This article originally appeared in the New York ‘Irish Examiner USA’ for4th June, 2013
Things I’d like to Have Seen over the Bank Holiday
Writing this on Monday afternoon, the Bank Holiday Weekend is winding down; and it’s been a pleasant but quiet and overcast one, at least for me. I’m staring out at a sun that is trying to escape the clouds, thinking of how nice a dip in the sea would be and wondering how my favourite politicians have been getting on.
Of course when they’re on one of their many breaks it’s always a good thing, as well as a time of rejoicing for the peasants. The country seems to run itself much better without their interference and general bitching at each other like the spoiled, pampered, overpaid brats that they are. Still, I’ve no doubt that a few of them who had no other plans made were in there, hanging around the Dail Bar, drinking and talking bull on the pretence that they were doing ‘a bit of the ould extra work’ for their constituents. After all, despite the huge money that these gougers are on and notwithstanding the lavish pensions that they have to look forward to, some of them are well-known for having very short arms when it comes to reaching into their pockets. In fact, some of them have their trouser pockets sowed up as tightly as their jacket ones. Just to keep the shape looking good for the lower-classes, you understand. Nah, that’s not the reason: it’s just in case one of them gets reckless and carried away after ‘another hard day’s work at cutting the living standards of the Irish people’. And yes, I know I’ve quoted the charming Pat Rabbitte of Labour before this but I always think that little nugget bears repeating—a lot.
So, despite the fact that their Bar is subsidised to a degree that just leaves we ordinary punters with our jaws hanging open, there’s every chance that very little actual hard cash is going into the till; especially since a lot of the gougers actually have the gall to run tabs. Perhaps, like the British Royalty that so many of them attempt to emulate, they don’t believe in carrying any money around with them.
Considering that they have us fleeced to the hilt they might have done us a good turn and given us a little extra entertainment for the weekend. For example, that crowd of bowzies that were let loose in Portlaoise last Sunday.
It seems that the Welcome Inn was busy with regulars there to watch the Donegal and Tyrone Gaelic football match; but whereas they were there just to enjoy the game and behave like regular human beings, our elected representatives were getting hot and heavy over internal Labour Party issues. A local party representative supposedly gave Senator John Whelan a ‘bloody nose’ as tempers rose over who is to blame for everybody hating Labour so much. It was probably a fairly minor episode in the grander scheme of things but I wish that they could have transferred it to this weekend in my own local. I know that the landlord wouldn’t have approved of punches being thrown but personally I would pay good money to see them knocking seven shades of…eh, sugar out of each other.
It’s been no secret for a while now that accusations of who’s to blame for the state of the Party and the way that the public perceives them (as useless chancers) have been getting thrown around for some time now. Which of course cheers me up no end. I just wish that I’d had a ringside seat.
Meanwhile Pat Rabbitte (who unfortunately was neither there nor in the path of a flying fist) has been crying and moaning as he tries to figure out why everybody hates his guts so much:
“I can’t understand why Labour is taking the hits in government. I understand the people are suffering from austerity fatigue. I understand that well.”
First of all, you damned freeloader, you do NOT understand. And secondly, what is this ‘people are suffering austerity fatigue’? Could you possibly be more of a swinish condescending clown? Even Labour party voters will never trust you again after you lied and lied to them—and then boasted about lying! Remember all your bragging about the Labour way or the Frankfurt way? How did that work out for you after Germany had bitch-slapped a few manners into you. We expected Dame Edna to be weak, but after the talk that you and Tiny Gilmore talked, some expected a bit more spine out of you. That is the reason, after all, that you were voted through in the first place. It wasn’t to watch you and your Fine Gael cronies turn into an even more ghastly version of the Soldiers of Destiny.
In fact if you want to see what the ordinary guy thinks about the whole rotten lot of you then go to the bottom of this column.
‘Doesn’t Practice What He Preaches’ Shock!
And then there’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Now in fairness Asthmatic Alan has been a good sport of late in keeping us laughing at his merry japes both inside and outside the Dail. It’s always entertaining, not to mention enlightening and instructive, to see the pathetic carry-on of the dismal bunch who are running the country into the ground. So couldn’t he, just to keep our sprits lifted in these dark times, have gone the extra yard this holiday weekend and hit a few bookstores in order to sign copies of his novel ‘Laura’? For those of you not of a literary bent—or who are but just don’t care what Arrogant Alan has to say about anything—this important tome first saw the light of day back in 1989 and there’s been talk of rereleasing it of late. I was under the impression that it was just a bit of soft-porn coming again to light in order to cash in on the Fifty Shades phenomenon, but maybe it’s a worthy social document after all. Yeah, that’s that thing called ‘dripping sarcasm’.
