Gerry’s Postbox — August 2017

Four letters in August from Gerry’s Postbox

 

1)

Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your recent letter.

I agree with you that a General Election is close, likely this Autumn or next Spring. Like you, I believe the Irish electorate is unlikely to give any one political party an overall majority, in which case a coalition government is inevitable.

I agree with you too that our party, Fianna Fáil is the natural coalition partner for yours, sharing not a little of common history (after all, our party’s founders were members of your party before they left it. Our principal founder had been President of your party!).

However, there are a number of factors operating against such a partnership, not least is which we have to remain top dogs in any coalition and some of our people are not sure that you wouldn’t be nibbling at our heels, trying to get into the top position for yourselves. I am only telling you what some people think, you understand.

Then there’s the spoils of power. Again, we have powerful supporters who are not happy to share the loot, if I can put in those terms, just as a joke, ha, ha, ha. And they say that some of your people are hungry.

So, for the moment, Gerry a chara, the answer has to be no, go raibh maith agat. But in future, who knows? A week is a long time in politics, they say – but months?

You will understand I’m sure why this letter is in printed text and why I cannot sign it.

All the best for now.

 

2)

Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your recent letter.

I agree with you that a General Election is close. Like you, I also believe the bloody Irish electorate is once again (!) unlikely to give any one political party an overall majority — so a coalition government is inevitable.

Despite our historical difference I agree with you too that Fine Gael is the natural coalition partner for yours, sharing not a little of history (leaving aside that little misunderstanding 1922-1923).

However, I can foresee a number of difficulties in contemplating such a partnership. Some of your people hate our party and the feeling is reciprocated from within our party too, by some at least. But in the end we understand real politics. Haven’t we teamed up with Labour a couple of times? Hasn’t yours with the Unionists?

To be honest, Gerry, and I’m only telling you what some have been saying, joining up with your party would be easier if you were not the President of it. Painful as it is to tell you, they’d be a lot happier with Mary Lou, who has not a whiff of gunpowder around her, if you know what I mean.

So, for the moment, Gerry a chara, the answer has to be at most “maybe”, thanks. But as time goes on, who knows?

I regret but am sure you will understand why this letter is printed text and why I cannot sign it.

All the best for now.

 

3)

Dear Gerry,

I trust this letter finds you well.

It seems that a General Election is close, likely this Autumn or next Spring. The likely outcome will be that no one political party gets an overall majority, in which case a coalition government is inevitable.

I want to take you back to your suggestion in the past that your party should team up with Labour and some independents to form a Government. At the time I thought the idea interesting but I knew my colleagues would not go for it. They have a history of hating your party for all kinds of reasons, mostly to do with the IRA.

But now that you’ve disbanded that bunch they hate you even more for trying to move into our patch – social democracy. I know, there’s no pleasing some people, is there? As you know yourself. And anyway, as I tell them, your party has no real feet in the trade unions, does it? So social democracy as a political project remains safely with us (except to an extent in Dublin, where FF have a foothold in that section of the people, God knows why).

Anyway now that our party faces an almost total Dáil wipeout in the next election, even those hard-liners in our party might be willing to consider an alliance for government. Twenty-three Dáil seats is a respectable number to bring to the table and you might even gain a couple more in the election.

You might be saying to yourselves that your party has nothing to gain from an alliance with ours, with our parliamentary representation so reduced and other factors (electorate resentment about things we did and didn’t do while in government, etc.). But we bring respectability to your party and we wouldn’t be pressurising you to step aside for Mary Lou.

Most crucially perhaps, we have trade union support to offer. Let’s face it, there are some hard times ahead and having union leaders on your side (or at least under control) could be a very important factor for success.

And whereas our party can rise and fail and rise and fail again, it might be that yours has only one crack at power before the electorate decide to go back to established parties. In Northern Ireland, for decades now you only really had the Unionists as opposition, and most of your support base would never vote for them. But here, in the Republic (if you don’t mind my using the term, ha, ha), you’d be up against parties that your kind of people have voted in for generations, or at least from time to time.

I know an astute manoeuverer such as yourself will understand what I am saying.

At least think about it.

I mean no disrespect but this letter in printed text has to remain unsigned — I’m sure you understand why.

All the best for now.

 

4)

A Chara,

As we expected, your floating the notion that we might be willing to go into coalition government as the minority partner (despite our previous statements that we would not) raised some condemnations from inside and outside the Party, along with some stirrings of unease among a number of our supporters.

