Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another nail in the coffin of ould Ireland

Two stories in the news this morning made me wish that we had a satirist as funny and sharp as Myles na Gopaleen/Flann O'Brien/Brian O'Nolan still with us on this wee island.

The first concerned Tipperary FG councillor Michael Fitzgerald who claimed yesterday that the current Garda campaign against drink driving was bringing about the demise of traditional rural Irish culture. He defended the rights of rural drinkers to climb into their SUVs and swerve their way home after a half a gallon or so of porter on them. People, he contended, were being confined to their homes by the campaign and could not even drink there as they could be breath-tested the next morning.

Mr Fitzgerald publicly admitted he drives with "three or four pints" even though he has previously been breathalysed and banned from driving. "I've never killed anyone. I feel the wrong people are being targeted," he said. He has, however, been previously been banned for drink driving but the lack of fatalities in his wake seems to justify his defence of traditional customs.

The second item concerned a report on suicidal thoughts which showed that Irish people were more likely to contemplate suicide than even the Norwegians, a well known shower of gloomy bastards who currently top the European suicide league table.

Were Myles still with us, I have no doubt that he would find something of a correlation between these two snippets, for it is surely the stuff that an Ibsen play is made of (Apologies to Ibsen and Myles).

The Wild Goose

At Whelan's house. A richly and comfortably furnished study; bookcases and upholstered furniture; an HD TV and home cinema system dominates the room. At the back, open folding-doors with curtains drawn back. Within is seen a large and handsome room, brilliantly lighted with lamps and branching candle-sticks. On the left, in front, a fireplace with a glowing peat effect fire, and farther back a double door leading into the combined kitchen-dining-room.

Whelan is a stout, ruddy faced man of middle years. He stands before the UVPC window of his study mournfully contemplating the sodden vista stretching down to the lough. The sound of an SUV in low gear is heard coming up the gravel drive.

Shortly afterwards the door is heard to open. Enter Nora, humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in outdoor dress and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to the right.

NORA: What a day. There was such a rush down below at Brady's in the village. He had some fresh truffles in from Italy and sure wasn't every old biddy in the place after getting their paws on them. We'll have them with the osso bucco and the sun-dried tomatoes for tea tonight. Odd-bins had some Frascati on offer that'll go lovely with the veal.

WHELAN (gloomily): Truffles, is it? Frascati, is it? Sun dried tomatoes, is it? What's wrong with cruibeens and a rake of spuds just dug from the soil me grandfather fought the Tans for? And some cabbage with the life boiled out of it running with butter fresh from the churn and washed down with milk still warm from the cow?

NORA: Seamus, me darlin', are you after mourning the decline of traditional Irish culture again? You know what the doctor said about your hypertension. Put the Sky on. There's bound to be something about the Manchester United that'll cheer you up. I'll get you some Xanax and a glass of water.

WHELAN: Would you not hold your whisht now, woman? You know I can't enjoy the United without a pint of porter before me, its fine cream head settling like the first snows of winter.

NORA: Well why don't you take a spin up to O'Hennessey's Bistro and Wine Bar at the crossroads for a drink before your tea's ready?

WHELAN (angrily): A spin up to O'Hennessey's? Woman, have you lost your mind altogether? The boreen is crawling with Garda with their breathlysers and radar guns, laying in wait for dacent citizens with a couple of scoops on them to cross their path, the blackguards. It's a sorry state that has befallen us when a man can't drive his Range Rover down to the pub for a few beers and a chorus of Kevin Barry with his friends. Them jackeens up above in Dublin with their laws don't seem to understand what they're doing to rural culture. They're after destroying us, so they are. Six pints of stout and a quick spin home, sure where's the harm in that? Do they want us back on the bicycles again? Another nail in the coffin of the true Irish way of life, so it is. Between that and the planning regulations, they'll be after withdrawing the farmer's dole next and then where will be?

NORA: Seamus, mo chroi, don't take on so. We survived Cromwell, the Famine and the emigrant boats, did we not? Sure it'll take more than a few Garda with breathalyser kits to crush the life from rural Ireland. Pull yourself together and I'll bring you a wee can of stout from the kitchen.

WHELAN: A can of stout in front of me own fireside. And I can't even enjoy that for the fear they'll have me on the way to town in the morning. Is that all me compensation is to be for the years of tax avoidance and careful investment in prime building land? Is that what the apartments in Bulgaria are paying for? All that struggle and sacrifice and GAA for nothing more than a can of beer by me own fireside. I'll tell you now, Nora,you can bring me the shotgun for that's the only thing will save me from the despair that's fallen on the land since they stopped the drink driving.

NORA: Do you mean that I can't be after having a few vodkas while I watch the Eastenders and America's top model on the satellite for fear I'll be stopped the next day on me way to the tanning salon?

WHELAN: I do indeed, Nora, me darling.

NORA: Is the shotgun still in the cold press and the shells on the shelf above?

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