Loveable, Laughing Leo and Empty Cant


Taken from the Chicago ‘Irish American News’ for August, 2017


I received a few nice emails on the back of last month’s piece, Robbery with a Fountain Pen.  They are always welcome and many thanks.  The graphic novel I mentioned was ‘Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads’ by Nick Hayes; and in it one of the things that came across for me was the way in which, despite the Depression, people mainly mixed well together.

Also, Professor Dale Nelson of North Dakota sent on an essay he had written called Lovecraft’s Comfortable World; and there is a passage in it that resonated with me:

“Conservative commentator John Derbyshire picked up the ‘old, weird America’ phrase when writing about the roots of Hank Williams’s experience.  Derbyshire describes ‘the old, weird America’ thus:  ‘a place where “multiculturalism” was not an empty cant phrase mouthed by social-engineering bureaucrats, but a daily reality of white, red, and black, hillbilly and Cajun, bluegrass and blues, all jostled together – bickering, fighting and oppressing, to be sure, but also working, drinking, singing and coupling.  That America has now gone forever, paved over with strip malls, industrial parks, community colleges and trimmed suburban gardens.  We gained a lot in the process, no doubt, but we lost something too.  We lost it, and it will never be seen again in life:  but the ghost of it is still there for anyone who seeks it, in the songs of Hank Williams’”.

And also, I would suggest, in those of the great Woody Guthrie.

*** *** ***

Well, that’s that:  there will be no living with him now.  Yes, coming a few years after his predecessor Enda Kenny, our beloved new leader Leo Varadkar has only gone and gotten himself on the front cover of the European ‘Time’ magazine.

Back when I saw Kenny’s face staring out at me I remember thinking that this was some sort of spoof job, that it was a joke cover.  It was horribly, unbelievably true, though; and after that we had to endure his ridiculous face-pulling; his phony hail-fellow- well-met punches to the arm; and his nauseating throwing of shapes and smirks for what seemed like…well, it WAS years, even if it felt like decades.  And everyone outside of Ireland lapped it up because…sure, isn’t he a grand fella all the same?

And then we couldn’t get rid of him!  Even his party didn’t want him hanging around anymore, but Enda clung on…and on…and on.  He was leaving after BREXIT; then he was leaving after the next St. Patrick’s Day junket; then he was leaving after the Second Coming.  When he finally DID leave, of course (clutching several pensions and an enormous bonus in his sweaty little hands), no one really noticed because it was out with the old and in with more of the same.

Loveable Leo.  ‘The Island at the Centre of the World’ is the caption on the cover; and since he doesn’t do modesty the words do of course belong to Leo.

When he was Minister for Health he talked about EVERYTHING but.  Always one eye on what would be the next step up the ladder.  Ambitious isn’t the word for this guy.  He’s got a police force that everyone has lost faith in and a health service that is an absolute shambles, with the HSE now involved in so many scandals that it isn’t even embarrassed by them anymore.  Hell, they know they can’t be touched.  Yet the only person Leo is out for is Leo.

He ignored everyone’s feelings on the dodgy appointment of the former Attorney General Marie Whelan and when asked about the downright creepy questioning of the New York-based blogger Catherine Kelly at the airport on June 27th by police (who appeared to have been keenly following the lady’s travel plans), he decided it was a private matter. Minister for Employment and Looking After Herself  Regina Doherty TD had been annoyed at the blogger and as a result the woman was asked to confirm her identity and given a finger-wagging and talking-to over social media posts where she had spoken about the collapse of the TD’s business interests eight years ago.

Of course, like the rest of their shifty cronies, Regina and Leo HATE bloggers.  After all, they’ve got a nice, compliant mainstream media that – with a few honourable exceptions such as Gene Kerrigan — doesn’t the rock the boat TOO much; so maybe it’s time to put some manners on these bloggers.  We can’t have them asking questions that the mainstream won’t touch; why, the whole of Western civilization could collapse.

Ms. Kelly, incidentally, is the partner of Jim Cullen, who is the head of Friends of Sinn Fein, in New York – so that was two black marks against her.

Even the Garda have said that it’s unusual.  You’re not listening, guys:  it’s a private matter.  Move along now; nothing to see here.

Leo DID excited about his visit to Downing Street.  Could hardly contain himself.  After all, there he was looking at the ACTUAL STAIRCASE that Hugh Grant danced down in the movie ‘Love, Actually’.  Well, until Theresa May pointed out that it wasn’t the ACTUAL staircase.  That was…somewhere else.  Leo said he was ‘disappointed’.  And this was all to a background of the Grenfell Towers tragedy and our continuing concerns about what BREXIT means for Ireland.

Likeable Leo.   We felt so proud.  Of course, we felt even more proud when Leo began pulling up his trouser legs and showing off his colourful socks to visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  In fact, I felt so proud I wanted to cry.

Laughing Leo.  People are getting suckered by this guy, but don’t believe it.  This bloke is hard as nails and he’s willing to walk over anyone to get to where he wants to be.  Which isn’t politics, as he aims to be shot of that – and of us — by the time he’s fifty.  I don’t like him and I don’t trust him.

One of his very first acts was to ask their neighbours to inform on those who may be making a few undeclared Euros.  And now we’re talking of naming and shaming.

I’ve no problem with seeing those who are ripping off the country to the tune of thousands and millions being brought to task, even though I would have thought that was the government’s job; but as well as causing a distraction Varadkar is stirring it up between those who have been fortunate enough to recover from austerity and recession and those who are still struggling after years of both.  And with the latter, being shamed for making a few Euros on the side could be the last straw in a country where suicide is already rampant.  (Three in my area alone this past week.)  And that’s not right, Leo; that’s just not right.  Not when we see a steady parade of white collar criminals who have cost this country BILLIONS walk free from courts.

Thankfully, since he has now been in power for a whole month he is off on ten weeks’ holidays with his fellow gougers.  Ah well, I suppose that we’ll just have to get on without them.

That shouldn’t be too hard.  They weren’t doing much, anyway.