Opinion polls are a bit like the weather. One minute they have you feeling that life is going the wrong way entirely and what’s the point of it all? Other days the sun glistens on trees and grass and you feel glad to be alive amid all this beauty and bliss.
The famous ‘Northern Irish’ poll a while back had the wise heads scratching their skulls and declaring that more and more people had no time for changing the state’s constitutional position but thought of themselves as ‘Northern Irish’ before either Irish or British. Now we have a new Life and Times Survey that tells us something a bit different.
- There’s been a drop of 11% in the number of people who see the north as remaining within Britain. Between 2010 and 2012, it went from 78% of people wanting to remain within Britain to 62%.
- Among young people -18-24 - just 42% think the north will remain within Britain
- Of those who believed the north would remain within Britain, 77% said they would accept a united Ireland.
- On identity, 38% of respondents felt more Irish than British, 39% felt more British than Irish, and 17% felt equally British and Irish.
What you make of all this is very much dependent on the weather, which politician you were last listening to and the state of your digestion. But if you look at the figures carefully, you may find yourself in the situation I more and more find myself in: identifying with the words of Mr B Dylan, who famously wrote that “Something’s happened/But you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mr Jones?’
We are privileged to live in exciting political times.
But not by opinion polls alone does man or woman live. So if you’re looking for theatrical excitement instead, you could do worse than get down to the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh. A play called ‘Raisins Aren’t Sexy’ is running there (two more nights - tonight and tomorrow). It’s written by local man Adrian Mullan and it’s about a man who’s fed up being taken for granted and sets about privatising his mind and charging advertisers. The result is a court case stuffed with advertising language and nerve-jangling jingles and gasping-for-breath laughs. And yes, the timing is deliberate: the play has one eye cocked at the imminent arrival of our all-powerful betters at the G8 conference in Fermanagh.
Sometimes, as the Reader’s Digest used to remind us, laughter is the best medicine.