COLM TOBIN: Bertie’s friends in low places welcome him back to the fold

September 26th, 2022 11:00 AM

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I SEEM to have developed a case of the old Stockholm Syndrome after Garth Brooks jetted off last week.

On Sunday evening, I found myself standing outside in the garden at around 8pm, staring into the silent void of the Northside sky, quietly pining for thunderous drums and the faint whooping of inebriated country people.

I swear the place hasn’t seemed so quiet since that eerie first Covid lockdown.

Even Mary Lou got in on the stetson-themed action near the end, posting a selfie from Croke Park in fine country and western attire, a move you wouldn’t put past Bertie in his heyday.

Speaking of Bertie, he made some headlines himself this week, the icy relations with his old muckers in Fianna Fáil seemingly beginning to thaw.

There are less than subtle kites being flown about a potential bid for the Áras, something that’s been in the ether now for many years but which might now stand a better chance given the fairly random standard of candidate on display in recent presidential elections.

I mean, at one point there, Mr Tayto’s people must have been seriously considering a run.

So rumours of Bertie’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems. Or maybe the rumours just got rumourier …?

The queue (for) E II

IT was a case of God Save The Queue in London this week as thousands filed past Queen Elizabeth II as she lay in state in Westminster Hall, having queued patiently for hours on end.

At one point, the queue got so long there were fears it would creep into France and risk becoming part-European, like one of those bendy bananas Boris Johnson is so fond of.

Luckily, Sir David Beckham was on hand and joined the throngs of mourners just in time to bend the queue back in a proper English direction, as only he can.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, you could almost hear the collective rolling of eyes throughout the land.

I thought we were over the top with our funerals, but Janey Mack ... you’d swear Joe Dolan had died!

No, we’re far more sensible this side of the Irish Sea, where the only things we’ll queue overnight for are Garth Brooks tickets or grotty one-bedroom apartments in Phibsboro, going for a song at €1,500 a month.

Oh yeah, paragons of virtue and good sense are we over here.

Of course, there is a fair bit of the usual old cross-channel hypocrisy surrounding this. On the one hand, we’re giggling under our breaths wondering whether Elton John might be lowered from the ceiling astride a Union Jack piano at any moment.

On the other, we’re all blowing a gasket because the Premier League is cancelled and we don’t get to watch Liverpool playing on the weekend.

Likewise, when it was announced that Corrie and Emmerdale would be taken off the air, you could almost feel the desperation in the air across middle Ireland.

What are we supposed to do without the soaps on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday evening? Not to mention the various omnibuses on the weekend?

What are we supposed to do? Speak Irish to each other? Watch Fair City twice?

You’d be wrecked by all the confusing double standards.

I suppose we’re entitled to a bit of fun after 800 years of oppression, that whole bother with the spuds, not to mention Oliver Cromwell storming through the countryside setting us all on fire.

But if the shoe was on the other foot, and Michael D passed away in the morning, God forbid, can you imagine the outpouring?

Can you imagine the thousands that would attend the funeral? And would we be happy if the Brits spent the week scoffing at our genuine tributes on social media?

I think not.

If such a thing did happen, Jedward certainly wouldn’t stand for it, by the tone and texture of their recent Twitter musings.

They seem to have become entirely radicalised in the anti-royalist sense of the word, after calling for the monarchy to be abolished only days after the death of The Queen. As you can imagine, this did not go down well in the British media.

Perish the thought of where all this will go next.

Will the duo form part of Mary Lou’s first cabinet? Might they become the country’s first twin presidents?

Or will they take unilateral action, mobilise a small army of dissident ex-boyband stars and take Rockall by force of glitter?

Minding the (poverty) gap

FINANCIAL Times journalist John Burn-Murdoch tweeted a damning graph this week showing US & UK income inequality so wide that the poorest people in both countries have a worse standard of living than the poorest in countries like Slovenia. The same graph showed Ireland far more equitable and redistributive, and our poorest much better off comparably. I know it’s hard to believe given how the cost of living crisis is playing out. It seems to me that we’ve got a choice to make in the coming years – lean into the redistributive model more and bring some of the solidarity shown during Covid to bear on how we run ourselves, or copy the Brits and the Americans, as we’ve often done in the past, leading to the inevitable?

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