Wednesday 25 June 2008

A time of the signs....

One slightly weird thing about the recent Irish referendum, in which we were asked to vote “Yes” or “No” to the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, was the difference in style of the opposing campaign posters. The “yes” crowd, almost without exception, put up posters featuring prominent pictures of their own grinning faces, whilst the “no” mob, by and large, kept their frazzled mugs out of shot.

I don’t know. People sometimes send me Christmas cards with a picture of themselves (and their families) on the front. I’m not recognisably religious at all, as it happens, and see Jeepers as nothing more than a beautiful human being with a rare gift for political agitation – emphatically not the son of God, in other words - but I still think that Baby J and his family make an altogether more fitting subject for the front of a Christmas card than a family from Tonbridge Wells, say. There’s just something immediately repellent about people who choose to put pictures of themselves on the front of their cards. It’s not simply that they're shameless mirror-lickers, intent on making themselves the story – although that, clearly, would be bad enough – it’s that they are so obviously, so flagrantly pleased with themselves.
Inside the card, expect to find a shoddily camouflaged message of excited self-love: ”blah blah me blah....and then Ignatio, the little rascal, said: “mummy, must we spend money on presents at Christmas whilst others, mainly black people, suffer? And must we really do as the neighbours do and go on holiday to Spain when we could all go camping in Namibia and thus do our bit for their economy, instead? I’ve never felt so strongly about anything before, mummy, we must, we must....” Harumph!!! What’s he like?!?!? His first words!!! So now we’re all off to Namibia (*sigh*) and you’re the proud new sponsor of a goat in a village in southern Burundi - certificate and direct debit form to follow!!! Merry Christmas.”

Oh, would you ever just fuck off? I am not the proud sponsor of a goat in Burundi – you were probably scammed by some Moldovans living in Salford, anyway, you creepy, tight-fisted, unwittingly racist, cretin – and I hate your children with the heat of a nova.
Anyway, yes. Those cards, without one single exception, go straight onto the blazing December fires. The decent and considered response to “look at me and marvel at how well I feel I am doing” must always, surely, be “no”.

So maybe Ireland’s slippery, ultra-complacent, peerlessly self-regarding political class - a shockingly unimpressive group of men and women, singularly bereft of inspiration – messed up a wee bit when they decided, en masse, to stick their big gloopy heads all over our lamp posts and roundabouts? I'm not saying it cost them the vote, obviously, just that it might not have helped. (Incidentally, please excuse the fuzzy nature of the pictures - they were taken from a moving car.)

And they chased us down streets, you know, these wheedlingly abject friends of ours, trying hard to jovially slap our disappearing backs as we went about the sacred business of shopping. Perplexed by this apathetic response, all the main parties joined forces – pausing only briefly to wipe away the tell tale flecks of Euro cash sticking out the sides of their fat damp mouths – and filled our air with shrieking threats and a prophesy of certain doom. Unless, of course, we said “yes” to their plans, “yes” to them and “yes” to the whole clanjamfry.
Europe, let’s be at the heart of it.

So close. But how about: Europe, let’s not be at the heart of it?

Or, unabridged: Europe, let’s not be at the heart of it. Let’s all just be good friends and do business together, sure, and let’s welcome the freedom of movement between our borders (with sensible restrictions being placed on, you know, killers and crooks and stuff), but let’s just collectively put down our feet and stop this dispiriting charge towards a crushing and entirely artificial homogeneity, which is both profoundly anti-democratic and pre-ordained by history to end in seething recrimination and catastrophe. So listen up, potato-face, small is beautiful, necessary and manageable - and we should learn to love our differences, surely, not grind them to dust in the stampeding name of some toxic and divisive ideal, k? K. Now run along and vote.

As a catchy slogan it maybe leaves a bit to be desired, right enough.

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