Anyway, at the time Publishers Weekly had this to say about it:
“Shatter, an Irish legislator and attorney, draws on his professional experiences for this syrupy, heavy-handed first novel about a child-custody battle. Sean Brannigan, member of the Irish parliament, is vocally pro-family and anti-abortion. But he doesn’t practise what he preaches: having seduced his innocent secretary, Collette James, Brannigan suggests that she obtain an abortion when she finds herself pregnant. Knowing her parents would throw her out if they learned of her pregnancy, Collette moves away and secretly arranges for adoption. John and Mary Masterson, the adopting parents ‘sob with joy’ when they are given Laura, Collette’s five-day-old daughter. But ten months later, the young woman, haunted by thoughts of the child she never knew, refuses to sign the final consent papers and says she wants Laura returned. The Mastersons resist, and a legal battle ensues between the perfect, well-to-do adopting parents and the unstable, unmarried natural mother. Guess who wins. Shatter depicts the legal arguments effectively, but flat dialogue and weak characterisation detract from the dramatic potential.”
Blimey, I don’t know: now I feel like reading the bloody thing. The girl’s plight will be an all-too-recognisable situation for many. But don’t the ears prick up at a politician being described as: ‘vocally pro-family and anti-abortion’ and ‘doesn’t practise what he preaches’? I wonder who he based that guy on. Certainly it sounds better than that unbelievable work of fiction of some years back, for which Bertie Ahern was given the artists’ tax exemption. Yes, I am of course talking about his autobiography, which can still be found in the ‘remaindered’ section of some bookstores. It comes with a free canister of salt, some of which you will have to take every two pages. It remains a masterpiece of amnesia and a rewriting of history that would have Uncle Joe Stalin hanging his head in shame. And indeed I hear that it even sold three or four copies over the last few years; but that might have been the Ahern clan buying them up just to take the bare look off things.
Anyway, Shatter’s novel certainly sounds topical and I would definitely have liked to have seen him sign a few copies for our amusement over the Bank Holiday Weekend. With that story line he would have been bound to get a pie in the face from either one of our more extreme pro-OR-anti- abortion groups. And you guessed it: seeing Shatter getting a pie in that smug face is another thing that I would have entered in the ‘Cheers Me Right Up’ category. But please: this column recommends the throwing of pies responsibly. I wouldn’t want some innocent bystander getting splashed with cream. Especially if it was me.
Also making me smile over the last few days was the World Health Organisation throwing a few shapes by way of a statement in Geneva concerning the world-wide obesity problem. And yes, I know, I know, it should be taken seriously. But come on, more talk about taxing unhealthy foods? The plain fact is that with people feeling the pinch it is just downright cheaper to buy products that aren’t as good for you as FRESH meat or FRESH fish. And of course there are more attacks on smokers and consumers of alcohol. I myself could lead a far better lifestyle than I do, but I really don’t like being told how to live either. We already live under endless rules and regulations as it is. And on the other hand, as for Jane Reid of the International Food and Beverage Alliance saying “Fiscal measures aimed specifically to change behaviour are complex to design and enforce”, well…since that company represents McDonald’s and Coca-Cola amongst others I think that we can take anything she says with an unhealthy dose of salt.
That’s the problem though, isn’t it? The WHO can talk well-intentioned talk—and it IS well-intentioned– until it’s blue in the collective face, but the links between Big Business as defined by Heinz, Nestle and the others and politics is just too deep and interlinked. I’ll be curious to see if our own…eh, robust Minister for Health James Reilly has the brass neck to comment on this. Come to think of it, another fun thing to do for the Bank Holiday Weekend would have been a sponsored walk around him or his predecessor. Healthy, too. Okay, I know that’s cruel and is no doubt un-PC on half-a-dozen levels, but it does make me laugh when I look at the likes of TDs like Pat Rabbitte, Michael Noonan and a shed load of our other politicians lecturing us on tightening our belts whilst loosening their own or putting on the stretchy trousers as they tuck into another gourmet meal washed down by a gallon of expensive wine. And speaking of overweight elected representatives reminds me that Rabbitte came up with a particularly crass comment this week, when he referred to TD Mattie McGrath as being “as useful as tits on a bull”. Having had the misfortune of seeing Pat Rabbitte up close and personal (although mercifully clothed) I can confirm that he has rather a fine set himself. Maybe he should choose his comparisons a little more carefully in future. For a Minister for Communications he doesn’t seem to be very much good at communicating. And of course he himself is about as useful as a great big hole in the bottom of a water bucket.
That’s enough about Pat for this week: poor fella is feeling bad enough as it is and that upsets me no end.
A Man after My Own Heart
Having a very good Bank Holiday Weekend indeed were 46-year-old Kevin Geoghan and his partner, thirty-nine-year-old Carol Loran. The couple scooped Wednesday night’s Lotto jackpot of €10.5 million. Still, our beloved politicians were on his mind just the same. He may have spoken for most of the country when he said:
“They’re getting nothing off me, the bastards, and I’m delighted…I’ve worked hard all my life, 27 years in the one job. The harder I work, the more the bastards take off me. I’m an ordinary Joe Soap working me bollocks off and everything I do, they take more off me. I hate them fat bastards up in the Dail. They’re all scumbags. They don’t give a f*** about the ordinary person”.
Obviously a shy and retiring sort, Kevin added:
“They do nothing only sit on their f***ing arses every day, drink and eat the best of everything and reef taxpayers. Sometimes my passion overflows, but that’s what I think of them.
“They’re getting nothing off me, because it’s tax free and I’m delighted.”
After that anything I added would be completely redundant.