There was a magnificent eccentric in this town a few years ago, though sadly now departed, and we’re all the poorer for his passing.
Michael Bartley was nuts and he knew it. Mad as a bag of spanners.
He once walked into a night-club wearing a woman’s fur coat backwards and a WWI German helmet with a spike on top.
Give me a gin and tonic, my good man.
He knew he was crazy, and when his bipolar sweep approached its zenith, he would routinely sign himself into the local psychiatric unit for a few weeks to decompress.
During one of Bartley’s stays, they happened to be opening an extension to the unit, and they just happened to have the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, to cut the tape. They needed a patient for the photo-op. Preferably one without recently-chewed food on his clothes.
What about Bartley? He speaks well. He dresses well. He’s back down from his high.
The very man!
And so it came to pass on the appointed day that Albert Reynolds strode down the corridor with the hospital manager and the ward manager and the psychiatric consultant and a horde of waddling county councillors.
Taoiseach, this is Michael, one of our residents.
The Taoiseach thrust his hand out to Bartley. Hello there. I’m Albert Reynolds, the Taoiseach.
Bartley returned his gaze with a kindly smile. The Taoiseach, you say? I wouldn’t worry about that one bit. When I came in here I was Napoleon.
Of course, delusions only happen to people who should know better.
That’s why Bartley and some of his buddies were in the laughing academy – they should have known they weren’t Napoleon, they should have known Reynolds wasn’t a prime minister in any real sense of the expression, and they should have known that all psychiatrists are frauds. They had the means and the opportunity to know better. They were deluded.
We don’t say children are deluded because they believe in the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus, or free education. We say they’re children. How could they know any different?
And that’s why I don’t think the thousands of spray-tanned mini-skirted buckskin-booted gobshites who turned up at Knock expecting to see the Virgin Mary were deluded either. They’re just idiots who’d believe any old crap as long as it’s wrapped up in something shiny. It is a pity, however, that they left the toilets of the shrine covered in shit, and the field littered with their nappies and their burger-cartons.
They were just idiots, and as idiots, were fully entitled to a fool’s pardon, because idiots have no access to the facts.
Likewise, I don’t think Joe Coleman or his trusty sidekick, Keith “Bling” Henderson, are deluded. I think they’re just a pair of Ballyfermot wide-boys on the lookout for a fast buck. Good luck to them if they can get away with it, especially with the connivance of fellow wide-boy, skanger and general-purpose cynic Joe Duffy, who granted his old neighbour an hour’s free advertising courtesy of your licence money, without asking him a single hard question.
Coleman’s mask slipped badly when the caretaker of the shrine came on the radio. The gentle visionary disappeared, replaced by an aggressive old gurrier. I’ll bleedin have yiz!
He threatened this guy with the Virgin Mary.
Now look. Anyone who reads this site will know what I think of religion. I think it’s bollocks, all of it, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Judaism, the whole lot. I think it’s insanity. But most adherents that I know are well-meaning people, and fairly decent by their own lights.
Decent and well-meaning are not epithets I would apply to the man I heard on the radio today. This Coleman character is a demagogue and a chancer, which I agree is a hell of a thing to say about a guy in Knock: the home of fakery. I can think of no stronger way to put it.
So Knock was created by some magic-lantern trick and believed by ignorant peasants.
Well and good. Catholicism is irrational and made-up. It’s magic jiggery-pokery, but it’s moved on a bit from the days when it routinely silenced scientific inquiry.
Coleman is from a completely different gene-pool. He comes from a tribe of know-nothings who would rule by superstition, fear and ignorance. These are the people who reject the laws of physics and replace them with the demands of unthinking zealotry. These are the same people who bellow drunken rebel ballads in the pubs on a Saturday night as a substitute for actual thinking.
It’s not the blind leading the blind any more.
It’s the ignorant leading the stupid, and they’ve moved from politics to religion.
Since the cretins were so impressed by a few rays of sunlight, I wonder what they’d make of true majesty.
Here are some shots of the cosmos from Hubble.