Saturday, 6 February 2010
Abroad thoughts from home
Back in the 1970s in Canada, I remember talking to a Winnipeg broadcaster called Bill. He was known to everyone in Winnipeg and like all celebs, would be greeted in public places by people who didn't know him. Now it happened on one occasion that a total eclipse of the sun was best seen from Winnipeg, so US television stations linked to him talking about it and describing local reaction. Bill told me that he'd never received such response from local Canadians - they'd seen him on Canadian TV dozens of times but when the US channels featured him, Winnipegers fell over themselves to tell him "Saw you on TV, Bill!" He felt more than a bit uneasy about that, he said. What was it about Canadians, that they saw Canadians and Canadian work as meritworthy only when they had been endorsed by the big neighbour next door?
I thought of Bill's misgivings yesterday, when I had a piece on the transfer of policing and justice featured in the London Guardian's Comment Is Free section. I was pleased that it had appeared and that I had access to people who would normally not read me, and I let quite a few people know it was there. At the same time I had to remind myself that to see Britain as the only important court of validation is a sad and self-deficient view of life, and one that Irish people in particular have to struggle against. As George Bernard Shaw said a long time ago, the British look to the Irishman to play the fool and he often obliges.