Thursday, May 22, 2008

Enough is Enough

I blame Princess Diana. We have become a nation that mawkishly salivates at the prospect of public grieving.

That Tommy Burns was a great guy I have no doubt. That we need to view his funeral through the full glare of the media is more troublesome.

Maybe it's what he would have wanted. Maybe it's what the family wanted. Or maybe not.

But this outpouring of grief that we see every time a public figure dies is beginning to devalue the very notion of heroes or legends. Every funeral is bigger, more moving and more important than the last.

I was half expecting Sir Elton John to appear singing a reworked version of Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting in tribute to Tommy's crucial role in the peacekeeping process that followed the Battle of the Boyne.

Tonight of course all bets will be off. See how long lasting this orgasm of mourning is. Listen to the Celtic fans celebrate the life of a very Catholic man who saw friendship as the path to defeating bigotry. Then listen to the vitriol pouring from the stands celebrating a conflict that took place on another island, an island that is moving on.

Listen to the Rangers fans saying how decent Walter and Ally are. How they were proud of their management team at the funeral, how Tommy was a decent guy who loved his country. Then listen to the vitriol from their stands as they celebrate being up to their knees in fenian blood. In Tommy's blood.

Read the Daily Record preach the mantra of peace in our time. Read them dedicating this peace to one man as they genuflect at the altar of St Tommy. Then read them defending, even applauding, the Rangers fans who rampaged in Manchester. Read about the carnival atmosphere but don't ask them to mention that the carnival raved to the tunes of Billy Boys and terrorists.

And then ask yourself, as we fall over ourselves to honour Tommy Burns, how hollow these tributes are. And ask if this decent guy deserves the insult of a mock national grief that is instantly forgotten when a football match kicks off.