TRAVEL AND STRANGE CUSTOMS IN THE REMOTE REGIONS OF THE KNOWN WORLD

Gullivers_travels

Some like to call this green and magical land “The Sick Counties”. A few, with some irony ,still call the place “Norn Iron”, summoning up a vision of a realm, like something out of “Game of Thrones” or “the Lord of the Rings”.It conjures up visions of  a  wild and tough wee land of stout-hearted  hobbit-men and women, sitting at the far reaches of ancient european civilisation ,at the very edge of the known world; its feet and roots dangling  in a  huge , beckoning, neverending ocean , beyond which there surely are dragons and unicorns, and in which, swim  devilish mermaids, encouraging  poor, gormless, scurvy-ravaged  sailors into their lust-filled arms

On the other hand I prefer to call the place Norneverland.Far from being quite the magical land that some think it to be be , it has more in common with  Dean Jonathan Swift’s Lilliput or Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland . These two magical places were far from sublime locations to live in . Jonathan Swift, the author of the Gulliver story ,  having spent some time living around Dublin and  Armagh ,had already  doubtless experienced the curiosities of the ruling classes , previously,   and seeing the caperings in  Armagh’s ancient capital city, is likely to have channelled some of his observations into  his  ironic masterpieces of satire.

This was all brought to mind when the “Red Sky Scandal” finally fizzled to its denouement like stale air absconding from a stinking old, fissuring tyre.Lest we forget that this stain on our local government  has already been exposed  as the nepotistic  rattle-bag of  Democratic Unionism’s lies  that  didn’t even spare one of its most faithful followers .She was grist to this hoary mill of fabrication and was cast aside for not lying to save the party’s face. The trick is that it is a near impossible task to have a moral stand while you are also expected to lie through your teeth. Those involved in the scandal were side-stepped to safer pastures away from the lime-light  and eventually rewarded  for keeping their sordid memories to themselves.Far from being transparent ,the workings of  our local government  was plainly found to be  as opaque as chocolate.

I like to call this state …and this state of mind,Norneverland , not only because it has a long-legacy of negativity too. There has been the hellish guldering rantings of “Never, never, never!!!” , shouted at such high volume about….well about anything vaguely positive , I suppose , that most of those having heard these exhortations , still remain partially deaf.That’s not the only reason, though.There are many parallels to Lewis Carroll’s fictional Wonderland and not in a good way.For example , some of Carroll’s characters  show scant respect for the basic rules of language , much like some of our very own political ministers.

Humpty  Dumpty { Now there’s a name to roll around your tongue} annnounces that  “When I use a word, it means what I choose it to”.Old Humpty has some novel ideas about words too. He says of verbs ..”they’ve a temper, some of them…they’re the proudest…but adjectives you can do anything with….but not verbs”. then there’s the mad Jabberwocky , whose a real jabberer who makes up words to suit the moment….words like ..”and the mome raths outgrabe”…well it’s not a far cry from our own local politician, Gregory Campbell’s attempt at humour brought forth …”Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer”…..is it? We’re not too far from the shores of Wonderland  right there.

Then there are the natural laws that scientists have wrought hard to understand for this past several hundred years.In Wonderland , Alice soon discovers that the laws of physics are turned on their head. In Through the Looking Glass there is an episode where Alice and the Red Queen are furiously running as fast as their legs will allow so naturally the inquisitive Alice asks the demented queen where they are actually running to…only to be reproofed by the queen who explains to the child that they have to do this to stay in the same place . …Did n’t  she know that already ? is the subtext. If they really want to go somewhere else they’ll have to run twice as fast as their fastest…. to get there. Alice doesn’t think this makes a lot of sense as she can run no faster than her fastest.The Mad Hatter character  takes  the concept of “time” to another level too. He explains with a straight face that  his watch is deliberately  two days slow, which means , of course that it is exactly right and is telling the current time.

In Norneverland, in face of all evidence to the contrary, we have politicians in government  who do not believe in evolution and its out-workings  and actually have a notion that the earth we all live on is only 6ooo years old and that anything that rocks that hard and fast  novel concept, such as the discovery of billion -year old bones….  is a trick being played on us by a mischievous god to test our faith in his existence. We also seem to have conflated the concept of  running as fast as we can to stay in the same place .We’ve been doing that in Norneverland for many years and we never seem to learn anything new from each mistake we make.

What appears to have happened unbeknownst to us is that we’ve set up a form of government for ourselves  which is basically unworkable , simply because we have no way of adequately chastising any of our politicians who break any of the rules .We might question them until we are blue in the face and they can respond as the Jabberwocky might ,but in the end ,as is the norm in Norneverland , they’ll be promoted for their failures and lauded for their lies and excesses.

I  suppose Norneverland could be “twinned with  Alice’s Wonderland  some time in the near future.

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