24 August 2009

In defence of irony

As a nation, the British recourse to irony as a reflex reaction to any social situation can be both a source of national pride and irritation. It is also a weak point when it comes to those odd occasions when you are confronted directly, though this weekend I discovered that, even then, it has its place.

I was walking to my local supermarket, when I noticed outside was a galley of evangelical Christians performing "street healing", vocally and enthusiastically drumming up business outside the store in a very un-British fashion. It was friendly and harmless, but no less irritating for all that, and I prepared to run the gauntlet of unwanted attention familiar to all who have to confront "charity muggers" on London's streets every day.

Except I had forgotten I was wearing my T-shirt from The Onion, America's finest satirical news source (http://www.theonion.com/); a gentle mocking of a familiar U.S. bumper sticker, it reads "Are your cats old enough to learn about Jesus?" Our would-be healer stopped in mid-approach and was genuinely puzzled - not really knowing what to do. I could see him mentally calculating whether I was serious or not - and considering a level of proselytising beyond even his own comfort zone. I passed through without comment or molestation into the store.

Now, if I can devise a similar device that has the same effect on the charity-backed guns-for-hire that block my path every day en route to work, I may yet die a rich man.

1 comment:

PW said...

He may have concluded that you were a member of an even more extreme evangelical sect which promised animals entry to the Kingdom of Heaven. If your camel embraces Jesus, it's easy for him to pass through the eye of a needle.