32 Reasons To Leave Belfast For Ibiza…or anywhere

In honour of Made In Belfast’s Emma Bricknell who recently announced that she was leaving Northern Ireland for the sunnier Mediterranean island of Ibiza…I began to wonder what could motivate such a clearly outrageous plan…I mean, what possible reason could someone want out of our wee province? It was a struggle, but I came up with these…

You know you should leave because;

1. Because you treat bomb scares like there’s just an annoying bluebottle in the room

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2. Because you’ve heard so many acronyms for terrorist groups that you wonder what Taliban stands for

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3. Because you think chips are now an acceptable breakfast food

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4. Because “Supper” now just means with chips…the last supper was just Jesus and his friends having their last “with chips”

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5. Because some local politicians think that velociraptors are only a couple of thousand years old…and the giants causeway was just caused by Noah doing a handbrake turn on his ark

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6. Because you treat taxi companies like off licences

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7. Because no driving exam could ever prepare you for the roadworks here
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8. Because Belfast has 7 quarters….and 5 seasons

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 9. Because this is what passes as street art…

Mural

 

10. [REASON REMOVED DUE TO PETITION OF CONCERN FROM THE DUP]

Censored

11. Because you can no longer tell if someone is drunk or just speaking Ulster Scots

Ulster Scots

12. Because you’re not sure what a Pasty is supposed to be…

Cornish Pasty Chip Shop Pasty

13. Because when you order scallops there’s no knowing what you’ll get

Fish Scallop Potato Scallop

 14. Because you don’t want to share an island with Larne anymore

Riverdale flats, Larne. June 2005

15. Because even yer ma says yer ma to you

Yer Ma

16. Because you don’t want to risk confusing these 2 in an emergency anymore

Potato Peeler PSNI

17. Because Michelin won’t give any of our restaurants a Michelin star, as all we do is burn their tyres

Bonfire Tyres Michelin Guide

18. Because this is our city centre after 5pm

Belfast City Centre

19. Because you’ve begun to give everybody nicknames by just adding “sie” on the end of their surname

Nickname

20. Because you’re sick of having to explain to tourists that they can’t have a glass of wine with lunch at easter but they can sit on the street and drink all the white lightning they want

Cheap Cider

21. Because you just can’t be bothered holding on to bank of england notes anymore for holidays

Money

 22. Because you don’t want to live in a place where “Glass” is a verb

Glassed

 23. Because you can’t bring yourself to buy “Going Out Pyjamas”

Pyjamas

24. Because you’ve started to get xenophobic about foreign crisps com’n over ‘ere

Tayto Walkers

 25. Because you’ve began to think of Ikea as the worlds largest hot dog stand, that also happens to sell some furniture

Ikea Hotdog

26. Because in your heart of hearts, you know that Sam really ISN’T yer man for a bargain. Is there even a Sam? Who knows anymore…

Sams Yer Man

27. Because you no longer consider the Glenshane pass a road…but a challenge

Glenshane Pass

28. Because you no longer laugh when you see “Ballybogey” on a sign or on the weather forecast

Ballybogey

29. Because you’ve stopped pointing out when someone on the telly is from here, and you no longer tell everyone that you’ve met that person that was on the telly but that they were up themselves

30. Because you are sick of colour co-ordinating your daily clothes based on what area of town you might venture into

Orange Shirt

31. Because you have used the following line at least once when complaining to a company “I’ll call Nolan on ye so I will”

Nolan

 

32. Because there is no such thing as Noise Cancelling headphones that work in Belfast during July

Breaker Faire PNG 0525N breakerfaire 309

BONUS – 1 Reason to stay: Because despite everything else…we have Crisp Sandwiches….

Crisp Sandwich

 

Any reasons to leave of your own?

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Simply Crispy – A Café Evolved

A cursory google right now tells me that Simply Crispy, the brainchild of The Ulster Fry satire website and Andrew McMenamin (Owner of That Wee Café on Bedford Street, Belfast) has in every definition, gone viral.

Simply Crispy Wall Sign

The Mirror, The Independent, The Telegraph (And the Belfast telegraph of course), Metro, Buzzfeed…to name just a few. How can such a niche business result in the kind of PR that multiple-premises retailers only dream of (or pay for…).

The concept is simple enough, we all remember putting crisps in a sandwich, whether by design or because we didn’t have long enough to eat our packed lunch so we’d throw it all in between 2 slices of bread…I used to add a flapjack but I suspect that won’t catch on quite as easily… There is the element of nostalgia of course, but it seems more than that…nostalgia is great but it will only get you so far, clever branding, savvy consumers & a good product are needed for success to follow. The link has been drawn a thousand times over between Simply Crispy and Cereal Killer in London…I’m sorry but to me this is just tangential, the creators of Simply Crispy have gone on record stating the influence but that’s all it is, an influence. In the same way that every time somebody mentions a modern boy band, the Beatles aren’t necessarily thrown into the conversation… Cereal Killer showed the world that you can be a one trick pony and make it work, that’s where the comparison ends for me… Everybody eats cereal, it’s nothing new, you’ll find it in every hotel breakfast bar and many other places besides… Where on earth can you purchase a crisp sandwich? Simply Crispy.

I’m a massive over-user of the phrase all style and no substance, and having not been to Simply Crispy yet to judge, I won’t…what I will say is that they sold out in a matter of hours… Belfast folk aren’t shy in voicing their opinions, if customers eating inside thought that the product was poor or the service unacceptable, I’d bet my last George Best £5 note that they’re going to tell people, both as they leave to the queue outside and online through social media… My £5 note is safe, the response from customers has been resounding, it’s a good idea done well. £3.50 for crisps, sandwich & soup? That’s easily comparable to some less-than-respectable fast food outlets, and with the amount of occupied office space in the city centre being at the levels they are, there should be no shortage of customers.

Variety is key, as Subway have espoused for so long, and even local Burger joint Build-A-Burger have build their USP around the concept of customisation, Simply Crispy has approximately 30 crisp varieties on offer, at least 4 bread types, the option of ham and/or cheese, buttered or not buttered and with or without monster munch croutons…offering your customers over 1000 different decisions to make is a bold move but it seems the smoothness of the operation provided the busy lunch trade with precisely what they needed.

