I remember, as a kid in Gombeen Nation Ireland, getting up at 6am one Christmas day to verify that Santa had brought me my (on tick, though I didn't know it) Scalextric set, complete with JPS-adorned black and gold F1 car. Oh the excitement of it all!
Of course, when I ripped open the box I found there was an empty space in the polystyrene where the transformer should have been. Something to do with Irish regulations concerning "radio" equipment, I was told. So every Paddy edition of Scalextric was shipped without a transformer. Add onto that, my ol'fella had to pay twice as much for his taxi car as our cousins north of the border... excise duty (now VRT) being responsible for the "Paddy price".
And there was me trying to enjoy a few days off school and compulsory Catholism, kiddie-fiddling and Dev-inspried gaeilgeoir cultural nationalism. "Oh no you don't" said Jack Lynch or Liam Cosgrave or whatever arsehole was in power at the time.
Even as an eight-year-old I knew that Ireland was a kip.
Ireland has, though, been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century over the past few decades (and yes, I know it's the 21st century now, but it is a start) due to things like the EU, freedom of information, cheap travel to other countries (very handy for abortions which still "dont' exist" in Official Ireland's jaundiced eye) technology and the Internet.
What would Dev, Paddy "Paedo" Pearse and the supposedly progressive Sean Lemass have thought of the internet? The former two wanted us to live in thatched cottages and speak peasant Gaelic, the latter wanted RTE to be used as an instrument to keep "De Peeple" in ignorance:
The element of top-down control was a comfort to the political elite as well. The Lemass government made no bones about its view that RTE should be an arm of the state..."
(A Brief History of Ireland, Land, People, History. Richard Killeen)
These days we don't have to go near RTE, apart from having to bail out the useless bastards every year via the licence fee.
Censorship is gone... too late for James Joyce and other great Irish minds... but the State is finding it harder to control how we think. We are all our own broadcasters and opinion-formers now. We can even be our own Steven Speilbergs, as my latest shameless video plug demonstrates. See no-one is immune to gombeenism at the end of the day!
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