I've shaken a fair number of political hands in my time. I shook hands with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (ask your ma). If I'd jumped over the top of four guys in Newcastle-upon-Tyne I could have shaken hands with US President Jimmy Carter. I've shaken hands with Taoiseach John Bruton, with First Minister Peter Robinson, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, with Gerry Adams TD, with Paul Berry ex-MLA (remember him?), with Jim Allister MLA, with Bernadette McAliskey ex-MP, with Gregory Campbell MP. But I've never shaken hands with Alasdair 'Turn off those lights I'm blinded' McDonnell.
But my wife has. Some time ago we were at a book launch and I was mooching about, trying to find some free drink, when my other half found herself being introduced to the MP for South Belfast. The person doing the introducing mentioned that she was married to me. The good Doctor extended the hand that had tended a thousand wounds and spoke in that big-chested carrying voice of his. "Oh dear" he said. "You have my deepest sympathies, Mrs Collins".
A couple of hours ago I watched the good Doctor's SDLP-leader speech live on TV. Now that I've managed to stop laughing I can only say "Oh dear. You have my deepest sympathies, SDLP".
What about pffffffftttt? That's the sound of a political party tearing itself to pieces.
And this is a clip of Alasdair hard at work in Westminster: