Friday, March 18, 2011

HBH 225

Hoarse-voiced, braying youths,
Irish in name, not spirit;
Blight on the party.

St Paddy's Day, I'm starting to feel, is too good a piss-up to be left to the Irish.

If there's one demographic segment to which I have taken a greater dislike in recent years than young Americans, it is young Irishmen. They started to become insufferable, I think, in the 1990s, when the sudden booming of their 'Celtic Tiger' economy led to an algal bloom of swaggering self-confidence (still largely unmerited) and brash assertiveness amongst the nation's youth. We've now had 15 years or more of this cocky, raucous loutishness being the national paradigm (when was the last time you met an Irishman under 30 who hadn't apparently shouted himself hoarse the evening before?). And the resurgence of the ancient national inferiority complex in the last two years since their economy collapsed again has added an overlay of aggressive boorishness compensating for insecurity. If there's one thing worse than being a perpetually crap country, it's escaping from crapness for 20 years and then falling back into it.*  (And I speak here as someone who is proud, sentimental about his Irish ancestry.)

The proliferation of these noisy oafs in Beijing is making it more and more difficult to enjoy Paddy's Day...

[* This, I fear, is China's inevitable narrative arc - although it will work its way out over a much longer timeframe.]

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