This article appeared in the Tuesday 28th September 2010 edition of MIT’s “The Tech” Newspaper available at the following address: http://tech.mit.edu/V130/PDF/N40.pdf
One week ago now, the Taoiseach was ’round the bar, then on the radio, then sitting on the fence, a sitting duck, deciding what way to play his cards after TD Coveney’s tweets. Now, he’s got his back to the wall. You can throw in a plethora of farmyard puns, but the fact remains that Brian Cowen was loved and is now goaded for the type of “popularity” of which we’ve been long aware.
I can still remember the whole Willie O Dea saga, although his situation was a horse/hoarse of quite a different colour (to throw in another farmyard pun). For all that happened, all the newspaper photos and the opinion articles that were published, it’s a line from a comedic skit that sticks in my mind: “You can say what you like about Willie O Dea, but Willie O Dea gets things done.” And this, this, is the truth. Willie O Dea (with 38.6% of the vote in the five seat Limerick east constituency) is the kind of man who does, or at least did, give Enda Kenny (20.6% in 5 seat Mayo) and Brian Cowen (26.7% in 5 seat Laois-Offaly) a run for their money when it came to racking up heaps and heaps of first preference votes. The reason that Brian Cowen has those two “TD” letters attached to the end of his name, and probably the title of Taoiseach before, comes down to a certain fusion of cockiness and humility (and smartness) that in Ireland translates to popularity. I remember when Irish citizens were aboard the flotilla in the waters near Palestine and Israel. I remember the words he spoke in the Dáil chamber: “If anything should happen to any of our citizens, there will be consequences”. You could feel the TDs quiver as an identical question momentarily moved to the back of their minds: “What consequences?”.
We’ve known what our Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been like for decades. There probably hasn’t yet been an election victory where a chorus of “The Offaly Rover” hasn’t been heard, and there’s quite a quality version on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8F-9nmZ5I&feature=related . Now, if you’ve seen the video, it follows that after having sung a good few verses of the Rover, intermittently with a number of beers and an outrageous amount of chatting and handshakes (not that the handshakes would affect his voice), that upon getting up a few hours later, his voice just wouldn’t be in its prime for Morning Ireland. Look, if you want a Taoiseach who throws out a few verses of the Rover, then you’re not going to get a clean Monday morning interview. Obviously, as Taoiseach, the priority should be interviews. Why An Taoiseach chose to do both however, is beyond me?
I yearn for a new government, but I’m afraid that a changeover may only complicate things. The pressure is on Fianna Fáil and less decisions are going unnoticed than before. Maybe in twelve months it will be time for a change. Fine Gael and Labour say that they’re ready. Let’s hope they’re really ready in twelve to eighteen months.
Look, it’s a week gone and I can’t remember what questions Brian Cowen was even asked on the morning Ireland interview. I’m not sure that many people do. Only the hoarseness and the accusations will remain in my mind. I do, however, believe that there is a lot to be learned from such situations. I’d guess that An Taoiseach is still pondering his decisions in his own mind. If I were him, I’d be wondering why I gave the interview in the first place. There are many other ways other than late nights to get a hoarse voice, and when you do, you have to realise that you shouldn’t do an interview. Nobody wants to hear a hoarse voice on radio, whatever the reason. I would imagine that many people expect that An Taoiseach would organise himself in such a way as not to hinder himself in his duties. In this case, the sing-song-morning-interview was terrible terrible planning, whatever way you look at it.
Whether this mistake brings the government beyond the point of no return remains to be seen. I think the camel’s back still has a little more room for straw. From his initial position on the fence, Brian Cowen I believe, is rapidly coming to understand his mistake. He’ll realise, if he hasn’t already, that showing how he’s learning from this mistake is the key to spinning the debacle in his favour. Experience isn’t infallibility but rather learning.
Link to an article I read prior to writing this blog: “A Very Irish Hangover” by Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2010/0918/1224279149800.html?via=mr
We Europeans all hear that everything in the US is ginormous. As testified by the first photo here, it’s pretty clear that in the states, the question isn’t, “Small, medium or large?”, but rather, “What kind of large do you take?”. When it comes to portions though, I suppose I’ll let them away with it, only, and only just because they have doggy bags.
It’s five past eleven at night here at Boston and I’m just back from a hike, so I thought, on a totally unrelated note, that I’d give ye a flavour of my favourite US “larges”.
Large Uimhir a hAon (Number One): Shopping receipts.
For anyone in Ireland coming to Ireland, the first thing to note is that shopping in Boston is anti-cheap. More specifically, shopping for one person only is extremely anti-cheap. As it stands, groceries aren’t cheap, but when you are forced into a “Buy one get one free” cucumber or a two litre carton of juice transaction, you’re left after a week with empty pockets, a mouldy cucumber salad and twenty times the recommended allowance of vitamin C. Ok, so, to get to my point; Shopping receipts in the states are MASSIVE (and in fact should be called “Shopping Schnakes”). To the left, have a look at my 34 inch hurley. Beside that, have a look at my shopping receipt for, yes, a total of 20 items. They could just have done out a receipt with 20 lines of writing, maybe with a extra few here or there for totals and the date etc. But no, they have to tell you all the obvious about how much it would cost you to buy petrol if you bought $20, $30, £40, $50 or $60 worth of petrol! I’m surprised they also didn’t write down the life story of Pablo, who grew the six bananas I bought.
Large Uimhir a Dó (Number Two): Elephant Garlic
Ok, so I know what you’re thinking; elephant, right, I can’t complain. Sure if you got elephant garlic in Ireland it would probably be that big. Fair enough, point taken, you probably could get elephant garlic somewhere like Brian Lenihan’s house*. In any case, I really thought that when a clove, and let me repeat that, a clove, not a head of garlic, is half the size of an average spud, questions should be asked. Normally I might throw a clove or two of garlic in the curry, but with even half of an elephant clove… I tell ya, that’d be curry to chase vampires from the states like St. Patrick drove snakes from Ireland.
Finally, on a recessionary note, with the upcoming pun intended, I reckon we should bring in Euro notes to Ireland, just like the USers have their dollar notes. In fact, we should bring in 1 cent notes. Strolling into Arnott’s* with your wallet packed full of notes for the first time since 2005, t’would be the job… t’would be the job…
*Irish political references which would make no sense whatsoever to those of you causing non-Irish flags to appear at the bottom of this blog.
I was just heading down the stairs when I saw on my right hand side those eating-standing-up tables and a girl giving out something. “Must be the wine and cheese-party”, I said to myself. The one where they try to get you (well actually it’s extremely voluntary) to buy an MIT ring, known as the Grad Rat. Retailing at prices between $150 and $1150, depending whether you want it in gold, silver or iron and depending on the size of the ring. (http://web.mit.edu/gsc/www/programs/ring/design.shtml) It’d be pretty funny to propose to someone with it, but if it’s only for that reason, it’s not worth me buying it. I’m not a fan of rings anyway, I can hardly keep a watch on me. By the way, there’s no rat on it. There’s a pretty deep-meaning drawing including a beaver as the main design and then they also engrave your name on the inside along with your graduation year. Free updates of your personal details are included in the price.
In any case, that girl I thought was giving out wine or cheese was actually giving out black stress balls. So I took one and went over to where the cheese was. There wasn’t much of the cheese left. Lots of wine, but I wasn’t in the mood for wine, namely, there wasn’t a full dinner to eat with the wine and if I took the wine it’d be harder to eat the cheese. Right, to cut a long story short; Food was eaten.