Two bits of news, seemingly unimportant, gave me an epiphany recently. Fittingly enough, those pieces of news and the epiphany concerned Ireland. I say fittingly enough, because James Joyce developed the concept of secular epiphany.
The first piece of news is about Queen Elizabeth, who in her historical trip to Ireland refused a pint of Guinness. I was not shocked, I was not outraged, I was disgusted. What, is she in the A.A. or something? I mean what a petty snob! You don't refuse to drink Guinness when you are offered some! You just don't. At least have a sip dammit! The second piece of news is about president Obama, who in his visit to Ireland downed the lovely beverage. The president had earned my respect and admiration before, but that is just a nice icing on the cake. I don't know how much Irish blood he really has, but he certainly has Irisi spirit (and completely deserves this song). It was a trivial matter, but he did what he had to do.
I say trivial, but maybe not so much. The Queen refusing to even wet her beak with a Guinness was not only rude, it was showing a lack of understanding or sensibility. Guinness is pretty much the Irish national drink. Obama got it right, instinctively. I think it has something to do, a bit, with the fact that he was born and grew up in a republic. Of course, the Queen is absolutely foreign to this. I think she might even be foreign to her own subjects, but that is a topic for another post. No matter how many speeches she can make, how many visits she can give, in the end, she does not belong to this world of commoners, where you earn your place with hard work, intelligence, creativity, merit. Refusing to drink this Guinness, she was out of place and out of touch.