On the debit side, it seems we are going to lose a handful of long-term members but these have been critical for some time and we’re better off without them. As to the critics outside, many of them former members, they condemn virtually anything we do and we only need worry about what they say to the extent that it might concern our members. But look how many things our members have accepted already, despite the critics! No, I think we’re safe on this one.

On the plus side, the media mostly absorbed the interview with interest and, on the whole, neutral comment. And it must have set Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael thinking (and even Labour, though you’d wonder why they think we’d want to join with a bunch of losers like them).

As to the bulk of our members, it seems some were still reeling from our expressed interest in a coalition government with the Blueshirts (must get out of the habit of calling them that, lol) and perhaps a little shell-shocked so that this latest suggested change has aroused little emotion.

As we discussed, playing it as a thought of yours only that would still have to be discussed in the Party and ultimately decided democratically at the Ard-Fheis was the right way to go about it and when it comes to the AF we should have little difficulty in getting it through. Yes, the ‘suggestion’ might expose you to criticism from what’s left of the left-wingers in the Party but, on the other hand, it makes you more acceptable to the media and less vulnerable to being asked to move aside in favour of you-know-who (and that rhymes with her name, ha, ha). We still need to keep an eye on that one; it would be dangerous to underestimate her, as poor Pearse found out when she shot down his rising star. Still, that did us a favour too didn’t it? He was aiming a bit too high for his own good (and for ours).

With regard to the main points of our election platform you listed in the interview, the Water Charge referendum and improving the Health Service are of course very popular points and we could hardly have gone ahead without them. Of course the reality is that the Health Service is beyond fixing without the kind of change brought about by a revolution and we’re not in that game at all. But we’ll do something with it if we get in – we’ll be looking for a second term in coalition, after all.

The Water Charge referendum will be a difficult one but we might well get the EEC to declare it illegal. We don’t want our hands tied in future on a useful money-raising resource. Anyway, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

As to Brexit, it seems most of the electorate here in the 26 Counties doesn’t care about it. Still, we’ll plough ahead with it and at least it’s not attracting any criticism.

We could have put forward a radical housing program, which would have been really popular but no coalition partner would go for it and worse, the property developers would hate us. And we need them as friends.

As agreed, no names so no signature either, a chara.

Our Party’s day will come.

Beir bua

Dear Joan — Shocked!

Diarmuid Breatnach

Dear Joan,

I am so shocked at that verdict. What a travesty! That’s the trouble with the jury system, I often thought – it doesn’t always do what’s right. A pity you couldn’t have brought them to the Special Criminal Court, where there’s no jury at all. I bet you regret you and the Party voting against the Special Criminal Court in 2009. The judge did her best but what can you do with the likes of them – who knows where they dragged that jury up from! ‘Not Guilty’ indeed!

I attended court while you were giving evidence and I thought you were magnificent. Four days in the witness box and you managed to answer hardly any question put to you by the Defence lawyers. And in the course of it, still managing to get digs in at the Defendants — those Communist and Republican agitators! It was a most impressive performance!

Of course, in another court, on another day, you might not have got away with it so much but all due credit for playing the field and taking full advantage of the referee you had!

I have to say, your assistant Karen O’Connell was quite good too, even if she only played half the time you did – two days, wasn’t it? I had to get back to our business by then – have to keep an eye on the staff — but I read about it.

Joan Burton, Irish Labour Party
(Image source: Internet)

A pity about her slip at Jobstown, however, calling them “dregs” …. But they ARE the dregs aren’t they? Unemployed and probably all on drugs, probably unmarried, letting their kids run around and who knows what, not that I’m prejudiced but just calling it like it is. But Karen should have remembered it’s the votes of the dregs you and your party need too. Not that I’m political, really – I just want the country managed so that we can run our businesses without having disruption, or having to look over our shoulder ….

It was clever how you all tried to get over that slip, by her saying that what she meant by “dregs” was “the remainder, like what’s left in a cup of tea” … but I don’t think most people believed it. Your request to be allowed to view the video footage on your own first because you were becoming emotional was brilliant, though! Those who know you in the Dáil wouldn’t fall for you being that soft for one minute but it was a really good one to play on the jury.

How outrageous that the Defence were able to use your own Ipad conversations against you! That really shouldn’t be allowed. Doesn’t it come under an “invasion of privacy” or something? How disgusting to know their slimy hands were on recordings of your voices and of the Gardaí – makes me shudder just to think about it!

