I have political rage. Contracted at the age of 22 when I finally began paying attention to current affairs, the condition has steadily worsened over time. Symptoms include uncontrolled high-pitched shrieking at radios, televisions and computer screens, mistrust of every adult human on the basis of the doubtlessly accurate assumption that they have, at one time or another, exercised their democratic rights in a way that would displease me, and the occasional ill-conceived, poorly planned and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at Lord Mayoral assassination.
You will be relieved to hear that I have begun a self-devised course of treatment. A minimum of one episode of The West Wing per day, ideally taken in conjunction with the calming ritual of clothes folding. And it's working. Cycling through our ex-leafy suburb on the way to our new ghettoland I spied Gerry Breen crossing the street towards his 11 D Bike Basher. I did not swerve to hit him. I did not swerve to hit his car. I did not even shout 'You fascist fuck' at him. I merely breathed a deep breath, pictured Rob Lowe's cheeky cheekbones and pedaled on.
There are some side effects. My sensitive side has emerged from its long hibernation. The simplest of political compromises forced upon Josh induce a pronounced welling. The death of CJ's bodyguard boyfriend had me wracked with sobs. And when President Bartlet's daughter Zoey was kidnapped the Bridge Crew spent 24 hours fending off my weeping embraces.
Next we have my newly shaped Toby Ziegler goatee. Last week, as I tackled my holiday face ferret, I found myself holding back from the final coup de grace. My poised hand paused before my careworn upper lip and seemed to say "You too can be grumpy and wise..."
"Really?" I riposted.
"Really. I mean, you've got grumpy covered, right?"
"Why not add wise?"
"Having a goatee will make me wise?"
"Fine. It'll make you look wise."
"You don't think that, given the masisvity of my hair, it won't just make me look a poorly appointed Luke Kelly tribute act?"
"There is that risk. But as you've been hacking at your face for half an hour already it's most likely worth a bash.'
"True, naked puppet, true."
So now I have a Toby goatee. Here's hoping that the next time my hand is holding a razor it doesn't attempt to complete the look, because folks, for all my failings, at least I am not bald.
The final side effect. Last Sunday I spent four solid hours perfecting my Martin Sheen jacket donning. And while I'm pretty sure that I now have the technicalities down, there remains a nagging doubt as to my ability to carry off the air of nonchalance that seems so essential to the practice. I don't know. Maybe I've got it. It's really just my insistence on gathering the family around me as witnesses every time that I put on a coat or cardy that makes me think that I may just have a little ways to go.
But rest easy. All these by products of my new televisual diet are worth it. To verbatimally quote Orwell: 'He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Enda.'