Not forgetting Charlie Haughey
A COUPLE OF backpackers from Vienna once drank their way through my beer at a campfire near Ayers Rock, and ever since, I’ve had no great fondness for Austria.
It was the final straw after first having my bank card swallowed at railway station ATM and then being overcharged at a Salzburg hotel while visiting that country the previous year. It might seem harsh to judge a whole nation and its people on the grounds of a wonky bank machine, a recep- tionist who can’t add up and two people who didn’t buy beer to return the favour when we were at the shop the following day, but hey, this is Austria we’re talking about – a country that’s given the world little other than overpriced ‘The Sound of Music’ tours, Arnold Scharwzenegger, and Adolf Hitler.
But if you’re of a certain political persuasion in this country, they’ve also given us a lesson that you might take heed of, as they’ve somehow deviously managed to airbrush out almost all reference to Hitler in their own history and have most of the world believe he was actually German instead.
Fianna Fáil should be doing the same with the memory of Charlie Haughey - the man who finagled a champagne lifestyle of Charvet shirts and a yacht and private island for himself at a time when the country was going down the toilet in the 1980s – instead of evoking his memory, like Finance Minister Brian Lenihan did in the Dáil last week.
The son of the man who was shafted by Haughey himself just as Aras an Uachtaráin beckoned echoed the words of the former leader by starkly warning that as a nation, we are living beyond our means – the very words used by the bould CJ in his famous address to the nation in 1980. You’d imagine that after all the revelations at the Tribunals of the past ten years that they’d be distancing themselves as far as possible from Haughey’s legacy, but apparently that’s not the case.
We’ve already had another echo of those troubled times when Gruffalo Cowen landed himself in hot water by telling ‘Hot Press’ magazine that he saw little wrong with young people going out and and lashing into the drink to enjoy themselves. It may not quite have been up to the famous ‘I could instance a load of f**kers whose throat I’d cut and push over the nearest cliff’ that good-time Charlie came out with when talking to the same publication back in the day, but in these more PC times it drew equal unwanted attention to the Taoiseach, and he too had to wriggle his not inconsiderable frame out of it. And where Charlie used to get riled up when the more cerebral Garrett Fitzgerald took him on across the chamber, we now have the Gruffalo doing the same whenever Inda Kenny and the people’s choice for Fine Gael leader, Richard Bruton, enter the fray.
Still, if they’re going to take inspiration from Haughey, we might just have interesting times ahead as they seek to deal with complaints caused by the recession. Charlie once came up with a simple solution when a lobby group was badgering him for an increase in the widow’s pension: ‘tell them to get married again,’ he advised.
So... unhappy with how little you’re getting on the dole? Get a job. Can’t find a job? Emigrate. Have a job, but finding it difficult to keep up the mortgage payments? Move to a smaller house. Dissatsified with the education cutbacks? Take your kids out of school, put them to work too, and make them pay some of the mortgage. Kids can’t find a job? Tell them to emigrate. At least you’ll have a cheap holiday because you stay with them instead of having to pay for a hotel.
But... unhappy with the Government? Tough. You voted them in. Now you’re stuck with them.
ON ANOTHER NOTE
ON A DIFFERENT note altogether, we had a certain amount of sympathy last week for an elderly Italian gentleman whose wife set the cops on him... because he had taken Viagra.
The 69-year-old woman was apparently frightened that the 82-year-old man was about to have a heart attack as he’d become so excited after swallowing the pill, so the carabinieri were called round to try calm him down. And apparently it had the desired effect, as reports said the appetite for some loving went off him after the police arrived.
Now it just remains to be seen if he’s charged with attempted assault with an offensive weapon...