And you were right, years ago, to complain about these protesters having Ipads, just for videoing at protests. There they were, contradicting Garda evidence with their video footage! Someone should have a word with the Gardaí, though. I understand that if you want to convict someone, you need to have a number of witnesses saying he did or said something wrong. But all agreeing on one sentence which the video proves he didn’t say? That’s just embarrassing our police force! They need some kind of training – a friend called it “stitchup workshops” but funny though that was, of course you’d have to call it something else.

You warned the country about protesters having Ipads but did they listen? No, of course not – in fact some of them mocked you. They should introduce a licencing sytem for Ipads, like for guns …. and none of those yobbos would get a license.

I have to commend the fighting spirit of your daughter, Aoife. I heard she took up an extra seating spot beside her with her bag in the public gallery so none of that scum could sit beside her and, when one of them tried to, said that the area was reserved for “victims”! Brilliant! With an attitude like that, I can see her in government some day! You must be really proud of her.

What a shame the court usher wouldn’t support her, making her pick up her bag and allow one of the crowd to sit next to her. Where did they all come from? The courtroom was packed every day and hardly a one from your own Party!

The Jobstown Seven
(Image source: Internet)

That other chap, the younger yobbo, the one who got convicted of kidnapping, Jay something …. Jay Walker? No … that’s one of the characters in Star Wars, isn’t it? Anyway, HE wasn’t allowed to bring his protesting entourage into the Juvenile Court in Smithfield. That’s a much better way to manage things.

I told you two years ago, when I heard about what they did to you at Jobstown, how outraged I was and how much I felt for you (why is it called Jobstown anyway? There’s hardly a single job out there!). I don’t know why you can’t have an armed escort when you visit wild places – imagine Hillary Clinton going to visit Iraq or Afghanistan without travelling in an armoured vehicle with an Army escort!

Or maybe you could go in and out of an area like that in a helicopter, like the Army did in South Armagh. They’d have to build helipads on top of buildings ….. wait a minute, think of the extra employment! Fianna Fáil would be glad to get in on the contracts for that, I’m sure.

What I’m worried about now is …. what most people are worried about ….. well, most people who count ….. is: will the courts be able to get convictions now against those who are coming up in the next couple of Jobstown trials?

Yours always,

 

Gombina Plunderall.

 

THE SCARLET GARDANELLE …. Culture and the Garda Síochána …

by FO’M

There is only one bad Garda in Ireland you know, the rest are great. That bad Garda, he’s the fella that turns all the criminals into informers and gives them a licence to kill. He’s the fella broke into the Garda data banks and falsified all the data on drink driving and it would seem everything. He’s the fella that helped ship heroin. He’s the bad Garda that impersonated the Garda Commissioner and directed the Garda press office to spread the worst rumours possible about whistle blowers. He’s some Boyoh that same bad Garda.

Chief Commissioner (at time of writing) Nóirín O’Sullivan and Justice Minister of Justice (ditto) Frances Fitzgerald reviewing graduating Gardaí.
(Photo source: Internet)

Oh, don’t forget his mate Culture, oooh that Culture is one to be watched. It’s that Culture fella puts bad Garda up to it you know, it isn’t really bad Garda’s fault.

The above is the general narrative of the naïve we hear daily surrounding the ongoing Gardaí and ministerial controversies. In essence, the line goes that there’s a few corrupt members, mainly at the top according to the forming narrative, and that something called “culture” drives the dynamic that creates the few bad-uns.

I must be brazenly frank here as smooth talk isn’t working it would seem. I achieved a PhD exploring organisational culture in public organisations and how to change them and I know that academic speak sometimes doesn’t cut the mustard, so here goes. The Gardaí Siochána is a cesspit of egotistical, paranoid, pathological, image-managing individuals that are trained to be so and amongst that majority there is a tiny minority unable to cope with that culture and unwilling to contribute to it.

You see culture isn’t solely about arts and the likes, or far-off tribes and historical existences. Culture is about our belief systems and how we manifest those beliefs in what we do and what we create. In terms of the culture of an organisation, it has two phases and locations of development: academia (in this case training college) and the organisation (actually placement in the Garda Station and the community). Arguably, the latter phase and location dominates the organisational culture of the force.

