Would I be mistaken in thinking that very few people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone or further afield, politicians excepted, went to bed last Wednesday with anything even incrementally approaching the Christmas Eve excitement of children waiting for a next-day delivery from Santa Claus?

Could it be possible that no-one felt motivated as they said their evening prayer to the God of their choice to add: “Please, God, let Chris Heaton-Harris call an Assembly Election on Thursday”?

Or, alternatively, muttered with a sigh “Please don’t”.

Like children in fear of a lump of coal in the heel of a sock for Christmas, I suspect we slept well in blissful denial of the day of judgement being upon us.

George Mitchell’s street-dogs know – as do the rest of us – that none of the three governance options facing us right now are good.

The mostly likely is that of continuing stalemate, but we have all ‘switched off’ from the long-running DUP soap opera, so the prospect of one more boring, badly-scripted and performed episode of ‘No Return’. either to Stormont or the electorate, will leave us hard-pushed to register any new level of indignation, anger or despair.

We will simply resign ourselves to a revamp of the days of ‘clarification’, when Sinn Féin was playing hardball.

This will be a reworked script where the old colonial creative ambiguity gets pulled out the bag of Ministerial tricks once more.

The DUP insistence that “talks are still ongoing” will sit happily alongside the ministerial statement that “negotiations are at an end”.

Both will have equal status, and be the truth, or part of it.

The secret to this magic trick is always the same. Nobody knows what exactly is being talked about.

The usual Press Statement buzzwords: clarification; new proposals; careful consideration, cover a multitude of bobbing and weaving.

For all we know, they could be picking Lottery numbers, backing horses, or playing the stocks and shares market in the vain hope of increasing the financial kitty.

They might just be gossiping about those not in the room!

On the other hand, the Secretary of State may surprise us all. For once in his undistinguished sojourn here, he might actually make a decision other than extending yet another deadline because “it’s good to talk”.

We might find ‘breaking news’ of an Assembly Election awaiting us on the One O’ Clock News.

If the forensic dissection of Israel’s assault on Gaza has not already thrown a spanner in Nationalist Ireland’s annual jolly to Washington, facing the electorate with the war against Hamas ongoing just might ensure Mary Lou will forgo the Presidential full Irish Breakfast, as Michelle [O’Neill] will need every vote she can get retain to hold off a bid to end the DUP’s real problem – that of playing second-fiddle to a SF First Minister – and another woman, to boot.

The least likely outcome, without Mr. Heaton, is that Jeffrey Donaldson will face down the TUV wing of the party and announce a triumphant return to Stormont, with a morsel more money in hand.

Even that won’t see us out of the ‘cruachas’ we are in as a result of 25 wasted years of ineptitude and corruption at Stormont.

Meanwhile, the poor will keep getting poorer, the rich getting richer, and those in the middle get squeezed still under the illusion that they are better people and more entitled than the rest of the working people who ‘can no longer be maintained’ as they, too, get poorer and poorer.

Today, Thursday, January 18 will also see up to 10,000 workers in Northern Ireland take strike action as a last resort action to get a fair day’s pay for their labour; sufficient resources for their employers to enable them to work in safe conditions without damage to their health; and sufficient resources to deliver services to meet the needs of the people to whom they provide public services.

Chris Heaton-Harris chose to leave all these workers without adequate income.

The motivation was political – the workers being pawns in the ‘Return to Stormont’ and ‘Empty Public Purse’ games being played.

In the absence of government here, Westminster is responsible.

It will be a difficult day for a great many people, including those on strike. Workers with children may not find childcare; others have transport problems; hospital appointments will be delayed, or cancelled.

All of this is inconvenient to us all, and deeply distressful for many. All of which testifies to the essential nature and value of work, and the right of those to withhold their labour in defence of a fair day’s pay to do so when all else fails, as it has.

So if you see a picket line, respect the need for the strikers’ action, and give them a bit of support, a toot of the horn, or a friendly wave.

It could be your turn next to fight for better pay and conditions, and you will at some point need the services they are fighting to keep alive.

Whichever scenario emerges, it might be wise to note that in order to have any chance of getting the governance back on its feet:

1. The N. I. Debt to the Exchequer needs to be cancelled.

2. A five-year budget adequate to financing, over that period, the restoration of public services; the reduction of poverty, prioritising child poverty; the protection of the environment needs to be costed and raised through national and regional taxation, and not privatising public services, resources and assets.

3. The key democratic and rights protection bedrocks of the Good Friday Agreement need to deliver in the life-time of the Assembly. These are a democratic civic forum, and a Bill of Rights.

All of the above is possible if we shifted the political mind-set.