The circus has left town but animals of the mythological variety, the bearded barking, as well as the purring nine-lived variety still occcupy centre stage in the 2009 pantomime of Irish life.
The Celtic tiger is to blame for the whole thing of course. A once sleek and fit for purpose feline which started life as a lean sophistocat with an engine that purred like an Asian car plant. Softly- padded and sure of foot, the tiger negotiated Brussels bureaux and summit tables and always got the cream. The tiger had circus high wire skills. The tiger deftly walked the tight rope of fiscal generosity for a decade and relied only on the safety net of property taxes. A safety net which the circus ring masters of global banking dismantled. An extended cast of bull markets and bear traders grace the stage alongside pantomime characters with unlikely names like fannie mae, freddie mac and the biggest villian of all; seanie fitz.
The celtic tiger had many litters. But the tiger cubs were too well fed. This now presents all sorts of problems for the tiger herself. Firstly the cubs are now too costly to feed. Secondly, like many kittens who have never needed to learn to hunt, their teeth and claws are not fit for the pecking order of the global jungle. Which now means they are too difficult to rehome. The ailing tiger herself has lost a few lives, though strong survival instincts have activated chameleon qualities; proud euro-spots grown to show monsieur trichet et les autres bureauchats. Stars and stripes on the soft furry underbelly of the celtic tiger, turned purring Garfield, to show Top Cat Uncle Obama.
The tiger is now unrecognizable. Not merely a domestic long hair in need of a financial haircut, nor is she simply a leopard losing spots, nor a fat cat shedding toxic fluffy equity. Now, battered and one-eyed, the still game tiger is growling defiantly as she awaits 77bn euro surgery.
SPVs ( special purpose vets) and spindoctors are working to amputate her gangrenous and clubbed construction limb. Eurochats in the waiting room lap up watery stimulus packages as they watch the tricky surgery. Sagely, these mandarins all agree with the consensus that the tiger must grow a few diversified extra limbs if she rises phoenix-like from the bonfire of the celtic vanities. Former memories of the once proud tiger may soon belong to mythology. Consigned to cautionary nursery tales, like the one-eyed yellow idol on the pass at Kathmandu and Macavity the mystery cat.
The tiger cubs continue to cause trouble. These toothless kittens were reared on a diet of tuna, sardines and cream. The fluffy malcontents are growling in the alleys as they face cheaper kit e kat and lidl kibbles. Even Alberts famous high end pet food factory burned to the ground as the circus left town. Defiantly the cubs soiled their own litter trays and turned their tails on Lisbon one. Returning a no vote to the urbane eurochats was understandably seen as biting the hands that fed them. Mercifully, the cubs put tail between their legs and accepted what was on offer the next time.
Now that the circus has left town the story tellers of media have unleashed a whole host of other circus animals.Lisbon one began as serious cliff hanger. There was a brief cameo by neo-con Libertas Eagle. But no twist in the tale this time as radical tail failed to wag the dogged consensus!The NAMA factor featured a battle scene with thorny birds Joan of ArkBurton and Prince Richard the brut-on against assorted shylocks, fatcats and soldiers of destiny. By now tired and bloated, the Fianna sought the salmon of knowledge through the NAMA debate as the Druids read the tea leaves.
Tangential subplots amused the worn audience. The Bull ODonoghue and his crock of gold; the old bull was just full of bull as limousines and party hats and cheltenham horses trotted across stage. The bull mistook his invisibility cloak for an invincibility cloak as the media pursued him into the owner's and trainer's bar at Listowel. The Ceann Comhairle, no longer sacred cow, was gleefully butchered.
Through all the caricature slow starter and dark horse Lenihan has refused typecasting.
The budget is now looming and defies panto scriptwriters.The outcome depends on Dark horse Lenihan, heavily handicapped, hobbled yet determined as the remaining circus animals jockey for position. Cue left, the last creature of the tiger era emerges to do battle. The slowest and largest animal will trumpet the final act towards curtain fall and hopeful sequel. Costs must fall, productivity must rise, overtime must be cut, services must deliver value. Pigs might fly. Take a bow Lenihan and face the elephant in the corner!