So there I was, just about to leave the gents at Buswell’s Hotel (opposite Leinster House) on Wednesday last, when a man donning trilby and trenchcoat shared some Keats with fellow nature callers.
The fashionable male did declare: “To sorrow, I bade good-morrow, and thought to leave her far away behind but cheerly, cheerly, she loves me dearly, she is so constant to me, and so kind.” Mightily profound stuff altogether, methought.
Yet it was the slightly less eloquent declaration of another urinal hogger which resonated longer in the mind as teachers, parents and pupils protested against the cuts proposed in the Budget.
“Between the weather and the economy,” said the man, by now destined for a hand-dryer, “the country is f**ked.” So funny yet, at least partly, so true.
The midweek wisdom and wit didn’t end there, as the rain began to fall on the 10,000 or so people who’d come to do what the pensioners and students had done a week earlier.
Some industrious kids had cut a cardboard sign into the shape of a Gulliver-sized mitt stating: “Hands off our teachers.”
A young boy wielded a self-titled placard which requires no elaboration on my behalf. “Here I stand, Minister, Lukas, aged 10, an easy target.”
“Batt-Man’s ‘Robin’ our Future,” read another of several signs which conjured images of the silver haired Education Minister bedekced in black kevlar and cape on the mean streets of Cork South Central.
One wondered was the bould Batt, in Dark Knight style, sat atop the Buswell’s roof, watching on while the anrgy horde below vented its spleen at the likely repercussions to primary and secondary education caused by Budget 2009.
“Holy public demonstration, Batt-man,” a civil servant might have whispered in the Minister’s ear. “Unless you’ve got some spare euros in your utility belt, I’d stay in the Batt-cave for a few months.”
But Minister O’Keeffe has stuck to his guns and, unlike his Health and Social Welfare colleagues, does not appear for the turning on a single measure.
Being serious for a few paragraphs, one can only wonder what planet individuals such as IBEC’s Turlough O’Sullivan and the Sunday Independent’s Emer O’Kelly inhabit in this post-Budget climate.
In The Irish Times of October 31st, Mr O’Sullivan said that the recent protests outside the Dáil were “not edifying”.
Yet to see such large groups taking to the streets to voice their concerns was surely edifying when it comes to exercising our right to free assembly and our right to protest.
In her contribution, Emer O’Kelly questioned the motivation of teachers and their unions since the Budget and opted to lazily stereotype the issue, not that she’s the only one.
“How many people are prepared to analyse all the howls of outrage and see through to the one real nugget from the teachers: some of them will be out of their cushy jobs as a result of the cutbacks,” she wrote.
“That’s what they’re demonstrating about. And they’re entitled to; but they should have the basic honesty not to hide behind children.”
Nonsense. As a journalist who actually got off his rear and asked a few teachers face to face last week, any of those I’ve spoken to are certainly NOT hiding behind their pupils and to suggest so is insulting.
And a few even said they’d be willing to pay additional tax as part of the patriotic duty the Government has called for. It’s amazing what a journalist can find out by fielding a question as opposed to availing of a worn-out assumption.
As for her describing teaching as a “cushy job”, Ms O’Kelly, let’s see how you’d handle a classroom of 30 seven-year-olds, some with language difficulties and others with special needs. Do it for a week, Ms O’Kelly, then tell us all how cushy it is.
Column writing – now there’s a cushy job. I should know. So should she.