By John Dolan
I FEEL like 2017 has got off to a bad start personally already — and through no fault of my own, may I add.
I noticed that the Chinese New Year, which begins on January 28, will usher in the Year of the Rooster. Since I was born in a Rooster year, I figured this had to be a good omen.
Alas, not so.
According to Chinese astrology, when the animal of that year coincides with your own animal, it is considered the most unlucky in the 12-year cycle — “fortune in all aspects of your life will not be as good”.
I mean, I wasn’t too happy about the whole rooster thing in the first place — apparently, it can also be translated as the Year of the Cock, which is not an improvement. Far better to be a tiger, a dragon, or even a horse, don’t you think?
It’s tough, on New Year’s Eve, to be told your luck will run out in the year ahead, but it got me thinking about my wish-lists for 2017.
Many thought 2016 was an annus horribilis, what with Brexit, Donald Trump and all the celebrity icons departing the stage. So, how can we start to make 2017 better? Here’s some of my wishes for the next 12 months…
After he is sworn in on January 20, I hope that he starts to unite the divided states of America and doesn’t get too bolshy with scary world leaders who have nuclear weapons at their disposal, such as Vladimir Putin or that moon-faced chap in North Korea.
But at the same time, I hope Trump continues to shatter some of the great myths of modern politics, such as the idea that immigration cannot be discussed sensibly and rationally, and the idea that the United Nations is in any way doing the job for which it was intended.
(Incidentally, Trump is a Dog in the Chinese Zodiac and “when thrown into doubt, Dogs think the world is evil and complicated. Then they criticise sharply when giving comments on something…” Uncanny, isn’t it?)
I don’t expect the new US President’s many critics to defer from their default setting of labelling Trump a sexist, racist, er, dog, but I do hope they remember two pertinent points in particular at this moment in time:
1. That race has remained a powderkeg issue in American cities for the last eight years, despite the touchy-feely era of Barack Obama.
Trump may do something positive here — by making jobs more accessible to the underclasses — but he is assuredly no more to blame for the racial situation than Obama is.
2. That gun massacres have been an almost weekly occurrence in America for years now, and Obama did nothing to prevent them.
Many here in Europe — especially the Generation Snowflake worriers — are petrified of the era of Trump. But just this week, Turkey and Russia accused the US of supporting terrorist groups in Syria, and nobody here batted an eyelid. Imagine the terrors evoked if the same accusation is made on January 21!
Let’s keep calm about Trump, shall we?
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay alive in larger numbers in 2017, if you can manage it.
Yes, even the annoying minor celebrities who will be entering the Big Brother house in the coming days…
That he finds a Eurovision song we can actually be proud of and which will engage pop fans on the continent.
And please, Louis, no treacly ballads, find a good, catchy dance track please.
That he loses the beard.
I think we’ve reached peak whiskers across Ireland at this stage, and alpha male Keano is just the man to lead metrosexual males into the promised land… or at least a land where razors are freely available. Mr Gillette will be a happy man.
That he realises it is time to get off the stage.
The voters emitted a cacophony of different noises at the last election — which was nearly a year ago, would you believe? — but one of the most plainly audible was ‘Enda out!’
Yet not only is he hanging in there, he is now threatening to stay in the hot seat for years to come. That wasn’t part of the deal!
That he drops the kid gloves and finds the iron fist he wielded so freely in the last government, then uses it to hammer home the message that the bulk of the extra money in the coffers is pumped into better public services, in accordance with the electorate’s wishes, not to line the pockets of public servants.
THE O’DONOVAN BROTHERS
That they stay fit and healthy and keep on rowing like dogs in training.
I’ve been a fan of yours, Agnes, and often defended you from the critics who claim you are potty-mouthed and unfunny.
But after seeing your latest festive episode, I have to say you’re looking tired and old — and so are your gags.
It’s time to hang up your corset — for a few years at least. Your extended family will just have to get other jobs instead.
As you enter the last full year of your seven-year term, I realise I am in a minority when I say I hope you will stand down before the 2018 election.
You’ll be 76 in the spring and my wish is that you decide to put your feet up, write some poetry, and make way for a younger person. Not least because it might free you up to make the sort of political speeches you have been itching to make ever since you got in the Áras.
My other wish along these lines is that a better candidate to succeed Higgins emerges —the current crop of likely candidates such as Mairead McGuinness, Fergus Finlay and Eamon Ó Cuiv do little to inspire me. How about it, President Miriam O’Callaghan?
This is probably a forlorn hope, but I hope you don’t make hard work of every single issue that comes up for the government. It makes politics so damn unwieldy.
With the countdown already on for the opening of the new Pairc, I fervently hope we can provide two senior teams that will do the new place justice.
And any chance of a trip to Croker for the Rebel hurlers or footballers in September?
Continued success, a continuation of your hoodoo over rivals Dundalk, and the modicum of luck that is required for Cork City to step up to the next level and win a league title.
Good luck with your “Brexit means Brexit” stance, as you battle the establishment, the law, politicians at home and abroad, the media, and big business.
Your people have spoken, and it is right that their decision is respected.