Who’s that Knocking at the Door?

Chicago’s Irish American News, February 2019

“Well, how do you do?

I see you’ve met my faithful handyman.

He’s just a little brought down because when you knocked

He thought it was the Candyman.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Most of us had our own special little wish for the Christmas just gone.   After all, it was that time when we hope that the Man in the Red Suit will reward us for being nice rather than naughty.

I had the same wish as I always have:  that the beautiful Candyman actress Virginia Madsen would come down my chimney in a Santa Clause outfit. But, as usual, nothing.  Zilch.  Another year, another no-show. 

Even though I’d tried repeating her name five times whilst staring into the mirror.  Maybe she doesn’t know the way to Oranmore.

Still, it could have been worse; I could have been living in the Dublin Rathdown constituency of Minister for Transport Shane Ross.  Shane, it seems, got it into his head – proving that not much else can be going on in there – that after dark on Christmas Eve (yes, Christmas Eve!) would be the ideal time to wander around whilst wearing a Santa hat in order to deliver little pamphlets telling a lot of harassed parents what a fine fellow he is and what a great job he is doing. 

And if he had just stopped with dropping them in through the letter-box and then buggering off into the night, maybe it wouldn’t have been too bad.

I mean, relatively speaking, like. 

After all, there is no time that looking out of your window and seeing Shane leppin’ around the place like the Ghost of Christmas in Hell would be a good thing. 

You’d never be the better for that, I can tell you.

And of course, being your typical divorced-from-reality Irish politician, he thought it would be an even bigger hoot to extend his holiday fun to traipsing around — yes, after dark – at New Year’s Eve into the bargain.  Those of us who had better things to do back on Planet Earth on those two nights can only shake our heads in wonder.

One bewildered householder said that he turned up at a quarter to nine, just as she was gearing up for greeting 2019.

 “I went to the door and didn’t open it.” 

But, undeterred and unable to take a hint, the bould Shane called in:

“It’s Shane Ross, your local TD, just calling to wish you a Happy New Year”. 

God’s truth, I have this bizarre image of your friendly neighbourhood lunatic kneeling down, Santa Clause hat bobbing around on his bald head, yelling through the letter box and scaring small children – not to mention adults – everywhere.

Another resident says that he spotted him ‘’popping in and out of gardens”.  And no, I’m not making this up.  Shane himself says that his constituents “were a bit surprised” and he’s sorry if he offended anyone. 

A bit surprised?  Bloody Hell, there’s an understatement for you.  I’m only amazed that there weren’t collective brain embolisms in the neighbourhood at the sight of Lord Ross of Stepaside being let loose with a Santa costume.

He’s the one who would have been a bit surprised if he had made the mistake of calling at the Brady residence, that’s for sure.  I don’t want to see any of that lot at any time of the year, let alone Christmas.  People would have been reporting the sight of an enraged man chasing a fella in a Santa hat down the road with a baseball bat, after drenching him with a bucket of ice cold water from the top window.

According to Lord Ross, some people looked out of their windows and when they saw it was him, they wouldn’t answer.  Imagine that; how rude!  And all because – wait for it – he claims that he’s so busy that the dead of night is the “only time” he can get out and about to meet his constituents.

“I’m sorry if you think I did wrong but I just wanted to meet people.  I don’t want to make a great virtue of it” – WHAT?!? – “but it is my job to meet people.”

Well, I guess that explains that.  God help us come Halloween.  You’ll have no trouble recognizing Shane Ross.  He’ll be the one shoving leaflets through your door whilst dressed up as Stephen King’s Pennywise the Killer Clown.

“Is that another Jehovah’s Witness at the door?”  “No, dad, it’s worse – it’s Shane Ross wearing a funny outfit.”

I swear, if it was any place except Ireland we’d be talking about sectioning the clown, not bloody voting for him.

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Meanwhile, a million miles (thankfully) from whatever goes on in Mr. Ross’s head, I had to take a friend to the A&E hospital of Galway last Saturday night and into Sunday morning. 

Now, to read or hear about patients lying around on trolleys in hospital corridors is one thing; to actually see them is quite another.

This is appalling in what is supposed to be a first world country.  There is just no excuse.  And once again I find myself in awe of the people – ambulance services, nurses, doctors – who are on the front line.  Every one of them is professional to their fingertips. 

I simply cannot thank them enough for the battle that they fight day in and night out.  We owe them such a debt of gratitude. 

But as our nurses prepare to go on strike as I write this, I’ll save a special thanks for them.  They are working with their backs against the wall to do the very best that they can, often having had little or no sleep between shifts, for pay that is quite simply ludicrously small.

Should they strike? 

Yes, without a doubt – and without a doubt we should be supporting that decision.  And yet we have a Poseur Supreme like Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – a man who has never passed a mirror that he didn’t want to stare into lovingly and longingly – saying that he is ‘saddened’ by their decision.

Saddened.  Jesus wept.

The dreadful condescension of this frighteningly hollow man; the utter lack of compassion. 

Most of our politicians – there are some honorable exceptions who turned down their own 2018 pay rise, but damned few — will fight tooth and nail to withhold even the most measly of pay-rises to our overstretched nurses, arguing that there is no money available to pay them. Yet they had no hesitation at all in accepting hikes for themselves – one at the beginning of last year and one near the end, both totaling almost 5,000 Euros.  As they grabbed that with their sweaty little paws, they were nearly salivating into the trough. 

They are shameless human beings and I often wonder how the hell they sleep at night, even though I know that they do so without a sliver of conscience.

And, as I have said so often, we’re the ones who let them get away with this.

Shame on us, also.