Through the looking glass
The seminal literary works on politics are, of course, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
“When I use a word”, said Humpty Dumpty, “it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”
Could be a role model for elected members. Or how about the Queen, with her offer of “jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam today.” Ministers take note.
But my personal favourite - also from the Queen - is the declaration of intent to “believe six impossible things before breakfast".
Politicians, voters and the onlooking media in Northern Ireland have had to accustom themselves to a similar phenomenon.
They’ve seen the restoration of devolved power. They’ve seen Dr Ian Paisley enter office as first minister. In a coalition with Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein.
They’ve seen them prosper personally to the extent that they have been dubbed “the Chuckle Brothers.”
Both arrived in Scotland for talks with Alex Salmond, a trip to reciprocate Mr Salmond’s visit to Belfast last summer.
Think of it. Ian Paisley, the arch unionist of old, declaring common cause with the leader of the Scottish party which wants to end the Union.
(Mr Paisley reminded me that, as privy counsellors, they had both sworn an oath of allegiance to the sovereign.)
Martin McGuinness joining them in Edinburgh Castle. A British Army base. In the Queen Anne room, constructed in 1708 just after the Union between Scotland and England.
Symbols all round. And yet, gloriously, the talk is mundane. It is of co-operation to enhance transport links. A revived ferry between Campbeltown and Ballycastle.
It is of mutual development of renewable energy.
It is also of political challenges in Northern Ireland - but within the DUP rather than between parties. Dr Paisley’s son, Ian Jnr, has quit as a minister because of persistent questions over links with developers.
He says the claims are utterly unfounded - but is stepping down to ease the pressure. Until his successor is appointed, he remains in office and was in Edinburgh.
Asked about the resignation and the impact upon himself, Dr Paisley Snr was robust. He told Gareth Gordon, my BBC NI colleague, that he “would not be skinned by you or the likes of you.”
Some things, it seems, never change.