This week temporary Evening Standard restaurant review columnist Julie Burchill files a curiously xenophobic yet largely positive review of new modern Irish restaurant Nuala. Trading in countless tired stereotypes, Burchill seems to think she has a free ticket to travel back to the 1970s. That would apparently be because she’s dining with her friend, nameless beyond his characterisation as “The Flâneur”, who is “three-quarters Irish.” In The Flâneur, Burchill assumes she has cover.
The writer’s anti-Irish sentiment should come as no surprise — in a 1984 issue of Time Out she is reportedly quoted as saying “I hate the Irish, I think they’re appalling”; more recently in 2003 she referred to the national flag as the “the Hitler-licking, altar boy-molesting, abortion-banning Irish tricolour” — but to exhibit them in 2018, in such plain view presents hard questions not just of the writer but also the editors.
In no particular order, here are seven instances demonstrating how Burchill’s historical Hibernophobia is alive and well.
1. The Irish are drunks: “I asked along The Flâneur, who is some three-quarters Irish (I don’t know which quarter isn’t, but I bet his liver’s part of the majority.)”
They’d never put something that wasn’t alcohol in a bottle: “All the tables had jolly green bottles of some sort on them, and they certainly weren’t water...”
And by the way, Burchill also has a thing against Millennials: “It was nice to see people drinking at lunchtime again, especially youngsters from the supposedly Dry Generation — perhaps being in an Irish restaurant gives one licence to booze.”
2. The Irish do not have a cuisine; they eat only carbohydrates, according to “The Flâneur”: “[He] was stumped at the idea of Irish food beyond soda bread and colcannon...”
3. All Irish people only listen to folk music arranged with fiddles: “The Flâneur...like all decent people, was wary of the possibility of fiddle music acting as the soundtrack to our scoffing.”
4. The Irish are so retrograde: “We were pleasantly surprised to find a confident, modern room...”
5. Presented without comment: “I’ve always wanted to slap people who talk about ‘having the craic’, but if it’s to be found in a public place in broad daylight, Nuala is a good place to start.”
Rumour is this is Burchill’s second and final turn at ES Magazine. Readers will hope for a lot better from whoever takes over from recently-departed Grace Dent on a permanent basis.