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Sure, there were occasional moments of idiocy, like when I made a mistake at work and a colleague responded by putting on a comic Irish accent and doing a bumbling-peasant impression.Sure, the English still loved to make the occasional potato joke.
How can it be possible that a member of parliament in 2018 still believes that Ireland is nothing but a resource to be drawn from and discarded at will? But I don’t find it funny anymore, how they think of us - or often, how they don’t bother to think of us at all. I hadn’t spent much time in Britain before my arrival and had no particular feelings toward the English.
I expected them to react to me with similar neutrality.
That particular fact won’t make any more sense the longer you look at it, and yet it goes on being true.
I watched the video footage over and over, looked at earnest news headlines that simply read, “The footage shows a man verbally abusing protesters, before the head of a decapitated pigeon is thrown”, but no explanation was forthcoming.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the arcane MP who looks as though he has been extracted from the nightmare of a Victorian child, has suggested bringing back border checks “as we had during the Troubles”.
In the midst of all this, I’ve noticed a tonal shift in the way I and other Irish people speak about the English. We are more ready to call them out on all those centuries of excess, more likely to object to those pink-trousered, pink-faced dinosaurs who still perceive us as their inferiors.
What I didn’t expect was the toxic mix of dismissal and casual disdain.
It would have been easier, perhaps, if it was all as overt as potato jokes.
Last month, some video footage went viral in Ireland of a group of English men verbally abusing young women at a Dublin housing crisis protest.
The men, it turned out, were part of a stag party from Bristol and seemed to be dressed intentionally to look like a cartoon of landed gentry, in tweeds and the loudly coloured trousers widely beloved by braying men of a certain kind.