I recently mentioned in this space how I once harboured ambitions to become a yuppie - or at least to own some yuppie accoutrements.

Instead I've grown up to become a nipple: A Northern Irish Protestant Professional Living in England. Or at least I have if journalism can be considered a profession.

Lots of my schoolfriends are nipples too. Many of us who crossed the sea for university ended up getting jobs in England and putting down routes here. And everywhere I've gone in England I've come across more of them. Nipples seem to be everywhere.

I've always been happy to argue a case for nipple status. It does everyone good to get away from home, change their scenery, widen their horizons and see how things are done elsewhere - even if they decide to return later on.

We're only on this planet once. Why spend all our time in one tiny corner of it?

Many of my fellow nipples are firmly anchored to England with spouses and children. I'm unencumbered with either, so in my more sentimental moments I wonder whether I should move back one day.

Usually the feeling passes before too long. Maybe I will when I retire. But just lately the case for anyone to stay in Northern Ireland has become rather stronger.

It's a great place for a career in politics.

How would you like a job with a salary of £49,500 and which allowed you to take 19 months off on full pay? It sounds like nice work if you can get it. And there are 90 such jobs in Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since January 2017, which earns it a place in the record books.

Its stern-looking neo-classical building in Stormont in east Belfast has been silent for 548 days now - beating the previous record set by Belgium, which had no government for 541 days in 2010-2011.

The assembly was suspended when the two ruling parties, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin, had a big falling out.

When DUP leader Ian Paisley was first minister and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness was deputy, the two previous bitter enemies became best mates. Pictures of them laughing together earned them the nickname "The Chuckle Brothers".

Unfortunately relations weren't as cordial with one of Paisley's successors, Arlene Foster. She was blamed for the waste of almost £500 million.

Back in 2012 when she was enterprise minister she set up the "renewable heat incentive", offering payments to anyone who generated energy through renewable sources rather than by burning fossil fuels.

But the scheme was open to abuse. Some claimants were heating empty buildings just to collect the money, and a massive overspend was run up. But she refused to resign, saying it wasn't her fault.

So McGuinness resigned and pulled the plug on the whole executive. Since then they've found other reasons not to put the plug back in.

Sinn Féin want a law giving official status to the Irish language in Northern Ireland and the DUP don't. They don't see eye to eye on marriage equality or abortion either.

But there are plenty of other issues they could be concerning themselves with, such as compensation for victims of abuse at state-run homes and institutions and investigations into terrorist crimes.

They also need to turn their attention to Brexit - something the majority in Northern Ireland voted against.

Exports from Northern Ireland to the Republic are worth £3.4 billion to the north's economy every year.

Assembly members are called MLAs - Members of the Legislative Assembly - and even though they haven't been turning up at the moment they're still collecting their salaries.

They've cost the taxpayer more than £9 million since Stormont was suspended. And that's not including their pensions or expenses.

The overall cost will be even higher - though it will still be less than the renewable heat incentive fiasco has cost.

Cutting salaries might focus their minds a little.

Not everyone's complaining. David Lynn, head of building services at Stormont, says it's been a great opportunity to get important repairs done.

They can't make noise while the assembly is sitting and had to confine the work to the recesses. "I've been treating this as one giant recess," he says.

The building is 86 years old, and we all need some restorative work when we're 86. But repairing the building looks like an easier job than repairing the political cracks.