Simply Crispy Launch Photo Group

Will this spawn a plague of rip-offs? Will every town centre in the UK end up with its own incredibly-niche offering? I can’t think of many concepts as established in the conscious of the nation already that would work… It takes a certain type of business also, I can’t imagine existing restaurant wanting to expand whilst at the same time narrowing the scope of their business…But from what I’ve seen over the last few months, Andrew McMenamin is precisely the kind of operator who could…he has the attitude to the food/drink industry I adore, the “we are what we are” approach tells customers exactly what to expect, that it won’t be some homogenized plastic experience where everything including personality is modular…we are famous for our demeanour here in Northern Ireland, our sense of humour and our attitude towards life, That Wee Cafe endorses that proudly and Belfast should endorse Simply Crispy with the same approach.

Simply Crispy Sample

Hopefully they’ll go from strength to strength, and I know that operators That Wee Cafe have been in the process of renovating their mobile operation via a crowd funded campaign, with the aim of being on the road in a couple of months, whether that is distributing Crisp Sandwiches to the wider Belfast area or another venture entirely remains to be seen, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting developments

Is it a Million Dollar idea? No. Is it a great idea and worth doing? I think so, and it seems the Belfast public do too…now, on to day 2!

PS: If Andrew or the guys from The Ulster Fry are reading this, 2 words for you…premium crisps…you have the state school nostalgia down, but what about the old campbell students? The bourgeoisie won’t stand for any of that Tayto nonsense, oh no…get yourselves some beetroot, parsnip & kale crisps and charge them £10 more for it, they can afford it…

Me? I’m wanting some Bikers in a ham and cheese granary roll.

Larne Museum & Arts Centre – Who’s a “Dick”?

Whoever is in charge of Web management at Larne Museum & Arts Centre needs a talking to…they unfortunately didn’t know that when you put an image online there is a setting whereby you can name the caption…This bearded fella is apparently a dick. It is available for all to see in the gallery section of the website…simply click on the thumbnail image of the poor guy to see what Larne Museum & Arts Centre think of him…

of course, he could just be called Richard. Do you know him? Do you work for Larne Museum & Arts Centre or Larne Borough Council? Let me know!

This guy is a Dick according to Larne Museum & Arts Centre

This guy is a Dick according to Larne Museum & Arts Centre

The 8 Essential People in Every Workplace

8 Essential People

Every workplace is a melting pot of the dull to the bizarre, but I believe there are some individuals that you just can’t do without no matter what the business. See anybody you recognise? Yourself maybe?

Drunken Mess1. The Nutcase 

Every single workplace, whether it’s the most professional of offices or the most casual of cafés needs that person..the one who stumbles in 4 seconds before they were due to start still carrying last nights guilt heavily on their shoulders. The one who has a Vokda Martini for breakfast just to “Take the edge off”, that begins each day with “you won’t believe what happened to me last night” but you do believe them, of course you do. The one that can’t remember what season it is never mind what day, but still manages to put in a good shift. It’s important for those in the workplace who never socialise or go wild to have someone to live vicariously though, and for those who occasionally do like to let their hair down and photocopy their various body parts…they serve as a cautionary tale, a reminder of what happens when you ignore that voice in your head that says “sure, we’ll just have one more…”

Jobsworth2. The Jobsworth

There has to be one person in every business who thinks of nothing but getting the job done, everything else is superfluous and pointless. Partly so that someone is doing work the morning after the night before, partly because as much as we might bitch and moan about them, we know that they know what they’re doing and if things get really bad and you’re lost…do what they do, you can’t go wrong. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then imitating the jobsworth is the most efficient form of flattery.

Gossipping3. The Gossip

There are 2 types of people in this world (those who use the phrase “there are 2 types of people in this world” and those who don’t…) those who gossip and those who don’t…and even those who don’t gossip like to overhear those who do every once in a while. You may not give 2 shits about what Donna got up to last night, but you never know when that titbit of information might come in useful, and at the very least, listening in on others gossiping is occasionally a great way to feel better about yourself…

Career Climber4. The Career Climber

These people are among the most useful types of employees…they always want to be seen to be doing more than their fair share, which means should you need help/someone to do your work for you, they’re more than willing…leaving you free to concentrate on getting past level 650 on candy crush. They are often favour-bookkeepers, so must be used sparingly lest you have to help them move house or go nursing-home browsing with them for their elderly mother to enable them to get the house…

Genius at Work5. The Genius

If your workplace doesn’t have one of these then you need to get whoever hires employees to sort out this travesty. Who else is there to go to for all types of advice? Can’t put together your chest of drawers? They’ll know a tip. Can’t work out how to install that essential piece of software on your computer? They know the score. They are often only too keen to help as social interaction can be difficult for them and they also want you and everybody else to know quite how smart they are. They are experts on everything, and when they aren’t they will make their excuses from a conversation to go to the loo, do a quick bit of googling and come back so knowledgeable on the subject matter that you could stick them on mastermind and they’d sail right through. They also tend to know a guy who knows a guy.

Office Exercise6. The Fitness Fanatic

You know you need to lose a bit of weight, you know that exercise is a priority, but you just can’t find the time in between work at work and work that goes home with you…the lines have blurred so much that you consider walking to the back of the lift akin to taking the stairs…(you could just stand there next to the buttons but no, you take those extra steps because you care about your body…) Every workplace needs that person that cycles to work in those ridiculous tights, brings with them some sort of pumpkin and kale smoothie for lunch and springs around the office with the energy of a greyhound on uppers. They may frustrate you but there is some part of your brain giving you an inner bollocking…”if they can do it, why can’t you!” and you shouldn’t want to imitate them, lets be honest…they’re exercise extremists and insufferable at the best of times..but maybe once in a while you take note of something they have shared about their latest diet or exercise fad and give it a go yourself, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Email Bottle7. The Nostalgian

That 1 employee who still thinks Email Fwd’s are de rigueur. That still sends you those email chain mail messages from their freeserve address. That criticises your phone for being nothing but bells and whistles and that their 2001 Panasonic does all the jobs you need from a phone. They remind us where we came from, like a living history display, their modern social etiquette is often so far behind the rest of us that we could in fact learn from them. They are not disturbed by work emails at 10pm at night because they were on the landline at the time so the email couldn’t come through. We complain about how intrusive work can be at all hours of the day, no such problem for the nostalgian…watch and learn. But get a new phone dude, seriously…and stop changing the channel on the TV with your watch.

