The proud nation of Ireland has produced many wonderful things. Guinness, for example. Samuel Beckett. Me. But not content to rest on these mighty laurels*, good old Eire has decided to go one further and reinvent contemporary politics.
How is it going about this? Simple. It’s going to pay off its dissatisfied population with cheese. Yup. Facing the worst economic crisis in the country’s history, Taoiseach (pronounced “teeshock”, unless you’re a really lazy British journalist, in which case it’s apparently pronounced “prime minister”) Brian Cowen and his mates have decided that the only way to pacify aggrieved citizens is big lumps of tangy cheddar.
I can understand the thinking here. No, I can. The problem, quite evidently, is that Mr Cowen was eating pizza when he was told about the economic crisis, and was at that exact point when you think that there couldn’t be anything else in the world worth having other than a never-ending supply of melted cheese. (Other things capable of provoking similar reactions include beds after long periods without rest, sofas after any period without rest whatsoever, and hot tea after a tea-less period of more than an hour and a half. One of my favourite conversations of the past few years: Me—“I require nothing else from life except good cups of tea”. Gareth, instantly—“you have NO EXCUSE to EVER be miserable again.” He had a point.)
In the interests of journalistic integrity, it may not all be quite as daft as it sounds. There’s a possibility that this isn’t just a bunch of crazed Hibernian politicians with bulging eyes driving JCBs loaded with cheese (53 tons of the stuff, apparently) into people’s living rooms and screaming START EATING NOW AND WE’LL ALL BE SAVED. It may be that there was a massive load of cheese sitting around not doing much, people were kind of hungry, and it seemed like a good idea to dish it around while also getting on with nice practical things involving economic stimuli and all that Adam Smith stuff. Dull, but plausible. This possibility is leant a bit of weight by mentions of the “EU cheese mountain” which the supplies will be taken from. I don’t think I even need to do anything with this image, do I? You have brains. Bask.
But let’s suppose that’s not the case, and that this honestly is the Irish government’s sole solution to hunger, deprivation and want. Am I the only one who thinks it makes a whole lot of (non)sense? Respond to a crisis by doing something that has nothing to do with it whatsoever. We could call it non-sequitur politics. Except that makes far too much sense, so let’s call it Graeme EGG BACON EGG. Under a system of GEBE, Governments could…
Stop trying to privatise the Royal Mail, and make all envelopes fish flavoured. Not quite a non-sequitur, but close enough. And can you imagine anyone complaining about the postal service when they could be spending their time down the PO, sharing a brown A4 with their neighbour and trying to figure out whether it was anchovy or sardine?
React to poor election results by legalising paint. Go on, Barack, try it. Dissatisfied public? Losing control of the Senate? Won’t matter a jot when the Republicans who’re pathologically opposed to you find themselves arguing for the criminalisation of Buttercup Yellow on principle.
Respond to era of global austerity by proposing billion-pound upgrades to nuclear defence systems despite Cold War having ended absolutely yonks ago. Reasons to Remain annual satire quota met. Let’s move on.
Personally, I’d love it. Governments would become less efficient, certainly. Roads, for example, probably wouldn’t get mended all that often. But it would also make things a great deal more interesting. Council policy would be a sort of “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. House burned down? Have a free harmonica lesson. Dispute over fishing rights? Both disputants count backwards from a thousand, and the first to get to “W” wins the lake. Binge drinking endemic? Make ownership of Queen’s The Game album mandatory for under-25s.
It might just work. And by work, I mean mild aversion to sheep.
*No, not shamrocks. Or peat bogs. Nor are there going to be any mentions of leprechauns, shillelaghs, the little folk or Riverdance. Fuck you.