(Photo source: Internet)

When the new recruit just out of Templemore puts his or her first step inside a station door after training and learning his/her “ethics” as a “qualified” Garda after 32 weeks, the inculcation of pathological characteristics begins in the station. I cannot at this juncture say much about the training side of things in the Garda College, but understanding how any organisation reproduces pathology is easily conjectured, especially in the instance of An Gardaí Síochána.

So there’s a new recruit been given a post in his first station. He is delighted, baby on the way, looking at houses, the family are over the moon and so proud, life couldn’t be better. On the first Saturday night on duty with experienced members he notices how those arrested, especially certain types, are manhandled and joked about by fellow members, maybe in front of the detainee, maybe in the back-office.

The recruit’s a little surprised, but hey, it’s a tough job requiring tough people so what do you do? He’s a sensitive soul and so he also notices the language being used, very much them-and-us talk, as though the community are the enemy. There’s a lot of banter and macho-ism.

Older Garda directing a younger one
(Photo: Internet)

Over the following weeks he notices that there are a few officers who seem to rule the roost and they often get heavy handed with detainees and some of those officers hold senior and detective positions. He sits in on a number of interviews with witnesses and suspects involving detectives and the discussions afterwards and notices that witnesses are treated as suspects. His colleagues suggest to each other and agree, as though he was not there, to “turn” the suspect into an informant and to offer him no charges in exchange for information on others.

Well what can I do, I’m only new and sure it’s a tough job, not always black and white….” And so on, until the recruit realises he, by witnessing such things and saying nothing, is now in some sense culpable also.

Then there’s a complaint, one of the roosters injured someone badly, he comes to the recruit and asks that he say he wasn’t present. Pressure is brought to bear, the recruit makes the required statement, he is now fully baptised in the culture. Another recruit refused to lie for the Rooster and he was moved to another station after a period of isolation.

Our recruit is now a fully-fledged Garda, aware of the processes, the beliefs and values, the methods and the rewards and punishments, the dog has been trained and honed in the dog-pit.

Aerial view of Templemore Garda Training College (Photo source: Internet)

From then on the Garda must wear two masks, the smiling mask for the respectable community to see as a group, and then the twisted mask for those who fall under his gaze and the gaze of his colleagues individually.

There are those Gardaí of course who remain in the main silent and passive throughout much of their career when witnessing the corruptions of their colleagues (like our recruit in his initiation), but their silence is in itself passive-aggressive and reaps its own rewards in personal circumstances and when needs-be.

From top to bottom, if you train your dog to be aggressive and disrespectful, don’t be surprised when he bites you ….

End.

CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER – Part 2

Diarmuid Breatnach

(NB: This may be read on its own or following CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER PART 1 https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/conversation-with-a-spider/ to which it is related)

You again!

“What do you mean ‘you again’ ?

“I put you out the window the other day.

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider in Bathroom (Flash Photo: D.Breatnach)

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider in Bathroom, flash shadow giving double effect (Photo: D.Breatnach)

“Wasn’t me. Nope. Might’ve been my brother – looks a lot like me. Or my sister.

“It was definitely a male.

“You can tell, can you?

“Yes. I’ve done some reading about spiders.

“Well, I had lots of brothers.

“You’re building one of those crazy, haphazard webs all over my bathroom wall again.

“This is a beautiful web. Made of beautiful fine silk – but also very strong. It is a tribute to our ancestral goddess, Arachne.

“Arachne was an accomplished weaver of beautiful rugs.

“Exactly.

“This, however, is a haphazard mess.

“To your two human eyes. You have to see it through our eyes – all eight of them. You have to feel its vibrations …. the air currents flowing through it like music …. the vibrations of a trapped fly …. like …. like …

“Like a dinner gong.

“Crude …. but, well, yes.

“You remember catching a fly, do you?

“Of course.

“When?

“Recently. Quite recently. You don’t think I’m starving, do you?

“No but I know spiders can live a lonnnnng time without eating.

“And you know this how?

“ Reading. In particular, Compton’s The Life of the Spider.

“ A voyeur.

“ What did you call me?

“Not you – him. And it was John CRompton, not Compton.

“Oh, right. You told me that before.

“Not me – maybe one of my brothers. And it was just The Spider, without The Life of, which was the title of Jean Henri Fabre’s book.

“Ok. But why did you call Crompton a voyeur?

“He watched the mating of spiders …. watched the goings-on for HOURS.

“He was a naturalist – he watched it so he could write about it.

“A voyeur and a pornographer.

“Writing about animals mating isn’t pornography! David Attenborough did a whole series on animal mating.

