As divorce rates in Ireland continue to increase, I pondered, as an ex-partner is often wont to do, does England ever think of us? We think of them. Our citizens are over and back all the time; going to get work, a change in lifestyle, visiting family who have emigrated, off to do a bit of shopping, catch a show, what have you. We are over and back that often sometime it’s hard to remember that it is a separate county with whom we have a troubled passed.
For us they are like a good-looking ex-husband we have built a friendship with many years after the fact. They are always there is the background, at the back of our thoughts. Sure we have had great loves and boyfriends since, America will always be the sugar daddy we can call, but England holds a special place in our sub-conscious, perhaps because we share a dependent, Northern Ireland. Like the only child in a bad divorce has had its emotional problems and run-ins with the law, but now older and wiser on the other side of the Good Friday Therapy Sessions it’s practically able to look after itself. What was once a source of pain, frustration, worry, anxiety has now blossomed into its own entity, and that pressure point that was sure to make the parent countries quarrel, both assuming they knew what was best, has now subsided. We fight less. Maybe we talk less. And so I wonder do they ever think of us?
As of late England has had its own family problems, dependents from previous relationships are maturing and trying to find their independence; defining themselves and trying to find their place in life. Like kids finishing college, they want to be seen as adults, independent sovereign nations, but know they still need their parent’s cash.
For the most part the wounds of the divorce have healed, so much so that in some ways we can look back nostalgically about the time we spent together – sure there was oppression and a bit of land robbing, but there was also a fine infrastructure, a pre-packaged system of law, and an education system, not to mention a language that sounds less like coughing up phlegm.
Even now as we plan our big party, 100 years since we left ‘em, the prelude to the divorce party in 1922, the biggest question being asked is should we invite them over – officially like. Of course we are hoping lots of them get on a boat or a plane and come over for the craic, but are we going to send them an actual invitation? Is it appropriate to invite your ex to celebrate the anniversary of your separation? There will be a lot of drinking and reminiscing about the good times we had, do we really want to run the risk of waking up the morning after back in bed with each other?
And then, like the most insecure of ex-partners, even though we dumped them, the ultimate question of self-doubt was asked (by Ivan Yates of all people) do they even want to come? Oh the mortification of us being the bigger country and asking the over for the sake of Northern Ireland and the good times we had only for them to say they are washing the Thames that week and can’t make it. A county-wide #TotesAwkyMomo. How would we come back from that? France would never give over sniggering about it.
But do we have to invite them? It’s not like we were invited to the Royal Wedding or the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Northern Ireland was, thank god, and I am glad it was for the kid’s sake, and Northern Ireland should be there on our big day too, but do we really need to invite their dad?