Office Social8. The Social Hub

These folk are fantastic. And annoying…very annoying. They believe that because we work together, we should do everything together, and that 5pm is just the clock telling is we can move this conversation to the coffee shop/pub/flat. It’s great sometimes that there is someone organising a staff night out or the secret santa, that knows when everybody’s birthday is, gets a card and goes around so we can all sign it…they know when Michelles husband gets out of hospital or how many years its been since Jeremy told us his daughter started Guitar lessons…they make the potentially awkward encounters that bit less awkward, they are a 1 person HR department without the business card and you remember how terrible things were when they were off sick for 3 weeks…chaos! They are great! Just stop inviting me to see you outside of work…Outside of work-me hates! But inside-work me thinks you’re awesome, we all love you, you’re the greatest!

#CVWatch – Who applied? A rundown…

Some time ago I ran an advert on the Job Centre website for 1 Full Time bar staff vacancy…I expected a strong response, I did not expect 316 people to apply in just 2 weeks… I began to go through the CV’s and was absolutely shocked. A large proportion of society seemingly have very little knowledge of how to apply for a job, what information to share (and not share…)…just the basics. Our education system perhaps isn’t doing enough to teach people the correct skills…sure, we ALL know what a cumulonimbus cloud looks like and that the chemical element of Gold is Au…but how many people know that Comic Sans isn’t an ideal format for a CV or that maybe prospective employers don’t need to know that your relationship status is:

“Single…but looking ;)”

I shared some particularly bizarre samples originally but I found time since then to go through and collate some statistics from them, and produced this little wonder.

There are also some standalone curios below the infographic

Who wants to work in a bar? These are the aggregated responses of people applying for 1 Full Time bar staff position in Belfast 316 Applicants Where Applicants live 77% Greater Belfast (within 10miles) 11& 10-20 Miles Away 9% 20-50 Miles Away 2% 50-100 Miles Away 1% Overseas Education 3 PHD's 17 Masters Degrees 106 University Degrees 8 People with swimming certificates 3 people with education received courtesy of "The Mcdonalds Education Company" What People Say About Themselves 241 People enjoy socialising 209 people are team players 2 people "play well with others" 129 people are "enthusiastic" 86 "highly motivated individuals" 15 people forgot to attach a CV 6 people shared their starsign www.belfastbarman.com www.twitter.com/BelfastBarman

Some of the previous careers and skills of applicants are strange enough in their own right…here are some gems

1 Person who listed their English level as “Fully Speaking, Fully Understanding” & “Fully Writing”….except I only discovered this thanks to google translate…their entire CV was in Lithuanian

1 Applicant from Downpatrick who indicated “Work History” as “N/A” although did give me a 129 word rundown of what their drama class did for their end of year project

1 Person who misspelled her own name…One spelling in the Email, different one in the CV

1 Person who decided purple was the colour du jour for their CV…and as part of their work experience, “provided shadows for counsellors”…I presume their job was to relieve a light source for a few hours so the lamp can go and gets its lunch

1 person who has competed at Scuba diving. I’m not saying this is entertaining, I’m just shocked there is such a thing as a Scuba competition…

1 Person who lists a personal achievement as “Meeting Brian O’Driscoll”…and a job role for a church hall “dismantling a large stage every night”…I can’t help but feel that perhaps…leaving it up for the next nights use would have been a good efficiency saving if not a wise career move

1 Person who proudly states “My Mother is Dead, so I am fluent in BSL”………yep. That’s real

1 Person who lists a previous duty as “cooked alcohol”…your guess is as good as mine but I did IMDB their name in-case they were on moonshiners

1 Person who loves “travelling to new countries..such as Paris, Benidorm, Alcudia & Menorca. They also enjoy researching different world wide tourism destinations and meeting new people from “all over them world”…I presume the research is still ongoing…

1 Person who has had “3 songs played on the radio, with multiple plays for each song”…well done Kanye…still, I suppose its more than Nizlopi can say

1 Person who lists in their previous duties “poured countless pints”…as opposed to the rest of us bar staff who keep a running tally…just 492,000 more and I get a free keyring

Another person who has “served over 300 meals in their career to date”

1 Person who lists a duty as “making ice”…there I was thinking temperature did most of the work, how wrong was I!

1 former McDonalds employee who lists their job description as “Take Order, Pack Order, Give Order, Put Chips Down, Lift Chips Up”

I think it’s important at this point to remember that these aren’t lines from a sketch show or sitcom…these are real CV’s….unfortunately

1 Person who lists a personal achievement as “School Punctuality not being below 95%”….Well done, you only missed 1 day in 20, do that in a job and you’ll be missing a lot more soon enough

1 Person with a 14(FOURTEEN!) PAGE CV! I discovered this after clicking print. A mistake I won’t make again…

1 Person with a “2:1 BACHLOUR of honours degree in Marketing & media communications”

1 Person who lists as a duty for a construction position “Building the Odyssey”…Now, I didn’t live in Belfast when the Odyssey was under construction, can anyone who was around then confirm if it was in fact just 1 man doing it? If so then I’ll hire him…On the other hand he also states under hobbies “I love socialism with friends”…

1 Person who has a job history reading thus…I almost feel sorry for them that it didn’t work out…

  1. Nightclub “A” – selling jelly shots, commission based
  2. Nightclub “B” – selling jelly shots, commission based
  3. Nightclub “C” – selling jelly shots, commission based
  4. Nightclub “D” – selling photo key rings throughout the club, commission based
  5. Teeth Whitening Clinic – Administering cosmetic teeth whitening procedures
  6. Nightclub “E” – Selling Jelly Shots, commission based

1 Person who…well it’s easiest just to copy and paste this one, I’m not going to pass comment on it because there is nothing I can add to make it any better…

“I have already helped restore and transform a delorean into the time machine as seen in the back to the future movies and am currently inventing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

1 Spanish man who has as a hobby “Using Legs”…poor translation or just proud of his own mobility?

1 Person who worked in a sales company…in a very specific division…she was in the “Customer Utility and Networking Team”… At what point in your job do you start to think that people are mocking you…

1 Person who was a pilot for a Tunisian airline…

1 Person who sent a cover letter saying simply:

“Dear Sir/Madam

If you want something done ill do it”[sic]

1 Person who worked at a “Pisseria” as a “Pisseria chef”

1 Person who kindly informed me who their form tutor was in High School…FOR EACH AND EVERY YEAR. Including 2 in 1 year due to an unexpected departure of Mr Patterson…I hope Mr Patterson is doing well now, his leaving really made the narrative of your CV a tense affair

1 Person who did a week of work experience at “the pet shop”…not any specific one…just the pet shop

1 Person who worked in a Fish & Chips shop where their duty was “Making fish every day”…now, i know what you mean…but still…you MADE them yourself?

