Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kenny pledges to ‘get tough’ with the bankers - well, it’s expected of him isn’t it, that nice Mr Obama (and one more short film)

With a bit of luck, Ireland’s bankers are getting a little bit nervous this weekend with a pledge by the incoming taoiseach Enda Kenny to launch a probe into the banking crisis which brought the country to its knees. (Great words ‘probe’ and ‘pledge’, I use them now as a matter of course after a life of dedicated hackery. In fact, ‘pledge’ means nothing more than a chap announcing that all things being equal and not to be too premature, he might - and don't necessarily hold him to this - he might well be considering doing something or there again he might not. But the word does give reports of that announcement a harder, tougher edge. This morning, I got up and ‘pledged’ to make a cup of tea, and it was quite obvious that my family were deeply impressed. As for ‘probe’, it, too, implies a no-nonsense attitude and that no stone will be left unturned in the quest for truth and decency. This morning, I probed where a clean pair of socks might be. And it, too, is largely spurious. Invariably, people only ‘pledge’ and ‘probe’ in the media.)
But luck is not what the Irish seem to have on their side at the moment, and I doubt that the ice cubes in innumerable glasses of Jameson being drunk in smart villas around Dublin are rattling any more than they would do otherwise. The trouble is - and the bankers know this - the Irish government needs them, just as the British government say all sorts of nasty things about Britain’s bankers but very wisely holds back from actually doing anything nasty. So I wish Mr Kenny very good luck as he sets about trying to convince the electorate that he is actually doing something.
He has also announced that he wants to re-negotiate the terms of the bailout imposed on Ireland at the beginning of the year, and he might just have more luck with that. Ireland might have voted to accept the Lisbon Treaty a while ago, but only after a second vote was held because the voters didn’t provide the result Brussels was looking for. After being kicked from pillar to post by the moneymen and Brussels, I can’t see the EU having even a tenth of the support is once had in the Republic. And Brussels knows it now has to keep the Irish sweet if it doesn’t want to risk a real upset.
I don’t know a great deal about Mr Kenny, except that he has a great Christian name, and has benefited from the single fact that
he is not Fianna Fail. From his pic he seems to have it all: politician's good looks, sincerity and a winning smile, though he might need a bit more than that in the coming months and years. I read somewhere that FF has been in government in the Republic for 60 of the past 80 years, but as they are universally regarded as a busted flush, the glory days might well now be over. Sinn Fein have gained seats this time around, so they might become more vocal. Gerry Adams has been elected to represent Louth in the Dail. I wonder whether he will give up his House of Commons seat. (Quaintly, British MPs can’t resign. They have to apply for to appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham or Steward and Deputy Steward of the Manor of Northstead in Yorkshire. This is always granted and they then cease to be an MP, because MPs can’t hold a Crown office which pays. But somehow I can’t see Adams going down that road if he decides to resign, which will, with a bit of luck, lead to a constitutional crisis. We haven’t had one of those for ages, and they are always very amusing.

. . .

News reaches me from the White House (they like to keep me up to speed) that Barak and Michelle have appointed Jeremy Bernard as their social secretary. Commenting on the appointment, the White House said: ‘Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People's House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways.’ ‘Dynamic and inclusive’ eh? I’m sure I would be mightily impressed if I had the slightest clue as to what that meand. Informally, Michelle said: ‘We [she meant ‘I’, but remember she is now Mrs President] have every confidence that Jeremy will not fuck up like the last two who had that job, and will make sure the Obama White House outglams that of the Kennedys.’
What is notable about the appointment is that Jeremy, who is from Texas and is said to have a ‘big laugh’ and an outrageuos sense of humour, is ‘openly gay’. And that, ironically, could cause the Obama’s a little embarrassment. I, for one, would have been rather more impressed if an ‘openly gay’ man or woman was appointed Secretary of State or head of the Fed or the CIA’s new boss. But ‘White House social secretary’ does rather smack of gay stereotyping, as in gays ‘make great wedding planners, interior designers and hairdressers’, whereas it is now pretty much established that gay men and women are represented in all jobs and walks of life and do every job as well or as badly as heterosexuals. It remains to be seen whether Obama’s many enemies, both among the Republicans and Democrats, will pick up on that.
Here in Britain, the England cricket team’s wicketkeeper, a chap called Steve Davies, has just come out, and he says he did so after a former Wales rugby international Gareth Thomas came out last year. And one would be hard-pushed to typify either of those sports or their ethos as in any way effeminate. Roll on the days when about the least newsworthy aspect of a man or woman’s life and achievements is their sexuality.

. . .

Incidentally, it has long been the contention of British hacks that American hacks and the newspapers they produce are at best downright crumby and at worst fucking awful. I have only spent a week in the U.S., in New York, and I remember buying a copy of the New York Post to see how a Yank tabloid could stack up
against ours. I have to report it was no contest: the front page lead, about the horrible murder in some suburb or other, read like the blurb on the side of a breakfast cereal packet. I know New York and Chicago once had tabloid newspapers that were regarded as the template of the yellow press, but those days are long gone. It’s all ‘responsible journalism’ now. It makes you despair. Where’s the crassness, where’s the entertainment, where’s the fun? A case in point in how America’s finest apparently seem to do their best to outdull each other would be the Washington Post’s report on the appointment of Jeremy Bernard (you can find it here). Here is the intro: ‘It could have been a blast, another chapter in the life of an irreverent, shrewd insider who can get away with playfully tossing an ornamental gourd in a fancy Washington restaurant without any repercussions.’
It’s bloody awful. The difference is that too many American print hacks are novelist manque. For all our other faults - which are, admittedly legion - we British hacks aren’t.

. . .

And here’s a little something I knocked up this evening. The soundtrack is a short Vaughan Williams piece reversed with a little reverb and delay. Thought you’d like to know.

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