Though this might seem preposterous, this corner has managed to derive some positives out of the ongoing chaos laying siege to the world. It was a case of having to or allow oneself to become snowed under in a blizzard of bad news, poor outlooks and, most dangerous of all, very little hope left in the tank going forward.
At a most basic level, the feeling of desolate isolation was compounded incalculably by the fact Susie and I didn’t see each other for the first eight weeks of lockdown. Until it extremely belatedly dawned on yours truly that the necessary documentation to facilitate her conveyance up and back could be very easily attained.
However, unlikely as this might appear, our involuntary separation did bring about one life-changing positive development. As a means of bridging the gap between us, herself eventually persuaded me to take the Smartphone out of the box it had hibernated in for the preceding 18 months.
So began a voyage of discovery which has left me absolutely in awe of what such technology can do and how it can make life for somebody like myself but also extremely regretful of not having embraced it years ago. Having said that, it must be acknowledged it was only through the kindness and extreme patience of herself in finding adaptive technologies and then coaching me on them that such strides were possible.
What the Covid mess also did, of course, was take the three greatest passions in life – from the point of view of being involved therein – G.A.A. and horse racing and farming – out of the equation. Which then necessitated the acquisition of new points of interest, many of which have been well documented here in recent months.
Though it must be admitted to my utmost upset and no little embarrassment, some of the newly discovered diversions themselves have fallen by the wayside. In some cases, due to circumstances beyond anybody’s control, but, unfortunately, mostly due to a dearth of confidence accentuated by being under the black cloud yet again.
As a knock-on of which the mind was drawn to the episode of Father Ted where the lads think they’re on a winner in the Eurovision Song Contest until they discover that the backing track for ‘My Lovely Horse’ is, in fact more famous than what they thought. Even though it only came fifth in ‘A Song For Norway 1991’ and everybody connected with the song was killed in a plane crash.
Recently, this hack found himself in a similar sort of bind. Not in a manner concerning published material or anything like that, just, with sport or farming not available for viewing or writing purposes. Thus it was a case of Plan C or D or E. In many ways, in more recent years I have withdrawn somewhat from active involvement in politics. Mind you, the stepping back process didn’t extend to observation.
It couldn’t. Simply as the lure of an election count is nearly impossible to resist. Believe it or not, while the now infamous E-Voting machines would have made life a breeze for somebody with a disability, personally speaking, their demise was reason for great cheer as it guaranteed the return of the drama and entertainment of the election counts. Which have been known to go on for days, even in Ireland.
Great recollections are retained of elongated and dramatic election coverage here fronted by the likes of Bryan Dobson or John Bowman with the expert and enthralling input of Noel Whelan and Garret FitzGerald, God rest them both. If the manner in which the latter could work with tallies and predict Government formations days before they would actually become reality couldn’t ignite a gra for such things in a soul, nothing would.
English elections, though, are a different pot of curry altogether. Yes, I still get hooked on seeing the numbers coming in and observing what way the next House Of Commons will look after the numbers are all tallied but have absolutely no idea how the constituencies – if they are even titled as such – are divided up. Only once in my lifetime can I remember a coalition administration – which are commonplace in Ireland – across the water – when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats joined forces.
Undoubtedly the most remarkable ballot recalled over there was Labour’s runaway success of 1997. I was doing my Junior Cert. that year and as part of the Business Studies curriculum we did a lot of advertisement analysis. One of the slogans which repeatedly cropped up was the Tories snipe at their opponents’ “New Labour, New Britain” tagline with the riposte “New Labour, New Danger”.
From this viewpoint at least, the Tory sneering went down like a lead baloon, because it is beyond question that without Tony Blair – working in tandem with Bertie Ahern, Bill Clinton, George Mitchell and many others, getting vehemently opposing political perspectives as Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley around the same table would’ve been unthinkable, don’t mind doable.
Numerous others of various political persuasions had tried and failed miserably. Seemingly unaware of or simply ignoring the inescapable truth that without everybody on board, the Peace Process would have got nowhere. Whether by accident or design, in my humble opinion, Fine Gael, the Tories and the Republicans in America represented three versions of the same thing. That should be treated like Halloween decorations – kept locked in a dark room and only brought out to scare people!
In terms of ethos at least. That is not to say there are not good people in all three organisations. Of course there are. The above fact being the main reason what you are reading was produced.
If an English election represents a different pot of curry to ours, the American setup is like offering vegan material to a butcher. Right, so it’s no surprise to see them do everything bigger, louder and astronically more expensively than everybody else, but now, consider their process takes over two years with the task of selecting each party’s nomination being as big, if not bigger, than the Presidential Election itself.
How must people like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich feel when they see the dithering, spoilt brat, selfish pig that is Donald Trump leading the once great nation for the last four years? Not to mention being brazen enough to imply the counting of ALL votes was somehow fraud.
Rather than making America great again, the shiny, bloated gasbag has made the once greatest nation on earth infinitely worse. For those living there and, perhaps even more catastrophically, in the eyes of the rest of the world. Never in my lifetime did I think an invitation to a US President to visit Ireland would be revoked. After all, even The Queen and Prince Philip were like two of our own by the time they were leaving!
Amazingly, though, millions of turkeys still feasted on his rhetorical garbage evidently, blissfully unaware of the guillotine they were facilitating being dangled above their own heads. My personal revulsion with Trump – due to his disdain for journalists, his belittling mockery of the disabled and the shameful politicising of the tragedy which has befallen Joe Biden and his family by the king of spray tan and toupes and his mob, can’t dilute the wish that the Democrats had a candidate strong enough to blow this phony showman out of the water long ago. They could have had, but nobody obviously thought of ringing Michelle Obama. Or maybe they were afraid to. God help them, a black male President was hard enough for them to accept, how on earth would they take to a woman?
Anyway, while my gut instinct would be that both Trump and Biden are too old to be even contesting the position, in fairness to the latter, he comes across as a much more ‘normal’, down to earth individual than the other fella. Not that such would be in the least bit difficult. And then, it will be readily admitted that Biden’s back story struck a chord on as many levels as loathing of the walking Orange Split resides.
So, with Plan Godknowswhat pulled out, having not been remotely attuned to the build up to the US election, the big night itself re-ignited the political spark within. To my delightful surprise, Susie was equally as engrossed in it all once I’d switched CNN on for the first time in an age.
Interest was probably stoked in both of us having watched a documentary on BBC2 the Sunday before the voting which boldly exposed the heinous nature of Trump’s response to the Covid-19. Encompassing denial, insult and belittling the scientific evidence of what was going to unfold well before it did. As well as those who were providing it. Blood on hands? Decide for yourself.
Mind you, as we eventually retired for the land of nod circa 2:30am, it appeared Trump’s bluff and bluster had been swallowed hook, line and sinker again, as Paddy Power pushed the challenger out to a seemingly ridiculous 4/1. Ridiculous, maybe. Tempting most definitely. Too much so to resist.
Needless to say, those obscenely generous odds didn’t last too long, if things go as they appear to be heading, no amount of Trump tantrums or meddling will keep Biden from winning. And then, if Mayo get their man into the White House, might there be another bet worth having before the year’s out?