Looking back on a year, there’s a tendency to think of events that happened. But most of the time events are created by people. So with that in mind, here is my 2018 list of event-steering people I could happily have done without.
1.Nigel Farage. Mr Farage projects himself as a cheerful chappie. And is a brazen one: he declared the day after the passing of the Brexit referendum as ‘Our Independence Day’. Right, Nigel. With your help and others, we will soon be a lot freer of jobs, human rights and a wider view of the world. Earlier this month Nigel attempted to climb onto some higher moral ground by resigning from UKIP over its leader’s “fixation with immigration.” And for allowing involvement of alt-right man Tommy Robinson. Bold as brass, our Nigel.
2. Prince Harry. He’s the one with the ginger beard who got married to Meghan Markel, who starred in the wearisome Netflix series Suits. We had the Harry-Meghan wedding (cue royal coach), the Harry-Meghan pregnancy (cue shy smiles) and Harry Meghan Christmas card (cue cutesy silhouette of couple against a fireworks display. Harry was hailed for his courage when ‘serving’ in Afghanistan (or was it Iraq?) and for his courage in selecting a bride that was (whisper it) not totally white. I wish the young(ish) couple well, and their growing child, but I could cheerfully live for a decade or two without hearing the latest breathless gossip about the Warrior Prince.
3. Peter Carey. Like Nigel Farage, he used criticism of a minority group to hoist himself into the public consciousness. A group of people going around camping on other people’s land and bringing down property prices: that was essentially Peter’s take on Travellers. There are a lot of people in Ireland who fear and detest Travellers, which is why millionaire Peter shot from 2% to 23% in the presidential voting stakes. And again as with Nigel, people took to Peter’s little laughy-jokey ways. Derry, you’re still producing them.
4. The Pope. I like Francis, and a great deal of the time he talks gentle and sensible Christianity. Unfortunately, his coming to Ireland gave all sorts of gob-kites the chance to burble on about how liberated and modern the south of Ireland is now, compared to when Pope John Paul came in 1979. It looks as though the anti-Catholicism that characterized our northern state has now oozed southward and found its way into the public consciousness there. If you don’t believe me, say you go to Mass on Sunday and watch their reaction. With some people, Your Holiness, you can’t win.
5. Donald Trump. No need of explanation for his inclusion on the list, any more than you might need explanation for including on your list of unfavourite tasks the lancing of a boil on your cat’s bum.
6. Karen Bradley. We’ve had windbag Secretaries of State (Patrick Mayhew), war-monger Secretaries of State (Roy Mason), now we have an absent Secretary of State. Even when she’s here, you have the feeling that this is a stand-in double, that the real Karen Bradley is back at Westminster, hammer ing on Theresa May’s door, begging “Please don’t send me back there, they’re just so…terribly different.”
7. Keira Knightley. The waif-like movie star is really a gutsy feminist. Like many celebs who live lives of luxury, she’s greatly into what used to be called equality between the sexes but now is called gender equality. I read all about it in an interview where she was plugging her latest movie. She was quite impressive until near the end it was casually mentioned that she’d been honoured with an OBE. Right. A gutsy feminist campaigner, strongly on the rights of gender equality in the market-place, who then is happy to receive a bauble from an enormously rich woman who has the job she has because of who her father was. When someone’s so totally lacking in a sense of irony, you’re confirmed in your belief that most celebs talk bull-poo about anything outside the script.
7.Professor John Christopher McCrudden. Never heard of him? Neither had I, until he popped up on the New Year’s Honours (sic) List. The prof works in Queen’s University and is responsible for Human Rights and Equality Law. I’m sure his family love him, but like lovely Keira, he appears not to see the contradiction between lecturing on Equality Law while grabbing a bauble from a woman who got her job because of who she was, not what she was or what she could do.
My New Year resolution? To keep my bull-manure detector close to hand throughout 2019. I expect it to be very busy.
Bliain úr faoi maishe duibh – Happy New Year to you.