Tuesday 15 October 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'Mick McCarthy is our Brexit'

Stock photo: PA Wire/PA Images
Stock photo: PA Wire/PA Images
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Let's face it, we could be doing worse things to feed our appetite for nostalgia. For example, we could be trying to leave the EU while also staying in it in order to go back to some imaginary past when we ruled the world and foreigners knew their place.

But with typical Irish understatement, our Brexit has been to bring back Boyzone and Mick McCarthy. This is our version of making Ireland great again, of reinstating a glorious past when Irelandia ruled the waves, or the airwaves at least. Now if we could only get them to re-run Italia 90, our return to innocence would be complete. We could then have World Cup 1998 when Roy Keane was just a player who felt none of the other players were committed enough. Just a player who thought he should be managing the team.

If we could get Roddy Doyle to write a funny book capturing it all, our nostalgic bliss would be complete. But these days Roddy Doyle sums up the zeitgeist by writing about homeless families.

And you can never really go back, can you? Boyzone gave it a fair whack on The Late Late, with grown-up enfant terrible Shane arriving late, telling Tubs to shove it up his hole and giving the finger, but the years are there, etched in their faces. Keith Duffy bears the lines of a man who has fought the battles of successfully bringing up a child with autism in a country that doesn't care enough about children with autism. Mikey looks like the dad of the Mikey from Boyzone, and even Ronan's fresh-faced innocence has been replaced by a guardedness. And of course Stephen isn't there at all.

Life has happened to all of us. The always grey Mick McCarthy is somehow greyer, anyone old enough to remember Mick's first tenure as manager properly has probably gone bust or close to it at least once. The country certainly has. Oh, we've all seen some times since those innocent days. Things we can't unsee, no matter how hard we try to reclaim a seemingly carefree past. Even U2, who arguably kicked off all this nostalgia for the glory days when they re-ran The Joshua Tree tour, did it with a lead singer who had stared death in the face.

So there might be a little bit more pain and life etched in our faces as we relive the past. But still, sometimes it's nice to forget all the bad stuff ever happened, to forget that things changed. Hence our enthusiasm to re-run the boom in miniature over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and our return to childhood with the Toy Show, which is somehow an exercise in having nostalgia for now.

So maybe we should agree to give ourselves the next month, up to Christmas, to pretend we are in those innocent times, before life happened to us all. And in the New Year we will face up to the uncertain, chaotic future. We swear, we will.

Sunday Independent

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