Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage: The end of the eejit?
I'm blaming the weather we've been having, all the ex-hurricanes and snow, and the storms with the names. One day we were living in a sleepy little democracy, and the next we're trapped in some dictatorship of the weather. All the yellow alerts and orange alerts and red alerts - for f*** sake.
Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against being prepared. Look out the window before you leave the house - that's always been my motto. If it looks like rain, I'll bring my jacket.
And I always enjoy the weather forecast. There's something just magnificent about your woman Jean Byrne's smile as she points out the s***e that's coming at us from across the Atlantic; it's so cruel, yet reassuring. If I ever stop noticing, I'll go out the back and bury myself.
It all went a bit too far a few months back when the snow was on the way - the whole red alert thing. We ran out of bread two days before the first flake even fell. And then we were warned to stay indoors from 4 o'clock on the Thursday. The word 'curfew' was even used.
I went out at ten-past-four, just to put a bag in the black wheelie, and I half-expected to be shot. I was surprised not to see an army tender coming down the road, a searchlight sweeping over the front gardens, looking for stragglers. It wasn't even snowing!
Anyway, I'm not a conspiracy theorist - although I can't help thinking that José Mourinho does actually come from a galaxy far, far away. But I do think this red alert approach to the weather is a conspiracy. I do actually think that they're trying to tighten their grip on us. And it breaks my heart to say it, but Jean is implicated. Or if she isn't, her pal - or her rival, I'm not sure which - Evelyn Cusack definitely is. She was on the news every night during the snow with the other members of the National Emergency Planning Committee, or whatever they're called. The Government officials, the Garda Commissioner, some Army bigshot, and Evelyn. Telling us to stay in, warning us not to go out and make snowmen with the grandkids, not to even look at the snow unless we were wearing sunglasses.
It started with the weather - but where will it end? Will the Army come into the pubs and send us home for the good of our health? Will we need a prescription to buy a family pack of Club Milks? They're trying to take every personal decision away from us. I'm talking about basic human rights here, especially the right to be an eejit.
No one died during the snow, we were told on the news, and this was because of the precautions that were taken during the emergency.
Let me be clear: I'd never want anyone to freeze to death or die of sunburn. But we need our eejits and the red alert approach to life is trying to eliminate the eejit possibilities from our lives. And remember: we, the Irish, invented the word 'eejit'. I know, some pedant will point out that 'eejit' is just how we pronounce 'idiot'; but he'd be missing the point, thereby proving himself an eejit.
And, by the way, there is a difference between eejits and idiots. We'd let an eejit make the dinner but we'd never let an idiot near the cooker.
If we didn't have our eejits, all conversation in this country would cease. Will you listen to that eejit. And d'you know what the bloody eejit did then? - you know what I mean.
If an eejit wants to go for a swim during a hurricane, let him. If he wants to rub Dairygold on himself before going out in the sun, it's his right. Most of the eejits seem to be men but I think that will change as women continue to assert their rights. It's a woman's right to be an eejit but this red alert bolloxology means that women might never get that chance.
It's an outrage.
And it's come into the house. The wife has introduced a series of alerts for when she goes to the fridge and finds something vital missing: yellow for butter, orange for milk, and red for tonic water.
I love the wife. Three days after her 60th birthday, she dragged the bin over to the fridge and threw out all the healthy stuff. We won't be needing this, we won't be needing this, we definitely won't be needing this. Out went the vegetables we never get round to eating, everything green, the butterless butter, anything with a sniff of 'healthy lifestyle' off it - into the bin. We could finally relax.
But now the alerts.
She's at the fridge now.
- Red alert, Charlie.
- Tonic water?
- Oh Jaysis, I say. - Red alert, red alert!