Tuesday 23 October 2018

the irishBefore the Tiger days, an Irishman with an inferiority complex was every single one of us potato-eating, self-loathing, pissed Celts with a notion that the Brits might be to blame. The only thing we hated more than ourselves was foreigners Paddy-hating, so when an outsider had a pop, there would be demands for the Army to go and sort him out. Unfortunately, the Army only had two water-pistols, which just made us hate ourselves more. But we seemed to laugh more back then, which is a bit Irish.

When The Simpsons features a gent in a waistcoat with giant whiskers and a small pipe saying some-thing like, "Is it the way that I've had too much to drink, with me three wishes and a top-o'-the-mornin' potato pie, did I mention me drinking?", you do realise they're not referring to the Belgians here. The Italians are portrayed as pasta-eating gangsters, but when it comes to the Irish, they still resort to the same old lazy stereotypes.

Margaret is the Paddy-hater we love to hate. Soon after her cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA, Margaret told the Mayor of Chicago that we Irish are all pigs. We threw a national hissy fit, but perhaps we should have seen it from her side. I mean, how many times has one of your aristocratic cousins been murdered by a terrorist bomb while fishing off Sligo. None? Oh darling, you should get out more.

Dublin-born Welly denied his Irishness to London friends with the phrase, "being born in a stable does not make one a horse", which he probably followed up with the one about the Irish man walking into a pub with a pig under his arm, and then topped it off by pretending to be a drunk leprechaun. We forgot, until recently, that this kind of Paddy-hating foolery plays well to a British audience. And yes, I'm talking about you, Terry Wogan. And Graham Norton. And Dara O'Briain.

Come on, Charlie must surely have hated us. All those red-faced whooping culchies slapping his Charvet back, shaking his arms out their sockets and telling him not to mind the begrudgers, while he moved among us on his imaginary horse, with our money stuffed in his pocket. He must have loathed our slack-jawed admiration. As the Duke of Wellington would say, "Living in a mansion does not mean one is not a horse". Hang on, does that make any sense?

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