Our troubles without end…

The Spectator these days under Boris Johnson is a cracking read, and worth the hassle of registering with the site. This week they’ve got Kevin Myers, who points out to a no doubt increasingly bored and puzzled British audience that there is not going to be an end to Northern Ireland political troubles:

Writing about Northern Ireland in a British publication is rather like performing a one-man rendition of Waiting For Godot on the beach at Skegness in January. One senses that no one is paying a blind bit of attention, for the affairs of the province are as taboo in British society as coprophagy. Indeed, the best way for an exhausted hostess of a London dinner party to cause her drunken guests to flee home, screaming, is for her to start a conversation about Northern Ireland.

o, ten years after I last appeared in this organ, let me repeat: the Irish Troubles are not over. They will never be over. Indeed, this week, we might well be standing on the threshold of a new era of violence. You can wait for the endgame of the Province’s travails, but Godot will not come through that door. The people of Britain are stuck with this wretch called Ulster. You can deny he exists; you can shout that you can’t hear him dementedly hammering in the closet; it makes no difference. As sure as the North Sea tides race over the sandflats at Skegness, the lunatic that is Northern Ireland will saw its way out of the cupboard in which you thought you had safely interred him.

  • peteb

    I wonder where he got the Waiting for Godot analogy, Mick 😉

  • Denny Boy

    From St Thomas Becket?

  • middle-class taig

    how do you inter someone in a cupboard? do you have to put them inside a cupboard and then bury the cupboard?

    “divisions have taken new and bizarre twists. When Northern Ireland played England at soccer last week, Sinn Feiners were backing England.”

    really so bizarre given the history of sectarianism associated with NI football? of course, SF should naturally be agin anything English, right Kev? and by “Sinn Feiners” does he just mean Robin Livingstone, or was the re a party press release?

  • Denny Boy

    “how do you inter someone in a cupboard? do you have to put them inside a cupboard and then bury the cupboard?”

    Hehe, I wondered about this too, M-CT. My own cupboard, ie where I keep my cups etc, would hardly accommodate a spaniel. I believe Myers means something else.

    “This is just Myers up to his usual boring mischief, cynically practising on the innocent goodwill of Spectator-reading ingenues.”

    Indeed. What’s Boris doing, hiring this man? I can’t remember ever having read a positive word from him. Such comments are unhelpful in the present climate.

  • DST

    Spectator readers may be many things… but “ingenues”?

  • foreign correspondent

    I think that Kevin Myers is often colossally and breathtakingly wrong about many many things. That said, his columns were usually one of the first things I read in the IT because he writes well, can be funny and now and again he has a point, about the scandal of road deaths in Ireland and the related issue of bad road-design, to give one example. He has a penchant for hyperbole though, as in this particular article.
    By the way, is that what coprophagy is? Oh God, I feel sick now…

  • Ciarán

    how do you inter someone in a cupboard? do you have to put them inside a cupboard and then bury the cupboard?

    Still, I like the idea of Northern Ireland as an entity coming out of the closet.

  • over her e

    By the way, is that what coprophagy is?
    Can someone tell me as well I tried looking it up in the word Thesaurus but did not bring up andythng and crashed word

    I read the article even going as far as registering on the site but fond the whole thing boring and predictable with no new insights.

  • Mick

    MCT is obviously familiar with the keeping of rats. It was clipped from his post shortly afterwards.

  • Ciarán

    Over here, I for one am glad you didn’t find it in a thesaurus: one word for these things is quite enough. Or so I discovered when, innocent creature that I am, I had to look it up here.

  • middle-class taig


    as regards politics in the North of Ireland, they’re babes in the woods

    foreign correspondent

    Myers is a spectacularly talented writer, making words both dance and sing.

    He is wrong about everything.

  • George

    The key part of that article for me is that Kevin Myers has given up on Northern Ireland and now too seems to believe it is a failed entity, incapable of redemption.

    Or did he always think that way?

  • DST

    I agree that Spectator readers may not be up to speed on the politics of the North of Ireland… What care they for the Letterkenny by-pass – or primary education policy in Cavan?

    However, in my experience, Spectator readers are pretty gened up on Northern Ireland – and remarkably engaged with it.

    My comment on ingenues, however, was more general. People generally don’t seem to have a good word to say about the Spectator – with “ingenue” I thought you were being remarkably generous!

  • middle-class taig


    aye, whatever