There are still a few nationalities that are generally happy to be racially stereotyped, and one of them is the Irish.
Of course, they don’t quite see it like that — more a celebration of their unique national characteristics — which become more and more pronounced when they go on holiday and combine heat and sunshine with alcohol — rather than just wind and rain with everyday excessive drinking.
Right now, I’m in a holiday park somewhere in central Spain, which appears to have been ethnically cleansed to make room for the Irish.
And the remarkable thing about this is, with the fiscal Armageddon facing Ireland, there really can’t be anyone left back in the Emerald Isle with a job.
So every red-faced Paddy who can afford the fifty pence for a Ryanair flight, plus €350 to load their baggage, pay by plastic, choose a seat and use the steps and the toilet — sorry, they’ve dropped those now — and can shell out a further €1000 for a week for a thatched-roofed chalet, is here.
Now don’t get me wrong — I prefer the Irish to most other fellow Europeans, especially the Germans, the French and the Italians, and in a minute I’ll tell you why.
The Benelux fellow-campers are generally okay as all they do is clean, prepare tables that groan with perfectly barbecued food, and read books. Their teenage sons with voice-braking Jimmy Saville croaks who cram vast amounts of biscuit sandwiched-chocolate into their curly-haired faces are rather irritating — but then a scowl generally sorts them out.
But this year, there are no Germans or French in Spain as they are too busy working hard to ensure that the Euro doesn’t collapse, and planning how to carve up Europe — in an unholy alliance defying entrenched hostilities of the first half of the twentieth century — when it does. And the Italians can’t afford to go anywhere, and if they could, it certainly wouldn’t be Spain.
The English are totally absorbed, either with the Games, or re-locating somewhere like Scotland — where there is no media coverage, in an attempt to avoid them.
So that leaves the Irish.
Last night in the bar I observed the family behind us. Dad — one must assume that he is, unless we introduce the notion of incest — aged 50 plus a bit. Red-faced, grey hair-ed, moderately overweight through sitting on his John Deere day after day — has a pint and a white wine chaser; fag on the go.
Mum looks 30, but could be younger, unattractively slim through a subsistence diet with straggly red hair that appears to be self-maintained, chain smokes and has put away most of the bottle of cheap white plonk before the pizzas arrive. Dad inherited the family smallholding I’d say, and played ‘farmer wants a wife’ in the post-modern way that ugly, middle-aged Englishmen end up with a Thai bride. No internet on the farm.
They have two girls and a boy, aged between ten and four who, I speculate, will acquire another sibling by the time the daffodils appear in Athlone again.
Well, so what? That’s Irish life — always was, always will be. And Spain’s always been broke too, so we’re really back to where we started, in the Franco-stroke-de Valera days, before the European boom years. Time to get used to a bit of retrospective austerity, huh?
And at the pool this evening, a newly arrived family swim out to the Coco Loco bar where the grumpy barmaid from Madrid with a pierced tongue and a tooth adornment that looks like a paper clip hands them a drinks menu.
“I’ll just have a large beer,” says dad, who understands the game.
“What kind of beer is it?” asks mum, who doesn’t.
I feel the need to intervene.
“Sure, you wouldn’t get away with that at home,” I say, conspiratorially. “Walk into a bar and ask for a pint and the barman says ‘this is the only beer we serve — do yis want it or don’t yis?”
“… Well you might in Dunfanaghy,” says my new friend, “Or even Dundalk, come to think of it.” He takes a deep draught of his beer and changes the subject: “Are yis having a good time?”
“Grand,” I reply.
“Sure it’s great for the kids, isn’t it?”
The conversation peters out and the next time I look over at him, he’s biffed his eldest son around the ear, telling him to stop behaving “like a feckin’ ejit!” and is busy bollocking the other two. The wife, who never got her drink, is back on the sun lounger with a face on.
Which sort of brings me to the point of this.
You may well be wondering why, as a red-faced Paddy myself with a rapidly expanding waistline, I’m taking the mickey out of the Irish.
The reason is this.
It’s Friday evening and the grand opening of the 2012 London Olympics. It’s on Spanish TV in the bar but still draws a sizeable crowd, sufficient to almost drown out the peadophilic entertainments manager trying to engage a band of itinerant infants into endorsing an eight-fingered two-legged puppet masquerading under the unimaginative name of ‘Parky.’
I’ve already witnessed the ‘animation’ staff drawing straws to avoid having to put on the wretched suit and parade around like… well the proverbial peadophile on the bouncy castle.
I’ve no interest in the Olympics. None at all. The Olympics involve people I’ve never heard of contesting sports I’ve no interest in.
Maybe, if I got sent to prison or hospital or some other incarcerating institution I might engage with the Games a little but I can’t for reasons that I won’t dwell on.
Okay, I will, a wee bit — everyone wants to see which black man will win the 100m dash and the rest of it is just there for filling. Corinthian spirit? Bollocks. There, I’ve said it.
But what’s actually worse than the Games, is the opening ceremony.
Here, as tradition dictates, the host nation puts on a display to tell the world how great they are. However, Great Britain isn’t referred to as ‘Great’ any more, but rather the United Kingdom — that in itself is something of an anachronism — presumably because the term ‘Great’ would be just too chauvinistic in this enlightened age of national humility.
Now, I didn’t watch it all — frankly I’d rather watch Parky get hoofed into the pool by a wandering tribe of crack-cocaine smoking north Dublin thugs (wilful fantasy here) — but if Morris dancing, Paul McCrapney, Simon le Bon Mr Bean and James Bond are the best we can offer then I would rather have the money sent to the Taoiseach so that more red-faced Paddies could spend a week in the sun watching Parky and drinking the only beer available in the bar. And I don’t recall that there were many black mill-owners during the Industrial Revolution.
How about, for example, a bit of “Paddy bashing” to reflect an historically accurate if somewhat non-PC version of events to illustrate how the railways and canals that were the cornerstone of this once great empire were made?
So tomorrow morning, when I go to evacuate in the public toilet to which I’ve been banished, I shall wear my Irish Independent, rather than The Times, beneath my arm with pride, and celebrate the fact that Ireland, praise the Lord — will never host the Games.
The British may be vehemently opposed to racial stereotyping, but why on earth, I have to ask, following that God-awful opening ceremony, do they keep doing it to themselves?