COLM TOBIN: Let’s grin and (Santa) bear it at the office party for the sake of peace

December 26th, 2022 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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WE’RE at the height of the Christmas party season now, a time that is fraught with danger for all of you office workers out there.

Yes, it’s that very merry time of the year when people are jammed together in pubs and restaurants, squeezed into Santy hats and reindeer-themed knitwear, and absolutely plied with drink by their employers.

What could possibly go wrong?

Over the course of an evening, you have to socialise with the people you have already spent every working day of the year with, without saying or doing anything that will end your career.

For some, it’s an absolute recipe for disaster.

Over the years, I have developed a few techniques to help me through these evenings.

I actually use a lot of the same tools I have given to my children when dealing with unpleasant emotions to avoid any potential conflict.

I count my fingers and do breathing exercises when confronted by obnoxious colleagues.

I try mindful eating – if you feel triggered by Yvonne from Sales taking credit for all your work in front of the team, I find it helps to chew a morsel of steak fifty times with a weak smile on your face. After a few minutes, the urge to fling skinny chips in Yvonne’s face usually passes.

Finally, avoid thorny, controversial subjects at all costs. I’ve seen grown women fight on the floor over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Yes, the housing crisis is important, but can you just shut up about it for a few hours? And for God’s sake, don’t even mention the phrase ‘gender identity’.

Stick to simple, inoffensive, topics, like the weather or Marty Morrissey’s sex appeal.

And most of all, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves!

Spreading the love around

THERE was very little sign of these sorts of workplace tensions in the Dáil last week, when the leadership of the country transferred harmoniously from Micheál the Peaceful to Leo the Laid Back.

Boy oh boy, but has civil war politics come to an end or what? I’ve seen more tension in Hare Krishna drumming circles.

You could actually hear a pin drop in the Dáil as the procedures of transfer took place, mostly because everyone was asleep.

I don’t think Neil Jordan will be making a movie about this era.

Which is a good thing, of course!

Like many of you, I’ve been glued to the excellent The Irish Civil War on RTÉ One this past week.

I was struck by how little I actually knew about the era, which is to my own shame obviously, but probably speaks to the wider inclination to not speak about what happened during that terrible time. I mean, I’ve read the Tom Barry book. I’ve studied a history course in third level. But the era after Collins’ death was still a largely undiscovered country for me.

It’s poignant and you could even say poetic, that the coalition government has transferred the leadership in a historically unconventional way, but in such a markedly civilised fashion, by contrast with one hundred years ago and the tragedy that unfolded from the foothills of Benbulben to the streets of Limerick.

These symbols are important. Micheál Martin has been a popular leader, even receiving a standing ovation from his Sinn Féin counterparts on the opposition benches.

But another takeaway from the Irish Civil War was the impatience of the public, as they waited for their leaders to build them the long-awaited republic so many had been dying for.   

In this way, although our country has transformed for the better, nothing has changed.

After all the positive interparty palaver, politics will get very real again in the new year.

And this government will need to work at warp speed to fix some of the deep-seated problems the public is demanding they fix.

Messi’s day, a messy Cup

IT is the greatest moment of your life. The crowning achievement of everything you have worked towards – the football World Cup final! And you have won! Your kids and their kids and even their kids will look back on this day for many years to come. You’ll probably never have to walk into a bar and buy a glass of Argentinian malbec again.

So what do you do?

You take the trophy you just won for the Golden Glove and pretend it’s a willy, of course!

And this is how Emiliano Martinez, the winning Argentina goalkeeper chose to celebrate on the podium for the closing ceremony in Qatar.

You can call it toxic masculinity on a global stage. You could call it a harmless, infantile schoolboy gesture made to contrast with the po-faced weirdness of the ceremony itself.

In many ways, the whole ceremony symbolised everything that was great, and awful, about this competition, from the president of FIFA doing a Shane Ross, to Messi being forced to wear a lady’s nightie from the 1930s by strange men in white robes.

It seems this World Cup will always be remembered for its extremes and its politics. Incredible scenes on the pitch, topped off by the best final in living memory, if not ever. A game for the ages, in which Messi, the best player of his generation, got to finally lift the coveted Jules Rimet Trophy.

It was the stuff of dreams and a spectacle that was watched by literally billions. But all this was marred by the horrendous abuse of migrant workers in the kind of country where they have air-conditioned parks in the middle of a climate crisis.

Does a competition on this scale really bring the world closer together? Arguably, the soft power of Western values transferred to the Muslim world through sport is progressive in its own right. But at what cost?

Legitimising regimes that conflict with those standards and values surely undermine those same values fundamentally.

Even Messi’s legend is not straightforward. It turns out he has made a huge cash deal with the Saudi Arabian regime to promote tourism, which could ultimately threaten Argentina’s quest to host the competition in the coming years.   

What a beautiful game, but what a messy world.

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