When is a duck not a duck?
There are certain matters in the affairs of Man that are so illogical they defy comment. (Things are different on my home planet, Pluto, and it is still a planet, ScienceHeads! Have youse ever even been there?) Take this one, for example – take it for a walk, for all I care, or for all the sense that would make. Notwithstanding (I have been waiting for an opportunity to use that) the fact that each year my local department of education spends acres of time gurning about the inadequacy of its budget allocation from central funds, I read two stories recently that fairly took me to the cleaners, by way of the fair. (The stories were in The Irish News, admittedly, so caveat emptor, although I did have it half-read in the shop before I bought it because of Kerfuffle Queuing) Apparently, substitute teachers, who are basically on zero-hours contracts and are only called in to do crowd supervision in schools when there are no real teachers available, have been complaining about loss of income due to covidnovid. Bang the rocks together, lads! The schools are closed: that is why you have not been getting any phone calls to come in to substitute for a real teacher, and that is why you have not been getting paid. To be clear, you have not been getting paid because you have not been doing any work: that’s the way the system operates. Also getting in on the illogical act are those teachers who would normally spoil their own holidays by marking examinations during them, and being paid for so doing. They too are complaining about the potential loss of income from not doing a task that will not exist this Summer because pupils will not be sitting examinations. This from a group of people who have just received a hefty pay rise and substantial back pay to boot. So far, so illogical, I’m sure you will agree. What took me to the fair in County Clare, however, (on public transport, I should point out, and with only me and the driver on the bus – fair play to him, he let me take a turn at driving so that he could have a wee nap) was the reported response from the department of education to this kite-flying by these two groups. Apparently, the department of education is considering ways of financially compensating both groups. I honestly have nothing to say about that. Mainly because I am at a loss as to where to start.
Other matters in the affairs of Man (with Woman, presumably) are so deliciously illogical that they practically lie down on their backs with their paws in the air and actively demand comment. The Supreme Court of the UK has just overturned the convictions of Gerry Adams for the only two things he did wrong during The Troubles, ie attempting to escape from Long Kesh. This decision is so brilliant it should have its own entry in the Book of Improbability, and probably will have by the time someone reads this in the non-existent future (which, for him, will be the actually-existing present, of course). So, and I’ll take youse through this slowly (OK, Query Girl?), now not only was Gerry Adams not in the IRA, he was, according to the judges, not even in prison, particularly not in the prison from which he was attempting to escape and for which crime he was tried and convicted. The reasoning behind this arrant nonsense is that the wrong guy signed the form in the first place to send him to the prison he wasn’t in. Got that? Now, surely be to Jaysus and all that’s holy, even if you are in prison by mistake or by an administrative error (and apparently roughly 97.3% of inmates claim to be innocent, according to all soccer players’ favourite film The Shawshank Redemption), attempting to escape from prison is still an offence. Have those judges studied the law at all? But, apparently, if you are in prison unlawfully, a conviction for attempting to escape it is equally unlawful, and, so, you are not lawfully in prison even though you are very actually in prison, and can therefore not attempt to escape from it. I wonder, under those circumstances, where Mr Adams would have been had the attempted escapes from where he wasn’t been successful? Would he have been confined to a virtual sector of what is laughingly called the Real World until the improbability drive had sorted out where he actually, and legally, was?
As for the other great non-event in Gerry’s life, ie spending yards of time not being in the IRA, a similar logical illogicality should be applied by journalists who persist in asking him the question about IRA membership. It clearly states in the rules for IRA Finishing School that members should not tell anyone about their membership, not even their Ma (who knows anyway – Mas know everything). If you do not believe me, have a read yourself. See that stuff in ALL CAPS? So, following those rules, were you to ask a current IRA member if he was a member of the IRA, he would, of course, answer in the negative, and go off to play pool or bingo or something with his girlfriends. (I note, while motoring past it in the outside lane, that The Green Book does not specify exactly how many girlfriends an IRA member should have, but it is apparent from a close reading of the text that the recommended number is more than one. While I cannot give my full endorsement to everything in that publication, I heartily recommend the advice regarding girlfriends.)
So there you have it, journalists. Although you know he was, and have seen the photographs and everything, Gerry Adams was never in prison – even though the government of the UK flew him from prison to participate in talks with them. And, when he answers your boring question about his membership of the IRA in the negative, he is merely following the rules laid out clearly in the membership book. Take his negative answer, therefore, as proof positive of his membership, and move on, for God’s sake. There is no other logical way to take it.
As Matt Lucas explains so lucidly here, sometimes a duck both is and isn’t a duck, probably.