I caught the John Murray radio show on RTE 1 this morning. It is on at 9am. For those fortunate enough not to know what it is, it is a ‘lively mix of entertainment, human interest and lifestyle’, presented by a former Government press secretary.
On this morning’s show the first feature was on Irish Water. It was introduced with Murray saying that they did not normally address such matters but given the public outcry, they thought it had to be covered.
Murray then began speaking with an ‘Irish Water’ spokesman. It was a parody of Irish Water’s communications problem, with the hapless spokesman giving increasingly absurd explanations regarding credits and allocations (you will be given credits in accordance with the number of cats you have since a cat can lick a man clean in 90 minutes, or something to that effect).
It was a classic example of Irish regime humour: humour that appears as subversive and anti-authoritarian on the surface, but in reality is crafted to reconcile the listener to the truth of the government position and elite common sense -in this case, the idea that the problem with Irish Water is merely one of communications- whilst leaving the real common concerns about Irish Water – the fact that people cannot pay and will not pay- out of the picture.
Following that ‘light-hearted look’, listeners were asked to text in their ideas about what they would be cutting back on whenever the water charges came in (ice in whiskey was one example given). Thus the introduction of water charges as a self-evident, inevitable, and unquestionable fact, a burden that affected everyone equally, to be borne with cheeriness and equanimity. One of the cast of Love/Hate, appearing on the show, was asked to indicate what she would be cutting back on when water charges came in. Not “if”, but “when“.
The spirit of the Irish Water feature on the John Murray Show was akin to the old World War I recruitment song: pack up your troubles in your own kit bag and smile, smile, smile.