Day 89

Social Distancing

Ireland has a Royal College of Surgeons. (I stayed overnight there a couple of times, though I am not a surgeon.) It also has a Royal Irish Academy. What it does not have is a monarchy, and it hasn’t had one for quite some time. So what is that adjective doing there in the title of these august institutions, in pride of place as it is too right up front? [Question Girl wants to know did you forget a capital letter there – Ed.] (Are you in direct contact with Question Girl now?) [My private life has got nothing to do with you – Ed.] (How’s María?)

The ‘royal’ in those titles has nothing to do with the fact that, if you are not Irish, 48.7% of the Irish people you meet will, at some stage but generally after alcohol has been consumed, claim that their family is descended from the High Kings of Ireland. If you are Irish, you may be in that 48.7%, but you will not make the claim to the remaining 51.3% because you know that they know that you know the claim is bullshit, quite apart from the fact that there is good evidence that there never was such a position as High King of Ireland – I mean, if we are going to start including mythological figures as history, then Balor was my second cousin, twice removed.

The monarchy in question is that crowd over the water, and the fact that Ireland has no king of its own is, naturally, the Brits’ fault, but also the fault of the Catholic Church, as the Pope who abolished the mythical kingship of Ireland happened to be an Englishman. While there are any number of golf courses that stick the adjective ‘royal’ before their name for marketing purposes, how come the scalpel wielders and quill pushers of the Republic of Ireland have not recognised the ditching of the link to the British Monarchy in 1937 by removing the adjective from the title of their institutions? You might need to ask them that one as I am too busy today (new job and all) to write to them myself, but I would hazard a guess that it comes down to the phrase, “Ach, sure could you be bothered?” This itself ties in with the apocryphal story concerning the Spaniard explaining to the Irishman the Spanish philosophy of mañana, how you can avoid doing most onerous things by putting them off until tomorrow or the day after that. The Spaniard, satisfied that he has explained the utility and re-usability of the concept – when mañana comes and the onerous task raises its ugly head again you can, of course, re-put it off until the new mañana freshly-minted with the dawn – asks the Irishman what the equivalent word or phrase would be in the Irish language. “Ach now,” says Jimmy, taking a pull on his (clay) pipe before continuing, “in the old tongue, we wouldn’t have a word that conveys that sense of urgency.” That put Pedro in his place, I can tell you.

I don’t want them to change their names, by the way. I only brought them up because the other concept I was considering writing about today decided that it was not really in that much of a hurry to be traduced into words, and that it would just go back into the queue of meditations on the top of my head. I might write about it tomorrow. But, equally, I might not. It would save me a lot of time if the rest of youse would hurry up and learn telepathy, you know?

But now I do have to go. There is a bit of reading to be done in preparation for Day One on the new job to impress the new line manager, who happens to be the same person as the penultimate line manager: just like that money was just resting in Father Ted’s account, I was really only resting in the chair I have been occupying for the past two and a half months.

But do I actually have to impress her all over again? Carlsberg.


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