It’s that time of year when the Easter eggs have been in the shops since about mid-January, the daffodils set the country alight with yellow and pubs throughout England’s green and yellow pleasant land celebrate a famous British saint adopted by Ireland – and I don’t mean Jack Charlton. In a convenient tie-in with the Six Nations rugby (now what clever marketing executive came up with that idea?) the cardboard shamrocks are hanging on the wall, the Guinness balloons are out and the silly leprecaun hats have rolled off the production line.
Yes, rather ironically St Patrick’s day has almost become an unofficial holiday in England to the extent that it’s now a bigger event than St George’s day. Poor George killed an evil dragon (something the Welsh weren’t best pleased with), yet Pat just kicked a few harmless snakes out and gets all the credit. Come to think of it Paddy is the only patron saint of our Hiberno-Britannic archipelago to have a bank holiday in his honour in the respective jurisdictions.
On St Pat’s night last year I had a surreal experience when I found myself in an Irish pub in Finchley (an area apparently as British as a certain part of Ireland) watching cricket. It was Ireland (or should that be Paddistan) versus Pakistan in the World Cup – a historic victory for the boys in green. Any excuse for a party I suppose, as this coming weekend will testify – coinciding coincidentally with England against Ireland in the Six Nations and the Cheltenham Festival and also the threat of economic recession hanging over the Republic. The beer and whisky will flow regardless from Boston to Buenos Aires, but those with a real cause to celebrate will no doubt be the directors and shareholders of Diageo plc.