Bertie Ahern stood at the school gates. "Oh, dem was the days inannyways, boys," he sighed to the Radio One reporter. It was his last full day in Dáil Éireann.
"Thirty four years," he said, brimful of wist. "Me only regret is dat I'm leaving an' everyting isn't as great as it was on my watch. Dat dare's no Bertie Bowl and dat de banks are all poxed up. No one told me nuttin' about de banks…"
I'll stop here. I can't do this any more. It's become the norm in recent years to transcribe everything Bertie says in phonetic Dub-speak. It harks back to a time when he was a likeable embarrassment: a twonk in an anorak who had our best interests at heart. That was a long, long time ago. Bertie-speak isn't funny any more.
Last week, he stood outside Leinster House and patronisingly 'thanked' an angry councillor for lambasting him over the economy. He may have thought he was being funny. If he did, it was the worst-judged political 'joke' ever captured on national radio.
When he dismissed Councillor Joan Collins as someone who just wanted to get on TV, there was an audible 'snap' across the land. She may only have been looking for publicity, but she still spoke for all of us. This was one insult too many. This was Bertie's defining moment, when he revealed himself to be a bitter man who thinks we're a shower of ungrateful proles.
The electorate – and the media – was incandescent. One paper dismissed him as "delusional". After Thursday, I've come to another conclusion about Bertie: he's trying to wind us up. He is a crap-stirring gouger who is goading us for our ingratitude. He has as much class as a rat with a gold tooth.
It isn't fair that Bertie is swanning off with a €150,000 pension pot. You know what? Life isn't fair, full stop. Sometimes the bad guy gets away. That's what I've been telling myself lately as I contemplate the forthcoming elections. It's strangely consoling. The best way to deal with pond life like Bertie is to stop being angry. An angry person has no peripheral vision, no finesse, no judgement.
I've realised that being angry all the time has left me devoid of beliefs. I don't know what I'm 'for' any more. I only know what I'm 'against'. It's a dangerous way to feel when you're about to vote in the most important election of your life.
I ask myself: do I vote for Fine Gael? I see Enda running away from a three-way debate and yet he's talking to David Cameron about the North, as if he's already in office. Do I want to be treated like a Sure Thing even before campaigning begins? Do I want a party in power that's further right than my liberal-lefty leanings? Do I want Leo 'Tebbit' Varadkar as a minister?
Do I vote for Fine Gael because I remember the days of Garret The Good? Do I give Enda a nostalgia vote?
Or do I vote for Labour? I gave my first ever No 1 to Barry Desmond. Do I vote for a party that will squeeze the bone-dry middle classes?
Or do I protest and vote for Sinn Féin with its impressive young gun, Pearse Doherty? Do I vote for a party that hasn't a clue about the economy and will put a rocket up soft targets like myself? No, I don't think so. Besides, Gerry Adams has sold out. Isn't he The Baroness of Cheam these days?
When I look at my pay packet and hear Bertie eulogising about himself, I fight my anger. When I calm down, I begin to see what I'm 'for' – and it's not a nebulous New Era or Éire Nua. I'm 'for' having money back in my pocket. I'm 'against' being broke. I am going to vote on that basis alone, not because I want to 'send a message' to anyone.
I remind myself that when I go to vote, I must be cold and calculating. I must vote for what I want – not what I DON'T want. Don't be swayed by demagogues in Doc Martens making fine speeches. Don't let Bertie wind you up so much you cast a protest vote instead of a strategic one.
Vote as your head directs you, not as your heart does. Don't run canvassers from your door. Drag them inside and present them with a wish list of things you WANT and demand they sign it. Pay at least as much attention to candidates' form as you would if you were backing a horse. We need politicians who are going to duck, dive and be devious with Europe on our behalf – not well-meaning 'protest' TDs.
This is what I keep telling myself whenever Bertie gets my anger rising. Don't let your emotions sway your judgement. Don't let him screw you a second time. Just get even.