If I were in charge (any day now), there would a designated happiness month. Forget this one day carry-on. I would suspend the current curriculum in schools and dedicate it to free expression, dancing, trips to all the inaccessible stunning parts of the Island, and have guests from the worlds of everything. From bee-keepers to thatchers, fishermen to comedians, star-gazers to asylum seekers, poets to philosophers, the film censor, self-exiled emigrants, and librarians to talk on all the great Irish works that were censored down the decades and why. Afternoons would be taken up with unfettered consideration to top fives spanning a bottomless ocean of random topics. Starting with films, albums, and books.. to whet the appetite.
Religion would be decreed a private endeavour, and its allotted spot given over to absorbing the unsanitised myths and legends of our Land. Balor and his Evil Eye would slug it out with Lugh and other irredendist gods in outdoor re-enactments. Though rest assured no children or animals would be harmed. The odd teacher might risk being collateral damage, but there would be mead and goblets. Other sporting activities would include pin the grenade on the John Charles McQuaid Poster, and tug o’war with a Curly Wurly.
Women in all their glorious diversity would take over the Dáil where free reign would be awarded on passing legislation to be invoked during each and every subsequent month of happiness thereafter. Women without prior access to the internet or the airwaves would flashmob RTÉ, politely asking Sharon Ni Bheolain to hop it; and someone from deepest Dundalk would read the news. Their revised version of it. Someone else would check if Bryan Dobson’s hair is real.
Iona would return to being a place vaguely associated with one of those saints whose name you can’t remember just now.
Theatres, galleries, gigs and gourmet hangouts would serve only those on the minimum wage or below. All prices would be reduced by 80 per cent.
The word Republican would be reclaimed from the clutches of constituency-protecting revisionists on either side of the amnesia divide, and decreed illegal to be used in any other context than its original definition. Ditto the Irish language. Then the latter would immediately be banned.
Northern commentators would, at last, be permitted to enter the other sacred citadel of Official Ireland (RTÉ) for a criminally overdue series of discussions on The North. This might help inform those who have the least understanding of the place, despite being closest to it, while selectively caring about its ‘victims’ whenever it conveniently suits. These would include: Fionnuala O’Connor, Brian Feeney, Eamonn McCann, Susan McKay, Alex Kane, Bernadette Devlin, Monica McWilliams, Denis Bradley and Dawn Purvis. While Eamonn McCann is there, it would be an opportune time to haul in Bono for a less disingenuous discussion on the Meaning of Life for those he purports to represent. He might even get to meet some of them.
The ubiquitous two-hander of O’Callaghan and Byrne, would be banned. Dearbhail McDonald would be booked for the season. Facebook and Twitter would be suspended.
Driving below 60mph between 8-9am & 5-6pm on main roads at weekdays would incur a fine. A siren would go off inside every car dipping below the mandatory speed and Enya would come howling through the speakers at top tonsil.
Ivor Browne would read the emotional weather nightly, providing tips and assurances as he goes. Jean Byrne would be fitted with a Jean-cam for a month with live coverage on her own dedicated round-the-clock channel.
Stevie Wonder would be played on the streets and every day would be a no uniform one. Churches would fling open their doors for open mic nights, and a box of Tayto would be sent to every household.
Only bin-collectors, taxi drivers, and drive-by fast food operatives would verify photos on passport applications. It would be preferable if there were called Mary or Bridget.
Vincent Browne would do the voice-over for a new Dastardly cartoon. Shane MacGowan would do the honours as Mutley.
Everyone would play a gigantic game of freeze! as the bells of the Angelus strike at 6pm. This would be followed by David McSavage reading aloud the spoken word intro to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy on all national television and radio channels.
I’d be happy then.
And now, a reading from St. Prince…
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here 2 tell u
There’s something else
A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night
So when u call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
U know the one – Dr Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cuz in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You’re on your own
And if de-elevator tries 2 bring u down
Go crazy – punch a higher floor
This is the word of the Lord
We’ll take a few moments now to pray for our own personal happiness intentions…