There are at least two possible reasons why the sight of the many Irish visiting Buckingham Palace the other evening make me want to heave. The first is that I’m a curmudgeonly,begrudging anti-Brit naysayer. The second is that the occasion was another example of Irish people colluding in a don’t-mention-the-problem situation. If it was the first – and I’m happy to concede it may have been – then this is going to be a very short blog, stopping here. However, I lean a bit towards the second reason so let me try to explain why.
When people – British people – meet their monarch, they tend to go all moist and giggly. Asked later what words were exchanged, something totally banal is cited as an example of the queen’s graciousness or charm or wit or maybe all three. When Irish people meet the queen, judging by the other evening, they go all moist and giggly, bow or curtesy, and imply that there’s a kind of special bond between the Irish and the British monarch, that we hold a special place in her royal heart.
People are entitled to their chosen responses, just as I have the right to find those responses slightly sick-making. For example, that fish-monger from the English market in Cork, who got his picture taken laughing with the queen when she visited the south of Ireland: he was on the guest list. “I told her I was better dressed than I have been for 30 years. The duke said to me ‘Well, you’re here!’ Before she left she asked me if I had brought any fish”. A palace spokesman reported later: “Her Majesty seemed to enjoy the craic”. Craic?
Former Irish rugby international Bob Casey “was presented to the queen in the White Drawing Room”. He said “I am more nervous than I ever was going out at Twickenham. It’s lovely, I am really really thrilled to be here. It is amazing”.
Louis Walsh said “The queen was magnificent when she came to Ireland. She has the X-Factor, she’s got it, no doubt about that”.
Magnificent? Lovely? Thrilled? Amazing? George Bernard Shaw said that the Irish always end up playing the fool for the benefit of the English. It’s hard not to conclude that some Irish today, given the chance, do a wonderful an amazing, thrilling, lovely, magnificent job of playing the lick-spittle to British royalty. Leave aside the absurdity of choosing your head of state by genetic Russian roulette – that’s a matter for the British people. The much-publicised evening at Buck House and the coming events that will centre on President Higgins’s visit to Britain, both aim to convince any doubters that relations between Ireland and England have reached completion point. Best of friends, love each other, not the shadow of a hint of point of disagreement between us.
I suppose if you repeat a lie often enough and accompany it with sufficient optics, you’ll get most of the people to believe it most of the time.
Alternatively, there’s nothing on which these two islands disagree and I’m just a begrudging, curmudgeonly, etc.