Love Island: How Greg O'Shea's win affects Brexit

Patrick Freyne: Irish victory in the dating show may prevent a hard Border

 Limerick rugby player Greg O’Shea and Amber Gill, winners of Love Island 2019. Photograph: ITV

Limerick rugby player Greg O’Shea and Amber Gill, winners of Love Island 2019. Photograph: ITV

 

When Leo Varadkar first sent three career diplomats (Yewande, Maura and Greg) to infiltrate Love Island as our last best hope for meaningful Anglo-Irish co-operation, it looked like a long shot.

But what option did he have? It was Love Island or infiltrate one of the other British protectorates – Gibraltar, Center Parcs in Longford, Ballsbridge. Agents 1 and 2 might have failed but the man known to us as “Greg” is now feted across Britain and is the co-owner of £50,000, a sum that will make him the richest man in the UK come October, and will come in handy when there’s border guards to be bribed and diesel to be bought from the ’Ra.

On the previous episode Agent 2 (Maura) completed her own mission – teaching the British public that Irish names are pronounced differently – during a segment in which old people were permitted to visit the island. At first this reminded me of the bit in Logan’s Run where the youthful denizens of a dystopian future city meet the old man played by Peter Ustinov. Then I thought that they were former contestants aged by life in the outlands, returning to warn their friends not to watch the news when they came out.

In fact, these doomed souls were relatives of the islanders who had come to assess their kinsfolks’ romantic arrangements in a manner that seemed unreasonably supportive to me, coming as it was from people who grew up with just the terrestrial stations.

The highlights included Molly-Mae agreeing with her lustful relatives that Tommy was “chiselled by God”. (“God has no part in this, Molly-Mae,” I shouted.) And the bit in which Curtis, Maura’s prancing beau, repeatedly needed to remind his mother that Irish names had their own pronunciation, at least until October 31st when all bets are off.

“Moy-yer-ra,” she said.

“Maura,” said Curtis.

“Moy-yeeer-raaaaagh,” said his mother.

“Maw-ra,” said Curtis.

“Moy-yer-ra,” said his mother.

“Maw-ra,” said Curtis.

Stop it, both of you. I believe it’s pronounced “She-Ra”. The long and short of it is that the whole interaction was a re-enactment of all British trade negotiations and Maura is a legend and a credit to us.

Border lines

This was just the icing on the cake. Greg and Amber’s win ultimately gave Leo a useful metaphor with which to educate historically-illiterate Britons about international trade. He can now say: “Would you want to put a hard Border between Greg and Amber? Wouldn’t you prefer a soft Border?”

And then when we all start sniggering, he can say: “That’s not what I meant. You lot are disgusting.”

And then we can go all serious and say: “Actually, Leo, sex is the last thing we think about now when we watch Love Island. By the time we were watching the final programme we were totally desensitised to abs and bikinis and arses and pecs. These fleshy orange beings are just big-eyed puppies to us now.”

Yes, despite all the humpy, twerky, kissy, half-naked horseplay, Love Island feels strangely chaste to me. I can’t even remember what usually happens next when hunks in the wild spend their mandatory two months courting. So I do some research elsewhere on television and come up with this bit of narration: “The males flush red and begin to hollow a hole in the gravel bed . . . Eventually a female lays her eggs [in the hole] and a male darts in to fertilise them.” Okay, this is a description of salmon sex from RTÉ One’s excellent animal dissection show How Animals Work (Monday), but I reckon it’s close enough.

I can only conclude that some footage from old gladiator films was added for the laugh

It’s only when watching the final couples all dressed up for a fancy farewell shindig on the last episode that I realise how much I’ve dehumanised this year’s hunks. “Look at them there,” I say. “All dressed up in people clothes.”

Ovie says he feels like James Bond because of the clothes. Sweet, pugilistic Tommy goes even further: “I feel like the prime minister,” he says, and while a few years ago this would sound like a cruel ironic joke, now I picture campaign managers all over the UK scribbling “Tommy from Love Island?” onto a napkin then staring at it for a few hours while drinking whiskey and twirling a revolver.

Poetry in slow motion

The four women advance towards their mates very slowly because of the unaccustomed weight of clothes (my wife insists that this is just a “slow-motion effect”). It’s all part of the final night Declarations of Love, in which the remaining islanders woo one another with the power of words. Thankfully, Greg comes preloaded with a poem given to him by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht: “The perfect balance of honesty and sass,” he intones. “And, of course, we can’t forget about your gorgeous ass.”

It is, of course, by Seamus Heaney (we all did it for the Leaving Cert). And the reciprocal commitment of hunkette to hunk is oddly moving. By the end of it all there isn’t a dry eye in Britain, either because they’re crying or because they’ve ripped their eyeballs from their sockets in despair. Then the various members of hunk-kind all dance terribly and jump into the pool (like salmon!).

Before long the high priestess of lurve Caroline Flack is among them, dressed in elegant rags before a live mob and a swimming pool of fire. She interviews the various finalists about their “journeys”, feeding on their life force before presenting us with a recap of the season so far. This seems to last for several hours. I don’t remember half of it and can only conclude that some footage from old gladiator films was added for the laugh.

Curtis and Maura are eliminated first by a public vote (“Moy-yer-a” it is, so) and then it’s bye-bye to Ovie and India and Tommy and Molly-Mae and their cursed elephant-child Ellie Belly (“Ellie Belly from Love Island?” a depressed campaign manager writes on a bar mat). And so it is that Greg and Amber are crowned the winners of Love Island and Greg happens to be the one who picks the envelope that has the £50,000 cheque in it. Flack asks him if he’s going to share this with Amber.

“No way, Brits!” he cries, leaping over the wall to where Leo Varadkar is waiting in his rickety old biplane (the Government jet). They’re gone before Flack can take to the skies and pursue them. Good man, Greg. You’re our last hope.

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