Week 34 –
At this time of year, there is nothing better than settling down to enjoy a classic movie. I was delighted to catch a screening of Disney classic Darby O’Gill And The Little People at the weekend. It is a gem of a film: There is something so natural about the old special effects, where they made the leprechauns look tiny by using huge sets and simple lighting. I wasn’t long into the film when I realised that it wasn’t the original I was watching, but rather some sort of reboot starring Leo Varadkar. The story had changed slightly too, and instead of being about some zany shenanigans involving special people from a magical land far away, it was about Brexit. Soon it clicked with me – this wasn’t Darby O’Gill at all.
It seems that the crock of gold we are paying to the magical Strategic Communications Unit is all being spent on oversized lamps, vast desks and enormous chairs just to make our leader look more like one of the little people, ie, you and I. The Taoiseach’s weekly video was a wonder, as it was impossible to take in anything he said because viewers were too busy trying to figure out if the corridors of power were either very small or just far, far away. I’m no fan of big government, but for our Taoiseach to actually shrink himself seems a little drastic. If he is trying to win the youth vote by looking like a child, perhaps he could try to be a little more BFG than YFG.
The whole Brexit debate was a piquant end to the political year. The Brits came crawling back to us after we kicked them out, begging us to sign the divorce papers so they could move on with their new lives in a bedsit in Crouch End, with Union Jack duvet on their single bed, counting all that money they now have for the NHS, like a modern day Silas Marner. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for them: The Brexit talks were basically that diner scene from Good Will Hunting, with us screaming how you like them apples after getting Donald Tusk’s mobile number.
One person who did not share in our festive orgy of schadenfreude, however, was Micheal Martin. In an interview with Joe.ie, he slammed what he called the modern ‘megaphone diplomacy’ of the Taoiseach and his human-sized colleague, Simon Coveney. Deputy Martin tut-tutted at political announcements by Twitter and even going so far as to lament the absence of Bertie Ahern’s quieter diplomacy, a skill that shone in 2014 when Bertie told a party meeting (sans megaphone) that he didn’t think much of Martin and wouldn’t be saying anything nice about him. If he had just subtweeted him it would have been less cruel.
Speaking of the collapsed bouncy castle that was the post-Celtic Tiger decade, it seems we have finally bounced back from our pit of despair. Things are picking up – no more will we have to worry about discerning between wants and needs, no more will we need to furrow our brows as we try to understand what a CFD is (I think it’s the stuff that makes fridges cold?), no more will we have to have actual money when we can rely on credit. But more than all those things, no more shall we have to pretend to be happy about buying off-brand goods, as we are now actually happy. According to the 2016 European Quality of Life survey, carried out by Eurofound, the EU agency for the improvement of living and working conditions, we are back to Celtic Tiger levels of life-satisfaction. The signs were there – a bar (roll those Rs) just opened in Dublin that charges eight euro a pint, various property developers are back from whatever limbo they were hiding in and are raring to go, and, according to public health experts, our cocaine use is rising – all the benchmarks of a society that is ready to lather, rinse and repeat the same mistakes of the 2003-2007 years. Hopefully some developer will get cracking on a few thousand shoebox apartments filled with tiny furniture where Taoiseach Varadkar can shoot his next video, because if there’s anything a life in politics teaches you, it’s the concept of forced perspective.