Irony is one of those words in the English dictionary that has always confused me a little. I recall reading Shakespeare at secondary school and my English teacher prattling on about the great poet’s use of irony to make his point. I guess looking back the only thing that is ironic was I didn’t understand it then and chuckle now that I still don’t.
It took Alanis Morissette to sing her her hit song Ironic for me to totally appreciate the term and how best to use it. Maybe that’s how English should be taught?
And today, I don’t think there is a better time in history that can be encapsulated by the use of the term - ironic. So in true Alanis Morissette-style ...
Isn’t it ironic that the SNP held an independence referendum and lost, while suggesting that it would be a once in a generation vote, then within only five years, it is well and truly on the cards again? Scotland voted “No” to becoming an independent country with no real idea about currency and a whole lot more. But, as luck would have it, other geo-political factors have wiped the slate clean. And hey presto, the debate will now be all about the economy. Well, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again eh?
Isn’t it ironic that music became so much cheaper because of the technological revolution in digital signals? Whereas one would have to buy numerous singles and albums of an artist or group one liked, costing a small fortune, these are now available on the likes of Spotify for only 14 quid a month. I can get every Elton John song and album whenever I want. But, if I want to go see him perform live, I can now pay £300. Yes, what was £50 for ticket to a concert is now six times that as artists re-engineer their revenue models as a result of cheap tech.
Isn’t it ironic that those Members of Parliament who have the term “right honourable” in front of their names on headed notepaper are the complete antithesis of this? Only this week the right honourable Gavin Williamson MP was sacked as Secretary of Defence by the Prime Minister. His alleged crime? In effect, being dishonourable and leaking secrets to the press. Whether Mr Williamson is guilty or not will be the focus of at least one inquiry no doubt. But, for heaven’s sake, isn’t time to strip MPs of this ridiculous title? What makes them any more honourable than any of us?
Isn’t it ironic that we have been fighting a war on drugs for two decades, only to have the UK as the drugs capital of Europe? A war that seen everything from the truly awful stance on soft drugs adopted by Ann Widdecombe when she was shadow Home Secretary to using the Royal Navy to intercept the occasional drug boat heading out of North Africa. There are more “disco biscuits”, “weed” and “charlie” circulating around the UK than ever before. Just where is our so-called army that is fighting the drugs war? If we are being honest, the war was lost a long time ago. It’s a skirmish here and there.
Isn’t it ironic that global warming, now climate change, has been on the agenda for decades? Global conferences held with world leaders jetting in to eat the best food and drink the best wine. And not much has been achieved. But, a few thousand demonstrators or “eco warriors” build a few gardens on London bridges and streets and suddenly “Extinction Rebellion” has a meeting with the right honourable Michael Gove. And wait for it, Scotland, that world leading bastion of “whatever is politically opportunistic and expedient” has declared a climate emergency.
Isn’t it ironic that a decade after the global financial crash that hit every corner of the planet, that nothing really has changed? The seven white CEO’s of America’s largest banks were summoned only last mont to account for their eye-watering salaries and benefits packages. Since the financial crash, they have raked in tens of millions each, while quantitive easing has pumped taxpayer money into the system. And as for diversity in the 21st century ... when asked if any of them would be replaced by a black person or a woman as part of their succession planning, not one answered in the affirmative. My, my.
Isn’t it ironic that some of today’s new big companies that are listed on global stock markets have never made a profit? Uber, the ride-hailing app, is the latest to hit he IPO jackpot. The company expects to make an operational loss of $1 billion for the first quarter of 2019. Yet, it has a potential value of around $90 billion when it comes to the market. I’m no Albert Einstein, but I just can’t see how that can add up. Yet, the big brokers and banks are hyping up these new “tech” companies. Forgive me, but I always thought stock market-listed companies functioned to make profits to pay dividends? Perhaps I’m too traditional.
And finally, isn’t it ironic, that the irony of it all is I still miss the good old days more than ever? With so much irony in our politics, the tech revolution and big finance, nothing has lived up to the hype and empty promises. Mental health issues, now more transparent, are worse than ever. No more “looney bins”, but a generation suffering anxiety from screen-time issues. Politicians are worse than ever, spewing what they want when it suits them at election times. Perhaps all we want are the simple things in life, security, family, basic human rights and a state that cares and provides. It’s all gone wrong somewhere along the lines and it’s always someone else fault.
Isn’t that ironic?