SEPTEMBER does strange things to your sense of time, doesn’t it?
It feels like three years ago now since Robert Troy got the road and Dara Colleary re-appeared on the stage like some haunted pooka from August past, all sins forgiven. But apparently, this was only last week.
It’s a discombobulating little period that straddles summer and school term.
You’d be all up in a heap!
Speaking of people in a heap, Electric Picnic also happens at this time of year, a true sign that summer is ending. For those that don’t know it, it is a sort of Galway Tent for people who read The Irish Times, and it comes around every year without fail in a torrent of rain and Instagram stories.
It’s mostly revellers in wellies mixing it up with the type of young parents who haul their toddlers around a music festival wearing ear protection devices, something that doesn’t, but which should, get a serious thumbs-down in the Geneva Convention.
There was a time when I would be down in that muddy field myself, wandering around the woods like Leonardo Di Caprio in The Revenant, but life comes at you fast in middle age. These days I’d sooner spoon a hungry bear than fork out a couple of hundred lids to eat falafel in a pool of warm Heineken while listening to some lad from Dalkey burn the ear off me about the Arctic Monkeys.
But I digress.
As well as the Picnic, it’s also the time of year that a different news agenda seems to take shape all of a sudden, like a school timetable we’ve all suddenly agreed to sign up to.
The budget kites are being flown with wild abandon across the media skyline. The countdown has begun to the changing of the guards at Dáil Éireann in December, as Micheál hands over the ceremonial iPad to his successor in the Department of An Taoiseach.
‘Don’t switch off the lights before you leave, Micheál,’ Leo might quip. ‘I would have, Leo, but Electric Ireland beat me to it ....’
Most of the media attention this week was focused on our neighbours across the water, however. From across the Irish Sea, contemporary Britain seems to be fast descending into a cross between A Clockwork Orange and Eastenders, each scene playing out like a cautionary student play from 1982 warning about the dangers of Maggie Thatcher.
The Tories choose their successor to Bojo this week and picked Liz Truss, a politician about whom very little is known, or indeed can ever be known. She is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Cornish pasty wrapped in about five hundred imperial yards of locally-produced red tape.
Indeed, she has changed position so often in her political life, that trying to predict how the next year will pan out is now the equivalent of looking into a black hole. Time and matter just disappear beyond the event horizon, and it is entirely impossible to predict anything she will do or say using conventional instrumentation.
A deep dive into her back story reveals nothing of comfort. She is a former leftie who campaigned against Thatcher. She was once an avid Remainer. She was apparently more into Blur than Oasis until it suited her and she switched sides in the middle of the Battle of Britpop. In the past, she has both loved and hated Marmite. It’s now less a question of whether her appointment will be a good thing for Anglo-Irish relations and more would you actually leave your bike with her outside a butcher’s shop?
So, who knows what the coming months will bring? Will she visit Dublin and take the Tea Sock for pints in Temple Bar, pretending Brexit never happened? Will she tear up the Northern Ireland protocol and blow a raspberry down the phone at Ursula Von Der Leyen? Will she take Rockall in the dead of night dressed like the man from the Milk Tray ad?
All of the above are equally likely in this modern hellscape we now call reality. Maybe it’s just September. Maybe it’s just me.
But it feels like we could all do with something solid to grip onto right now.
Flatley is our own Picasso
LUCKILY, we have the very thing! Yes, it was the launch of Michael Flatley’s movie Blackbird this week, an event that carries so much cultural weight it could well blow Ireland right back to 1957. Faith and begorrah!
It has now received more one-star reviews than you could shake a shillelagh at, including a particularly caustic take in The Guardian calling it a ‘fabulously bad spy tale’ and ‘a classic of egosploitation cinema’.
I don’t know, lads, but I’m beginning to think Flatley is some sort of artistic genius. If you ask me, the man can manipulate irony in the same way Picasso used to push cubes around a canvas.
When you consider the evidence – he seems to have created a cult hit that can be enjoyed ironically at the moment of its release, something it took The Rocky Horror Picture Show a generation to achieve.
This week, cinemagoers were turning up in droves, donning Michael Flatley hats to ‘enjoy’ the film, mostly in a completely tongue-in-cheek way.
After the week we’ve had in the news, we could all do with a laugh. So, I think we should build a statue to the man ... for the craic, like.
Switching ain’t so easy
SPEAKING of one man’s battle against reality … I came to the end of a six-month-long tussle to switch my mortgage from one bank to another this week.
I tell you now, folks, it would be easier for a senior footballer to switch from Castlehaven to Skibbereen.
After supplying them with rafts of paperwork over the course of six months, the kind of volume you’d expect when applying for citizenship of some Scandinavian nation-State, they decided to up their rates overnight, making the switch completely pointless.
So I just stuck with my old bank.
Like many areas of life these days, and particularly personal finance, it seems the customer always comes last.