“He’s another one! And he did it with hidden cameras!

“Pornographic filming or writing is depicting sexual acts with the intention of sexually arousing and titillating the watcher or reader.

“And?

“Humans are not going to get sexually aroused watching or reading about animals mating.

“Are you sure? Really? ‘Her heart beat faster … she could smell the stallion …. he looked so strong, his coat so shiny …. she couldn’t help herself, she was firing off pheromones ….. he moved powerfully, muscles rippling …. he was sniffing her right there! …. she could feel his breath there! …. Oh! right where she was aching …. she felt herself melting …. he was going to mount her … yes! Yes! …

“Ok, ok. You’ve made your point. Cough! But going back to the issue of your web …

“My beautiful, complex web.

“Your haphazard, wandering, dust-collecting web.

“My efficient, fly-catching web.

“You’re not catching any flies.

“Not yet … but I will. If you leave my web alone.

“No. You’re going out the window.

“You’re angry and you’re projecting again.

“What did you say?

“Er … I said ‘You’re projecting’. It means …..

“I know what it means, thanks. You said ‘again’.

“Did I?

“Yes, you did. You said ‘You’re projecting again’. As though we had this conversation before.

“You’re building a whole web from a thread.

“I knew it was you again. You’re going back out the window.

“I’ll bite you!

“Ooooh, I’m scared.

“You should be. Our species has the most potent venom of any spider in these islands and many abroad. That’s why we have a skull design on our back.

“Says who? The Web?

“No need to be sarcastic. It is a well-known fact. You can read about it in newspapers if you don’t trust the Internet.

“I have read about it and it says that your fangs are not long enough to penetrate human skin.

“Do you want to take that chance? DO you? MAKE MY DAY!

“I’ve thrown you and lots of your relations out the window and never been bitten. I think that story about powerful venom is one you and yours have been spreading yourselves. Probably on the Web, ha, ha, ha. Not one record of even a hospital admission for poisonous bite by the Short-Bodied Cellar Spider!

“The venom works so fast they don’t make it to hospital. And the deaths are put down to heart attack and other causes.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m really scared. OUT you go.

“Leave me alone! No! Uuff rmmm fff!

‘Bye now.

I’LL BE Baaaaack….!

End

CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER — Part 1

Diarmuid Breatnach

Eh, what do you think you’re doing?

What does it look like I’m doing?

It looks to me very much like you’re destroying my home and my livelihood.

It looks to me like I’m destroying a dust-collecting web right beside my bathroom mirror. Which is why I’m destroying it. And I might just catch you and throw you out the window too.

“You are in a nasty mood, aren’t you? Anyway, I’d only come right back in again.

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider without web (Photo source: internet)

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider without web (Photo source: internet)

If a bird didn’t gobble you up. Or a bigger spider ….

Oooh, you ARE in a nasty mood!

Not really – just mildly irritated. You had to build it right beside my mirror, didn’t you!

Well, that’s where the light is.

And you need the light …. what for? To read your paper? To thread your needle?

“No need to be sarcastic. I don’t need it for anything except to catch flies – they’re attracted by the light.

Catch flies, is it? I haven’t seen you or any other spider here catch a fly in years.

Well, if you keep destroying our webs …

I’ve left some for months. Just how long does it take to catch a fly?

It’s an art …. you can’t rush it.

Yeah, right! I’ve killed hundreds of them in a month.

Yes, well, with chemical warfare ….

“Not at all! I mean with my hands or a damp cloth. Swipe, bam! One less fruit fly, or house fly, or bluebottle.

“Well, aren’t you the matador!

“What I mean is, I’ve killed hundreds of flies in the same time that you have killed none – and it’s supposed to be your defining characteristic: killing flies!

Who says?

Everyone.

Every human, is it?

Yes.

You’ve never asked the arachnids, have you though?

I try not to get into conversations with them. I’m having this one with you because a) I’m shaving near you and b) you’re bending my ear.

“Bending your ear? I haven’t touched you!

It’s an expression, a turn of phrase, for speaking a lot or complaining to me.

What’s that got to do with your ear?

“That’s what I hear with!

Really? You mean you don’t hear with your legs and body, like we do?

Of course not!

Wow! Peculiar!

You’re trying to change the subject. Spiders are supposed to catch flies – isn’t that the purpose of the web? Or are you going to claim it’s a work of art?

You don’t think my web’s artistic?

