Monday, March 7, 2011

Decorating lamp posts

Doesn’t the place look bare now that the election is over and the shivering lamp posts have once again been exposed to the cruel March winds roaring in like a lion? It reminds me of my sitting room after we’ve taken down all the Christmas decorations – empty and drab and suffused with the unfamiliar air of normality.
Of course, I know there are some people out there who malign this traditional poster-fest that lightens the place up and brings a tinge of brightness to the unrelenting grey struggle of life. These are probably the same people that display a disaffection for politics in general and have become disillusioned with the whole electoral business. (Yes, it’s hard to believe, but there actually are people like that around.)
But if one were honest, whose heart would not gain a little lift by driving out of their estate and being confronted by a smiling Joe Higgins? Who could fail to be lifted by the sight of David McGuinness’ boyish features adorning every second post down Auburn Avenue?
Driving down the New Ongar Road today with its unremarkable greyness, I found myself harking back to the dazzling array of posters that lit the way to the Shopping Centre like the Yellow Brick Road itself during election time. Sinn Fein’s Paul Donnelly certainly caught the eye with his colourful canary yellow posters, while the now-traditional blue skies of the Fine Gael posters sent a subliminal message of hope to the citizens of Dublin 15. And of course you had the original poster-girl herself, Joan Burton, who would doubtlessly top the poll by a huge margin if, as I have said many times, she allowed herself to be photographed sitting on the sand in a swimsuit and holding a beach ball.
An article in the last edition of Community Voice decried the proliferation of posters and expressed dismay that the Council had not sought to restrict their number, as per their own regulations. Perhaps the writer had a point on health and safety grounds. I know that during the high winds at the start of the campaign, I had a horror of driving down the N3 at 99kph (as I always do, officer) to be suddenly assailed by the sight of Leo Varadkar’s giant face blocking the view out of my windscreen. Such a scenario would make the Amityville Horror look like Bambi. But in general, the more the merrier remains my motto where election posters and tins of Roses at Christmas are concerned.
But, now that our political saviours have all gone back into hibernation, why should that mean the end of street decoration? Are those that aspire to political office the only section of society that is allowed to adorn our highways and byways in such a manner?
I don’t know if anyone went into town during the campaign. (Personally, I try and avoid that section of the city like the plague and only venture there through absolute necessity) The UpStart people, who are concerned with reinforcing the value of the arts in society, launched a poster campaign of their own to coincide with the election. It consisted of poetry and artwork and juxtaposed very tellingly with the political posters adorning the lamp posts. I actually had a short poem featured called Consider the Tree, advocating investment in poetry (particularly in struggling poets in the Littlepace area) which regaled people in what looks like the Lombard Street area.
I would suggest that this kind of poster campaign would have found a great home in Dublin 15 and that we should seriously start looking at encouraging this sort of thing, especially during the cold and bleak months of winter, spring, summer and autumn. We could have Supermarket month, say, during which Superquinn, Tesco, Eurospar, Lidl and the rest all exhorted us to make them their number one. The manager of Dunnes in Ongar could be photographed in front of a backdrop of happy shoppers, asking people in small writing down at the bottom to Make Dunnes in Blanch your Number Two.
Or alternatively, have a radio station month in which deejays (do they still use that word?) beam down from every lamp post entreating you to tune in. Vote local – vote Phoenix. Joe Duffy for a happier life. Radio Nova – Great songs, Over and over again.
How about a Republic of Ireland football stars slot with our sporting heroes vying for public approbation? Shay Given – your number one. Make Kevin Doyle your number ten. Fahy and Duff – a United Left Alliance.
The possibilities are endless and I am calling on the Council now to put the feelgood factor back into our streets.
To get back to the article in Community Voice, it went on to question the suspicious disappearance of many of the posters from our streets and reported the lamentations of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael that someone was removing them from their allotted locations.
Well, I guess that now the election is over, I can safely ‘fess up, as they say, in da house, innit? To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby’s succinct confession in one episode of Yes, Minister, the identity of the individual whose alleged responsibility for this occurrence has been the subject of recent discussion is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led one to assume, but, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question is, it may surprise you to learn, one whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.
Yes it was I. I knew that once the election was over, they would all be shredded up to make toothpaste or cat food, so I liberated as many of them as I could. My house is festooned with posters from all walks of political life. I have Roderic O’Gorman grinning at me from above the mantelpiece and Kieran Dennison watching over me as I sleep. Clement Esebamen gazes benignly at me as I perform my ablutions every morning and a block of Patrick Nultys ascends the stairs, reassuring me that I am in safe hands.
No greater love hath a man for his political masters.

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