So I am now an Irish Independent columnist, which is great as I think the whole world needs to listen to what I have to say right fucking now. This is my first lash at it, which ran in last week’s paper. It is a series of Christmas cracker jokes disguised as a news digest/OpEd from hell. Enjoy!
It seems hard to believe that Brexit, AKA The Great British Bunk-Off, is still rumbling towards its inevitable unpleasantness. The meal at 10 Downing Street between Juncker and May, held to thrash out some of the more awful possibilities of Liminal Britain’s Series Of Unfortunate Events, sounded like a moody teen telling their parents that they were moving out of home and thus would need 60k pocket money a week and full access to the fridge and WiFi. All the occasion was short was Theresa May turning into Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, fashioning a sculpture of the white cliffs of Dover out of mashed potato, whispering ‘strong and stable’ over and over while her alarmed dinner guests exchange concerned looks with each other. A full account of the feast of awfulness was carried in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ), fitting given that many read it whilst enjoying a feeling best encapsulated by a very German word – Schadenfreude.
Schadenfreude was the word of the week, after the disaster of Fyre Festival, an exclusive event on a private Bahamian island that collapsed into disaster for its wealthy, exclusive clientele. Like Cinderella after midnight, their luxury cabanas turned out to be disaster relief tents, while the culinary delights they were promised transformed into a salad leaf and what might have been bread. Pop punk deities Blink 182, who are apparently still going, cancelled their headline slot outright. It brought to mind a festival disaster I attended in the late Eighties. Lured with the prospect of a once in a lifetime experience to the exotic location of Medjugorje, I was startled to find our luxury accommodation featured blocked toilets and en suite snakes, while the headline act, The Virgin Mary, failed to show up at all. The whole debacle was so embarrassing for host nation Yugoslavia that they broke up a year later. Mind you, it wasn’t as disappointing as Electric Picnic 2006, when I went along to enjoy The Rapture, only to discover that it wasn’t the ascent into heaven of true believers and purging of the sinners, but rather a band of the same name. And apparently, this wasn’t grounds for a refund.
Confusion over titles also brought some much needed levity to our criminal justice system, when a jury selection was held up by a barista being mistaken for a barrister. It was the sort of whimsical nugget served up at the end of the news bulletin, like petit fours after the main course of war, famine and plague. In fact, it was exactly the sort of light hearted japery that usually adorns café chalkboards. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the barista tasked with coming up with these daily quips. Being paid a mortgage-defying wage to rise at 5am to make frappucinos for depressed millennials, whimsy must be a foreign land to the average barista. Yet they persevere, scratching out witty messages about hamsters being mixed up with hipsters, trying to convey the warmth and humour of their establishment in just a few short words, as like barristers, they become experts in reducing sentences.
Bealtaine finally arrived on Monday, the ancient pagan feast marking the start of summer. Celebrated in some areas with bonfires – usually depending on how much green waste there is lying about the garden – it is a reminder of our pagan past. The past of the Pagan Federation Of Ireland was also resuscitated recently, when a viral post of theirs resurfaced on Twitter. Responding to a request that they provide an American odinist couple with an officiant who did not perform same-sex or mixed-race handfastings, they politely declined before closing with the ancient celtic farewell of ‘f**k off’. It made you think that maybe we should give the pagans another shot – would it be so bad to hand over the running of a few hospitals to them? Who wouldn’t want a flatlining loved one being tended to by Gandalf, bellowing ‘you shall not pass’ as he warms up the defibrillator? Of course the greatest bonus to getting them to run the hospitals is that it would end all fears about nursing numbers, as druids always come with a very large staff.