After a few weeks off I'm back at the helm of the news truck, so many thanks and 10:4 to my good buddies Dan Colley and Liz Mitchell for keeping it on the road with their waspish wit and goldfish jokes, even if Dan did leave the place strewn with Chewits wrappers, and Liz left her damn ABBA Gold disc in the CD player.
Inevitably, the deeply disturbing events in Woolwich have dictated the news agenda since last Thursday, and by extension brought up some unsettling questions. But whatever your thoughts on what is above all else a situation that demands nuance, we can all agree on four things: 1) Boya Dee is a hell of person 2) So is Nabil Abdul Rashid 3) So is Ingrid Loyau-Kennet 4) The EDL are a tragic band of prannets.
EDL leader (and son of Irish immigrants) Tommy Robinson has been making news and making hay for his poorly spelled tattoo goon squad after the death of Lee Rigby, first with a garbled tweet justifying their wearing balaclavas and invoking the spirit of "Salman Rushdi" and, eh "Van Gogh". He didn't mean the sans-earlobe artist Vincent but the sans-brainlobe documentary maker Theo, but still, given how Rushdie is still alive and living off the fatwa the land, pretty funny. And anyway, ballies? Covering your faces in public? That's a bit MUSLIM LOOKING to me! Things got worse later in the week for Robinson when he resolved to walk from Westminster to Woolwich to raise money for Help For Heroes, but Help For Heroes didn't want anything to with it. This prompted Billy Bragg to lead the charge for making sure their bravery didn't go unrewarded. Poor disaffected racists just can't get a break these days.
Elsewhere, York mosque became a beacon It was due to be picketed by the EDL, and in response the Mosque leaders invited a few hundred round for tea and football. The six or so EDL protesters joined in.
Last week's (very good episode of) Question Time in Belfast inevitably focused predominantly on Woolwich, with a brief break to bask in Ian Paisley Jnr's comical homophobia. But while the debate was mostly even tempered and civil, a bad taste was left in the mouth by a camera man's seating plan, which had "Goodies" written after the DUP and "IRA!" written after Sinn Féin. Elsewhere in Northern Ireland ex-Ulster Unionist and one of the few sane voices in Stormont Basil McCrea is setting up a new political party that he claims won't sit on the fence. To test the rhetoric I asked him about one of the most contentious and dvisive issues there is: pineapple on pizza. His response, though I violently disagreeing with his view, makes me want them to win many seats.
Fine Gael aren't quite as loved as all that down in the Republic, with a recent poll showing them to be equally as hated as Fianna Fáil. Some of that might have to do with the increasingly surreal antics of Alan Shatter, who has, deep breath, hoisted himself by his own petard by revealing information he really shouldn't have known, seen the glorious comeback of his erotic novel, suffered a no confidence motion (which he won), got untold slagging for his erotic novel, had a counter accusation thrown at him for automotive impropriety and when stopped thought he was Diana Ross, wrote an erotic novel, and got the integrity seal of approval from Michael Bloody Lowry. Oh and did I mention the erotic novel? He's also claimed to have been unable to complete a breathalyser because he's asthmatic, making that "deep breath" reference a few lines back funnier than it normally should be.
The vote of no confidence in Shatter wasn't the only crucial plebiscite this week though, as Ypsilani City Council in Michigan decided that their members should get off the damn fence more often and tried to pass a motion banning abstentions. Guess how that went.