This article originally appeared in the New York ‘Irish Examiner USA’ for 16th April 2013

Gilmore’s Commentariat and My Return to God-bothering



Honestly, this is beginning to turn into a war based on who can come up with the fanciest words.  I mean, last week I wrote of my admiration for that great German word ‘schadenfreude’.  It’s a beauty, isn’t it? A word that means ‘taking pleasure in the suffering of others.’  How could you not love a word like that?  Leave it to the Germans, I say.  I had been gloating my head off at the discomfort of traitor and turncoat Tánaiste Eamon (‘Tiny’) Gilmore.  Yes, Gilmore:  the man who never came across a lie that he couldn’t tell.  The man who is so tiny in stature that last week when Tom Cruise visited Ireland he had to lean ‘way down in order to hear him.  I’m not saying that Gilmore is small but he was once seen walking under a snake with his hat on. A snake walking under a snake, boom boom! You get the idea. Little fellow with an unwarranted Napoleon complex.

Gloating:  I can almost hear my late father telling me that it is a terrible thing to gloat at a man’s misfortunes.  Sorry, dad, I can’t help it and I don’t particularly want to.  I was absolutely thrilled—thrilled I tells ye!—when his Labour party got a complete hammering in the Meath East by-election.  Less than 5 per cent of the votes.  Less than 5 per cent.  Do the Germans have a word for ‘more than embarrassing’?  I’m sure that they do. I wonder if Taoiseach Dame Edna Kenny  could ask his boss Angela Merkel the next time that she’s giving him orders…orders that must be obeyed at all times!

So naturally Gilmore retreated into his shoe-box sized bunker for the week, emerging only to look up at Tom Cruise in awe at how tall the man is when he was handing over Tom’s Certificate of Irishness.  He then vanished once more, not even emerging when the first of his Party began to pack it in.  And I’m not giving them credit either. Perish the thought! Those who are disgruntled with Gilmore’s leadership shouldn’t have needed their decimation in Meath to tell them that they were in a party that is now hated and despised throughout the land.  That’s what you get when you lie to people and break every promise that you made in order to get elected.  I have no more admiration for them than I have for a rat that is cunning enough to get his little paws moving when he senses that the ship is sinking.

But Gilmore isn’t to blame.  No, your Honour, it’s not his fault.  When he finally came out and faced the music he was able to set us right on who the real culprits are.  It’s the damned journalists!  Of course!  Why couldn’t I see that? It is as clear as an azure-blue sky to me now.  Deciding that he needed some fancy words of his own, Tiny laid into we heretical doubters. He sent out an email to those of his faithful who were still hanging around in the hope that they could gouge out a few more shekels before they find their asses booted out at the next election:

“While it often seems that we are subject to relentless criticism from the commentariat, we also have some friends. [We have now] had time to take stock of where Labour is as a party of government.”

Tiny doesn’t mention who those friends are or how much he has bribed them with in order for them to come out and play with him, but that doesn’t interest me.  What caught my eye was the use of another great word:  ‘commentariat’.  Even writing it makes me feel as if I should be on a street corner, selling copied of Pravda and waving around The Communist Manifesto.

OK, OK, I’ll admit that I probably never had the benefit of Eamon Gilmore’s education but I actually thought that he had made that one up. I was rather delighted with it.  It sounded like something that Uncle Joe Stalin would come out with.  So imagine my surprise to discover that it is a real word.  It is in fact a mix of the words ‘comment’ and ‘proletariat’. So in other words it relates to comments from those of a lower social class.  That has me more delighted than ever. I can live with that just fine.  If I ever thought that I was in the same class as Eamon Gilmore and his merry band of Munchkins it would be time for the hot bath, the bottle of whiskey and the straight razor.

My Return to the Church

Yes! I was invited to the Communion of a friend’s son this week.  As you might guess it was with some trepidation that I crossed the threshold of a church for the first time in…Oh, a long while.  I thought that the invisible guy in the sky, the deity who created Eamon Gilmore in His own image, would be throwing down thunderbolts galore on my Doubting Thomas head.  But…here’s a rather strange thing.  It was a lovely little church in Coolough and Menlo parish.  In fact I got a really nice ‘Little House on the Prairie’ feel as soon as I walked in.

