Sunday, May 26, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

Happy now?

Someone once said “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”. But what Andy Warhol neglected to add was the lengths people would go to to get their precious time in the limelight. The rise of reality TV and talent shows has seen thousands of fame-hungry wannabees stoop to inexplicable depths in the pursuit of stardom. However, love them or loathe them, these buffoons are largely harmless, their only sin being the shedding of their morals and values in front of a national audience. Other more creative types gain their fifteen minutes through alternative means; funny Youtube videos, angry blog posts, twitter trollers, they've all left their mark and had their moment in the sun.

It may seem like an abhorrent comparison but that was the first thing I thought of when I saw one of the Woolwich murder suspects deliver his doctrine to the masses: this is his fifteen minutes. Who among us will ever forget that video message? Not me. The content of his words mattered little, which I'm sure will be of great disappointment to him. No, all we could see were those hands stained in the blood of his victim and carrying the weapon which took his life. We watched in horror as a man fresh from the slaying of an innocent civilian spoke to the world and attempted to justify his actions.

But this is the age we live in. It was only a matter of time before someone seized the opportunity to use our inter-connectedness for their own evil means. Of course there are those 'video nasties' festering in the dark corners of the Internet, but this was different, this was live. The intention was to shock and to appal - and to go viral. And that it most surely did, mission accomplished. While the family of Lee Rigby grieved for their loss the rest of us devoured that video and the ones that followed. And yet not one of us can claim to be any wiser about Islam and the war on terror. Not one of us digested the words of that rambling madman with the cleaver. Political statement? Don't make me laugh. These were despicable, cold-hearted killers out for fame. And by fuck they got it.

Finger lickin' good

Oh dear Sergio what were you thinking. Didn't you realise that Tiger is half Native American? Why didn't you get your references right and throw in a dig about casinos and alcoholism? Poor showing if you ask me. And to be honest I doubt Tiger has eaten fried chicken in many a year, it's all caviar from the thighs of buxom porn stars nowadays. Oh no sorry he's a good boy now and stays faithful to his loving partner, my mistake.

As faux-pas' go this was right up there, Garcia and Woods have never been best buddies but neither has resorted to racial slurs in the past. Of course the comments were made in jest and were immediately retracted but you can never take back what's already been said. And in those simple few sentences we learned far more about the character of Garcia than Woods' eating habits. Even having those words in your armoury seems wrong, I mean who thinks like that nowadays? If it had been Padraig Harrington he was being questioned about would he have supplanted fried chicken with spuds and cabbage? Funnily enough that wouldn't have been considered at all offensive. I can't get my head round this one to be honest, I'm torn between thinking Garcia is a narrow-minded bigot and on the other hand that the entire world needs to lighten up a little. The lines between right and wrong have never been so blurred.

Jungle munchies

The sight of Z-list celebs chowing down on live arthropods ceased to be entertaining a long time ago. Even when they upped the ante and made them eat kangaroo testicles I remained unmoved. Booring. What would be funny though is watching your own family settling down for a meal of crickets and ants. Now that I'd pay to see. Luckily I might not have to. According to the UN we may all have to start sourcing alternative means of nutrition in the coming years. We are outgrowing our planet and food reserves are rapidly diminishing. Their solution is to make better use of the foodstuffs already available to us. Sadly that doesn't mean fishing out that weird tin of stewed steak from the back of the press. They would like us to overcome our fear of creepy-crawlies. How? By eating the bastards.

Before you start reaching for the sick bucket I think something should be explained. We're not expected to grab scurrying beetles from the floor and pop them in our grateful gobs. No it'll be far more palatable than that, you won't even know you're eating them. Or so they tell us. These delightful treats will be sauteed, flambeed and presented in such a way that even the most pernickity of eaters couldn't resist. In time we'll scan restaurant menus eagerly in the hope of seeing that signature dish; the locust lasagne. Mmm my favourite, we'll say as we order in a flourish, not forgetting to request the silkworm soup as a starter. Yum, yum, yum, I can't wait.

