Wednesday 24 May 2017

Some of my best friends are Brits. Gosh.

We have now been given permission to talk to the English. Gene Kerrigan is so happy he could cry.

Irish and British people have been friends long before this state visit. ILLUSTRATION: Tom Halliday
Irish and British people have been friends long before this state visit. ILLUSTRATION: Tom Halliday
Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

It appears that we're all now friends with the British. It's okay to have them to tea and to break bread in their homes. It's fine to do business and generally to rub shoulders with them – and perhaps even other parts of our anatomies. It's now permissible to be, in the words of Elizabeth of the House of Windsor, "at ease in each other's company". We're now, according to Olivia of the House of O'Leary, officially "allowed to like the British".

Well, em, I'm not trying to be difficult, or – God forbid – negative. But the fact is lots of us have, down through the years, been having tea, and even something stronger, with British people. Visiting their homes, doing business and generally mixing with them – perfectly at ease in each other's company.

A very, very fondly remembered man was appointed manager of our national football team as far back as 1986. And over the following decade, no one ever made an issue of Jack Charlton's undiluted Britishness. His in-your-face, terse North of England accent and attitude made his Britishness an appealing part of the package.

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