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Cormac MacConnell - The West's Awake
The Trials of Miss Fortune
November 5, 2008
The West's Awake by Cormac MacConnell
I MET a wise man in Moran’s of the Weir recently. The long thatched pub at the waterside has a certain oystery atmosphere about it that makes it special, not just during the ritual months ending in “R” when the molluscs are in high good fettle, but anytime at all.
You can find wise men in numbers around the two bars inside the building. This one was a stranger to me, and all I know is that he came from Limerick, knew more than a little about horses and has supported Fianna Fail all his life.
He was downing a bowl of chowder, eating brown bread along with it and there was a pint of Guinness at his elbow. He spoke about oysters and many things, including politics, football, hurling, Fianna Fail and, above all he spoke of Lady Luck. He was interesting on that subject.
He reminded me of Napoleon’s philosophy in relation to his generals; that what they most needed was a dash of good luck, and he went on to apply that to Fianna Fail and the party’s recent leaders.
His view, which I’m inclined to share, is that former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern was always followed about the country by Lady Luck, and three or four handmaidens. Our new leader Brian Cowen, however, though having all the political credentials necessary for the job at first sight, has been followed everywhere by “the lady called Miss Fortune!”
I liked that a lot. It appealed to my twisted mind, especially when the witty wise man said that Miss Fortune’s sister has been following England’s leader Gordon Brown around since the first day he took over from Tony Blair, and he was in deep trouble too.
It’s true, you know. Despite all the recent tribunals and allegations surrounding Ahern’s later years in office, it is a fact that he smilingly presided over a grinning Celtic Tiger and a booming economy.
Money was flowing all over the place, the people were happy, the weather was better, and there was a thick coat of Teflon over every plump ounce of Bertie which insulated him from all political harm. No matter what happened, not matter what mud was thrown at him, he always came out the other side smelling of roses.
His daughters either married millionaire pop stars or made millions by writing romantic chick lit novels. One of them presented him with extraordinarily beautiful twins.
When Bertie went to the Galway Races his bets netted him small fortunes, and his presence earned millions in donations for his party. He was touched by luck from Monday to Friday and (as my wise friend said) he knew exactly when to get out.
Cowen, on the other hand, has been in trouble since Day One. The Celtic Tiger died suddenly during his first few weeks in office and the economy has been going downhill since.
The construction boom which was fueling everything stopped in its tracks inside the month in a remarkable concurrence with his promotion, unemployment figures climbed alarmingly, all the economic indices went awry.
His government is scrambling to cope in the wake of a hugely unpopular budget which threatened to cut free medical care for senior citizens among other unpopular things. Talk about Miss Fortune!
Meanwhile, we have been rained upon for every day that he has been in office. We have had the dankest, most miserable stormy weather since records began. It even snowed in some parts of the country last week!
And it is now clear that poor Cowen was not in the queue when the Teflon was distributed. The poor divil is being blamed for everything, including a one-sided hurling All-Ireland final, the turmoil on Wall Street, aviation disasters in Spain and earthquakes in the Far East.
In TV clips he always appears under an umbrella in pouring rain, and he has not smiled since taking office. His visage, always lugubrious, would today frighten small children.
If he was one of Napoleon’s generals he would have been demoted to the ranks long ago. Lucky he ain’t. His ongoing affair with Miss Fortune, to quote the man in Moran’s, is now the talk of the country.
Afterwards, making my way home down one of the splendid motorways which Bertie supplied to us in his heyday, I reflected on the reality that Lady Luck does seem to follow some people and pass others by.
Whatever about Messrs Cowen and Brown and their current travails, I wonder which of your presidential candidates turned out to be the luckiest. Which one will now walk abroad with Lady Luck in attendance, and which one will be followed by Miss Fortune.
I don’t know the answer to that one as I write, though when you read this we’ll all know. John McCain is lucky, I suppose, to be walking along the campaign trail at all, given the fact that he survived both cancer and being shot down over Hanoi all those years ago.
Barack Obama, it would appear to outsiders like me, is extremely lucky to be the ratified Democratic contender despite his pigmentation and his childhood pastor and suchlike.
Then, given the current state of your economy, which baffles the wide world over these days, and which seems to worsen by the hour, could it now be fairly claimed that the really lucky candidate in the race, in the long term, will be the one that manages to lose the race and avoids having to take over a White House currently ruled by Miss Fortune?
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