One more tune

Plans are afoot to change the busking laws on the streets of our capital city. Under these new guidelines it would be prohibited to use knives, flames or drums within your performance. The thinking behind these proposals is to ensure the safety of pedestrians and also to minimise noise levels in busy shopping districts. The regulation of street performing is something I'm behind but once again you have to question the severity of these laws. No drums? Not even a little bongo set to add some percussion? And no flames means we can't watch lunatics eat fire and wonder how they do it. Do the people behind these proposals seriously believe that a child's hair may catch fire simply by watching a man fellate some flames?

As usual there is a sense that the people drawing up these regulations have little or no idea of what is involved in street performing and busking. They probably took a walk down Grafton St, took some notes and went from there. There are bigger and better cities than Dublin which house all manner of daring and dangerous street acts and no one is any worse off for their presence. Why not consult our friends in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome? See what they have to say on the matter before implementing draconian measures which each and every performer will do their best to get around. Busking is one of the few things to remain unaltered over the passage of time, it'd be a shame to see it sanitised just for the sake of it.

We wanna be togevvor

I'd hate to be a twin, getting dressed in the same clothes as your sibling, having your hair styled the same, people not being able to tell you apart, it'd be shit. And parents that do that to their kids are a bit weird if you ask me. Unless of course the children like being identikit versions of one another in which case they are the weirdos. But what would be really weird is if a couple, a husband and wife, started dressing like one another just for the laugh. Step forward Mr and Mrs Featherstone from Fitchburg, Massachusetts. This pair of lovebirds have been donning similar outfits for over thirty years and they fuckin love it. Upon first hearing this I imagined Mr Featherstone in frocks and blouses but thankfully not, they may be weird but they're not that weird.

In a way it's kind of cute. She, a dressmaker, fashions her own designs and then uses the cast-offs to make hubby a fetching leopard print suit. How dashing they look in their carbon copy clobber, like an elderly pair of children's TV presenters. It must be very handy when they're out and about too, if they happen to get separated they just look for a mirror image of themselves. If things get really bad and one of them goes missing it'll be easy to give the police a description, “Well he was wearing.....this, actually”. But before you start warming to the idea think of this; what kind of clothes does your other half wear? Or, how would they look wearing the kind of clothes you wear? Hmm, not such a good idea now eh?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

Skin deep

There's no point in lying, my immediate reaction when I heard the news was “She's done what? Say it ain't so”. I, like most other red-blooded males, shed a tear or two when it was announced that Angelina Jolie had undergone a double mastectomy. Ever since seeing her (and them) in Gia all those years ago I'd been smitten. Here was a proper sex symbol, and one with the talent to back it up. The tales of her sordid love life only added to the appeal. In recent years she shed her femme fatale image for something more mundane but she remained one of the most beautiful creatures on this earth.

There are many things which contribute to a woman's beauty, not least their decolletage. You only have to look at the amount of Hollywood babes enhancing their assets for proof of that. A fuller bust may not automatically make you more desirable but it sure as fuck helps. So for Jolie to do what she did takes incredible courage and resolve. Let's not forget how pivotal her figure was in her early career, this is a woman who brought the fantasies of many a videogamer to life by assuming the role of Lara Croft. And boy did she fill that outfit. But while large breasts appeal to my most basest desires there is nothing more attractive than a woman with confidence and self-belief. She may have lost a couple of things which we men held dear to hearts but in the process she has gained so much more.

More than just a footballer?

It's been quite a week for sporting retirements, at one point I wondered would there be anyone left to fulfil the events scheduled for this weekend. But while Scholes and O'Gara will ride quietly off into the sunset one man will remain firmly in the spotlight despite finally hanging up his boots. David Beckham is what you might call a media darling, his fame has long since outstripped his talent. But this shouldn't take away from his exploits on the pitch. To listen to some people you'd think he was nothing more than an average footballer living off his good looks and stealing a living. This week I've heard him labelled “the fourth best player in United's four man midfield” and “not in the top 1,000 players of the last forty years” among other things. Nonsense.