1 Person who at the age of 19 was a self employed business consultant…but at 20 he was working in McDonalds…so he quite clearly didn’t take his own advice

1 Person from Omagh who subscribes to the RSPB magazine as a hobby….

1 Person from “Palencia, Spain” who enjoys playing Horseball…now either that means Polo or PETA have a lot of work to do in the iIberian peninsula

1 Person who wrote this cover letter…

I have attached an cv
and I want to apply for the job as follows
and I have 2 year experience in waiting
and I have worked in fine indian cuisine as well
and I have worked in a restaurant on ####### road for 2 years
so I have great experience in front of house
and I have passion for food and wine”

And finally, if you’re still with me then well done… last but by no means least…

The one person who worked as bar staff for the girlguides…I’m suddenly understanding more about what’s wrong with the youth of today.

So if you’re applying for a job, get a friend who you trust to check your CV for you… I recently read an article where a poor (misguided) fool sent his CV to a friend to proofread, his friend did what was asked and sent it back at which point it was distributed prior to the CV owner reading it through again…having not heard anything back for some time he checked through his CV and was somewhat surprised to find that under hobbies it read:

  • Football
  • Socialising
  • Exercise
  • Chronic Masturbation

Poor guy

£421.82 For The Arts or is it 13p?

13p per person per week for the arts.
£6.76 per person per year for the arts.
£421.82 per person per lifetime (18-80.4) for the arts

On the face of it, 13p For The Arts is a worthy and well run campaign, and of course those within the industry should campaign against cuts being imposed, I do however feel that the figures presented are far too simplistic. Naturally, the arts industry is one of creative thinkers, so when presented with £1.38m worth of budget cuts, the best and brightest available came up with a catchy title, some well designed graphics and also roped in some of our most publicly noted individuals. I am a supporter of the arts, you are too, we all are. Whether you know it or not, if there’s a local band you like, there’s a good chance that The Nerve Centre in L’Derry or the Oh Yeah Centre had some involvement in their early existence. If you enjoy a play or a musical, even a panto at the Grand Opera House, the arts affect everyone.
So too do street lights, gully emptying, road maintenence, winter gritting, hospital beds, A&E departments, hospices, teachers…the list is as varied as our society. So why should 13p For The Arts be any less affected by cuts? I have heard the whole scale of reasons, from how much it benefits society as a whole, how much it brings people together, how “it really isn’t that much money…” which is where my problem comes.

As someone within the hospitality industry, we have a strong link with the arts, venues I have run have hosted countless gigs, trad sessions, poetry readings, play recitals, I’ve even regularly let bands use a function room for rehearsal just for what I refer to as “Good Business Karma.” I love going to the Theatre and would struggle to cope day-to-day without Music (although weirdly, I absolutely abhor musicals). I’m not alone, and even the Belfast Telegraph has got behind the campaign, although considering how much of their weekly print run features reviews and event listings alongside local interest stories along with the arts, this isn’t that surprising. It’s all a bit too simple. So I’d like to take a deeper look at it.
Arts 1 Arts 2
40,000 people are employed in the arts

…that’s mightily impressive…the hospitality sector has more, and we don’t have our own dedicated government department (in fact it could be argued that the hospitality industry has a department dedicated to restricting it). The hospitality industry is not subsidised or held aloft by grants.

Ulster Bank Festival at Queens 2012 generated £577,180 Tourism Revenue

Well done. This financial year, the festival is being funded by the NI Arts Council to the value of £189,150 or an entire years worth of 13p’s per week from slightly more than the entire population of Coleraine.

1 Day – How long the arts budget would sustain health, social services & public safety

this is a very ambiguous figure, I see how they mean it to be read, however if as part of cost cutting measures, the DHSSPS suggested shutting down all Health Dept buildings, hospitals, doctors, hospices for 1 day…how many people would sign THAT petition

Equally

4 Days – How long the arts budget would sustain the justice system

Once again, suggest removing policing for 4 days a year and we’ll see which campaign has more backers.

This is just based on their stylish graphics…lets look further.

The NI Arts Council who are behind the 13p for the arts campaign, have an executive of 5 members, led by Chief Executive Roisin McDonough. Lets ignore the 13p per week, lets look at the £6.76 per year (because nobody really counts per week), she is paid just shy of £80,000 p/a, which is £6.76 from just more than every single citizen of Cookstown and Downpatrick. The 5 members of the executive board are in total paid £295,000 per year…or £6.96 from every person in Ballymena and Armagh COMBINED. Obviously they do a fairly high profile and important job and jobs need paying for, but the proposed cut of £1.38m isnt even enough to cover the 2012-13 wage bill of the Arts Council as whole (£2,119,474). To cover the entire wage bill for the 48 members of staff for the NI Arts council, you would need to take £6.76 per year from every person in Londonderry, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, Bangor, Craigavon, Lurgan, Portadown, Newtownards AND Banbridge….combined.

In spite of earning a salary nearly 4 times the Northern Irish average, the chief executive of the NI Arts Council still doesn’t have to pay to enjoy the arts, 2013-14, including 9 different performances at the Ulster Bank Festival at Queens in the space of 11 days. One of which was 2 tickets for Jose Carreras at the Waterfront Hall…ticket value, £260. £520 that could have been perhaps sold to a person who wanted to contribute to the arts and enjoy a concert, went as a freebie to the CE of the Arts Council, spare a thought for the other staff member who also received a freebie ticket who had to enjoy it alone and in a cheap seat (£50). In fact £775.50 worth of free tickets went to employees for the festival, although to be fair to the rest of the staff, £627 of that was for the Chief Executive.

We’ve been inundated recently with calls for the Ulster Orchestra to be saved, well in 1 year, £616 worth of tickets were freebies for people working at the NI Arts Council, perhaps if those most involved in the campaign decided to start paying for tickets to things, the situation wouldn’t have to be portrayed as so dire.

Looking through the current job opportunities listed on the NI Arts Council website, is a £2500 funded role available to “Build peace through the arts” in Barnesmore…..Co. Donegal. I’m not completely familiar with all the nuances of the Good Friday Agreement, but why is the NI Arts Council funding an art installation in a different financial jurisdiction?

If the Arts Council do find themselves strapped for cash, they could always sell their 3 Steinway Model D Grand Pianos, worth an approximate listing price combined of over £200,000. or perhaps the infamous RISE (Balls on the Falls to you and me) could be sold for scrap metal…it cost £400,000 in the first place, I wonder if somebody kept the receipts?

