- 25 Feb 11
If our politicians fail us again, there’ll be hell to pay.
Jerry Dammers wrote The Specials' swansong 'Ghost Town' while touring the UK in the winter of 1980. The band were exhausted by in-fighting. England was riven with strikes, racial tension, the rise of the National Front, Thatcher incoming. The song topped the charts the following summer, as the country was torn apart by riots. The era is vividly reconstructed in Dorian Lynsky's excellent new book 33 Revolutions Per Minute – A History Of Protest Songs (Faber).
I drafted this dispatch the day after returning to Enniscorthy from the USA. The taxi driver who ran me home from the train station told me that while I'd been away the local pizza place, cinema, nightclub and the town's main music venue had all closed for business. Last Friday, February 19, The Irish Times published a front page article about the infestation of ghost estates in the country. Many of these estimated 2,800 developments are already unsafe and need to be torn down. In two years, the very countryside the tourist board loves to pimp will start to look like inner city Detroit: reclaimed by weeds, eyesored with broken windows, graffitied. Dev's Romantic Ireland will resemble a mouthful of rotten teeth.
On St. Patrick's Day, Faber will publish The News From Dublin, a collection of new Irish short stories, edited by Joseph O'Connor. Your correspondent's contribution is a yarn called 'The Blacklight Ballroom', a sort of post-apocalyptic fable in which a gathering of pilgrims journey to a bombed out venue to hear the ghost of Hank Williams sing. It was written in the Great Depression of Autumn 2008, when it felt like the world was undergoing a collective nervous breakdown.
One more time with feeling: Our elected government sold us into fiscal slavery without our consent in order to bail out their cronies. Any political party we elect who will not revoke that treaty is complicit. It's not enough to vote. Voting isn't worth a spit unless the elected parties are held accountable and roasted over coals when they break their word. Should they fail us again, many will have no choice but to withold taxes, emigrate or turn to the black economy. If our blood were a little more Mediterranean, there'd already be bodies swinging from the lampposts outside Leinster House.