The Ice Queen Strikes Again

An alarmingly large majority of my friends have never seen me cry. They have tried repeatedly, over the years to muster some kind of emotion within me. They have tried, but they have failed. This has been met with all manner of comments:  “Dead inside” was one. “Made of stone” was another. But the one which seemed to stick was Ice Queen. I’m not in any way offended by this. After all, emotions are for wimps.


My best friend thought he had the answer when he text me the other day and told me to watch Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire. “It’ll open the floodgates,” he promised. “Even yours.”

I’ve never watched Secret Millionaire before but was intrigued and quite happy when I turned it on last week to see it had been filmed in Belfast.

Property developer Rob Lloyd said goodbye to his family in his very large and affluent home in rural Cheshire and set up temporary camp in the Shankill Road, where one of the Troubles’ most notorious bombing took place in 1993.

You could see from the footage that the Shankill still looks like a war-ravaged zone. Being a Catholic, I’ve never been in the Shankill as, back in the day, it wasn’t worth risking your life to go to the other side of the ‘peace wall‘ if you weren’t the right religion.


Because I grew up in Northern Ireland and lived in Belfast for five years, I was afraid this was all going to be a bit too close to home for me. I worried the flood gates would open and fretted they would never close as Rob walked between Catholic Ardoyne and the Protestant Shankill Road, past the wall murals and derelect buildings.


I didn’t fret for long as it all took a turn for the worst quite soon. Secret Millionaire failed to stir any kind of emotion in me. Not one tear escaped from my frozen ducts.

For a start, I couldn’t warm to millionaire Rob. I first admired him for trying to get under the skin of two communities in a Troubles-ravaged Belfast. But, being forced to stay in a simple terraced house in the Shankill, he was aghast at how people could live off less than £50 a week and then almost rubbed in it by saying he had been forced to “live off Indians every night”. The reason he gave for this was in case he should catch something from cooking in the kitchen. Seriously! It’s Belfast, not Calcutta.

As Rob went from project to project deciding what poor soul he would give his hard-earned cash to, I got to thinking. Why were these people letting some random stranger, complete with camera crew, into their homes? Especially the young girl. How many times did he come back to her house to “learn more about her”. This girl lives in her flat alone and some middle-aged guy is coming to her flat with a camera to talk to her about her sordid past. What’s that sound I hear in the background? Alarm bells? 

I know people in Belfast are still very suspicious of a lot of people they meet so I started to think that maybe this millionaire wasn’t so secret after all.

But he went about his business, giving out his cheques. Don’t get me wrong, I do admire the man, he’s done a very good thing for many people. But I couldn’t help but laugh when the youth club leader announced to the kids they were using the money for a dance studio and a memorial garden. As the girls screamed and shouted you could just see the poor little boys’ faces drop as if they had been conned. What the hell were they suppsoed to do with a memorial garden and a dance studio?

Once Rob revealed the truth, I didn’t see one bit of genuine shock on anyone’s face. Not one. This man had just changed their lives. If someone gives me £5 for nothing  I’m simultaneously shocked and suspicious. Call me cynical, call me an ice queen, tell me I’m made of stone but I think that is just the way of the world these days.

I’m all for people doing their bit to help other people but Secret Millionaire failed to convince me.

I text my friend when it ended and told him I didn”t cry.

“You have no soul,” was his reply.

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2 Comments on “The Ice Queen Strikes Again”

  1. suzieta Says:

    Missed the program, but enjoyed this post and the one above. Have to agree with you though about being suspicious about people, but maybe we are sadly so used to fly on the wall stuff, we don’t baulk at the camera any more, rather welcome it as our 10mins.
    Ice Queen? – there are doubtless good reasons for that, ‘spect in your own time and place you will melt.

  2. christine Says:

    i think u have a great perception, I have found my self in a situation bringing up 3 rowdy lads in a situation, no that good, but belive me weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth would not have helped as it wont help anybody, not really

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