Thursday 19 October 2017

On red alert over a right royal eejitry threat

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

TELEVISION Enda Kenny had us on the edge of our seats, but the Taoiseach failed to deliver, writes Declan Lynch

The Diamond Queen BBC1

In Bed with the Irish RTE2

France v Ireland RTE2

AH, we are cursed with eejitry. It was terribly stressful to be sitting there watching Enda Kenny talking to Andrew Marr of the BBC about the visit of the Queen. And this was not just a regular news item but a full-blown BBC documentary, The Diamond Queen, in which the Taoiseach would be sharing the big stage with the likes of Tony Blair and Barack Obama.

Always, in such a situation, we must be on maximum red alert for signs that Kenny is about to lose control of his Inner Eejit, as he did at Davos. A certain giddiness comes over him in the presence of the big players, a feeling that he is up there at last, where he belongs.

So when he told Marr that the royal visit attracted the attention of everyone from Al Jazeera to Bloomberg, we were understandably nervous. From Al Jazeera to Bloomberg -- there was that unmistakable whiff of old-time Irish eejitry in the air when Kenny came out with that one, redolent as it was, of the editorial in a provincial paper celebrating a recent visit to the county by RTE's Marty Morrissey.

All spruced up as he sat facing Marr across a polished table in some grand drawing room, we were reminded again that Enda fancies himself a bit, and our fears deepened. Yet he got a break when they decided to show President McAleese at the banquet in Dublin Castle saying "wow!" when she heard the Queen saying something in Irish.

The "wow!" moment is now accepted by many of us, as the single most embarrassing incident in the history of Ireland in peacetime. And Kenny, even at the top of his eejitry game, will never come close to it. He's good, but he's not that good.

Yet he had to talk about it, to Marr. He couldn't just let it go, and hope that nobody noticed. And one of the traits of the incorrigible eejit is that he will not regard a display of eejitry in others as a warning sign. On the contrary, he will often try to out-do it.

So this would be a severe challenge for Kenny, for all of us. He told Marr about the excellence of the Queen's Irish pronunciation, not quite connecting with the reality that the Queen has been doing this sort of thing for about 50 years, saying "hello" in the local lingo to the assembled ruling class, mere protocol.

Yet on the McAleese scale it must be seen as a relatively restrained response from Kenny, one of great appreciation rather than open-mouthed awe, and I guess we should be grateful for this. Always we should praise any effort by an Irishman to curb his natural instincts in these situations.

AND most encouragingly, In Bed With the Irish was almost entirely free of eejitry. In fact it is totally unbelieveable that this could be said of a programme featuring several Irish couples sitting up in bed talking about a wide range of personal issues. But that's what I'm telling you here, improbable though it seems.

I had assumed that I could fill this column with images of Paddy letting himself go, with tragic consequences, but instead it was all pretty level-headed stuff. Mostly they seemed to be friendly, intelligent people, who were prepared to let a TV camera into their bedrooms and to tell

us that they don't have as much time for sex these days as they did before they had children -- but nothing too theatrical, no line that would live in infamy.

While our leaders still live largely in the land of eejitry, it would appear that the situation on the ground, as it were, may be stabilising.

ENCOURAGING too, that the French seem to be getting into the eejitry game in a big way -- certainly if poor Paddy had called off an international match with everyone in the stadium waiting for kick-off, the world would not let him forget it. And Paddy would not let himself forget it either.

As I watched the guys from both teams on the pitch shooting the breeze, arranging to meet later for drinks, I remembered again why rugby doesn't matter. And yet my heart went out to them.

I was back again on that terrible day in August 1997, when the news broke that Liverpool's match had been cancelled, due to the death of Princess Diana. Some of us argued bitterly on that day that a minute's silence -- or even two minutes -- would have sufficed, and perhaps now our vision may be seen as the sanest.

But that game was called off anyway, leaving wounds that will never heal.

I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

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