“Honestly? No. The orb-weavers’ webs now, they are artistic. But most others, including your species, the Short-Bodied Cellar Spider? No, not at all.”

“Well, we go more for function than artistic appeal.

“What function?

“Catching fli ….. er …

Yes, you see the problem? Your webs are supposedly for catching flies but all yours are catching is dust. Which is why I’m destroying them.

You’re projecting.

What?

Projecting. You have your failures, you feel angry about them so you project them on to me so you can express your anger more safely.

Where did you get hold of that shit?

On the Web.

Oh, very, very funny! Projection or not, it happens to be the truth. Your webs are not catching flies but they are collecting dust, so destroyed they will be.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave ….

“Funny! But that quote from Walter Scott is about deception. Since you are not an ant-mimicking spider, or a crab spider, or any other kind of deceiving spider, what are you talking about?

I’m referring to your self-deception. Anyway, how do you know about those other kinds of spiders?

I read Compton’s The Life of the Spider when I was a boy.

“It was John CRompton, not Compton.

“Oh, right.

“And it was just The Spider, without The Life of, which was the title of Jean Henri Fabre’s book.

“Whatever.  I read other stuff about spiders from time to time .. and watch them.  I’ve had Zebra Spiders jump from one finger to another in my hand.

“Humph! Zebra Spiders!  They don’t even build webs.

No, they don’t …. but here’s the thing ….

What?

They DO catch FLIES! And now, out the window you go.

No! Uuff rmmm fff!

‘Bye now.

I’LL BE Baaaaack….!

End.

DEFENDING DUBLIN FROM JAPANESE INVASION

Manager of Dublin City Council Road Management Department

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Please allow me to extend my heartfelt thanks for your work on the city roads and more than that, the ingenuity displayed by your staff. Dublin and to an extent the whole of Ireland is being kept safe, thanks to the work of your Department, from Japanese Army invasion. Or any other cycle-born troops.

I must admit I was not expecting to find that people working for the local authority had studied the Imperial Japanese Army assault on Singapore in 1942 and who had learned from it. If only there were more like your staff in the rest of Ireland! But no, complacency rules. “Ah, sure it’ll do” is the order of the day.

Few people now seem to recall the complacency with which Lieut. General Arthur Percival faced the Imperial Japanese threat to Singapore in 1942. Almost an island, Singapore had massive artillery pointed out to sea, ready to pound the Japanese invasion fleet. No artillery of any size was pointing towards the mainland. The jungle there was impassable to an army of any size, apparently.

Unfortunately someone neglected to tell the Imperial Japanese Army that. They sent their soldiers on bicycles down jungle trails, moving thousands of troops into position in days. Then they stormed across the Causeway and attacked Singapore.

Lieut. General Arthur Percival surrendered an estimated 85,000 soldiers, most of whom had never fired a shot in Singapore. The Japanese had nothing but contempt for these soldiers and officers who had been surrendered by Percival, not only that, but had done so for the most part without putting up any kind of resistance at all. That was part of the reason they treated the prisoners so badly.

British soldiers surrendering to Japanese Army at the Surrender of Singapore 1942.

British soldiers surrendering to Japanese Army at the Surrender of Singapore 1942. (Sourced on Internet)

Had the British command in the region not been so complacent, they would not only have turned some of Percival’s big guns around to fire on the mainland but would have sent sappers – British and Commonwealth Armies’ engineers — out into the jungle to dig bicycle traps. Like your engineers have installed on Dublin city streets, roads and laneways.

How Lieut. General Arthur Percival could have used your engineers, if only he had realised the danger in time! But your engineers have used ingenuity above and beyond anything that British sappers might have thought up. A simple hole in the road after all is visible, even at night in dim Dublin street lighting — and may be avoided. But your engineers are more skilled than that – they consider: “OK, so the invading cyclist will see this hole and swerve to avoid it. He’ll swerve on the inside, so he doesn’t get hit by a passing vehicle. So we’ll place another hole, a little further on, on the inside.”

bad-road-surface-henry-place-bend

Excellent bicycle trap designed by Dublin City engineers, one of many in a whole defence network

Now, a rather pedestrian (if you’ll forgive the pun) engineer, might very well leave it at that. But no – your engineers ask themselves: “But after a number of disasters, jarring bumps, split tires and crashes, won’t the invading cyclists automatically swerve to the outside when they spot a hole ahead?” And so naturally, just to vary the rule, the engineers put another hole on the outside of the first from time to time.

