I was too out of my depth and regretted my plan.
A big RUC man appeared with his moustache and asked if I was lost. I looked up at him in his bottle green uniform. He had that smell, the smell of cop jeeps. Without speaking, I nodded. He asked my name. A flashback of a conversation I had overheard about Castlereagh came into my mind. I went into hysterics. With snatters and tears flying everywhere, I responded with “I’m…… not… allowed…..to tell you”.
He took me into the sweet shop and bought me a packet of Opal Fruits.
Outside he put me on his shoulders and told me to scan the crowds for my Mummy.
I was now nine foot higher and the view was amazing. I could see the Lord Mayor which meant if I stayed here, I would be able to see Philip.
Screw Sarah. The hussy.
I stopped crying to unwrap my sweets and then cried again as I thought I would be lost forever.
Without asking, I opened a sweet and popped it into my new friends mouth. He let go of my ankle to give me a thumbs up. I was still sad and moped silently.
The snatters, tears and juices from the Opal Fruits congealed into a gloop. It slid off my chin and down the back of his neck.
I spotted my Mummy but ignored her. My new seat was fantastic and I would have to share my sweets with my brothers if I was returned to her.
She saw me on the RUC man’s shoulders and looked horrified. It wasn’t the first time she had to speak to a cop about my whereabouts. They probably knew her as your woman who loses kids.
Just as Philip and Sarah appeared to the cheering crowds of Belfast, I got a quick sideways glance at them before being returned to the pavement.
The RUC man was gone, my Mummy had me by the scruff and I could see frig all.
Inspired by the status update of my old school friend Jemma Walsh