Given the season upon us, I vault nimbly aboard one of my favorite hobby horses despite my advancing years and ride down one of the hundreds of St. Patrick's streets which mark this home island. Special greetings, before I advance any further, to the millions among you, all over the world, who have the name Patrick in prime position on their birth certificates. You are a special elitist regiment indeed.
I do not know for sure if the subtle nuances surrounding the name Patrick in Ireland are replicated elsewhere, especially in the New World, and I would be intrigued to discover if this is true and grateful for any information on that subject.
I am, however, fully briefed on the situation here at home. It is both fascinating and even a bit frightening.
The lived reality is that there is an unspoken Celtic kind of caste system involved among the ranks of those named after our formidable patron saint.
Do friends and associates call you Patrick in your daily life? Here at home that is a strong signal of a kind. If they do not call you Patrick, do they use instead one of the many linguistic abbreviations of your Christian name? These, at least here at home, are also highly significant.
In the ongoing presidential election processes in the United States I have observed that the electorate is often categorized into widely varying segments. Accordingly I know.
Now about the evangelical vote, the Afro-American and Hispanic elements, the distinctions. Made between the color of the collar of the shirt you wear to work.
We did not use that formula in our recent general election but, under the surface, in relation to men christened Patrick, there is an intriguing social and cultural and economic dimension. I will explain from the saddle of my hobbyhorse.
Here, you see, quite apart from white collar and blue collar folk, there is a section of the population which is no collar at all. This is because, in their daily lives, in farm or industry or the services, they commonly don sweatshirts without collars.
The Patricks in this section are rarely called Patrick in full, more often simply Pee or Paddy or Paudie or suchlike, and in my view this noble band are the salt of the home earth. I would infinitely rather spend time with a Paddy or Pee or Pappy than with almost any Patrick.
You are normally then in the company of an earthy commonsensical character who calls it as he sees it, enjoys his pint and the craic, is likely to be the life and soul or any party he attends. When he goes to God eventually it is a fact that the death notice in the media usually says "Patrick Murphy...better known as Paddy."
There is another clan who were baptized Patrick Joseph at birth. They are rarely addressed as such during their lives.
They become Peejays and there are many of them. Extremely decent respectable and honorable citizens too.
Very often they would be blue collar workers in your terminology. If craftsmen in the construction industry, their work is invariably above average.
All political parties here depend heavily on Peejays for Trojan work behind the scenes and, in return, have generally elected some of them to Parliament level where they serve strongly.
An interesting smaller sect of Padraigs and Pauds is worth mentioning. These citizens often spring from families or communities in which the Gaelic language is loved, respected, and fiercely preserved to this day against all the modern odds.
Padraigs, maybe, would often become white collar workers in the various professions and services. They are highly principled folk, sometimes, maybe not the easiest to get close to if you are not fluent in the native tongue.
There are other smaller groups, including Pappies, generally gifted sportsmen across all the disciplines, especially the strongest contact sports, but I will move directly now to the upper end of the caste system involving men of the name to the truly elitist layer of citizens who are always called Patrick both in private and in public.
These are the whitest of our white collar workers, always occupying the pivotal power positions, and to be dead honest, I would prefer never to encounter them at all.
This is frankly because the judge who sends you to jail is never a Paddy or a Peejay but, if baptized a Patrick, is always a Patrick. The same applies to the consultant in the quiet office who informs you that you have only six months left.
The banker who sends the most frightening demand letters is often a Patrick; likewise the opposition solicitor who cuts your evidence to shreds as you try to avoid bankruptcy.
And the funeral director who arranges your last cremation is much more likely to be a Patrick too. Take my word for it, but check the facts for yourselves.
Finally, as I write, we have no real elected government this Easter, merely the ghosts of the former government serving time until they are either replaced in office or we have to go to the hustings again.
Meanwhile, I have to admit that the country is running as smoothly as clockwork since its mechanisms are under the direct control of a handful of top bureaucrats. About everything, even the weather, has improved since these unelected gentlemen took over.
We now even have one of the highest rates of economic growth in the entire world, far outstripping the rates returned by any of our European neighbors and even China and the United States.
I do not know for certain the identities of these powerful unelected civil servants above in Dublin. But I am prepared to bet that a few of them are Patricks and have never been called anything else throughout their lives.
Enjoy the season!