Street lights in Northern Ireland are currently too expensive to replace, we can’t afford to change a bulb…how much would it cost? £2.3m p/a. It has been suggested that next winter we may not be able to afford to grit roads…£3.1m per winter(£6.96 per year from nearly 450,000 citizens. The 13p for the arts campaign has simplified a very complex area of the economy to try and drum up sympathy, the problem is, the arts are indeed a worthy cause, but perhaps look at the bigger picture before drawing your conclusion based on some snappy graphics and a catch tagline. Yes, the arts are important to society, but when we are struggling to keep schools staffed to operational levels, why are we spending £189,150 on arts projects for prisons….(£6.76 for every person in Newtownards….or £94 PER YEAR spent for each person in a Northern Irish Prison or Young Offenders Institute.

I’m not saying don’t fund the arts, I’m saying perhaps the arts should be as creative with solving the problem itself as they have been at imploring wider society to take pity on the situation, if an arts event wants some publicity right now, instead of paying for an advertisement or perhaps taking on a marketing company, photograph your cast with a “13p” placard and you’ll probably end up in some newspaper. And if you all want to buy me a Pint, it’ll only cost every citizen of NI £0.0000019

So You Want To Start A Political Party…What Now?

What do the DUP, PUP, NI21, Protestant Coalition, NI Conservatives, TUV, UKIP, Irish Republican Socialist Party, Workers Party, SDLP, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Alliance, Socialist Party, Green Party, Socialist Workers Party, People Before Profit & the Workers Party of Ireland have in common?

Every single one of the mentioned parties have formed from another party. In fact there is not a single party currently registered in Northern Ireland that didn’t exist prior to the troubles (or possibly even world war 2) except for the UUP & Sinn Fein. Many of the “new” parties formed from movements within other parties, some are splinter parties, associated parties to the UK…but not one of them is an original political party.*

We hear so much these days about the “silent majority” the “disaffected middle ground” those of us, myself included, who don’t see a political party that they feel completely at home with. So lets say that you and I decided to form our own party, I am a bar manager and other than a placement as an a-level student with a conservative MP, I have no political experience, I shall assume that my co-founders amongst you also haven’t stood in an election or been a member of a party before, so what do we do next?

We need to register. So lets register our party with the electoral commission, lets call ourselves “Square One”. We also need an emblem, but with a name like Square One, that pretty much designs itself. We need a description, so what shall we go with? Apparently we can have up to 12 descriptions, I’m starting to see that the identity crisis faced by most parties is encouraged from the offset…We’ll just pick one, lets say “The future of Northern Ireland starts at Square One”…catchy, and didn’t cost me the earth to come up with… which is handy because we haven’t even began fundraising yet. Before we can ask people to give us their money, we need some party officers, this could be a tricky one, you need to absolutely know who you are getting into bed with…as recent “start-up” parties have discovered. So I need to find some like-minded individuals who believe in the same vision as I, I need to research them well enough to trust them to have a prominent position within this organization from the start… We’ll assume a few of you stepped forward and I now have the party officers registered also. So officially, we’re now a party.
HOORAY!

What now?

Now, for the money. We hope one day to compete with long-established parties, I spoke with former UUP & NI21 deputy leader John McCallister about what comes next…if you register a party that already has an elected MLA, as NI21 did, you immediately have access to to “financial assistance for political parties” money, £59,300 per year. Square One will have however much I and you who join it can afford to pay into it. When we get a bit more traction, we can charge people membership of the party, the Alliance Party charge £46 per year, which I’m sure is very helpful in helping a party maintain its advocacy, however nobody is going to pay to join us yet, we’ve done nothing! On the plus side, when it comes to election time, we’ll get our postage free to a certain extent, so we’ve got that going for us…not much else though. I think an ideal suggestion would be to cherry pick the industries our first few members came from, someone from Marketing, Accounting, Graphics & Design, Computer Science, Law…then we would have a knowledge base…without that, we’d be shooting in the dark (which paradoxically, is literally how some political parties started out…). I’ve heard many people lambasting the political expenses system, “why should they get any expenses, sure I don’t!” I see your point and I understand what you mean, but could you afford to be an MLA? Could you afford to hire an office, employ some staff, drive to different events and meetings sometimes across the province on a daily basis? The expenses system exists to protect the elected positions being solely the reserve of the financially better off, from becoming an oligarchy of sorts. Yes, people abuse it, but for our new party, could we afford any of these things? We would be grassroots by very definition, with no existing roots from which to draw advice, so I asked John McCallister for his notes on what we should and shouldn’t do…

Johns tips would for starting a party:

“Ensure you have a narrative”
“Know your people”
“Give time to grow”
“Find likeminded people, preferably some high profile people, who are prepared to get the message out there and work hard”
“Perhaps even identify prominent citizens already embedded within communities and approach them.”
“Don’t try to be all things to all people, don’t spread yourself too thin, know your limitations and your abilities”

I also asked what mistakes we should try to avoid making:

“Make sure you vet your candidates and your core team”
“Make sure everybody knows the party rules”
“Don’t defend the indefensible, the party comes first”
“Don’t be Naive”
“Don’t start a party with Basil”

So we have these pearls of wisdom, we can learn from mistakes other parties have made and we now have our core team of hard working individuals who form a cohesive group with a strong narrative and a sense of collective identity and purpose…

What now?

Perhaps we should get someone with experience…but then the status quo is perpetuated

There needs to be a concerted effort for a politically agnostic engagement of society, free from nuanced directions towards what already is, future – Northern Ireland needs to go in a new direction, only those who benefit from our failed-state could possibly object to a new heading with a new map and compass, maybe a rudder that isn’t attached to an anchor…and some more sailing metaphors too…for we are in the doldrums, we need to find the wind in our sails, I don’t see that happening from our current position and I believe few do… But there is no easily-accessibly format for a complete start-up party. NI21 have hamstrung any party in future from trying to drive for that middle ground, but what if a new party was an actual new party…with no established faces, no ex-tv news presenters, no “public spokesperson for [insert group here]”, what if it actually was a group of united citizens trying to make the future better by going back to square one…

Anyone know how to do it?

No?

Maybe we should just ask some MLA’s if they’ll jump ship, sure we’ll get near £60k just for having them!

