Okay so Bertie's named the day and in 3 and a half weeks time we'll all know which combination of knaves, charlatans and mountebanks will be leading the political shaft-fest for the coming 5 years. I'll say no more about it other than point out that, given the gathering clouds on the economic horizon, it boils down to little more than a choice between two fatal diseases; one that kills you in a week and that kills you in a fortnight.
Some of you may have already noticed that there is a far more significant election going on, the effects of which will remain with us long after the government in waiting has packed up its stall and moved on to take the shears to a new flock of sheep.
With almost clairvoyant timing, the lads from Hasbro down in Waterford have come up with one of the most bizarre marketing ideas of the present century. They want to launch an All-Ireland version of Monopoly. It says here that politicians, county councillors and Monopoly lovers are being asked 'to rally their county’s population to vote in a bid to ensure that their county features on the board'.
According to Hasbro’s National Sales Manager, Anne Dermody:
We have always been amazed at the level of interest and passion that surrounds Monopoly. Now it’s up to the people of Ireland to have their say and to ensure that their county is included on the new board. Those who don’t vote will find that their county will be left out.
You don't say, Annie, me darling.
The training ground of many an Irish property magnate, Monopoly is a game best remembered from my childhood as the cause of annual bouts of sibling rivalry and internecine warfare that lasted from St Stephen's Day until well into the new year. I still have a scar on me napper caused by a Matchbox edition Pickford's furniture removal truck (lots of sharp corners them pantechnicons) thrown by my sister as a response to the rents on my extensive developments in Mayfair and Park Lane (that's Shrewsbury and Aylesbury Roads to you indigenes).
As a good Marxist, when playing the game thereafter I set up housing co-ops and not-for-profit community businesses, nationalised transport and utilities and distributed my profits amongst the other players. I never won again but neither did I require further stitches below the hairline.
But I digress. Apart from the logical problem arising from the fact that there are 32 Counties and only 22 properties on the board which makes an 'All-Ireland' Monopoly board an impossible dream (pretty much like the real thing), Hasbro's plebiscite will leave the nation worse off than Michael Collins and Lord Birkenhead did between them in 1922. And we all know the trouble that caused.
Sociologically, the current state of the leaderboard is interesting. Poised to occupy the prime site that was once Shrewsbury Road is Co Roscommon with 3500-odd votes. Donegal and Leitrim lie in 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. As counties that benefited least from the Celtic Tiger, I guess it's a case of if you can't get in reality,you'll settle for the fantasy, eh?
Five of the six Northern Irish counties are in there, but Sinn Féin need to get their lads with the camáns out on the doorsteps of Fermanagh. They're currently at the foot of the poll with a miserly 633 votes. Bobby Sands must be turning in his grave with the shame of it.
Anyway so, the polls close on May 25th. As they say in the North, often without a wry grin, 'Vote early and vote often.'