This day one year ago is where it all started to go wrong for us.
All through the early part of last year we were still the success story of Europe, feted in the world’ s media as the ultimate example of how to have an economic boom, winning Triple Crowns and golf Majors in spite of our tiny population, sending Bono and Geldof abroad to chastise world leaders, and providing employment for much of the rest of Europe while only slightly condescending to them as we did so.
Then, one year ago today, we decided it would be great gas to enter a puppet in the Eurovision Song Contest. Having fetched Europe a stinging slap across the face with this, we smote its other cheek just one month later by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty.
The gods looked down, tutted, and said “D’ya know what, the Irish are really getting up themselves”.
It’s never good to give the gods cause for tut. So look as us now – bewildered, bank-burdened and banjaxed. We’re dropping hints that if we’re let vote on Lisbon again, we’ll fall over ourselves to let Europe know how much we really love them. We’re selling our properties in Hungary and Bulgaria so we won’t be vilified as absentee landlords (and, admittedly, because we’re broke). We forelock-tugged gratefully when Barack Obama agreed to the Paddy’s Day ceremony, instead of just turning up as if we owned the place, as had been our wont.
We haven’t totally ditched the hubris – while the rest of the world has had a recession, we just had to have the most spectacular one, not just of now, but of all time. Slowly, though, we are learning humility.
So tonight we’re entering the Eurovision with a simple girl band. Best of luck tonight to Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy. I don’t know how we’ll fare – it’s still largely a phone vote, and virtually everyone in Europe has a relative who’s worked in Spar here and been abused because of his accent – but at least we’re not taking the piss.
There may be hope for us yet.