Link to original article in Irish Independent here

It may be a tentative step on the roadmap towards ‘normal life’, but for many, May 18 means one thing and one thing only – the craic.

For those not yet in the know, up to “four people who don’t live together can meet outdoors while keeping at least two metres apart”.

In other words, it’s VE Day. Bag-o-cans anyone? OK, I don’t want to instil fear among the overzealous authoritarians, but I predict a dose of fun after two months of incarceration.

Our favourite pubs have closed and we’re in such a state of arrested development that the year has marched on, while we’ve stood still.

But as Covid-19 cases come down, meeting people in a safe manner is next on the menu.

Predictably, we’re way behind the rest of Europe on this one simply because we may revert to our cultural stereotypes, ie give it the large one.

Perhaps it’s just me, but watching countries deal with the virus and subsequent ‘easing of restrictions’ is reminiscent of the 1990s TV show ‘The Tourist Trap’.

It was a social experiment in which tourists from four different countries (Japan, England, the US and Germany) were filmed (with hidden cameras) on an island hotel in Turkey.

They were unknowingly presented with scenarios like a naked dude showering in a public place, a thieving bar keeper and a lady looking for an engagement ring.

It was enthralling to see how they fell into their expected norms, which is so reflective of what we’re going through now.

The Swedes are liberal, the French are anarchic, the (Tory) British are arrogant, the Germans are organised, the Italians are singing from the rooftops. The Irish are complicit – and, on May 19, possibly hungover. The cultural cliché is real.

According to figures by Nielsen, the data analytics company, the sale of take-home alcohol increased by 40pc in March this year on last year.

This confirms Oscar Wilde’s great deduction: “Everything in moderation, including moderation”.

With that in mind, I suspect a glitch in moderation come Monday.

Irish people aren’t trailblazers in self-discipline, responding better to being told what to do – see Catholic Church oppression.

Yet, when there is a window of opportunity Irish people disregard the dogma, flout the preachings, go mad, drink and have post-oppression fun – more than people from nations where citizens get treated like adults.

We can have fun anywhere – even if beaches and public spaces are closed. That’s our cultural strong point.

The weather is unusually fantastic at the moment, so how can you stop people from having friends over?

You can’t.

So before you meet, keep the numbers down. Drink and be merry, but be slightly Swedish if possible.

As for our Stasi neighbours, only call the cops if there’s a health hazard – like 30 people in a drunken orgy, music blaring or Italia ’90-style caravans going around the neighbourhood with people mooning out of car windows.

The problem is when you combine booze with sunshine, some tunes and an escape from oppression, carnage ensues, Irish style.

Staying in for the next five years is not an option, even if Dr Michael Ryan and the WHO would like us to wait until a vaccine is developed.

As we learned from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, you can only lock innocent people up for so long before they escape.

Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris know that when they give us the little finger they may not be able to police some of us.

We will need to be able to police ourselves. Will Irish people do it? We’ll know more on Tuesday.


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