I admit it; I am a football fan and this year I have the added incentive of watching games on Portuguese television – to improve my knowledge of the language.
I am not sure how well that is working but, as we all sit on the eve of the Brexit (English for Trumpism?) it does a tired heart good to see the fans in green.
The Irish teams, and there are two, N.I. (Northern Ireland) and R.O.I. (Republic of Ireland) are both here and while the former has acquitted itself rather well, the latter is a poor team of less than stellar talent.
But it is the Irish fans that are the talk of Europe. There is nothing these boys and girls in green can’t do; serenade pretty blond French women, serenade nuns, sing lullabies to babies and the French police, hold impromptu dance-offs with Vikings, change flat tires, and clean up after themselves.
Their mammies must be fierce proud of them all.
Ireland was one of the countries singled out for austerity and took it on the chin. And while there are those (mostly Irish politicians) who crow about being the “Poster Boys of Recovery” – when once they crowed about being the “Poster Boys of European Success” – they reality of the cuts has been severe, and at times brutal.
Hard to believe when you see the travelling Irish fans.
Neighbours here in Lisbon, who know I am Irish, stop me on the street to talk about them. The Irish, they say, are always so jolly!
Now having spent time in some dark and dreary times and places in Ireland, I have to stop and look it from the outside. And, having lived two thirds of my life as an emigrant, I am getting better at that. Europe, and the rest of the world, needs to get jolly more often.
In no way am I discounting the plight of refuges, or the mass shootings in Orlando, nor am I going to pretend that the story of humanity isn’t littered with the most brutal and horrifying acts, but come here ‘til I tell you: there is more to humanity than the sum of our cruelties and petty divisions.
We are, in the eyes of whatever created us, all the same and any one telling you otherwise is up to no good.
We have the ability to get together and do what has to be done in a civilized and cooperative manner. We do it every day, everywhere, even if our media chooses not to focus on it.
Besides, if we are on the road to Armageddon, then why not go with a bit of class and enjoy the ride.
Enough of the psychopaths that would have us tear at each other. Here in Europe we have done far too much of that. Let’s be more like the boys and girls in green and be jolly in the face of all our problems. Others will come and behave like their leaders – and never forget that example comes from those at the top – but we will enjoy the good that’s in the day, and when it’s all over, let’s keep it going.
Our civilization is very flawed but it is far better than the anarchy of war. Let’s keep together in this, and extend it. Yes, the rich will always be a gouging lot, but there are more of us than them and, as our mammies often told us: we can set a good example.