I’m not a political animal, I like to leave that to the men and women who know politics, not the ones who know how to get your lane tarred out of turn or who personally come with a bag of salt for your front street just before election time… in June.
Mixed Blessings with Seamus O’Rourke
I like to leave the politics to them. But now, as we in this fragile country seem to be having a bit of a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment or more like a ‘Houston, the whole arse is after blowing out of the oxygen tank and we’ve no power to boil a kettle’ moment.
It might be a good time to try and make sense of where we are as a politically occupied nation. As my electrician said to me when I met him coming out of the scullery with the fire extinguisher in one hand and the fuse board in the other… ‘She could need a bit of work… lad’.
Well, we all know that and most of us presume she’ll come round… eventually, sometime. But there are others, and only some others mind, who are not so patient and think we should be out on the streets and they might be right.
So why are we not out protesting against… stuff? That’s what our European neighbours are saying to us Irish too. ‘Get out on the streets and shout at… well somebody. It’s time to put your foot down’, they say. ‘There are things happening in your country which shouldn’t be allowed to happen’.
Well that’s alright for them to say, the French and the Italians and all those countries who gesticulate wildly with their hands when making their all so valid point, but we Irish are different.
It’s not in our nature to protest and we like to keep our hands in our pockets for most things, thank you very much. We reserve all our demonstrative actions for playing GAA club derby matches, where we can display massive torrents of emotion in small wet fields in the month of March, wave our arms about as good as any Italian, an arm that would have a good old-fashioned clenched fist at the end of it too, but when it comes to reacting to some immoral political decision or piece of government legislation or even something as simple as just standing about, as we Irish do so very well or love making or shopping for second hand tools in the local outdoor market, well then we like to do that with our hands firmly in our pockets and talk out of the side of our mouth and say things like ‘That’s a terror’ or ‘How’s that going to work, I wonder?’ or ‘Ya wouldn’t think that’d fit in there… lad’…
I know as a nation we’ve been known to rebel a few times over the last eight hundred years, but how many really rebelled and how many stood by with their hands in their pockets muttering out of the side of their mouth, ‘Oh now… I don’t know if that’s a great idea…’ The fact is, it’s not really in our nature as Irish to object or rock the boat or even to say, ‘Was that not supposed to come with chips?’
When we came home from school years ago and our parents asked us how many slaps we got, it wasn’t because they were putting some report together on the misdoings of the department of education with the notion of hitting them with a libel suit.
No, they were simply making sure that we hadn’t provoked the poor teacher of the day with our complete lack of manners and our pure and utter thickness. It was all yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir and believe you me in those days, that was the way to stay safe… Not much has changed.
And by the way, what about those chips? Well the thing is, if the nice young lady who served you half a meal and then went on to simply ignore your existence because there was a much more attractive individual with meat balls sitting by the window, well then that’s alright too. That sort of thing is understandable, well maybe not understandable, but in this country it’s forgivable. It’s not the first time in our history that we’ve had to do without chips; we all remember the famine after all.
Well, all except that band of renegades from in and around the boom years who thought it was so cosmopolitan to complain in restaurants and insist on everything being medium rare and sniffing the red wine before firing it down their Shannon waterway sized gullets. They didn’t sit well as representatives of our good, decent, obedient Irish people.
A lot they knew about their wine no more than what they knew about their Anglo Irish shares. They weren’t long going back to having their meat well done, like the rest of us.
It’s just not in our nature to make a fuss, or move too far in any particular direction without coming back to a place of comfort. Even our native Irish dance and God knows when was that invented?... obviously at some time in history when there wasn’t a lot else going on… but even the steps to it, go… one, two three… BACK one, two, three and then SIDEWAYS one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and then sideways again, this time the other way, one, two three, four, five, six, seven… feels very like something that meant us to stay in the one place.
Oh, the thing is, we’ve always just got on with it! Or at least let the powers that be think that we were getting on with it and then we came up with our own weird and wonderful ways of beating the system, it’s become a national pastime.
In some ways, we find it too easy an option to complain, that shows a weakness and we’d be thick like that.
Much manlier to say nothing and then get stuck into bending and breaking a few rules here and there, a bit of ducking and diving, some wheeling and dealing, all way ahead of yoga and yogurt for keeping us as who we are.
Look at the rules of our other national pastime for example, Gaelic games, a perfect illustration of how we think… There are rules, but it’s not always in the best interest of the game to apply them… more important to let the game flow… That’s us… Let the game flow… one, two, three BACK one, two, three.
So from now on let’s stop complaining… apart from, of course, about the weather and Pat Spillane, it wouldn’t be the same without having a go at those two chestnuts… but leave the real complaining to our more honest European partners who haven’t the where with all to disguise their general dis-satisfaction.
I know they will claim that those who complain will eventually get heard and ultimately get action… that’s alright for them, but no one likes them, never really did… but people do like the Irish, because we’re obviously great craic and we’re no at sport and we have no politicians that need to be taken seriously and well that’s just great, because we sure like being liked, in fact we much prefer being liked to being taken seriously.
* A new in stage production presented by Canal Studios at the Backstage Theatre, Longford directed by Seamus O’Rourke will hit the stage in September. Arrah na Pogue by Dion Boucicault sees rascally rebels, villainous villains and love struck young wans!
A cast of 20, made up of some of the ﬁnest actors from across the region, bring you this hilarious comedy.
Backstage Theatre & Centre for the Arts, Farneyhoogan, Longford, Co. Longford, T: 043 33 47888 F: 043 33 47890 E: firstname.lastname@example.org