In a darkened world with tsunamis, nuclear meltdown and international civil unrest there are still some lighter moments, which could even make Princess Anne , smile. Firstly, our new Taoiseach is having gender issues with several news agencies struggling with the masculinity of his name. Our Enda is a Gaelic name which means birdlike. The fact that some unlearned journalists think he is a bird of the non-feathered variety is deeply concerning. But hey at least it gets him noticed.

 Certainly our ‘Innda’ was noticed by Barack O’ Bama on St. Patricks Day when the USA President offered to visit Ireland, the ancestral homeland of his great, great, great, great, great grandfather.  There is one thing about us Irish –a splash of paddy DNA and you are in! Let’s face it, there was even a time if your Granny stayed over night in Clontarf Castle you could qualify for a passport.  President Obama will soon join those other great Irish figures such as Jack Charlton, John Hurt, Tony Cascarino and Giovanni Trappatoni in donning the Green jersey and downing a pint of the ubiquitous Black Stuff at St James’s Gate in Dublin.

St Patrick’s Day was played out in perfection this year, as there was no rain to dampen the shamrock.  The emphasis is more and more on multi culturalism as floats contain every ethnic race with Chinese dragons, ‘praying’ Japanese girls, Zulu dancers and bhangra sisters swinging their hips. It’s all mighty craic unless you live in Downpatrick where Sinn Fein representatives did not quite get into the inclusive swing of things as they draped themselves in the national flag and DUP dinosaurs forgot their costumes. All of which was a bit petty given that their respective leaders, Peter and Marty were putting our best face forward in the USA and proving we may have some potential as a normal society.  Our involuntary coalition of unwilling partners voluntarily did the social rounds of the Washington circuit eating their way for Northern Ireland accompanied by the usual phalanx of professional hangers on and political toga touchers. Soon this circus will end for Northern Ireland but in fairness our political classes should milk it for as long as it lasts –even if it’s more for American optics than ours.

Also in the news was the not so startling fact that the TV drama Midsomer Murders is almost completely free of Asian or Black residents. Hardly surprising when ethnic communities in UK rural areas barely register. Given the high death rates in the show it would appear that would be ethnic residents have more sense than to live in a place that has three murders a week.  Yet what people forget is that the show is entertainment, its not supposed to be a social commentary on multi-cultural Britain.  The PC brigade often get their M&S knickers in a twist about having balance in TV programming and the result is we get a token Asian family rather unsurprisingly running a corner shop in Coronation Street; a double whammy with a gay Muslim man with his Muscle Mary boyfriend replete with wife-beaters vest in Eastenders and a host of thick Irish villains in Hollyoaks.  Lets not even go near rural Emmerdale, which has more incestuous liaisons and bed hopping than guesting at Fred and Rose West’s home!

Get a life guys, soapville is not real, even if our politicians are stupid enough to respond to public campaigns to free goggle-eyed Deirdre from prison.

Finally, for those of a certain age and of a more certain age it emerged that perennial bad boy, Dennis the Menace turned sixty. Dennis has not been resting on his laurels over the years as along with the Bash Street kids; he is awaiting the arrival of President Obama to Beanotown to mark his birthday with ‘Operation Hotdog’. The Beano seems to represent an era when kids where allowed to be mischievous without the cotton wool society we have now. Today’s latte sipping liberals would choke at the thought of characters called Spotty, Plug, Fatty or Smiffy.  Yet somehow our society lacks something without the colour of a Minnie the Minx or Roger the Dodger. These characters always got their come-uppance in their madcap schemes and attempted fiddles. It’s difficult to see much of a moral code being learned by kids through computer games such as Grand Theft Auto or Killer Instincts. In a world of so much tragedy it would be a mistake to lose the things that make us smile.