Your engineers go yet further. “Wouldn’t it be better if they couldn’t see the hole at all?” they ask one another. After all, this is a common feature of traps – almost obligatory, one might think — so no great credit to your engineers in thinking of that. No, their genius is in how they carry out the disguising.

Normally, on a jungle path or trail, a pit (or a land-mine) would be covered over with loose earth and dead leaves to disguise it. But on a tarmacadamed road such is not possible (and even if it were, might claim the lives of innocent pedestrians or even motorists, for example trying to pass other traffic on the inside). This is where the true genius of your engineers is displayed.

Firstly, they place the holes in dark places – e.g where street lamps are not functioning, or under shade of trees. Sometimes instead of a hole, they construct a sharp dip in the tar macadam. And aware that cyclists often look ahead, see darker patches in the shade and swerve to avoid them, thinking “Aha! The sappers have placed a hole in the shade!” (sorry, I don’t know how to say that in Japanese) – yes, imagining that, your sappers darken a small area of road a little before a real dip! The cyclist sees the darker spot, thinks “Aha!” etc, swerves to avoid and, a moment later, hits the real dip. Masterly!

Of course, holes and dips are not the only useful anti-cycling device – ridges function quite well at times and can take unawares a cyclist who has been on the lookout for holes. Another clever ruse is the one of making the ridge small, therefore not too destructive to ride over, but placing a number of ridges beyond it, so that the cyclist experiences a shuddering sensation going over one ridge after another. He might even be induced to swerve here, when a passing vehicle may obligingly side-swipe him.

Then there is the principle of distraction. I don’t know what Percival’s engineers might have done, perhaps placed pictures of disrobing geishas near a pit but your engineers are more prosaic. Besides, exposure to many pictures of disrobing geishas might dull the effect over a period, or even become unfortunately forever associated in the minds of Japanese soldiers with pits and horrible crashes. No, your engineers think to themselves: “At what locations are the eyes of all cyclists likely to be diverted from the road surface straight ahead?” And they hit upon the answer, of course (perhaps they even had some cyclist double-agents working for them?).

Cyclists take their eyes off the surface of the road ahead when approaching traffic lights, or intersections, or crossing intersections or just having crossed one. They want to be sure that they obey the traffic lights and even more than that, that they don’t get hit by a vehicle coming from another direction, or side-swiped by one as they swerve out to avoid a parked vehicle just after having safely got across another intersection. So holes, dips and wheel seizing cracks are placed in shortly before traffic lights, in the middle of intersections or just on the other side!

There is also an economic benefit to all this necessary work of cyclist-trapping, and it is in the saving of the Motor Tax allocated to the local authority. The money saved by not filling in these holes goes to pay the Water Charge – a worthy recipient and appropriate diversion of revenue, if ever there was one!

There is even, dare I say it, a greening side-benefit, for inside those holes, little plants, grasses and even shrubs can take hold, bringing more green to our sometimes too grey city.

In days to come I hope that the work of your engineers, ably led and directed by yourselves, of course, may become properly recognised. Some recognition is surely due to men (and women?) who toil in anonymity to save us from a bicycle-mounted troop invasion. Besides which we don’t want to have to learn Japanese, being already fluent in another conqueror’s language – we have enough difficulty ordering food by numbers in Chinese restaurants. And if were taught Japanese in school, we wouldn’t want to have to actually speak it (as can be seen from the case of our National Language).

For appropriate recognition of the work of your Department, a public monument could be considered – perhaps one constructed from crushed bicycles. And plaques – perhaps set into roads at appropriate places or on signs as one approaches traffic lights and junctions. One can only hope. Keep up the good work!

Yours etc.

VARIATIONS ON A NAME

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Gaelic football team Sheares Brothers has been doing very well for a change. A reporter from the Irish Times is about to conclude his interview of the club’s Bainisteoir).

gaa-empty-field-changing-rooms

(Photo sourced: Internet)

Your club’s local nickname is “the Pats”, I’m told.

Yes, I’ve heard that too.

Is it true – what I’ve been told – that all your players, in your entire team, are called Patrick?

Well, now, many are named Patrick, right enough, but they are not all called Patrick.

[Reporter jots down in his notebook: ‘named not called – wtf???’]    Does that not cause problems, though, on the field? I mean, it must be difficult at times for your players to know to which of them the Captain is referring when he shouts out: “Patrick”.

