God I really do not like Cork.
Ire standards in Cork a perennial worry
LOCKER ROOM: I HOPE I won’t sound like a bleeding-heart do-gooder when I say I worry about Cork. I know that in our own little way we all worry about Cork. We fret vaguely like we used to do about The Bomb or we do now about global warming and Stephen Ireland. It’s not like that for me.
I worry about Cork in more specific ways. I worry about Cork not so much in the way St Francis of Assisi worried about the leetle birdies but more in the style of John Delaney worrying about Roy Keane or Denis O’Brien. I worry about Cork in the way men worry about their prostates.
I wonder will things be okay for Cork. Will Cork, like poor Gascoigne, eventually get out of hand and have to be sectioned? I wonder if as a county Cork couldn’t be fostered by a happier family of counties so it might settle down a little. (Sligo/Leitrim would make for poor but happy foster parents.)
I have noticed that though Cork is far bigger and obviously more complex it has a population almost identical (in number, not appearance) to that of Luxembourg. As a large-scale social experiment would Europe be interested in swapping the indigenous population of Luxembourg for the indigenous population of Cork? No strings attached? We would supply good references for Cork and swear the locals speak English at least as well as the Luxembourgers.
Is there not something about the Cork tendency to self-aggrandise that would be drawn to the notion of living in a Grand Duchy? And something in the Cork temperament that would be drawn to and absorbed by the arcane details of all those EU institutions? Think of it. Every such institution could be presided over by a man called Teddy, and Frank Murphy could keep all the rules in his head, upon which he would wear a homburg.
Roy Keane could broadcast his thoughts, his penses, once a week on Radio Luxembourg and the peasants in the fields of that itchy land would put down their scythes and gather around their wireless sets and shake their heads that there could be such things in the world as Roy would weekly describe. Then they would go back to their work singing Do Ya Want Your Grand Duchy Washed Down Sunshine, Do Ya Want Your Grand Duchy . . ?
The Luxembourgers, in exchange for evacuating the Grand Duchy for a new life in the People’s Republic, would get to roam a large county with beaches, fine public houses, lots of Germans and easy access to Waterford with its many opera houses, museums and John Delaney Presidential Library.
I lie awake at night thinking out ways to solve Cork. Humane ways mainly. At the moment I am working on a plan for a Treaty dividing Cork into six smaller counties, which would then be given back to their rightful owners (Kinsale would once again become part of Sussex, west Cork would become South East Kerry and so on). For my own peace of mind all mention of Bal na mBlth would be erased from the history books by a crack team of UCD revisionists.
This week’s worries were sparked when somebody emailed in sinister fashion (You’ve Got Mail (pause) Ya Langer!) to ask me to look at the Wikipedia entry for Perkin Warbeck. More specifically, I was asked to deny old Perkin looks a dead ringer for Donal g Cusack.
(For those dullards who were mitching school that day, Perkin Warbeck was the fellow who, in the service of a Breton silk merchant named Pregent Meno, arrived on a trading trip in Cork. Perkin was no sooner off the boat and wearing gaudier silks than a jockey with a sideline in pimping than the citizens of Cork - overly impressed by the finery, according to the history books; for their own dark amusement, say those of us who know them - waylaid him and asked if he wasn’t the Earl of Warwick, boy? Perkin denied he was the Earl of Warwick. The Corkies stood around and said, “Ah g’wan, ya are so the Earl of Warwick.” Perkin denied it some more. Still though the excitement about the place was so great - you can just imagine the ribald tittering in The Long Valley or the Hi B - that Perkin had to deny before the Mayor of Cork on oath that he was neither the Earl of Warwick nor Dionne Warwick.)
(As somebody who has often had difficulty persuading people I am not George Clooney I can sympathise with Perkin.)
(Anyway, the joke was too good to let drop so no sooner had he assured everyone in Cork he was not Warwick than Perkin’s new friends announced that sure he must be a bastard son of Richard III. This too he denied but when the Corkies came back and said that, aha! they had him now! sure he must actually be Richard, Duke of York, Edward IV’s young fella who had disappeared many years earlier, Perkin Warbeck threw up his hands wearily and said yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. That’s me, I’m the Duke of Bloody York. All great fun but it led to Perkin being hanged some years later, news of which caused some embarrassed coughing and shuffling of feet back in Cork and a general agreement not to talk about it in front of outsiders.)
So anyway I checked the Wikipedia entry and indeed there is a resemblance between Perkin Warbeck and Donal g, though for fear of having a picket placed on the house we won’t labour the point.
Just to say that as somebody (to paraphrase a letter to this paper last week) suffering from the madness that is columnists’ sensibility I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy fretting about Cork, writing about Cork and answering queries from irate readers in Cork.
(Indeed if there were an index to measure irateness within a county I have no doubt Cork’s state of constant ferment and agitation would provide the place with more of the distinction it strives for. Welcome to Cork, irate capital of the world.)
So the past week with its outbreak of peace and the return to traditional sporting and playing by the banks, with Roy Keane contenting himself with a restrained blowing off of the heads of just Eamon Dunphy and John Delaney and with an easing of the fatwah on Eddie O’Sullivan - well, this past week has been easy on the nerves.
We looked at Perkin Warbeck and chuckled to ourselves. Cork will play championship this summer and that makes us happy. Roy will stay up and that is good. Eddie will survive and we will be spared mischievous inquiries as to who we think should replace him.
We sat on the porch and reddened the tip of a nice cheroot and tipped ourselves back in the rocking chair. We had scarcely drawn the first sweetness from the stogie when it struck us that Cork, from Perkin to Donal g, is doomed to live a groundhog day of discontent. No word back from bloody Luxembourg. It’s quiet down there, too quiet. I worry.
Did I tell you that I worry . . . ?
2008 The Irish Times