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Monday, 29 January 2007

As Ireland sees an influx of English escaping overheated England, attracted by the crack, the low rate of money, and the high rate of something for nothing, a new form of lighthearted, well-meant, joke is sweeping the bars and ceilidhs of Dublin's celebrated, traditionally literally boozy parts. In a reversal of table-turning, the Irish now tell jokes about the Englishman.

Upon hearing this unlikely turnaround, I badgered the editor of The Spoof to send me upon an investigation, being an investigative journo sort. To my surprise, that morning, I was asked by the same editor if I would like to investigate the bars of Dublin. I was selected because I could remain undercover, I have an Irish name, and I am an alcoholic.

Putting on my best brogue accent, I packed my London-Irish rugger scarf and duffel coat, and left wondering what the old country of my forebears would be like, now vast riches were being heaped upon it.

To be sure, my investigation got off to bad start. Having got drunk at the airport, I wandered in the wrong direction, along the coast road, right into a bar in Dun Leerahg, pronounced Done Leery, where I found several Irishman willing to help me investigate this new form of lighthearted dig at the English. Several Guinesses later, I willingly allowed the affable locals to blindfold me, and lead me out of the bar.

When the blindfold was removed, I was standing in what appeared to be an orchard under a sign that said, Celtic Tiger This Way. It was, in fact, a fake orchard at the back of Murphy's bungalow with plastic apples attached to some Lleylandii, and the Celtic Tiger didn't exist.

As the sun went down, to the strumming of harps, it was here in that secret Irish literary orchard of mirth makers, that the nature of the new Englishman joke was revealed to me:

'Have you heard the one about the Englishman who went into a pub and asked where he could find the Celtic Tiger?'

Believe me, there's no punchline, but that doesn't matter. It's extremely funny to an Irishman, as the Celtic Tiger apparently died out during the Ice Age. There was more.

'Have you heard the one about the Englishman who went into a pub looking for the well-known brand of cider advertised widely in England featuring leprechauns playing Ukulele's?'

'Bulmers,' I said, hoping to use my Irishness to join in with the crack (a lighthearted moment). 'No, no. Don't tell me. Mangers.'

How they laughed at me. Each one of these new jokes, it seems, is extremely funny to the Irish, who laughed and laughed and laughed at me.

It is many years since my family had left Ireland and set up homes across London, and I have often so missed the crack which is like, wittier, and funnier than ever nowadays.

I returned to my hotel convinced that this was funny. I rang my lovely editor whom I love, who keeps sending me on these important investigative assignments which take me a long, long time to write, and then with a tra-la-la song in my heart, I started on the mini-bar, as it did Joyce no harm.

If you're thinking of a Holiday in Ireland on horseback, check out the Irish Horse Tourist Board's traditional view of Ireland of yore on a horse. It's more boring than you could ever imagine.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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