Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Baloney Sandwiches

An Spailpín notes, with his basilisk eye suitably jaundiced and his eyebrow suitably arched, that Mr Brody Sweeney, the businessman behind O'Brien's Sandwich Bars, has joined Fine Gael and has hopes of running for elective office in the next general election.

Well, bully for Brody. To serve his nation is any Irishman's highest ambition, of course. I am interested, however, in how much media coverage Mr Sweeney has been receiving - he was on Matt Cooper on Today FM last night, and was being rasped at by the Dunph on Newstalk early this morning. And the question I ask is - why?

It is a rhetorical question, of course. The reason for the media excitement at the announcement of Mr Sweeney's desire to serve has to do with his place in the pantheon of Irish Business Heroes, among such giants as Mick O'Leary of Ryanair and that guy that's behind Ballygowan, the very thought of whom make Ireland's aspirant merchant classes come over all hot and shivery.

Which is fine, insofar as it goes. Mr Sweeney has made many dollars from his sandwich bars, and, as An Spailpín has hopes to turn a few shillings himself before he's called across the River Jordan, I'm in no position to complain about a man who has done just what I hope to do. But were I to be hailed as some sort of hero, as has happened for Mr Sweeney and his "Irish success story," I hope I would at least have the good graces to blush in embarrassment, if not outright shame.

O'Brien's sandwiches are a joke. They are ridiculously expensive, and, unlike the famous paint, do not do exactly what they say on the tin.

Conduct the following experiment. Proceed to your nearest O'Brien's - and there will be one near you, those hateful places are ubitquitous in modern Ireland - and order a ham sandwich. Pay handsomely for same, to the tune of four yo-yos or so. Retire to your laboratory to inspect same. Among the bread, butter, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and assorted vegitation and flora, how much actual ham have you got? One slice? That's not a lot, is it? How much salad have you got? Lots and lots? Hmm. Did you order a salad sandwich? No? How odd, then, if you ordered a ham sandwich, that you have so little ham and such a lot of salad? I wonder do they do a smoke and mirror sandwich? It would be more like it.

An Spailpín has only two morsels of advice for the electorate of Dublin North-East. The first is to caveat emptor, of course, and the second is to pack their own lunches.