herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

It's not just your national identity...

AS you're probably aware, today is Bloomsday.

Those of you who've happened to wander past Davy Byrne's or take a stroll out to Sandycove to clear the cobwebs with a blast of bracing sea air can't but have failed to notice the gangs of revellers in striped blazers and straw boaters wandering around led by a David Norris lookalike.

These devotees of James Joyce's Ulysses are letting us all know where they stand on this lauded work (hell, some of them may have even read the yoke all the way through to the end) and in the process asserting part of their identity.

It's a curious thing, identity. Growing up you can ascribe part of what you are to supporting a particular football team (usually a toss-up between the one your Da loves and the one he absolutely hates) until the real fun kicks in around the time puberty takes hold.

Music is probably the handiest way of finding like-minded souls and consequently down the decades there have been schoolyards split along the lines of Slade/T Rex, Sabbath/Purple, Pistols/Clash, The Blades/U2, The Smiths/The Rest, Something Happens/A House, Blur/Oasis and so on.

However, national identity is a different kettle of fish altogether. How we see ourselves and how we'd like others to see us is something which gave pause for thought during the past couple of weeks.

As Polish and Russian fans were reliving the battles of yesteryear the cameras of Sky News were broadcasting images of cheerful, pissed-up Paddies intent on making the most out of their trip to Poland.

All perfectly fine and rather touching to see that we're so well thought of, but there's a line that so easily tips over into caricature that way too many people don't seem to recognise.

Wearing a jersey and cheering your team's efforts, even though they've been outclassed, is admirable, but dressing up as a drunken leprechaun who's been kitted out from Tatty McCrap's House of Crap and Tat and waving to the cameras when fellow fans around you are disconsolate should lead to you having your passport confiscated.

Who the hell are you people and what in the name of God do you think you represent?

Not me, for starters.

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