We Irish don't really understand the British

THEY sit there in the ‘foreign money’ jar, along with four dollars, €3.40 worth of South African rand and whatever they have in Hungary: My small collection of sterling notes.
We Irish don't really understand the British

Is it my imagination, or are they shrivelling in denomination even as I look at them? They’re Northern bank notes as well (I earned them in comedy gigs, just in case you think I’m very well connected and sound on the national question).

Northern bank notes already have their value questioned in the UK because it seems anyone up there with a bank can print their own.

Spending Nordie or Scottish bank notes in England or Wales is one of those situations where you realise the UK is made up of four countries. And we really don’t know much about our nearest neighbour.

That’s a bit of a generalisation, but I do think that apart from emigrating there, watching all its football and its TV and slagging them off during centenaries, we in Ireland don’t really understand Britain.

We have always had a tendency to look past them to the Hexagone 1-6 and Deutsch Heute 1-5 on the continent. When we studied British history in school, there was a bit about the steam engine, a lot about “what the hoors done on us” but not a whole lot else. In Geography, Britain rarely came up. It was always Swedish manufacturing and the Ruhr-Rhine area as a case study.

When we were with them in the European Union we sort of rolled the eyes at their constant pernicketyness. Our leaders would exchange a glance with one of the Europeans — who subsequently SCREWED us — and say “oh I wonder what’s wrong with them now haha?”

It was like a party that we both came to at the same time but we got on famously with everyone, had great craic at the buffet, and every so often we’d look over and England was fuming over something. Did they have a row? Was it on account of being forced to pay for parking?

In hindsight, should we have been paying more attention to whatever it was they were complaining about?

Well it’s too late now. Something big has happened. And you can easily see the difference between news and non-news. Brexit is actual news. Not What These 90s Celebrities Look Like Now Will Shock You kind of news. It brings with it the sort of uncertainty that is rare. The economic crash was terrible, but even still, many of us pretended the EU would look after everything (even though they subsequently SHAFTED us). Now we realise who we really depend on, and they’re leaving the party and we remembered they were our spin home.

Sometimes after news like that, the world looks different. On Friday morning, summer showers seemed spiteful. The last time it looked this different was in 2008, shortly after I bought my house — I know, I KNOW and Bear Stearns collapsed.

I remember looking out the door, the rain was just as vindictive and someone rode past the door bareback on a horse which was scattering dung as it went. It wasn’t a posh horse with a name like Henderson Mon Monsieur, trained for incomprehensible tippy-toe dancing at the Olympics. This was a proper fighting-horse used for high-speed sulky chases with the guards on the N7. It was the Fates’ way of saying “Life eh? Sometimes it’s a load of horse manure.”

So now what? Everyone can draw from memory Sterling’s trajectory against the dollar and have a new-found knowledge for English placenames like Tamworth, Runymede, and Pendle. One thing’s for certain — nothing will ever be the same again.

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