Veering West

Marty parties, Chinese revolts and a new wine line to France – how bad?

December 5th, 2022 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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THERE was a sense of normality resumed in Ireland over the weekend. First, it was the return of The Late Late Toy Show which was slightly more muted than the blockbuster showcases we’ve come to expect during the Covid years. I think we really needed the Toy Show during those times. It was like a warm, nostalgic blanket to collectively snuggle under during the lockdowns.

Now that the audience is fully back, it somehow feels slightly less special, although that might have been down to one particular lad whose incessant whooping and hollering almost caused Twitter to melt down before Elon Musk had the chance to run it into the ground. 

Then there was Ask Me Anything with Angela Scanlon on Saturday. My only question for Ms Scanlon would be ‘Do I really have to watch your TV show, Angela?’ but the remote was all the way over by the TV on Saturday and I was catatonic with tiredness from the previous night’s toy-themed antics. 

At that moment, Marty Morrissey appeared on my flatscreen and I genuinely thought I was hallucinating when he told the story of how a group of excited female fans once climbed on top of an OB van chanting his name, demanding the ‘babe magnet’ come out.

What they planned on doing with poor Marty after that point has not been established.

It all reminded me of the situation in China, to be honest (if the mob of Irish women was the Chinese people and Marty Morrissey was President Xi Jinping).

With protests on the rise in Beijing and beyond, and a massive crisis looming with a third of China’s 267 million over-60s currently without a third vaccine dose, it seems that Xi Jinping and the ruling party might not have the answer to all life’s questions after all. In fact, to quote a phrase not commonly used on the Chinese mainland, it looks as if they’ve made a right hames of it. 

Why aren’t they just making people take the vaccine, you may ask? Well, it seems that vaccine hesitancy is particularly high amongst the older cohort in Chinese society, so introducing a mandate is considered too politically risky. 

But we all know how that goes. If you can’t protect the elderly with science, then the rest of society will have to deal with never-ending lockdowns and spiralling economic circumstances instead. 

So now we’re seeing something that rarely happens in China – signs of revolt. And though it’s rare, when it does happen, it tends to be dramatic, just like when Irish women of a certain generation demand their ‘Marty time’. Law and order can fall apart very quickly.

Joking aside, all this may have very scary repercussions for those brave enough to voice dissent against an increasingly despotic Xi Jinping and his party apparatchiks. 

But it seems the officials are caught between a rock and a hard place.

It’s funny what a few years’ perspective can do. Our own handling of the pandemic suddenly doesn’t look so bad. 

And the less said about Marty and the OB van, the better.

It doesn’t add up for me

I WAS saddened, though not entirely surprised, to see the article on The Southern Star this week reporting that an alarming number of families in West Cork will be forced to ‘heat or eat’ this winter. 

How on Earth is this the case? 

We’re one of the richest nations on the planet, consistently appearing at the top end of ‘quality of life’ studies. The media is consistently reporting corporation tax windfalls, which seem to come along like crocks of gold at the end of rainbows near the end of every financial quarter. 

Yet working people can’t afford to put food on the table to feed their families. Sick people are afraid to plug in nebulisers for fear of the electricity bill. Young people are living at home into their thirties and forties, because they have no hope of getting on the property ladder any time soon.

None of this adds up. 

And nothing any of the opposition parties say fills me with any confidence that they know a way to address any of these fundamental issues.

Putin’s war aside, it feels like a general sense of precariousness now infuses every aspect of modern life. And that this is the world we must accept.  

I read an interesting piece in The Atlantic earlier this week about how The Simpsons were considered ‘lower middle class’ and a cautionary tale back during their heyday in the 90s. They were the slacker family you probably didn’t want to be. Nowadays, the life that Homer, Marge and the kids had seems like the definition of privilege and is almost entirely out of reach for most young Americans. 

No unions to protect their jobs, few routes to secure accommodation, pitiful access to healthcare …. 

In Ireland, we are clearly following that road and you’d have to ask the question – is this what we want?

In the last century, it took two world wars to snap society out of the inequality that pervaded in the late 1900s. Let’s hope we can muster up a more civilised way to redress the imbalances this time around.  

French link is a real corker!

THIS week saw the signing of the deal between Ireland and France for the Celtic Interconnector. 

No, Celtic Interconnector isn’t some hair metal band from Tullamore, it’s an underground energy connector which will allow us to sell them wind energy when we have an excess and allows them to sell us back some of their juicy nuclear energy on the odd day it isn’t blowing a gale in Ireland. 

It’s certainly great that we are decreasing our dependence on imported British gas and a great move for Eamon Ryan and The Greens who have been making one hell of a big deal out of it. And why wouldn’t they? They still lack those Bertie-like populist tendencies though, that could really bring in the votes. 

If I was them, I wouldn’t be limiting the interconnector to energy. How about a fresh supply of wine to supply Irish homes for the years ahead, when foreign holidays are eventually banned? 

And in return, we could pipe some of that lovely Durrus mist back to them, to cool down overheating French grannies at the height of summer? 

Surely this is the sort of creative, lateral thinking the European Union needs?

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