The party is in full swing in the country. There is laughter and clinking of glasses. No one’s eating breakfast any more. It has to be brunch. And you can’t just get a sausage sandwich. You have to try the Eggs Complicationale. It’s not served on a plate, it’s served on the repurposed hub-cap of an Opel Kadett. Speaking of driving, there are lads driving jeeps again who shouldn’t be driving jeeps.
People are talking about our new economic miracle. Things are looking good. Our growth is the fastest in Europe. Remember when that happened before. We used to tell the Germans what to do.
But if you’ve watched any soap opera — especially EastEnders — or The Walking Dead, you may just now be getting the Heeby-Jeebies. Whenever the characters appear to have finally come through some difficulty and are just experiencing happiness, that’s when the pub goes on fire or the truck drives through the window of the school.
Something is not quite right. Step out of the party for a second. Wander in the cooling night air, out past the haggart and look across the landscape. On the face of it, everything looks fine. But what’s that? Was that a screech of a bird? Was there a rustling in the forest?
Maybe you imagined it. C’mon back inside. A man is showing the group a photo of the lowest fuel price they’ve seen so far. To paraphrase Prince, we think we’re gonna party like diesel’s Ninety-Nine Point Nine.
I look at the low oil price and wonder if it’s too good to be true. It’s like getting the last table in the full restaurant. You can’t understand why no one has snaffled it before now. Until you sit there and realise there’s a draft hitting you in the neck.
But out in the forest, the rustles are getting louder. The stock-markets are going mad. China’s in trouble, they say. And they have the kinds of scale that would swallow us up. We have ghost-estates. They have ghost-cities. We have five million people in total. They have 15 million teachers.
The upcoming election isn’t helping matters. Politicians won’t get much votes telling people on the doorsteps about China’s credit bubble before someone will politely interrupt and say … “yes but about the funding for this new swimming pool?”
The last election was different because you could have driven through the gates, across the lawn, kicked the dog, insulted the children and urinated on the mat, and if your leaflet said “Not Fianna Fáil”, you would still have got a fair hearing.
Now people want some payback so no one’s going to tell them any different. It’s back to the normal elections. The last election before that was 2007 — the year of taking your eye off the ball. We were distracted by Bertie telling a tribunal how a Finance Minister wouldn’t have a bank account and everyone was laughing at him in the way people laugh at a child who’s just gotten sick on the new couch. So no one noticed the forest at the end of the back-garden was on fire.
And after that we said — never again. We won’t get caught out by the next bust. The government spent ages telling anyone who would listen that they would be measured in their approach to the recovery.
But a government at an election are like brand new parents. Before the birth they promised they would be reasoned and calm. Now they will say and do anything to keep us happy in the short-term.
There’s that sound coming from the forest again. Does anyone want to go out and see what it is?