Friday, March 17, 2006

Begorrah and Bejasus!

I've come to hate St Patrick's day with a vengeance. As someone of Irish ancestory I suppose I should be out there, shamrock in lapel, wearing a silly green hat, knocking back pints of Guiness. But the trouble is, no matter how many forebears I might have from the Emerald Isle, I'm still a Briton, not an Irishman, and, like it or not, St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

I just find it bizarre the way, in recent years at least, Britons seem to have adopted this saint's day as another excuse to go and drink themselves stupid? Why use an Irish saint's day as the excuse? You can get slaughtered any day of the week! But what's even worse are the outbreaks of faux Irishness one finds around bars and other public venues every March 17th. All of a sudden drunken English people are staggering around shouting 'begorrah' and 'bejasus' in the perpetuation of the very worst Irish stereotypes!

But why don't the English misappropriate the saints' days of other nations besides the Irish? Is it just that imitating the stereotypical drunken Mick offers more opportunities to get legless and start fights? Let's look at the alternatives: St Andrew's day - whilst the Scots are also renowned for being drunk and violent, they are also dour and tightfisted and don't seem to actually enjoy their inebriated punch ups. Besides their violence is far more vicious than the Irish variety, involving knives, broken bottles and the likes, whereas (as anyone who has seen The Quiet Man knows), Irish violence consists merely of comical, good-natured fist fights, punctuated by the odd shilelagh to the head. As for St David's day, well, what can I say? The Welsh are no fun at all - all leeks and close harmony singing.

The burning question, of course, is why don't we English celebrate our own patron saint's day the same way as the Irish do theirs? Personally, I think it is because St George is just too boring a saint - always out slaying dragons and the like. Plus, we have to share him with the likes of the Russians and Germans - killjoys to a man! What we really need is a new patron saint. One more associated with fun and debauchery. St John Thomas the Priapic, perhaps (although I probably just made him up), the patron saint of sex offenders.

Ah, to hell with it all, I say! Just go out and get drunk -you really don't need the spurious excuse of a saint's day!



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