Radio: A chronic Christmas with Bertie and Enda
It's a time for family, to remember loved ones no longer with us, a time when families are coming home from abroad, a time for children, for pantomimes, for Grafton Street lights. Bertie Ahern can't remember who enjoyed it more, him or his children. So he told the nation in his ‘Christmas thoughts' slot on Drivetime with Mary Wilson (Weekdays 5-6.30pm, RTÉ Radio 1).
Bertie was followed by Enda Kenny remembering Mayo in the 1950s, the Christmases of his childhood. Winters were colder then, that made Christmas more magical, he still has crystal clear memories of the big red fire engine he got from Santa, his mother's cooking, the family gatherings. Now his wife Fionnuala does all those important functions – cooking and shopping and cleaning. Christmas is a time for laying down memories which will warm us for the rest of our lives or so the leader of the Opposition would like us to believe. Apparently other political party leaders had their chance to tell the nation their Christmas thoughts, but happily this listener was spared further drivel.
If Mary Wilson had not introduced them both so genuinely, any listener in their right mind would have put money on the fact that this was comedian Joe Taylor having a laugh, lightening up the Friday before Christmas by pretending to be the leaders of our two biggest political parties talking more guff than you could make-up. But it wasn't, apparently this was for real. No wonder people are disillusioned with politics. The two potential next Taoisigh could not have come up with blander, lowest common denominator waffle. Who thought this was a good idea? And then who let such spurious nonsense go out on air?
And then just to confirm for us that we have the blandest most uninspiring leaders in the world, Marian interviewed Mary McAleese on her Christmas Eve show (Marian Finucane, Saturdays and Sundays 11am-1pm, RTÉ Radio 1). The president told the country about the Christmas her son got a toy hoover. She was allowed go on about Ireland then and now, how they are different places, McAleese has to keep reminding herself we are only at the start of a new Ireland. Carrick-on-Shannon is a transformed place. There's a confidence about it, she even does her shopping there. She goes to town, she does not know how to be anything but a normal human being, she cooks the Christmas dinner... And then on to Ireland today. We've never had it so good, never had so many cars, so many unnecessary deaths, the best educated generation. And who is creating the drug wars? If the middle and upper classes did not take drugs, then we would not have the gangland killings. On Northern Ireland, she informed her country “it's not just end game, it's the tipping point.” And to finish off the half hour of clichés, “really good things are possible in Ireland…Everyday we are consolidating a good peaceful prosperous island.”
It's Christmas time and we should be charitable but having to listen to such utter insipid banalities would sap the life out of the cheeriest of spirits. And to think we have six months of it ahead of us. Oh God!