Archive for March, 2011

Instead of dispensing my customary wisdom to all and sundry, I thought I would give a little bit of timely advice to just one person. That lucky individual is Angela Merkel.  But, first, let me tell you the story of my first and thankfully only meeting with the man who would be Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Were I to consult a calendar, I’m sure I would find it was at most two years ago that I met Enda.  And yet it seems so much longer, chiefly because of how heavily the events of that night have weighed on my shoulders and caused my previously carefree self to flee.  It started out as a fairly harmless event.  It was one of those meetings in a local hotel where a ragtag bunch of moaning windbags turn up to complain about local issues and the politicians make a lot of ill-advised and unsustainable promises.  Enda Kenny was to be there, so a group of us went.  I was going to ask a question about the shortage of school places in our area.  Mostly I wanted to get in and out in time to get down to the bar before the kitchen closed, because the chips in that hotel are lovely.  And the loveliness of chips is a subject on which I can speak at length.  But that’s for another time.

We were late.  The meeting had already started.  Enda was in full flight.  He had much to say, which was not a surprise.  He made all the right noises about the awfulness of everything.  I asked my question about local school places and went on – as always, at great length – about How Awful It All Is.  Total strangers in the crowd were nodding in time to my ranting about How Awful It All Is.  Forgive me the lack of modesty, but it was me at my whingeing best.  Nonetheless, I wrapped it up as it was coming up to nine and the kitchen was about to close.  I cared quite loudly and stridently about local schools, but not enough to forego the pleasure of having a plate of carbohydrates handed to me. Enda agreed with me.  How could one not?  I wrapped it up and bequeathed the remaining acoustic space to other moaners.

Enda made his closing remarks and whipped the assembled crowd into a frenzy of enthusiasm with promises of puppies, Ikea kitchens and five good summers in a row.  Or, at least, he might as well have for all the relationship his promises had to reality.  I was making my way towards the door and the warm, loving embrace of my chips when a local worthy asked me if I would like to meet Enda.  I was kind of keen to see how this played out so I went along.  I was ushered into the presence of the Fine Gael leader as one might have been into the vicinity of say, a Christopher Moltisanto.  (He’s no Tony Soprano).  While I was waiting, a local party hack asked me if  would like to join the Fine Gael cumann.  I muttered something about being too busy with work.  She persisted and said they only meet once a month.  I just muttered.   Then the crowds about Enda parted and I was able to bask in his immanence, such as it was.  I was re-introduced as the woman who was concerned about local schools and How Awful It All Is.  Clearly I made an impression as he bypassed customary social decencies such as, say, a handshake and clutched me with great zeal unto his bosom.  I can still feel myself braced against his immense slightness.  I made some joke about the inappropriateness of it all and wrenched myself free.  Thwarted, he moved on to embrace a woman whose people, she said, came from Swinford.  No mere crushing embrace for her.  For such an emotional  connection with Enda’s home turf, it seems the response is for him to cup your face in his hands and stare with wistful adulation into your eyes.  I made my excuses and left, still being asked to join Fine Gael.  I wondered if maybe I had a smell that attracted them.

So there it was.  A future Taoiseach tried to go to first base with me.  I stumbled in shock and bewilderment out of the room.  Worse, the kitchen was closed so it was just scampi fries for me.  There was the postmortem in the bar with my friends.  Was it something I should confess to my Present Husband?  The consensus was yes.  And so I went home and confessed.  My Present Husband reacted exactly as one my expect a man to react if he found out a Fine Gael leader had manhandled his wife.  And then the doubt set in.  Did I lead Enda on?  Maybe being The Woman Who Talks about How Awful It All Is makes you catnip for a certain type of aspiring politician.  And of course, the what-ifs started.  What if no-one else had been there to restrain his longings?  What if I had been won over by his charm?  What if my granny had been from Belmullet?  Who knows where it might have ended?

So now, for good or ill, we find Enda is our Taoiseach and about to negotiate on our behalf with the EU and the IMF on the terms of our bailout.  He seems to have his beady eye on Angela Merkel.  Which brings me to my advice for her.  Whatever you do, don’t talk about How Awful It All Is, make sure he keeps three feet away from you at all times, and for God’s sake keep quiet about your relations in Mayo.


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