In a Word . . . Backstop

Your baby boy shows classic symptoms of severe trauma anticipation

 

Dear Frankie (apologies to regular Irish Times “agony aunt” Roe McDermott), we are driven to distraction. You might say even we are “devastated”. So many people are these days. About everything.

Our baby is just five days old and has not stopped screaming since his overdue arrival last Tuesday. It was a difficult birth. The child gave every indication of not wanting to be born. Our experiences since would confirm that view. As it is not possible to return our shrieking boy whence he came, what should we do? Yours sincerely,

Demented Parents

Dear Demented Parents,

I was surprised to hear from you as so few people of child-bearing age these days would have heard my Radio Éireann programme. It ended in 1985, and in 1993 I myself crossed that hardest of hard borders from which no traveller returns. And I am not aware of any backstop to prevent that one.

But, as your problem may be one other parents are also feeling these days, I availed of unspecifiable means – such as proposed by hard-line Brexiteers to deal with the Irish Border issue – to respond to you.

Your baby boy shows classic symptoms of severe trauma anticipation, or dread – as it would never be so simply described in relevant textbooks.

He seems to fear the arrival of some rough beast yet to be born. He is not alone. Many adults do too, believing its birthday will be on March 29th. Currently the “beast” itself is showing resistance to being born.

I am reminded of a story about an English lady who was pregnant and went into labour but nothing happened. Nothing new there, as still seen on Opposition benches in Westminster.

She returned home, grew old, and died. An autopsy afterwards on her womb revealed two polite little middle-aged men in bowler hats, each saying to the other, “ . . . after you” . . . “no, no, after you” . . . “no, no after you” . . . etc.

The Brexit Twins, I would have called them.

My advice to you and your partner is to keep your little boy in a warm, darkened room, away from radio, TV, newspapers, and do not discuss Brexit in front of him. He should calm down very quickly.

A Happy 2019 to you and him.

Frankie Byrne

Backstop, “something at the back as a barrier”, from Old English bæc and stoppian

inaword@irishtimes.com

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