As the college term starts and our resolutions sink out of sight like your still-fat arse into a bean bag chair, Emer Sugrue takes a look at the year ahead
2010 was a year for the history books. They all are really, such is the nature of history. Yet never before have we seen such a combination of natural disasters, financial meltdowns, and cats in bins. Just 18 days in, however, and 2011 has kicked it right in its obsolete balls. There are floods raging through Australia and birds are dropping out of the sky like feathery missiles worldwide. Is it too early to call apocalypse?
Bird-proof umbrellas isn’t all we have to look forward to. Last year’s airspace-ruining volcano, Eyjafjallajokull’s bigger and more pronounceable brother Katla, is showing signs of unrest and like you next month with swine flu, could blow any minute.
Snow is predicted again this winter and with Dublin City Council’s policy of leaving towering heaps of grit on Grafton Street while everywhere else is an icy death trap, there is basically no chance of ever going on a holiday again. We should just abandon any attempts at a tourist industry and accept that this year we will spend our holidays at home, crying over cancelled tickets and eating cold baked beans, because the power has gone out while shaking our fists at the ceiling impotently cursing Pele.
The only reason you might have to leave the country this year is to emigrate. Word has got round by now that we are economically shagged. Our brief time of overpriced houses and employment is over; all we have left is our memories as well as a crushing mortgage.
There will be record numbers of young people trying to flee our depressing shores, but unlike the 1980s when Ireland was an island of unemployment and depression in a sea of coked up stock traders pouring Krug on their cornflakes, absolutely everywhere is a mess.
The United States, our 400-year safety country, is arguably worse off – at least here the poor can have medical treatment rather than the American solution of throwing them in a gutter and poking them with a stick until the cancer goes away. Failing that, the government will offer you a cheese plate.
We could go to mainland Europe, but considering they are giving us €85 million to boost the economy, it’s taking the piss slightly to ask for a job too. Britain is a bit touch and go too, as their battalion of shiny-faced Tory millionaires cut all welfare not directly used by themselves.
There will be a general election here in the next few months, and the whole country is buzzing with excitement. Wait, not excitement, what’s that other thing? Oh, abject despair. Even the most buoyant of political enthusiasts can’t delude themselves of an electoral whirlwind.
Enda Kenny is not the face of change. He is the face of one who eats potatoes with every meal and owns 14 Aran sweaters. Fine Gael’s only campaign for the last 15 years has been to take Fianna Fáil’s promise and add 1. “2000 new Gardai on the street? We’ll put 3000 on, and give them new shoes. Vote Enda!”
Kenny’s lack of popularity is baffling frankly; he might not even win this election. This should be an impossible election to lose, but if anyone can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s Enda. A used tissue has more political presence.
As in all political meanderings, we will follow Britain’s example. Ireland tends to do what England did two years previously, with disastrous results. When Tony Blair announced he wouldn’t finish his third term, there was a shitstorm of journalists badgering him for his resignation date and accusing him of lame duckery, so Bertie duly followed suit. They got their visually unfortunate ten-year finance minster as a replacement, so did we. They thought that constantly building new houses would lead to an infinite rise in prices making everyone millionaires forever… Well, we know how that turned out.
Hence, the election will go like this: the two main parties will compete on practically identical platforms. I’m going to guess ‘Change’ because why actually change things when you can just wave a sign. Neither will specify what change that is, because they don’t know and giving any sort of opinion risks having to actually do things.
Then, just as everyone loses the will to live, Labour will hover into view. Eamonn Gilmore will break the cardinal rule of politics and start saying things. Statement, opinions, promises almost. Polls will come out showing his incredible popularity, it all looks set for a landslide!
When the votes are cast, no one has a majority and Labour’s share is exactly the same as it’s always been, ten per cent. They have been well and truly Clegged. They’ll join in with one or other of the parties, probably Fine Gael. Everyone will hate them because despite not being voted for, they didn’t keep their promises and we all learn an important lesson: Don’t try.
In other news, a new definition of the kilogram, based on universal constants, is going to be announced at the 24th General Conference on Weights and Measures. Looks like you might lose weight this year after all.