[The interviewer smiles. He has shown the ridiculousness of this situation].   (Fucking unbelievable that this team got as far as its current position in the League! he thinks)

No, not all. Sure if the Captain called out “Patrick”, he’d be referring to himself! That would be a strange thing to do, for sure, to be talking to himself! Well, when with the team, anyway.

(This man is an idiot. An idiot managing a ridiculous team. Still, get the interview done, file the story. Then the pub ….)   Ok …. what if he wants to say, to indicate to a player, to pass the ball to the left midfielder? Would he just call the position – as in “Pass the ball to Left Midfield”?

Well, he might …. but he’d more likely say “Give Paudie the ball”. That’s Paudie’s usual position, you see.

Oh, right.

No, left.

(What a thicko!)     I meant “ok”. Your left Midfielder’s nickname is “Paudie”?

Well, it’s the name he goes by anyhow. Paudie Whelan.

So are all your players called a variation on Patrick?

Pretty much, yes.

Fifteen variations on Patrick?  And no repetitions?  That’s not possible, is it?

It seems to be.

OK, all right …. what about say, your Centre Forward?

Pa. Pa Walsh.

Hmm. Left Forward?

Packy Ó Braonáin.

Right Forward?

Emm …

(Got you now!)

Sorry, he’s just back from an injury. Patchy …. Patchy Stokes.

Left Half-Forward?

Patchik Mulhearn.

Centre Half-Forward?

Paddy plays that position – Paddy McGuinness.

Right Half-Forward?

Patch Hennessy.

(Has to run out of them soon).    Left Mid-Field?

You had his name already – Paudie Whelan.

(Smartass!)    Yes, of course. Right Mid-Field?

That’d be Pád Óg Trainor.

That’s P, a, u, d ……

No. P, á, d; Ó, g.

Right.

Right Half-Back?

No, I meant just “Right” , as in “OK’.

Right.

(Is he taking the piss?)    Well ….. where was I?

Midfield.

Yes …. thanks …. Right Half-Back?

I thought you said ….? Never mind …Paudeen Sullivan.

Centre Half-Back?

Pád …. Pád Carney.

P, a, u ….

No, P, á, d; C, a, r ….

I know how to spell Carney, thanks.

Oh, ok.

Left Half-Back?

That’s Patrick … our Captain. Patrick Burke.

Left Corner-Back?

Ah ….

(Have I got him?)

Ah, sorry ….

(Aha! At last!)

Pat Sheehan. His name slipped me mind there for a minute, sorry.

Oh …. Ah. Good. Full Back?

Páraic Ó Flaithearta. Will I spell it for you?

(Fucking smart-ass! I’ll get it from their website. Just let me run him out of Patrick variants first.)    No, it’s ok, I know my koopla fokol, gurra mah hugut.

Muise, tá fáilte romhat. Bail ó Dhia ort.

Well …. let’s carry on. Right Corner-Back?

Pádraig. Pádraig Lehane.

(Got you now!)  Pádraig. The same as the man next to him, the Full Back.

No, that’s Páraic. P, á, r, a, i, c.

Oh!  Ok, yes, I see. My mistake. Goalie?

Patsy O’Farrell.

Yes. Well, thanks. Yes …. I don’t suppose your substitutes are called Patrick?

No, neither is.

Oh, good.

Sorry?

Good … good story, thanks. I must be going ….

Don’t you want to know their names?

The subs?

Yes.

OK, yes I suppose. Yes, please.

PJ Hanley and Packer Dunne.

I …. see …. ‘PJ’ as in ….. Patrick Joseph?

Dead on!

Um … Well …. Thanks for your time. All the best for your next game in the League. I don’t suppose, heh, heh, your Junior team are all variants of Patrick too?

Ah, not at all! Of course not. Sure, that would be awful confusing. No, there’s Michael Fitzgerald, Mick Smith, Mickey Doyle, Mícheál Connors, Micilín Seoighe, Mikhail ….

End.

 

Appendix:

 

The Sheares Brothers GAA team.

Packy Ó Braonáin, Pa Walsh, Patchy Stokes.

Patchik Mulhearn, Paddy McGuinness, Patch Hennessy.

Paudie Whelan,                         Pád Óg Trainor.

Patrick Burke, Pád Carney, Paudeen Sullivan.

Pat Sheehan, Páraic Ó Flaithearta, Pádraig Lehane.

                       Patsy O’Farrell.

Subs: PJ Hanley, Packer Dunne