April 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Europe is being over-run by credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s, Fitch, Moody’s et al, who on long legs are walking over our lives. The Financial Times has just broken the news that Standard and Poor’s have downgraded Spain’s credit rating from AA+, which was ok, one imagines, to AA, which is less. This comes just after the same prophetically named organisation (I set Standards, you’re Poor) docked Portugal from an A+ to A-. Not even the end of April, and the nightmare of the worst end of term school report went to Greece. Only yesterday, S&B looked at the Hellenic nation’s smudged copy books with too many crow’s nests and dog-eared corners, tutted and scratched “BB+” with big red pen. Meanwhile, my own native home, Ireland, fears “contagion.”
The press of course drools over the dispatches, and having looked deep into its conscience, says it’s six o’clock and time to roll over. The euro has “dived”, because “market sentiment” is “contaminated”, oil prices are “shaken”, investors have “fears”. Firstly, what is utterly mind-boggling is that abstract entities such as markets and prices and currencies are attributed human emotions. The thrust of such misuse of adjectives is to suggest that they are victims of something i.e. victims of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, who go under the cheerful acronym of PIGS. Secondly, when we speak of investors (but can we now say that this word is in any way related to the root verb – investire – “to clothe in, cover, surround”?), we depict them as beaten kittens rather than cool-headed, quick-thinkers out for financial opportunity. A vocabulary has been developed that first of all does not describe these events as those enacted by real people, but of abstract nouns that behave like people. The idea that our economic life is governed by an agency as arbitrary as clouds is obscene. We are not so stupid as to know that today like any other day, fearful banks and trembling institutionals accumulated wealth.
The problem is that the history of this economic crisis is written daily describing a reality that suits the leading actors. Who hold nations consisting of sprightly, sluggardly, careful, cancerous, bold and balding citizens to account for financial dealings they have had no say in. Paradoxically even these major actors to the drama seem unable to grasp the situation adequately, if only to themselves. Take OECD secretary general Angel Gurria. “This is Ebola,” he gushed. “When you realise you have it you have to cut your leg off in order to survive.” Forgive me if I’m wrong but I remember Ebola as a disease of the nineties where your skin sort of fell off in clumps like in a zombie flick and was supposed to wipe us all out, but didn’t. Surely if one legged Gurria wants to compare the Eurozone crisis to a disease whose threat was hysterically exaggerated, given that it’s all down to PIGS, he should have evoked swine flu. But perhaps a swine flu analogy wouldn’t scare us enough to gulp down the snake oil of bone-crunching austerity that is now, apparently, the only cure.
April 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
Early January I found myself on the main road from Sligo in the Republic of Ireland to Dublin. Outside, the temperature was minus five. The grass on the verges was sparkling white, the mountains snow-capped. The EU funded dual carriageway, though, was perfectly clear, as smooth and black and driveable as a runway. Nevertheless, everyone was going along at a crawl of 50 kph.
It was obvious we could have been doing twice that. But on the car radios across the nation, presenters were relaying police and road authorities’ demands that drivers should exercise extreme caution. People I spoke to in Dublin were of the same opinion, the reality of the particular road in question being beside the point. I detected a kind of pride, as if this hard put-upon nation, stripped bare by the civic unvirtue of its banks, was finding unity in the abolition of common sense and the dangers of three inches of snow.
Now that we’re into the fifth day of the “volcanic ash crisis” that has paralysed Europe’s airports, you can only wonder if the no fly ban implemented by our aviation authorities isn’t of a same piece. As early as Saturday 17 April, the Telegraph reports, airlines like Lufthansa, BA, and KLM were sending test planes up into the skies without incident. No ash cloud sandblasted windshields, blocked fuel nozzles, contaminated oil systems or blocked airspeed sensors. Ash did not collect on engine blades. Engines did not lost thrust or shut down. Conditions, as a BA spokesman has said, were “perfect” – i.e. without ash.
There is no ash, but computer says No. So we can’t fly. Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association has called this, “a European embarrassment… Europeans are still using a system that’s based on a theoretical model, instead of taking a decision based on facts and risk assessment.” Air France pilots last night on France Culture were fuming too, as is Air Berlin’s CEO, which has also sent test flights up. He has declared himself “amazed” that the results of the German airlines’ flights “did not have any influence whatsoever on the decisions taken by the aviation safety authorities.”
