Rebels without a cause: the anti-heroes of 2021 who made us laugh and laugh


In the rough waters of the Irish Sea, Dale McLaughlan clung to his jet ski for life. The rule-breaking trip to visit his (three-week-old) girlfriend was fit for the Milk Tray man but he felt, he later said, more “like a shitty James Bond.” On his headphones, the very appropriate music of Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around kept his spirits up. The waves were like “a kick in the teeth”.

crashed it and destroyed its GPS. He had no idea where he was, but he had gone too far to turn around.

To calm his mind in the midst of this danger, he focusesed on the object of the quest. He had met Jessica, a mother of two, while working at a Isle of Man pub in September 2020. He saw her step into a tight black skirt and top and “that was it”.

She sounded excited and within a week he had told her, “I really think I love you.”

When Covid suddenly took hold, the island was locked down. Dale had to return home to Scotland.

As he stood on the ferry deck and watched the Isle of Man pull away, he knew it was the biggest mistake of his life. His depression worsened as he pined for Jessica.

Back in Scotland, he applied for humanitarian visitation rights, but was refuse.

He thought about paying a fisherman to smuggle him across the 43 mile stretch of water, but then a friend told him about someone who used a jet ski to get to the Isle of Man to do of motorcycle.
competitions. That afternoon, Dale had used every penny he owned to buy a jet ski, GPS, dry bag, and drysuit. The whole package cost him about six thousand dollars.

He also took a Covid test, which came out negative. And at 5 a.m. the next morning, he was out on the water, rolling the waves towards his lover.

When he lost the GPS it was still dark and he couldn’t see anything. He remembered that the sun was rising in thSo he tried to use the light of the dawning dawn to guide him. His hands were numb. His shoulders ached from hanging on to the handle of the jet ski. One moment he was looking at the sky, the next moment he found himself staring into the black abyss of the sea.

But the cheesy ballads and thought of Jessica kept pushing him.

And then, with the fuel gauge nearly empty, earth appeared. He was not sure of the exact destination and therefore embarked on a 24 km trip in the wrong direction.

He had landed in the wrong town on the Isle of Man and had to walk for hours before he finally found Jessica. They had what, out of politeness, was then called “a romantic reunion” and then drove to the pub, where Dale was arrested for flouting the Covid rules. He did not deny it and was jailed for four weeks.

He returned to Scotland in time for Christmas, by which time he was quite infamous. When he got home, his tires were punctured.

But Dale was unrepentant. “I did it for love,” he said later. “It might be called a crime of passion.”

Sadly, Dale and Jessica didn’t last the course – they broke up earlier this year – but he was undoubtedly one of the anti-heroes of the pandemic. These were people who were so different from the real heroes – the frontline staff – but who perversely supported our minds in their own way, vicariously letting us live out the fantasy of giving every curtain two fingers and wagging our fingers. . , even as we obediently remained in our homes.

The pandemic has wreaked terrible havoc here and around the world and forever changed Irish society, but the relentless knowledge of it weighed on us and we longed for tiny glimpses of normal human history.

Anti-heroes should not be confused with anti-maskers. No ideology supported their madness; their goals were purely on love, life and evil.

The leader among our local anti-heroes was Kirstie McGrath and Niamh Mulreany, also known as Dubai Boob Job Women. In an atmosphere where someone on Twitter was likely to accuse you of killing their grandmother if you strayed outside your 5k, Kirstie and Niamh flew to Dubai to have cosmetic enhancements – “colloquially called a boob job,” Judge Miriam Walsh noted – then refused to submit to the mandatory hotel quarantine upon their return to Ireland.

And Ireland, to paraphrase Conor McGregor’s sister Erin, couldn’t get over their necks.

At the hearing to decide their sentence, Judge Walsh questioned whether new breasts were an “essential trip” and a Garda warned that the women’s release would make a mockery of the Health Care Act under which they were charged.

To the pearl masses at home, it didn’t matter that the two had three negative Covid tests throughout the saga and neither of them actually bought their new breasts – which were supposed to be birthday presents – at the end. The vanity and recklessness of the mission infuriates people, and the icing on the cake is that they are given free legal aid.

In public, the two women pulled their fluffy hoodies over their heads, as if they were murderous dragged into court.

And yet, as politicians and health officials beat us with dire predictions, women were an oasis of frivolity in a wasteland of seriousness.

At least they united the country in a tut choir. Ireland had one of the highest foreclosure regulatory compliance rates in the world. Having an example made of one or two daring kids, who were forced to sit on the naughty walk in front of all of us, probably helped with that.

The anti-heroes of the pandemic can be distinguished from the disregard of the rules of politicians Рwho, as the chief finger, could be accused of hypocrisy. They were very different from former European Commissioner Phil Hogan or Supreme Court Justice S̩amus Woulfe, for example.

While the Dubai Two or the Jet Ski Romeo arguably contributed to the nation’s mirth with their mad escapades, the offense of judge and politician – attending a golf company dinner – was not the idea of fun for no one. But fun could also be part of the problem.

Perhaps the most vilified of all lockdown anti-heroes was Jay Bourke, the raffish publican, who owned the Berlin bar from Dublin. Bourke went abroad shortly after a video of bacchanal socializing at the bar – what he called “30 seconds of madness” – went viral in August of last year. Bourke was deeply contrite and the bar staff put a notice in the window saying “we screwed up”. The apologies have served no purpose. Earlier this year, Gardaí opposed the renewal of the bar’s license and the judge granted that objection.

A severe punishment. Much of the anger that pervaded the lockdown was the resentment people felt upon hearing that someone else was having fun for some reason, and the sight of a bartender pouring gunshots into the mouth. open patrons predictably caused the beating of veins in temples across the country. There was a war going on and these people were shamelessly partying.

We may have missed the symbolism of the bar name. The pre-debaucheryThe festival of WWII in the German capital of Berlin has been compared by composer Alban Berg to the people “dancing on a volcano”. At Christopher Isherwood Cabaret, Sally Bowles and her friends turned a blind eye to the overwhelming horror but surely, looking back on the story, only the meanest spirits would have blamed them for their last desperate blow for fun. It was irresponsible but understandable.

We’re long enough in the pandemic that most of us understand the ultimate lie in it all was the phrase: we’re all in the same boat.

On the contrary, the lockdown accentuated the inequalities that already existed in Irish society. We have seen more than ever the divide between middle-aged people with their backyard gardens and homes and young people, working together in cramped apartments at the kitchen table and deprived of everything that previous generations had. took for granted: the space to live and the freedom to socialize and experience the mistakes and chaos that are an integral part of every self-respecting young person.

The anti-heroes of the pandemic were a protest against all of this. With their breasts, their boats and their bars, they stormed the barricades of decorum and common sense. And when the tutting is gone and the history books are written, it will be the colorful footnotes that will make the whole tragedy a little more bearable.

About Lillian Coomer

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