Filling the car with diesel and standing at the till, chocolate seemed permissible. ‘Unwrap Gold’ declared the wrapper of a packet of sweets. Visions of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ sprang to mind. If this contained a golden ticket, would I get the chance to meet Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt? Would Charlie Bucket be there?
The golden ticket to be won was not for anything from Roald Dahl, but for the London Olympics, which seemed a bit odd as the closing ceremony of the games was sometime ago. Checking the sell by date on the wrapper, it said ‘March 2013’. Presumably the sweets were intended to have sold out before the summer, now their presence on the counter seemed an odd anachronism, like one of those newsagents in Europe where the paper stand at the shop door contains a copy of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ from the previous week.
Residual Olympic confectionery seemed not confined to packets of sweets, a pack of ‘Curly Wurlys’ bore the Olympic logo, declaring their maker to be the official treat provider of the London Olympics. Selling official Olympic treats in rural Ireland is obviously a slow process; the logo seeming not to have ensured that products flew off the shelves.
Anachronisms seem not to trouble people; perhaps they don’t even notice them. Drive the road eastward from Roscrea in north Co Tipperary, and the road skims Co Offaly for perhaps a mile before entering Co Laois. After the sign announcing Laois, there is a second sign telling travellers that they are entering ‘Ireland East and Midlands Region – Ireland’s Ryder Cup Region’. To someone who knew nothing about golf, the sign would seem to suggest that the Ryder Cup has some connection with the area; in fact, the only connection is that the competition was played in Co Kildare some six years ago, and even then hadn’t much impact upon the general populace. When almost every road sign in the county has been changed, even the road numbers, it seems odd that the sign remains. Perhaps the body responsible for it is now defunct and no-one else would like to assume responsibility for its removal.
For years after the event, a sign north of the Co Wexford town of Enniscorthy told everyone passing that the town had been the base for Stage Two of the 1998 Tour de France. It seemed more of a trophy than a road sign – at least pertinent to the location, unlike the Ryder Cup sign. In the end, someone must have decided to remove it.
Maybe a lot of anachronisms, whether it’s carrying on selling confectionery or leaving road signs years after their relevance has passed, arises from plain inertia.
Somewhere in it, there is a lesson for the church, though to act upon it would demand a lot of effort.