JOURNOS define the ‘silly season’ as that time of year (around now, the dog days of summer) when stories charting the bizarre antics of man and beast are published in the absence of important news concerning politics or foreign affairs.
Tales such as the Loch Ness Monster having been killed by pollution, donkeys forced to parasail over the Black Sea or 23ft sunflowers in Co Waterford, one of which is called the ‘Eiffel Flower’ - and, yes, that’s true, we saw it ourselves, years ago.
The problem is that nowadays the ‘silly season’ gets longer and longer because of the difficulty in distinguishing nonsense news from what passes for ‘serious’ or ‘hard’ news.
For instance, take the case of our Minister for Electoral Reform, a chap called John Paul Phelan. Outlining the new rules behind counting votes in the European elections, he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland that the transfers of the final candidate eliminated would not come into play in the constituencies set to gain an extra seat after Brexit.
Technical, but enough for barristers, returning officers, and voters to point out immediately that he was talking through his hat, which prompted the said Minister for Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, to issue a public apology. ‘I cocked up spectacularly,’ he confessed, adding, ‘I’ll be careful about who I take legal advice from in the future.’
But it was the ensuing act of contrition that perplexed those of us who no longer read ‘Mad’ magazine or are au fait with American slang words. ‘I had a kind of brain fart on ‘Morning Ireland’… it was pretty horrific,’ he explained.
Yes, a ‘horrific’ ministerial ‘brain fart’ and a Fine Gael one at that. Whatever could he mean, the nation asked, aware that although ‘fart’ (origins Old Norse, Slavic) has entered into computer techno-speech, its use in formal situations remains vulgar and offensive.
Unless, of course, the Minister saw himself as a ‘fart’ or ‘an old fart’ whose political observations have a significance similar to breaking wind loudly and – dare we say it? – are not worth a fart!
But a ‘brain fart’? So we looked it up, and found it was figurative slang, suggesting absent-mindedness or forgetfulness or, put more accurately, a temporary lapse in memory, ‘commonly related to attention, or lack thereof’. Interestingly, said the text books, ‘brain farts’ are common to individuals who tend to compromise their ability to pay attention to the world around them.
Nothing which, of course, diminishes in any way the outstanding political and intellectual achievements in the world of politics of our distinguished Minister for … oops, we’ve already forgotten! Indeed, most people suffer the occasional ‘brain-fart’. For example, the waiter says ‘Enjoy your meal’ and the customer replies: ‘You too.’ Glitches in the working of the human brain affect us all, not only FG ministers.
While the American term ‘brain fart’ is new, at least to us, we now know (thanks to the minister’s frank admission of the phenomenon) that essentially it is a political faux pas that can result in some embarrassment due to a misinterpretation by the listener. In other words, it’s a silly mistake that has nothing to do with the expulsion of intestinal gas. And for most of the plain people of Ireland, that’s a relief!
‘THE SINNING PRIEST’
And then, in an unrelated incident, we had Vlad describing Our Mickey, the aspiring Taoiseach and leader of a great non-prophet organisation (geddit?), as a ‘sinning priest’ (no, not singing priest!). It wasn’t a nice comment! In fact, it was very unkind.
Because if Vlad thinks the broad Church of Fianna Fail needs a better leader, he only needs to amalgamate FG with FF . That would do the trick. And he also should bear in mind that even if Blueshirts might think Our Mickey a bit of a political eegit, Jesus loves him.
WATERFORD FLYING HIGH
Yes, indeed. We’re well and truly in the Silly Season. So, here’s another good one. Cork Airport, vital to the Leeside economy, is busy staying relevant, but what does that remarkable Waterford Minister for Business, Enterprise and Skills, John Halligan, do? He gifts €5m of our dosh to Waterford Airport, an outfit that hasn’t seen any commercial flights in the past four years, nor has it had a single passenger jet land or take off in that time.
In fact, in the last year that Waterford airport offered commercial flights it had fewer passengers than Connemara Airport, which carries people to and from the Aran Islands!
Said Halligan in response to criticism of his remarkable aeronautical astuteness: ‘If people want to say it’s parish pump politics, I don’t care. It’s a big hit for the south-east.’
A big hit! Politics coalition-style! Gawd help us!
Did you know that it cost the nation €11m smackers to cover Trump’s jaunt in Ireland and that The Boys In Blue are up in arms at the fact that Garda training and technology budgets will have to be cut to pay for the pathetic antics in this country of a bigot and threat to humanity?
And to make matters worse, Trump’s sidekick, US vice -president Mike Pence, is also expected to make an official ‘call-in’ to see the Oirish leprechauns, which will bring further costs for the Garda.
ROSS’ TRIVIAL PURSUITS
Oh, and how’s this for a dashing example of political principle? Minister Shane Ross made his political name by denouncing the system whereby judges are appointed. He described it as plagued by ‘cronyism’ and demanded the reform of judicial appointments if his support of Varadkar’s government was to continue. He threatened to veto appointments.
But, (as reported in the Indo-Sindo) Ross, as a member of Cabinet, already has approved 49 appointments over the past three years. Independent senator Victor Boyhan explained: ‘Nearly 50 judges have been appointed by the government despite all his threats to walk out of government. The reality is that Ross would on his own (walk out of Government), his other Independent Alliance colleagues would not surrender their ministries for such trivia.’
NO SEX PLEASE!
As a final homage to the Silly Season, here’s another good one. The prestigious journal, Essays in Philosophy (Volume 20, Issue 1, 2019), raises the question as to whether mankind should respond to climate change by having fewer children or, ideally, none at all. Procreation, the eggheads suggest, might yet become ’immoral’ in an age when our children and grandchildren inherit ‘catastrophic global environmental problems’.
Certainly, it would make for a quieter tea-time!