*

DUP (Protestant Unionist Party – Ulster Protestant Action Movement – UUP)

PUP (Independent Unionist Group – Hugh Smyth was already in NI Assembly)

NI21 (UUP)

Protestant Coalition (UDP – UPRG – BNP)

NI Conservatives (UK party)

TUV (DUP)

UKIP (UK Party)

Irish Republican Socialist Party (Official Republican Movement – Workers Party)

Workers Party (Sinn Fein)

SDLP (Republican Labour Party, National Democratic Party, Nationalist Party, NI Labour)

32 County Sovereignty Movement (Sinn Fein)

Alliance (New Ulster Movement – Ulster Liberal Party – UUP)

Socialist Party (Labour Party)

Green Party (UK Party)

Socialist Workers Party (Peoples Democratic Party)

People Before Profit (Socialist Workers Party)

Workers Party of Ireland (Sinn Fein)

The Belfast Barman Intro to Social Media Guide. or TBBITSMG for short.

I had been meaning to write a handy guide to social media for hospitality businesses (and I guess SME’s in general) for some time, but my Remedy Belfast post following their Christmas Eve PR Fail led me to think that perhaps I had left it a little too late…although judging from the arrogance shown, perhaps guidance wouldn’t have been sought anyway…

Social Media can appear a daunting task for some, in my industry especially, many owners are, shall we say, not exactly millennials. Many staff however are, some businesses are able to outsource their social media management which is grand if that’s what you think best for you, but I believe that some of these are outsourced out of fear of learning rather than a conscious business choice. There are so many tools out there to help you make the most of the mediums that in itself, the “help” can appear to leave you helpless, so this will hopefully be a cheat sheet for the uninitiated.

USE WHAT YOU HAVE

It is a safe bet that someone within your organization is clued into whats hot and what works, if you’re constantly having to tell off a staff member for being glued to their Facebook or Instagram, perhaps it’s worth asking them about it or getting them more involved with the marketing side of the business, this has an added bonus of giving them more responsibility and hopefully taking a bit more personal ownership of the business, when staff feel like they are more involved with other aspects of the business other than just their job title, they are more prone to care about their work.

WHAT DO YOU NEED

Facebook? Twitter? Google +? Instagram? Pinterest? Foursquare? Yelp? Youtube? LinkedIn? Whatsapp?

 

There are so many different mediums that to know which ones you should adopt is a scary choice in itself, I’ve struggled too to know which routes to take, but the answer is as true for social media as it is for many other tough choices in life, start small and grow from there. Facebook & Twitter are far and away the biggest… here are some superb statistics.

Ultimately, the single best source of information about your business should be your website, where possible on social media, one of your main goals should be to drive traffic to your website, where you have complete control over your content and message.

Social media should not just be used to promote your business, it may seem a strange concept, but if all you ever post online is your drinks offers, weekly specials or what event you have on this weekend, people will treat it as advertisements and either ignore it or unfollow you, you need to be engaging. Share content that you find interesting, your potential customers may find it interesting too. If you see something entertaining that you think your customers might like, share that, I once heard a brilliant metaphor about social media being like a party, nobody wants to stand next to the person talking about themselves all night, mix it up a bit.

You should frequently have a call to action (CTA) encouraging people to visit your website or sign up to a mailing list, maybe try and port customers from one medium to another, if they follow you on Facebook but not Twitter, every once in a while casually drop in a reference to your twitter account.

It is perfectly acceptable to use the same content on multiple platforms but not ALL the time, generally speaking, people have more than one social media platform, but there will nearly always be a preferred source. There are benefits and limitations of different platforms, you don’t necessarily need to know them all, but you should make the effort to know the ins and outs of the social media channel you use. Twitter for instance has a restrictive character limit. Each tweet can be no longer than 140 characters, is that enough to get out what you need to say? Facebook and Google+ are much more forgiving when it comes to content size, maybe even let your accounts compliment eachother, if you have something longer to say, put it on one account and drop a link into others, thus driving traffic between your channels.

WHAT PLATFORM SHOULD I USE

 Facebook LogoFacebook

Facebook is the old guard of social media, with Bebo, Myspace and others falling by the way side, Facebook has continued to be at or near the front of peoples minds when they go online. It’s probably a safe bet that if you are trying to attract customers online, they have a facebook, whether or not it is their primary medium is another matter. It isn’t as easy as it used to be to attract an audience on Facebook, they have tweaked their algorithms numerous times and now what worked 2 years ago maybe won’t work anymore. You could post as often as you want but not get much traffic, it’s more about what you post and how you post it. As a business, you will need a Facebook “Page” which is a different kind of profile to a run of the mill personal page, as such you can’t just add people, they have to add you. This is where the content matters most…if all you ever post is a quick 2 word byline of what your latest offer is, I would doubt it will get much footfall, as with most mediums, be interesting, be useful. If you can post things that others will be entertained by, they may share your post, thereby opening up their friends to your post, and so on and so forth. Look to The Hudson Bar for some fantastic examples of Facebook done well.

Hudson Facebook Cigs

This post is referencing the Simply Crispy cafe run by That Wee Cafe, it is a current discussion point, most people on social media seem to have an opinion on the concept, and from the figures shown under this post, it did incredibly well for them. Over 2,200 likes, nearly 200 comments and 135 shares. Yes, The Hudson will also post their latest pint offers or lunchtime food specials that won’t perform as well, but when you’re attracting this kind of traffic every once in a while, you will have a much better chance of someone coming on to your page and deciding “I like what I see, I will visit the business and spend some money there” which is really what we’re all after, you can have the best website/social media in the world but if you’re not converting views into real life customers, why are you doing it? Facebook is great to build a community around, and if you’re product is strong enough and you have existing “fans” who will champion your brand, then you’re well on your way to it working out for you. But if you only post periodically and what you post is generic/info packed with little interest to anyone who isn’t thinking “I wonder what price a burger is in X venue right now” then you’re not actually doing Facebook…you’re just trying to tick a box. Images seem to do well on Facebook, the more the better. Create an album when you put pictures online, it will drive viewers to the album page as opposed to seeing the image in the newsfeed, and clicking on an album is a new page, a new page is more advertising opportunities for Facebook, so they will ideally push your new album higher in peoples feeds than say, a 10 word post about what Rugby match is showing today. Competitions are great to attract an audience on Facebook, except there are rumoured to be some pitfalls with promoting them, it’s fine if you get good traction, but the initial “like this post and share to win” may not show up too well in peoples feeds, this is due to so many larger companies running competitions, the newsfeed algorithm will not want someones timeline to be full of competitions, so it will prioritise a similar post by a company that has paid Facebook for the featured post position. Look often at a personal Facebook timeline, yours or your staff members…see what keeps coming up and try to imitate it.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit tougher to get quality engagement on if you’re not fully committed, mostly because the twitter timeline is exactly that, a timeline. If your content isn’t getting Retweeted (shared) then after it’s been online for an hour or so, it’s probably not being seen anymore, people just may not scroll down far enough in their feed to get to that long ago. Where Twitter does have a strength that Facebook doesn’t is interaction. You can follow people and you can search a lot easier than with Facebook. I recently was asked to advise a Pizza restaurant in the Belfast area how best to use social media, they were up against Dominos and Pizza Hut with their marketing budgets and tech-savvy PR staff so the “Pizza Co” wasn’t really hitting any marks online, I was asked about Search Engine Optimization and how it works and I thought “why are you thinking of that when you don’t even have much of a presence in the first place?” I started to explain twitter to the owner and his impression was that it was only for “things that go viral”… I did an experiment, where I used the Twitter search function and searched for “DOMINOS BELFAST” and naturally there were a fair few people talking about it in this area, I then searched “PIZZA BELFAST” and explained how he could, for example, reply to every single person in Belfast mentioning the word pizza, with a 5% off code, encouraging them to give his company their business, something you simply can’t do on Facebook. The ability to reach people is, in my view, greatest in Twitter. Search your area every so often, if for example you are based in Stranmillis, why would you not search “Stranmillis” and see who is regularly talking about it, follow them, maybe engage with them…