And the politicians back them. “Mandelson’s Dunkirk” pipes the Independent, with a photo of him and luminaries in front Number 10, Downing Street. The British government is attempting to summon up the fondly remembered spirit of getting kicked out of France by the German army in 1940. This by deploying the Royal Navy to rescue 150,000 British citizens now stranded abroad. Similarly Denis MacShane in the London daily’s op-ed pages argues we need “a 2010 equivalent of the Berlin Airlift” to give the EU “a chance to show what it is made of”. The list of urgent measures is long. One includes “Local university students who speak the foreign languages of stranded citizens can travel to help monolingual people.” So avid is the rush to conjure up of all sorts of spirits of World War 2 or the Cold War, that the question as to why planes aren’t just back up in the sky shuttling monolinguals home is completely overlooked.
There’s a cloud hanging over Europe right now, but not the one gushing from the mouth of Eyjafjallajokull. This one is an even darker fog projected by increasingly irrational authorities. Think of Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters with its ghoulish birds flapping about the dozing scholar’s over-heated unconscious. In the past year we’ve been treated to swine flu pandemics, Himalayan glaciers melting, and Obama’s claim that we are threatened by SPECTRE-like terrorist organisations bearing rogue nukes when actually existing Al-Qaeda operatives in the West have trouble even blowing their trousers up. Now there’s a toxic airborne event that hasn’t brought down a fly. Exercising extreme caution when the roads and skies are clear are just another symptom that we can longer distinguish dream from reality.
December 2, 2009 § Leave a comment
Ok, it was last week, last month even, but here I am talking about the infamous hand of God in the France Ireland World Cup match, live on France 24’s The World This Week. Click here…
September 7, 2009 § Leave a comment
My latest blog at Presseurop.
A new poster by anti-Lisbon Treaty group Coir with portraits of James Connolly, Patrick Pearse and Thomas Clarke, three of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter rebellion against British rule, accompanied by the slogan “They won your freedom, don’t throw it away” has Ireland’s pro-Lisbon establishment in a patriotic lather. Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Garret Fitzgerald has accused the organization, a spin-off of anti-abortion group SPUC, of seeking “to abuse the memory…of our 1916 leaders…in aid of their own xenophobic campaign.” Tremulously noting that his father fought alongside these enemies of British imperialism, he writes “…my father spoke of the need to go beyond securing political independence from Britain by forging closer links with the rest of Europe.”
He is echoed by Eoin Ryan, a former minister of Fianna Fail, Ireland’s ruling party, who has declared “outrageous” a hypothesis aired by Nigel Farage, the outgoing leader of British eurosceptic party Ukip, that the men and women who took part in the Easter rebellion would have been against the treaty. “…our revolutionary heroes…believed passionately in Ireland as a European nation that would belong to strong international bodies,” he says, not before summoning up the memory of his grandfather, also present at Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO), the rebels’ HQ, in 1916. Read on…
March 17, 2009 § Leave a comment
A la venta a partir del 15-06-2009
Colección BTFL Books
Es el puente del 12 de julio en Dundrug, el “Las Vegas de Irlanda”, y el dieciseisañero Jerome Maguire, el único punki gótico de la ciudad, comunista y (autoproclamado) poeta laureado, quiere “descubrir el amor”.
Equipado con un condón, Jerome, a medida que la ciudad se va llenando de turistas de Belfast, Derry y…Frankfurt, obtendrá más de lo que busca. A pesar del Tigre Celta en Irlanda y el Proceso de Paz al otro lado de la frontera, the Troubles siguen persistiendo, al menos en la cabeza de Jerome, que había nacido en Inglaterra, y quizá también en la de los demás.
Traducción: Frank Schleper
Diseño: Estelle Talavera Baudet
“La carga de la historia de Irlanda y el despertar sexual de la adolescencia le pesan igualmente a Jerome Maguire. Sus observaciones acerca de la Irlanda actual son a la vez ingenuas y profundas, acompañadas de comedia y patetismo, y ejecutadas con un lirismo celta tradicional.”
October 2, 2008 § Leave a comment
Christmas came early this year with the following kudos from 3am magazine, que voici –
“World, let me introduce you to the best author you’ve never read: Gerry Feehily. His stunning debut novel Fever was published last year and an extract from his work-in-progress appears in the forthcoming Offbeat anthology. Gerry is also a talented literary translator and a freelance journalist. Born in London, raised in Ireland, he now resides in France where he bothers geese given half the chance. Be warned: this man is seriously talented. You read it here first.”
For the full post, complete with video Fever recital, Click here…
July 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
I was also talking about Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit in English, a few studios away. Did Sarkozy convince the Irish that they were fools, that they should come into the fold? I’m not sure. Did Sarkozy hold Brian Cowen’s head down a toilet and tell him to get his act together? This is entirely possible. Watch it here