Thursday 20 April 2017

Ready or not

It is a convention that young people playing seeker in hide-and-seek are required to holler "I'm coming, ready or not" after they have counted down from 50 and before they set off on the hunt. But for the rest of us, for end-of-life issues Matt 25:13 applies "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh."  This ignorance applies to the more likely event of an away match whereby we stand at the pearly gates visiting Himself rather thatn preparing cucumber sandwiches and a really strong pot of hot tea against His arrival. I was recebtly having two separate conversations with Dau.I and Dau.II and they told me, in no uncertain terms, that I'd better sort out my clutter and 'papers' before I popped my clogs because it absolutely was not their job to do that after the event! Years ago, when I was working in TCD, our department retired the old Secretary <phew!> and replaced her with a newer model. The new woman was efficient and sunny in a way that we hadn't known we were missing until the new regime became established. I told her one day that keeping my paperwork in order was easy . . . so long as nobody disturbed the filing heap on my desk. Back then, I had a good memory for time and place and locate a document quickly because the more recent material was nearer the top of the heap and my birth certificate was way down below and actually in contact with the desktop.  She looked at my pityingly and said "My father used to say that you haven't done your job unless you can fall under a bus and nobody will know the difference". If you have a proper filing system then a very large part of your accumulated knowledge and expertise is captured for your successor.  We didn't talk about SOPs Standard Operating Procedures back then but The Blob has had quite a lot to say on the matter. Writing SOPs is a chore but a necessary chore. ANNyway, as I said recently, I'm ready to go . . . sorry about the paper-work girls.

Before the last general election, our Fuhrer Taoiseach promised everyone that he wouldn't lead his Fine Gael party into the next election. The election of 2016 was a debacle second only to the Brexit referendum across the water. The people rose up against the political establishment and elected a pot-pourri of lefists, mavericks and single-issue bee-bonnets. That left Enda Kenny the Taoiseach a-scrambling & a-scrabbling to hold onto power with a gallimaufry of political agreements consisting of smoke, mirrors, duct-tape and string. But that government hasn't come unstuck yet after running for more than 400 days. The jackals top dogs of his own party are trying to pretend that they are fulsome in their support of their party leader and have no interest in having a heave against him. There is a long-standing feeling in Irish politics that he who wields the knife rarely inherits the throne. We have a had a number of political crises this Spring - mainly about [not] paying for water and the honesty of the police - and in late February things almost came to a head.

But Kenny hushed the barking and growling by saying that he had committed to giving President Trump a Polish Arm Rock on St Patrick's Day as has been traditional since John F Kennedy occupied the White House 45 years ago. Bringing tribute and a lurid green tie to your suzerain [See R, Kenny slightly to the L of Trump] has been traditional since The Maltese Falcon and earlier when Charles le Gros bought off the Vikings in 886 CE. But what's with the Poles?The Polish Arm Rock is a mondegreen for A Bowl of Shamrock: far too many announcers and commentators on Irish radio are slack with their diction.  In February it seemed churlish even to the curs to stop the old chap from having a last appearance in the limelight of Washington before retirement, when he returned would be time enough. But immediately on arriving home Kenny announced that Brexit needed a steady and experienced hand [his naturally] at the tiller of the ship of state until the the Border and broader issues were resolved. This caused some wag to quip that, whatever about Brexit, Kenny was holding on until the Third Secret of Fatima was revealed and Ireland won the Soccer World Cup.

There's a lot of this delusion of indispensability about. The head of the Irish police Garda Commissioner Noírin O'Sullivan [L with her cap of invincibility] recently reported that she is on a journey to reform the Gardai and would be remiss in her duty of care for the organisation and indeed the state if she was to get washed away by perfect storm of scandals and revelations about (best case) absence of effective management in the force or (worse case) willful dishonesty, corporate bullying and incompetence at the highest levels. In brief:
  • A mid-ranking policeman authorised the tape-recording of all calls to police stations in 1996 because he couldn't be bothered to read or didn't understand the technical and ethical implications of changing the brief from recording 999 calls to recording all calls. It took the Garda management nearly 20 years to twig that they were sitting on a mass of human-rights violations.
  • The Gardai managed to claim that they had administered nearly 1 million alcohol breathalyzer tests that never actually happened. This became obvious when an audit revealed that the number of breath-test claimed was 17% greater than the total number of kits supplied! If you can't believe those Gardai statistics then how are we to trust their reports of rural crime, drug busts or financial chicanery on the back of which the force relentless asks for more funding?
  • In the same week, it transpired that 14,700 motorists had gotten convicted in court because they had not been properly served with a fixed-price notice and thus given the choice of paying a fine and saving everyone a lot of court time.  The timeline and numerical details are captured in The Journal.
  • All this is separate from the enquiry about who was party to the corporate hounding of Garda whistle-blower Maurice McCabe, whose plight The Blob touched on fully three years ago and which The Blob blew up again in all its seepiness and dishonesty two months ago.
Despite the shit-storm, Noírin O'Sullivan is on her journey and the Taoiseach has absolute confidence in his Garda Commissioner. They will be clinging to the rail of the bridge when SS Ireland plunges into the depths, backed by Celine Dion. Let's ignore the hand-washing and listen to Lady Macbeth: "I pray you, speak not. He grows worse and worse. Question enrages him. At once, good night. Stand not upon the order of your going, But go at once."

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