Tis great to be thick and poor again.

At the start of the nineties, with the last chords of ole ole ole croaking from our throats, and the whole world knowing that we were great craic, complete with a copy of The Joshua Tree under our arms, we sat down to see how we could all be taken more seriously across the world. For decades Paddy had been seen as the man with spuds growing in his fingernails, with the next fight just an utterance away. Now that we were universally acclaimed as being great fun to be with, all we needed to join the world was a bitteen of wealth and a bitteen of education — the two things our forefathers had fought for in the GPO.

Wealth was defined as having the second home in Bratislava where periodically, Paddy would retire to snort cocaine off the taut belly of Svetlana and her Slovakian sisters. There was also the mandatory 4X4 for those rare off-road moments, the eff-off gates (to keep neighbours from visiting ) and the thrice-yearly skiing trips to Soldeu where Paddy would make a fool of himself skiing down the black slope, ripping his ligaments and other body parts that he never knew he had, before he got the education.

The education was everything. While the outside world was full of PhDs and masters, the most Paddy had was a good Leaving, and a daycent Inter Cert.

Paddy Mark II was being formed. This new Paddy wouldn’t be brawling outside the Galtymore or the National on the streets of Cricklewood and Kilburn. Now, he would mix it with the best of them.

And that’s where the education came in

All of a sudden Paddy jnr could do no wrong at school. Armed with the knowledge that at last the world was his oyster, even the average thick was getting half a dozen honours in the Leaving. The Inter Cert became the Junior Cert and even a few honours in this meant a booze-fuelled party which turned the gardai into Supernannies for one night each year. And with this came the perfect 10 A1s Leaving Certs which became as common as muck

Paddy Snr was thrilled. Now at last the colleges which in the past would have thrown him out for vagrancy if he entered the hallowed campuses were welcoming his sons and daughters with open arms. Everyone was getting into college — and year after year the points got higher and higher as Paddy and Patricia jnr got brighter and brighter.

Armed with a gazillion points, and a guarantee that at last everyone could go to college, the rest of the worfd looked at Ireland and gasped at just how rich and how intelligent we were all getting. Plain auld arts degrees were ten a penny, and Masters Degrees were like piles, in that eventually every arsehole got one.

But this week, it’s all been exposed as a sham. With the wealth gone, so is our education. When international giants found out that some of their Irish PhD students spent hours working out how to use the kettle in the canteen, they realised that something was up. That many colleges/institutes were upping the grades of students to make the facilities look better and their students look a lot brighter than they actually were.

Apart from being morally dubious, qualifying people for jobs and careers for which they are patently unsuited (and unqualified for ) is a dereliction of teaching duties and guilty colleges should be named and shamed.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit thick. As long as ya know it. It hasn’t done some of us any harm at all, at all.

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