Given the sheer variety of bad weather that’s been thrown at the long suffering population in the past four weeks, we could be forgiven for wondering what we’ve done to deserve all of this. Some suspect divine retribution. But what could be making The Almighty so angry?
The last time He was this vengeful, the Egyptians were in trouble for ignoring repeated requests to let the Israelites leave. Perhaps that is the case again. Given the snail’s pace at which decisions are made in this country maybe we are, unbeknownst to ourselves, holding a tribe of chosen people hostage and efforts to free them have become mired in bureaucracy. Moses has been onto the Pharoah repeatedly about “letting my people go”, only to get the reply that it’s now being handled by the Department of the Environment. Moses talked to the DoE who’ve told him that in fact “it’s a matter for the Local Authorities”. Now he’s has lost the rag and called on God to bring the pain.
And bring the pain He has – roughly in the following order: three wet summers, floods in autumn, frost, ice, black ice, a brief thaw (just to mess with our heads) more ice, hail, sleet, snow, melting snow, slush, gales, spring tide, more flooding, a bit more snow. What’s that you say? Poisonous chemicals washed overboard in a storm? Sure go on so. If He is following Biblical form, all we are missing now are plagues of locusts, lice, and of course frogs.
But whatever is hurled at us, there’s one group who will be ready – AA Roadwatch. In these dramatic times, AA Roadwatch and other traffic reports have become essential listening. Normally, in peacetime, AA Roadwatch tells you pretty much what you knew already. Every day during the rush-hours, traffic is “bumper to bumper in Coe-irk, Patrick Street particularly havvy, Reooooochestine Reoooode sleow but mewving. Lamerick busy rind Castletroy. A-am50 busy in beoth diractions. In Wooterford, Farrybank Dual Corriagway is teootally conjasted.
Add the vaguely pornographic image of a truck shedding it’s leode in the Jack Tunnel, some loose horses around Dublin’s less salubrious Western suburbs and Tuam and that’s your standard traffic report for the country. Not anymore. In these apocalyptic times, anything could be around the corner.
“And we’re gatting repoorts of locusts at Kinsale Reode flyeover. There are still patches of lice on sacondary reoootes and of course if you encounter plagues of amphibians please use your froglights.”
Traffic updates have become like wartime broadcasts – whole families are huddled around the wireless (internet): “We shall fight the enemy on the national routes, on the slip-roads, on the roundabouts, we shall be busy but moving well. We shall march forward, shoulder to shoulder, bumper to bumper but keeping a safe distance from the car in front. We shall watch out for loose horses who are having difficulty holding their footing on the ice”
The next step for traffic newscasters is inevitable – enter politics. Last year was the Year of the Economist. RTE’s finance reporter George Lee, fed up with reporting on the bad news, decided to try and fix the bad news and became a Fine Gael TD. And then no one’s heard much from him since. Could a new AA Roadwatch Party avoid that trap and make an impact on the Irish political scene?
Speeches made in the style of a traffic report could make a refreshing change in the Dáil for one thing. “We’re gatting repoorts that the H-ASS- E is currently completely gridlocked, the public foynonces are a mess and we’re mewving varry slowly with civil sarvice refoorm.”
The AA Roadwatch Party might not garner enough support to rule alone so would need a coalition with the other new celebrity expert – the weather forecasters. A merger of the two could work well, although ‘The Weather And Traffic’ party does have a rather unfortunate acronym.
The introduction of meteorologists would add a common touch to the new political entity. The much-loved nudge-and-wink style of weatherman Gerry Fleming would remind voters that he could be the man to sort out any problems with the planning permission.
Weathermen-turned-TDs would also get respect from a jaded public because of their unwillingness to make any outlandish promises while on the hustings.
“If you elect me, I promise that I’m going to go up to Dáil Eireann, spend two to three days getting my swipe card and login sorted, send a few emails. Beyond that I can’t say much without up-to-date satellite data but early indications are that it will be another few days before I settle down.”
To complete the role reversal, ousted government politicians may find new outlets in the areas of weather forecasting. Meteorology would suit Brian Cowen well because he can legitimately claim nothing is his fault.
“Look, the country is experiencing unprecedented rain but we are not alone. The problem started with sub-prime weather from Siberia and is affecting the whole world. Britain has even worse weather. We are a small open country with no roof so it’s inevitable we will be affected.”
That is all in the future though. We still have to deal with the present, because I’m getting reports that a truck carrying surplus grit has just shed its load…