Brendan O'Connor: 'We'd start Christmas in June if it wasn't for Halloween... we're on the eve of distraction'
'The best you can do to get through life is distraction," Woody Allen says. "So we don't have to face up to the fact that we're just temporary people in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it's Shakespeare, Beethoven, Da Vinci or whatever, will be gone." And this was even before the world, and Woody, became so depressing.
Irish people didn't need to be told this of course. We have become masters of distraction. We'd start Christmas in June if it wasn't for Halloween. This year we stretched the summer to the end of September and then we got into Halloween with gusto. We go more full Yank on it every year, and now our children regard carving pumpkins as some ancient inalienable part of their culture, even though most of us never saw a pumpkin in real life until about 2014.
We had no sooner taken down the elaborate Halloween decorations without which you are now some kind of deadbeat neighbour, than we were Christmassing it up with gusto. Indeed, some people even broke with protocol this year and started bulk-buying the discounted Christmas boxes of Celebrations and Miniature Heroes before Halloween. Better to start Christmassing it up before Halloween ends in case there might be a brief pause between seasons and we'd be forced to look around us at grim reality for half an hour. Overlap is best.
At this stage we're almost over the whole Christmas thing and it's time to start booking summer holidays for next year. And, oh look, the Spice Girls are coming to Ireland next summer after all, and thank God for that because we were quite indignant at being left out of that particular bit of distraction.
Our politicians seem to share our national obsession with distraction. While what was formerly the most stable democracy in the world about 70 miles to the east is crashing and burning spectacularly, due to unnecessary referendums and elections, Fine Gael decided that the major narrative for this weekend's ard fheis is that they are election ready. A wise move in case there is any kind of lull in proceedings after Christmas. The politicians will be mindful that the completely pointless presidential election filled a gap for us there for a few weeks and prevented anyone thinking about anything that mattered for a while. So always handy to have an election ready to go in case people get bored in January. They also have a back-up in the form of loads of referenda to keep things ticking over.
In the short run, they'll need to have something ready to go in the next few days to fill the gap left after that historic win over the All Blacks. But no doubt they will arrange for something - maybe get Jim Daly to jump in a swimming pool in his suit again.