Friday 28 October 2016

If only Paddy delivered post-eejitry year-round

Published 03/07/2016 | 02:30

'The citation will read that Paddy has been
'The citation will read that Paddy has been "exemplary" in his sportsmanship, distinguishing himself by the "atmosphere" which he created wherever he went. And it leads us to ask this question: did Paddy save the Euros?'

In the recently published Have Ye No Homes To Go To?, Kevin Martin's erudite history of the Irish pub, there is a reference to the Irish Pub Index invented in 2004 by David McWilliams.

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It arose from McWilliams' instinct that the prosperity of countries in Eastern Europe - and beyond - could be measured by the number of "Irish Pubs" opening.

And sure enough, his instinct was confirmed by the raw data supplied by Guinness, indicating that the model is a sure indicator of which marketplaces will go down, and which will go up.

Of course there is no suggestion here that the "Irish Pub" itself is a good thing, and there is much evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to suggest that it is not good, it is bad. Yet in purely economic terms the index does not lie, and it suggests that in the area of recreational drinking in general and its impact on the wider world, Paddy is a bellwether.

But while he has always shown fierce commitment to the cause of drinking and whatever goes with it, he showed at the Euros that he doesn't need to be building fake pubs to get his message across, that he can rise to new and magnificent feats of eejitry just by wandering around France in a green jersey, looking for the craic.

And in pursuit of this objective, we could see that Paddy is now developing all sorts of new techniques, building a skill-set to match his honesty of effort, to the extent that he will be honoured with a prestigious Medal of the City of Paris by the Mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

The citation will read that Paddy has been "exemplary" in his sportsmanship, distinguishing himself by the "atmosphere" which he created wherever he went. And it leads us to ask this question: did Paddy save the Euros?

They are sensitive people, the French, and they don't hand over their awards lightly, especially in areas such as "atmosphere" - or "ambiance", as they might call it themselves. So they will surely have noted that at a crucial stage of the proceedings, with the Russians and the English on the rampage in the Old Port of Marseille, and the local blackguards there or thereabouts, there was one man who was intent at all times on creating a more benign ambiance, and his name was Paddy.

Indeed so benign was the ambiance he was creating, while the riot police in the Vieux Port were getting stuck in, with Paddy it was more case of dialling benign benign benign, and calling for an ambiance.

And as we observed at the time, he was doing it in strange new ways. Yes there were scenes of unmitigated eejitry, as is only natural, yet Paddy seemed also to be testing the barriers of endurance in order to take it to some new place, a place where no eejit has gone before.

With the lifting of the black man shoulder-high for the Yaya Toure song, he was standing on the precipice at which mere eejitry plummets into outright racism, and yet somehow miraculously he did not fall over the edge, somehow despite all the drink on board he made it seem essentially good-natured.

Small margins, Paddy, small margins. Likewise when he created that tableau in which a French woman stood there surrounded by a horde of Irishmen roaring their ­version of Can't Take My Eyes Off You, in different circumstances you would not need the most brilliant attorney to construct a case for sexual harassment, or just harassment in general.

And yet in these extreme circumstances Paddy just about got away with it, even turning it into another victory, perhaps one that they will be showing on the big screen when he goes up to the ­podium to accept that Medal of the City of Paris.

It was as if he had mastered all the arts of eejitry to such an extent, he was now able to improvise, even to make an ironic commentary on his own performance . In the arts they call this kind of thing post-modernism, perhaps what we were looking at here, could be called post-eejitry.

And certainly the French would recognise anything in that area, they have for long been pushing the outside of the envelope themselves, searching for new perspectives.

But unlike Paddy, our new friend and admirer Jean-Claude has not necessarily done it with a load of drink on board - when he is standing up for western values, he is quaffing a glass of Cotes Du Rhone perhaps, not 14 pints of Stella Artois.

So we need to recognise here, that we have done something remarkable -that Paddy has somehow transformed his great weakness for eejitry of every description, into a force for good in the world.

If we could find some way to export it all year round, like we have exported the "Irish Pub", how happy we would be. Yet it will not be easy, because apart from the obvious difficulties of trying to monetise something that is so intangible, there is also the fact that this eejitry which we possess in such fantastic quanities, is not just highly volatile, it is also highly perishable.

It lasted for that tour of duty in France, just about, but France also had the comfort of knowing that it would soon be gone.

Small margins, Paddy, such small margins.

Sunday Independent

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