Bread and slippers


A wee contrast from last Friday. The West Belfast Economic Forum were launching their latest big idea for regenerating the area. And impressive it was too. In fact it was like Space 1999, only without Martin Landau being chased across the galaxy by a giant squid. The centrepiece was to be a massive gleaming space-age complex to be built on the slope of Divis Mountain. It could hardly have been more eyecatching had Norman Foster been involved.

A thoroughly impressive line-up of support, as well. Even the Orange Order had signed on. There was just one little snag to inject a note of bathos. These ideas, as it transpired, were just ideas and there was no money to back them up. Still, if you’re thinking of getting a slice of that £900m windfall from Gordon, it does no harm to get your ambitious plans in first.

On a more prosaic scale was the stall at the Dairy Farm whereat community workers were giving out free slippers to the over-50s. They were pretty good slippers too, not your cheapo slippers from Primark. What was the inspiration for this, the Lord only knows, but it was a welcome little boost for the older generation of Poleglass.

Now, I like to think of this as a heartwarming example of the Yuletide spirit. On the other hand, I’m sure some curmudgeonly cynics will detect a subtext in the form of “Here’s your free slippers, and don’t forget to vote Sinn Féin.” For shame!

Even if that were the case, a lot better people than Gerry have gone down the road of handing out goodies to the proletariat. Hugo Chávez does it. Vladimir Putin does it. In Pakistan (Mr 10% prop.) it’s quite the venerable tradition, and helps explain the devotion of the Sindhi poor to the magnates of the Bhutto family. And why not, say I. The working class should be out to get whatever it can out of this system, and a pair of slippers is better than a kick in the arse. And if it’s good enough for Poleglass, it’s good enough for the whole community.


  1. ejh said,

    December 1, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    workers were giving out free slippers to the over-50

    I confess I have two pairs already, but I would be a lot more impressed with this initiative if it were the over-40s instead.

  2. December 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Ah, yes, now: slippers. Thereby hangs a tale.

    Over here in England slippers count as a major ‘innovation’ for local government. See

    “About 50% of over 85 year olds fall every year; a person dies every hour as a result of a fall; fractured hips cost the NHS £1.7bn every year. A scheme to replace worn out slippers was used to screen and provide information to elderly people. ”

    This must be that modernised, 21st Century, joined up government I hear so much about.

  3. WorldbyStorm said,

    December 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I know that episode of Space 1999 and most impressive – and scary – it was too…

    Me too ejh…

  4. Garibaldy said,

    December 1, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    M&S slippers are shoddy. I hope they weren’t from there.

  5. Fellow Traveller said,

    December 2, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I’ve now got a vision of the Orange Order, relocated to the Moon, blasted out of orbit and sent careening into the depths of space, ready to spread their ethos to the Universe, marching bands and all.

    Let’s just hope the aliens don’t worship the anti-christ in Rome.

  6. ejh said,

    December 2, 2008 at 10:45 am

    But would they march in slippers?

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