Afterwards we retired for a meal to Crowe’s of Bohermore and, despite the immediate drawback that it is owned by a Fianna Failer, it is a really pleasant and friendly pub.  The food was just great and the conversation even better; and I must admit that I came away thinking that if only we could get rid of the whole God-bothering business and of course the children running around the place, that this whole Communion malarkey was pretty enjoyable.  Several drinks later, in fact, I was into my rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” from the brilliant “Game of Thrones” when it dawned on me that the words were possibly not appropriate for little sprog ears.*

Not having any brats myself and very bloody glad of it, I hadn’t paid much attention to Dame Edna Kenny’s latest cut last week, but this experience made me look at them with fresh eyes. And I can’t say that I was too impressed.

After the announcement that the welfare payments to help parents with their children’s Communion and Confirmation days were to scrapped completely (they don’t do anything by halves, our government, when it comes to kicking the vulnerable and less well-off) Kenny waxed lyrical on all things religious and even managed to drag poor old Pope Francis into his reasoning:

“I’d point out that the Pope himself has said that we need to be far more simple in the way that the Catholic Church does its business.

“Everybody knows that in the past you’ve had a drift towards wondering what a Communion would actually generate in terms of money for small children and all that.

“So I think from the point of view of what Holy Communion means, it should mean what it’s supposed to mean and not be seen as some sort of an economic end.”

Is this guy slippery or what?

Fine.  That’s the bull and now here is the reality.  Parents—for good or bad, that’s up to you—will want their child to look his or her best on a day that God-botherers have been told time and again is so important to them.  That’s human nature.  You are simply going to want your kid to look good.  That doesn’t mean completely over the top nonsense like some numpties come up with; it just means that you’d like to have photos of your sprog in a nice little suit or dress, not in jeans with the backside hanging out of them.

Afterwards, it is just as nice—because it’s a big day, mind—to take a few close friends and relatives for a meal. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top fancy, it’s just a line drawn under an important Catholic occasion.  I mean, this was still a Catholic country the last time I looked.

The Communion that I attended on Saturday was—dare I say it?—really rather spiritual. It was in no way some ghastly, tacky show of one-upmanship:  just proud parents showing their kid off.

Now listen, Kenny, and don’t be putting words into the Pope’s mouth: despite this tough climate, some people are always going to have the readies that can buy their kid that nice suit.  And if that kid looks nice you are going to have to dress the rest as well.  Not to mention yourself.

Some have and some don’t; but here’s the problem for those many that are unemployed these days.  They don’t want their little darlings to be shown up by seeming like little ragamuffins in front of their better-off classmates.  And since they are unemployed that’s where those wonderful parasites, who I would happily watch burn, the unofficial moneylenders start rubbing their greasy paws together and lighting candles to Saint Enda.  What a gift for them.  They know that there are people who don’t have a snowball’s hope in Hell of ever getting a loan legitimately; and desperation—not to mention that very real thing for kids, peer pressure—leads people to do desperate things.  And so the circle begins:  for the sake of one day (not to mention the sake of a few government Euros that amounts to damned all in the scheme of things) parents are going to be paying a huge debt off for sometimes years.  Yes, years.  You know the interest rates that these venomous scumbags can charge when they know that some people have nowhere else to go.

Ach, never mind:  we have once again shown our German masters how tough we can be with the ‘big’ decisions. Social Protection Minister Joan Burton must have felt so proud when she officially made that announcement to the poorest last week:  no more money for you, spongers!  Get a job.  But Joan, dear lady, there aren’t any.  Get out of the Dail bar and have a look through the streets.  There aren’t any jobs.  Social Protection?  Hold my guts in; I think I’m going to laugh them right out of me.

Obviously I can’t leave this week without mentioning the death of Margaret Thatcher.  But I’ll be brief.  Thatcher was never a friend to the Irish and I care no more about her passing than I would for anyone that I found distasteful.  But the truth?  I hadn’t thought of her in years (apart from that God-awful film “The Iron Lady”). What I do not get is this dancing in the streets nonsense. I’m glad to say that any Republicans in the Galway area with whom I’ve talked have shown none of the pig-ignorant triumphalism that has been on display in Britain.  And that quite often from people who were barely born when she was in power.

In the end, whatever you thought of her, she was an 87-year-old woman suffering from dementia and she had a family that loved her. Grow up.

If you want one of the more balanced statements on her passing read Gerry Adams, of all people.  And in particular have a read of the interview in Fermanagh’s “Impartial Reporter.”

*By the way, for those of you wishing to hear two very different versions of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” check out Christocakes or Irish Moutarde on youtube.

And watch the terrific “Game of Thrones”. Next time around, I’m voting for Tyrion Lannister.  You know it makes sense!

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