Many years ago, Edna O’Brien wrote a wonderful book called August is a Wicked Month. That book, of course, referred to lover-like dilemmas, sex, and all sorts of other possibilities and probabilities. But it doesn’t take from the title, which we can correctly interpret now as applying to this month of August.
Yes, it truly is a wicked month. Here we are in the first week of August, and politically August was always the month when holidays were taken, when politicians could genuinely say they were opting out for a few weeks, taking it easy with their families.
In a similar way, civil servants always took the month of August as an opt-out period as well, and that applied both here in our own country and in Europe.
But this August is completely different.
Why? Because we have Brexit front and centre, up and down, in and out, and now in a more heated, frenetic, activity than heretofore, since Boris Johnson emerged as the UK Prime Minister. His visits to his ‘far flung’ empire (excuse the sarcasm ) of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are boosted by extravagant plans for spending and euphoric-sounding declarations that the UK will be leaving Europe by October 31, no matter what.
This despite Mark Carney of the Bank of England saying in practical terms what exactly it will mean to the UK, to Europe, and to Ireland if there is a disorderly crash-out. All of these complaints are to be listened to, but there is to be a determination to press on no matter what.
Here, we had our own Stephen Collins writing a very sober piece in The Irish Times last Friday, saying it is now up to the Government to spell out directly what will happen at the border if there is, overnight, a crash-out of Europe. He put it in very stark terms, and he advised the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Government to come clean on what exactly will happen on the border. We will see if this advice will be heeded.
Firms here are trying desperately to envisage what will happen to them in that scenario, and to plan financially for the possible outcome. We are all in this together, and it is truly terrifyingly worrying in its likely implications, not indeed to say wicked in the extreme.
Before I go any further I want to explain to the readers of the column this week, that I am writing this column four days before I usually do so. I usually write it on a Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning, but this week due to various circumstances I am writing it earlier, and I know the readers will appreciate that, particularly in one factor.
Because of my earlier writing, I will not be in a position to comment on the wonderful football games we have this weekend, which I will be able to enjoy but not be able in the following few days to write upon.
I know the readers will appreciate that, in case they wonder why I am missing in this column my sporting commentary on all of the relevant counties. But we can return to it again.
I am sure many of the readers, like myself, enjoyed during the week from time to time looking at the Galway Races and RTÉ’s depiction of them. I am not a racing fan, but I loved looking on Thursday at all of the women as they paraded in their beautiful outfits, and particularly their outrageous hats.
Now I picked up in some magazine during the week a type of a ‘Me Too’ comment that really Ladies’ Day or Galway Race Week should be done away with, in that the writer was implying that somehow the whole parade was demeaning of women.
I never heard such daft talk in all my life. As we all know, women like to dress up and display their finery when the occasion demands it, and this was surely such an occasion.
There was a beautiful front-page photograph last Friday of the Best Dressed winner, Pamela Uba from Renmore, Galway, who is a medical student, walking with the Best Hat winner, Eileen Lundon from Gort, after the Best Dressed competition on Ladies’ Day. They were the epitome of glamour and enjoyment, and to the audience a great delight to view.
I have never been a race-goer, even in the days when Fianna Fáil had the tent at Galway. I remember Bertie asking me one July would I be there the following week, the first week in August, and I said quite firmly no, I didn’t like such events. Anyway that’s neither here nor there now.
I go to one race meeting every year and it is a Kilbeggan luncheon and early evening race meeting. The Kilbeggan Races committee have always been very kind and they have continued their invitation to me as they used to do when I was an elected deputy, and I always enjoy going.
They are equally kind in that they always invite me to bring some friends, and I have brought a couple of my very dear friends each year – the same couple. He is an avowed race-goer and is able to marshal some wonderful feats out of betting on what will be won on one race going onto the next race, etc, etc – it is all too complicated but it works out for him.
She (the other of my friends ), like me, knows nothing about racing but loves the outing to the lunch and meeting with the same people every year, trainers and owners etc, but she too is able to conjure up a win or two.
But as for me, no winner. I go with a small amount in my bag each year, I spend that, and I lose on each race, and then I say well, that’s that, I’m not going to waste more money.
Also I like the general local ambience mixed with the national flavour of owners and winners and jockeys, and all of the attendant fuss that goes with a race meeting.
That will be on next weekend, and I am looking forward very much to the hospitality and the friendship I enjoy on that Saturday.
We are so lucky in the weather; the month of July has been really a summer month. Somehow in our mind we often associate July with rain and not very bright weather, but this July has been terrific – good temperatures, good sunshine and good humour all round!
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and go safely.