The character count can be a challenge at times, but you can get around that in a number of ways. Use Twitter to push traffic to a longer Facebook post for example, or using a service like Twitlonger, maybe put your message in an image (which isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, there are any number of free services out there) and you can really make the most of competitions on Twitter. The “Follow & RT” function is almost religiously followed by people, you can grow your online audience exponentially in a small timeframe this way, but is it quality audience? To really get the kind of audience that you can convert to customers, you should be interacting on a friendly level, treat your followers, and those you follow, like friends, or like customers already in your business, have a bit of banter, discuss current issues, ask questions… If theres an interesting subject being debated in your business or an entertaining question amongst your staff, maybe throw it out there on twitter and ask your followers for this thoughts? Again, look at Simply Crispy, many local businesses jumped on the bandwagon by merely wading into the discussion…”Who would put Prawn Cocktail crisps on a sandwich, that’s just revolting, what would your dream sarnie be?” may be enough for followers to engage and discuss with you.

Google+

Now Google+ is an interesting platform, it has it’s dedicated audience, there are people out there (almost) as fanatic about Google products as Apple fans are about Apple products, but for the most part, it is a bit less user friendly to the uninitiated than say, Facebook or Twitter. You can have the same sort of discussions as on those platforms, but the real benefit for me of Google+ is, that because it is a Google product, and the most used search engine in the world is Google…it ranks higher than some others, Facebook in fact doesn’t interact well with search engines, it has a closed window attitude, you can see the persons profile, but none of the content…Let’s use the pizza example again, if you are called “Belfast Pizza Co.” and you are constantly posting content to do with Pizza in Belfast and persistently using the words “Pizza” and “Belfast” and some of your fans or followers are also saying “I really fancy a Pizza from Belfast Pizza Co”, that should naturally help push your website higher in the Google page rank, so if you search “Belfast Pizza” maybe you’re getting nearer the top. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has a Google+ and not a Facebook/Twitter as well though, so whether or not it is the game changer for social media it thinks it is remains to be seen…it’s definitely worth having though. In addition, you can then control what a customer could see when searching for your company on Google, if you were to search for this mythical company “Belfast Pizza Co.” (Is it a real company? Ironically, I’m too engrossed in typing to actually Google it…) the search window should have your company information, the name, address, opening hours, price range, email address and a few other useful bits of detail, you have to get into Google products to have access to this, and Google+/Google business are the key ways to control that. Yes you can engage with consumers just like other platforms, but the hidden benefits of Google+ outweigh the lower user count..

 

Once you have got the hang of these key platforms you can look to branch out further, have an Instagram account and post awesome pictures of your products and your venue, put relevant content onto Pinterest, videos onto Youtube. If you are a restaurant, maybe even do a compressed 6 second clip of your chef making the signature dish… There are businesses who host Google Hangouts where you can watch a live feed of a chef making a meal, showing you step by step how to recreate it, or a cocktail barman showing you how to make the perfect Apertif…there are a thousand different ways you can make the most of whats available online, you can pay for a company to do it for you, learn yourself or trust those around you to take the lead.

You can even assess the impact, using tools like Klout, Sumall, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, Buffer and many many more. If you’re wondering what works, stick to one particular tactic for a set period of say, a month. Assess what impact it has had on traffic, mix it up the next month and compare…find whats right for you. If you’re letting some employees take the lead, maybe rotate who controls a platform for a month, run a staff incentive, whoever can get the most Retweets/Shares/Likes/Followers wins a prize… One suggestion I definitely think you should consider, whichever platform you choose, make sure any staff you have who are active on that site too, have it drummed into them to share/RT any activity you have, it will help to get your posts out there to a wider audience. You can even use some apps from those mentioned above, to schedule your social media posts, synchronize them between platforms and really make the most of optimizing engagement, have a play about and see what works for you.

Try not to be too controversial unless that is your MO/USP, as Remedy Belfast recently discovered, bad PR travels quicker via social media than good PR most of the time…If you see something online about your business, don’t reply straight away, sit on it for a while, do something else to take your mind off it, then come back to it. You may feel like you are having a private discussion with a disgruntled customer, you aren’t, the whole world can see it. Equally, if someone says something great about your business, don’t forget to thank them, by doing so you are helping to create champions of your business. There are people I follow on Twitter that have no business links to Coppi (A Belfast based Italian restaurant) but each week without fail, I see them mention how great it is, how much they can’t wait to go back there, sharing a picture of their latest creation…All free advertising based on the 2 pillars of Having a good product and Engaging well with their audience. I haven’t been to Coppi, but as a result of how many positive pieces I’ve seen about it, and how many pictures I’ve seen of the food on offer, it’s definitely on my hit list…not as a result of anything I’ve seen from Coppi themselves, but directly because of the social media users who think it’s incredible.

Be as useful as possible for your users, many people think that brand loyalty in the modern digital world doesn’t exist, I believe that it does, but there are so many other businesses seeking the same loyalty from the same customer base across many different mediums that you really do need to get out there and do something to show them what you’re about in the first place, create content that they will want to engage with, definitely post what your specials are or if you have an event you want to plug, that’s the main aim of it…but if that’s all you’re doing, you’re probably not getting much from it.

Create, Experiment, Engage, Explore.

