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A farewell letter to 2010

Dear 2010,

Come here, you big lunk. You rascal. You rogue of a year. I meant to give you a nice big hug, just to say farewell. A good, hard squeeze. Around the throat. Also, I had a little present I wanted to give you, just to remember us by. It's a two-word phrase. Containing three effs. And it isn't "fluffy jumper".

Yes, we'll certainly remember you, 2010. Funny old year. Hey, we learnt an awful lot together! The cynics felt the Government couldn't manage to get drunk in a brewery, but actually, in fairness, they probably could manage that, particularly if it happened the night before an important interview on Morning Ireland. Emperor Nero is said to have fiddled while Rome was burning. Brian Cowen doesn't fiddle, unlike some we might mention, but he's a wonderful mimic and singer. We're thinking of entering him in The X Factor next year. With a couple of hair extensions and an open-necked blouse, he could be Offaly's answer to Wagner.

Ah yes, 2010, you were a memorable year. We'll be paying for you for a long, long time. Some felt we lost our national sovereignty and self-respect while you were with us. But that isn't true at all, at all. Next time Ireland are playing at the Aviva Stadium, there will be a lusty chorus of the national anthem, Deutschland Uber Alles.

2011 will bring its own joys. Perhaps Bertie Ahern will run for the Presidency! I'm greatly looking forward to his campaigning speech if so. I'm not saying his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal was overly complicated, but he did have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs through most of his paragraphs. Since retirement from high office, he has been a busy little Bertie. Readers with internet access can check him out on the site of a highly respected agency for high-profile inspirational orators, The Washington Speakers' Bureau, whose slogan is "Connecting You with the World's Greatest Minds". (I am not making this up.) Mr Ahern offers a range of fascinating speeches, including one in which he details how he developed "a culture of trust and faith necessary to lead effectively". This culture was greatly in evidence in 2010, a year in which the citizens expressed their trust and faith in our political system, mainly through the medium of red paint. The website tells us that Mr Ahern's fee is "$40,000 and up". Sure, who'd get out of a cupboard for less? When you're paying for one of the world's greatest minds, you can't afford to stint.

Dear auld 2010. Some called for an election while you were with us, my friend, but it turned out that it wasn't to be. But we're going to have one soon. No, we really, really are. In January, we were told. Definitely in February. Okay, so it might be March, because there's Saint Patrick's Day to think about. In April, there's the royal wedding. And May is the month of Mary. And sure the Dail will be on its summer holidays by then, so we may as well leave it till October. Whenever it comes, many of our politicians have told us they'll be retiring, an example in some cases of beating the electorate to the punch. But we shouldn't worry too much about them because they'll all have their pensions. Yes, only a former Irish cabinet minister earns more for retiring than for going to work. That was another lesson you taught us, 2010. This isn't Ireland anymore; it's Alice-in-Wonderland, the place where our Government and some of the opposition would make the Mad Hatter's Tea Party seem credible.

Still, we mustn't be gloomy. A new year is here. Let's hope it's a better one than you turned out to be. Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? In your case, 2010; absolutely. Shut the door on your way out, and keep walking.

Joseph O'Connor's Wednesday radio diary is broadcast on RTE One's 'Drivetime with Mary Wilson'. His novel 'Ghost Light' is published by Harvill Secker.

Sunday Independent