With the World Cup over, and Philipp Lahm getting a trophy, Rihanna getting her bra out and Manuel Neuer getting the severed gold plated hand of his rival goalkeeper, the world's sports fans have had to take to other things to busy themselves this week. While Angela Merkel was enjoying the revelry with her team of champions, in the UK and Ireland both Prime MInisters have been making dramatic changes to their own squads. In both countries the Foreign Secretary was put out to pasture, as well as a number of other old stagers. Both countries too changed Education Secretary, the UK model as expected being a much more celebrated departure. But speaking of models, this could have been a great few days of political manoeuvring for women in government: Ireland has 5 of 17 women at cabinet now, including the third female Deputy Prime Minister, while the UK has seen a modest but steady increase in women in government as well. And yet, the Daily Mail saw fit (they do like a toned six pack) to comment on female Ministers sashaying across the Downing Street catwalk, because what does it matter what jobs they have as long as they look nice? I'm proud to be associated with an organisation that at least attempts to balance things out.
Balance is one thing that matters particularly when putting together an Irish government, as in a smaller country geographical spread is all the more important. But in doing a Noah's Arc number, Enda Kenny rather missed a few things. Things like not promoting any women to the junior ministries at all, and giving a role that sort of requires a bilingual speaker to someone who isn't, really. It's unfortunate for poor Joe McHugh, and Irish language enthusiasts are up in arms, but really, it wouldn't be Ireland if there wasn't at least one comically unsuitable appointment. This is, after all, a country that had a Finance Minister with no bank account, a country that had a Science Minister agree to launch an anti-evolution book, an Education Minister who didn't know the difference between Einstein and Darwin...you get the picture.
Much sharper on the educational front were the good people of Barrowford Primary School, who had a refreshingly lovely attitude to school life and the nature of tests. The internet agreed with them. They were also in agreement, along a similar vein, that Weird Al Yankovic's paean to good grammar knocks Robin Thicke's effort out of the park. Not that it would be hard. Still though, it's always good to see an artist who knows their grammatical onions. Or is it "they're grammatical onions"? I can never keep them straight.
If kids are being well served in the classroom, at government and by a frizzy haired man who sings parody songs about aluminium, their lunchboxes may hold a secret terror. Inexplicably interviewed by The MIrror, some guy eating a Milky Bar (Who even does that by the way? Was Mr Freeze too grown up for him?) noticed that some of the etchings on the chocolate looked like a penis, making the lunchbox reference in the previous sentence retrospectively unfortunate.
In fairness, it is the silly season, so it's inevitable that such whimsy will make its way into the headlines. I mean, it's not like there have been any countries out there unleashing Operation Disproportionate Force for the umpteenth time on a piece of land a fifth the size of London.