 

How not to Tweet… a Christmas Eve Remedy Fail

On Christmas Eve I was enjoying the relative calmness brought on by the presence of a 3 year old surrounded by gift-wrapped marvels, casually refreshing twitter to escape the “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” when I happened across a twitter interaction between Belfast Café/Bar Remedy. I then sat glued to my phone watching as the situation unraveled…it was like watching a car crash, there should be a button that lurkers can press on twitter that erects digital crash screens around an interaction to stop passersby ogling the carnage. There isn’t. I checked.

It began with a customer expressing their dissatisfaction

@cmidgley1988

Had breakfast in @RemedyBelfast this morning with my family, it was awful and overpriced. None of us will be back.

Now, I’ve had similar expressions of disdain in the past about businesses I’ve worked for, and I’m firmly in the category of “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” and in fact to try to do so, is madness. Whoever was in charge of Remedy’s twitter account that day though, had no such qualms. Did they apologise? Did they ask what the issue was? Did they perhaps ignore it? Did they heck.

remedy Fail

Remedy took the bait. Once more, I’ve been in this situation before, a completely fabricated Trip Advisor review elicited a response from me that led to other customers suggesting that if there is ever a true a cyber war, I should be in charge of the press releases. It happens, when you work in a fast paced environment like a cafe on christmas eve morning in the centre of town, you are highly strung; you are flat out and the last thing you want is ingratitude, you don’t even necessarily want gratitude, you don’t have time to acknowledge it, stick 50p in the tip jar and we’ll call it quits. But there are ways to deal with it then there are ways to deal with it.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, the tit for tat back and forth involved other users wading into the discussion battle. There is a chain of thought suggesting that the customer is always right…I know of this only because I’ve seen it hanging on motivational posters in some staff rooms…if not for these posters I would be completely unaware of the concept, because it is wrong. The customer is frequently oh-so-very-wrong. Not that being wrong is necessarily a bad thing…but just assuming you are right because you are on that side of the counter and I’m on this side isn’t just flawed, it’s farcical. Remedy were accused of being “awful” and “overpriced”…..both of these are completely subjective. You can say “we find our customers consider us good value for money” or “well unfortunately the nature of our business means our pricing structure is as it is, we would love to sell you wonderful food for pennies but unfortunately we aren’t there quite yet”…you CANNOT SAY

“Hey moron, for your friend it was more about getting discount . every other table loved theirs. #cheapskate”

“The prices are published online and in house. Nobody is forcing you to pay them. #cheapskate #greasyspoonmerchant”

“You know it’s cheaper to cook at home, right?”

“You may have an elevated ego but you are a #cheapskate. Enjoy your Iceland Turkey dinner tomorrow”

Obviously the person responsibly for these tweets was having a terrible time, but the first rule of twitter the second rule of twitter is don’t tweet angry. (the first rule is to tell all your friends that facebook is over-rated, twitter is the new facebook)

The deluge and abuse continued…

“Get a life you twat”

“You really are a bellend with your 20 followers. ugly too”

“A malicious little man. Grow balls and FO”(fuck off…)

“Please FO back to where you came from”

“Complete tramp. Now please just f@#k off to back under your stone”

“Are you on glue?”

Some of these weren’t even directed at the original complainer, just bystanders who waded in to comment…

I sympathise with Remedy, when someone posts a criticism you believe to be unfair on social media it can hurt, when you put in the hours and the stress builds up, to have someone so publicly knock your efforts can be demeaning…And then seeing the “likes” or “favourites” or “retweets” or “shares” starting to build, with each 1 knowing that many many more people have now seen what you deem to be an unreasonable complaint and perhaps will avoid your business…but to have a complete meltdown in such a public forum goes against everything ANY BUSINESS should know. I don’t know who was tweeting on behalf of Remedy, i suspect it was the manager or the owner, there is a certain ownership of the business claimed in some of the mannerisms…whoever it was has absolutely no business being in charge of communicating a businesses message to the wider public.

I recently went to a local bar/restaurant for lunch and the food was absolutely abysmal, I’ve never been served worse, the same went for the rest of the table…I called the manager over, explained the problem, they tried to fix it, to be honest, it was still terrible. I sent them a message afterwards to express my complaint further, they replied and offered for us to come back and dine with no charge, I’ve no interest in going because it was THAT bad, but I wish the business no ill will, they had a bad day, lost lots of custom and of course money, and that’s their punishment. Hospitality is a results driven business, as are most I suppose, but in hospitality the results are often immediate and in front of your eyes…I could have slammed that business on social media and perhaps a few dozen of my followers would avoid it until they forgot about my account, but what is gained? The business didn’t sit down in a meeting room after I ordered and come up with ways to screw me over…they just got it wrong. Remedy however got it wrong deliberately, I have no doubt whatsoever that at some point during the tweets, whoever was posting realised they had crossed a line, they began self-censoring…”F@*k”…”FO”…by that point the ship had sailed. If that person had a personal twitter account, replying from that would have been something to save the business face, but instead I and many many other local diners will think twice before going to Remedy. Not because I believe the original complaint, because as I said, quality and price are subjective, and I’ve heard good things before…but if I go to Remedy and I’m not happy, is this the kind of response I’ll be faced with?

I’d rather go to a #greasyspoon although that doesn’t make me a #cheapskate it makes me a #savvycustomer.

Bernie Smyth – Inadvertently Donating To Abortions

Bernie Smyth, one of Northern Ireland civic societies most divisive figures, was recently issued with a restraining order on Wednesday forbidding her from going within 20yards of the Marie Stopes clinic on Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Today, Friday, she broke the restraining order…

Bernie Smyth Phone

the police were called, and after some deliberation and I assume a very uncomfortable phone call to some higher-ups in the PSNI, she was issued with a caution and sent on her way….

Bernie Smyth Police

Bernie Smyth then retreated to a nearby Subway restaurant, one assumes she was speaking to her lawyer…or her god, could have been either.

Bernie Smyth Subway

Which raises an entertaining little anecdote…

Subway as a multi-national corporation, donates to many charities…one of which is the breast cancer charity Susan G Komen For The Cure who quite famously direct money towards a project run by Planned Parenthood. So Subway donates money and some of that money goes to a charity who facilitate abortions for women in need.

So to Bernie Smyth I say this… I hope you didn’t know this, I hope you read this and realise that you are even slightly more mockable than yesterday. I hope you now devote your time to paranoid googling of every house or premises you ever go into. Of course seeing as you can’t read your own restraining order, I doubt that.