He was a handsome bastard, still is for that matter, but he was also a world-class footballer, certainly in United's colours at least. However by the time his relationship with Fergie soured and he packed his bags for Madrid I was glad to see the back of him. The media frenzy surrounding him had become tiresome and, although he might not like to admit it, his England career had begun to take precedence over United. He left Old Trafford for Real Madrid, perhaps the one club even more glamorous than United. And while he revelled in the celebrity lifestyle during his time in Madrid it shouldn't be forgotten that he was largely a success in Spain. Succeeding on the continent is not something English footballers are historically renowned for but Beckham managed it with ease. That he played out his days in the relative obscurity of Los Angeles was a crying shame but even that shouldn't detract from his achievements. A fame-hungry media whore? Yes. A bloody good exponent of the beautiful game? Also, yes.

I'm mad me

I'm always wary of people who class themselves as wacky. You know the sort, they're the first to suggest fancy dress for any party, the first to come up with kerrazy ideas at fund-raising events and the first to adopt new hilarious internet phrases just for the bantz. These are the kind of people that bleach their hair when in their thirties, wear pink shirts when it's not deemed appropriate, speak in jingoistic terms in formal situations; yes Mick Wallace I'm looking at you. Somehow this gobshite became an elected member of Dail Eireann, just goes to show how far being wacky will get you. And after a hiatus of oh about two minutes he's back in the news this week.

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity but how far can you take that? Anytime I hear this imbecile's name I just know that it's going to be followed by some feckless act. In this case he might be completely innocent but once more he has put himself in a position unbecoming of an elected member of parliament. This time he's being accused of using his position of power to curry favour with An Garda Siochana. In any other instance the accused may have publicly denounced the allegation and within a couple of days it would have all been forgotten about. But that would be too easy for ole' blondie. No instead we get counter claims, press conferences, Dail questions and a whole lot of uproar. Oh and plenty of wacky shirts of course.

Kicking and screaming

A couple of weeks ago I spoke of the effect illegal downloading had on movie rental chain Xtra-vision. At the time I said that I never bothered downloading films as I preferred to use Netflix or, shock horror, actually pay for them. Well this week the way we listen to music is under the spotlight. Again I rarely download, what's up with me right? Occasionally I'll snaffle some otherwise difficult to attain album and feel wracked with guilt for the rest of the day. But mostly I purchase CDs seeing as they're so fuckin' cheap nowadays. But in between these two extremes lies streaming sites. Paid ones. I tried Spotify and couldn't understand what the fuss was. Playlists? Isn't the playlist what you see on the back of the album sleeve? You know, track one, track two etc. Whatever happened to listening to an album in its entirety? Like the musicians intended you to.

It seems Google don't agree with me as they have entered the music streaming market as a direct competitor to Spotify. $9.99 a month gets you.....God knows what, lots of music I presume. Given that Daft Punk's new album is currently €14.95 in Tesco I would be tempted to say that this is pretty good value. But what do those ten dollars actually get you? You don't really own anything once you've paid your monthly subscription do you? It just gives you access to music. But you can transfer your entire music library to the service (yay no more iTunes) which is a definite plus, and I have to admit that some of it's features have tempted me to join the 21st century. The digitisation of music is almost complete, but just like those old guys who only listen to vinyl there is an entire generation for whom the compact disc will always be king. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

One born every minute

It seems to happen every couple of months now; a crime so bad, so reprehensible, that we question our own existence. We look at these people and we wonder how they can live with themselves, how they can breathe the same air and walk the same earth as us. Ariel Castro's name will be added to the annals of infamy alongside other luminaries like Ed Gein, Peter Sutcliffe and Josef Fritzl. A cruel, cold-hearted bastard, an animal, a monster. Those with an interest in these affairs will attempt to psycho-analyse; was it his childhood? A traumatic event? A chemical imbalance in his brain? What drove this man to behave like he did? How can one human being have such disregard for the lives of others?

I'm probably the least scientific person you're likely to meet, I struggle to understand how condensation works. But in the case of Castro and others like him I can't help but feel they're born rather than made. So what if his mother didn't love him? Thousands of people suffer similarly appalling childhoods, but only a handful turn out like he has. Some people are just born evil and that's all there is to it. The same way that some people are born with a sexual preference and the same way that some are born with an in-built predilection for certain vices. We can't change this, it's just who we are. Ariel Castro is beyond help, he is beyond reasoning. We can never understand his mindset or the things which drove him to do what he did. Not that it'll stop us trying.

Long live the King

Amid all the eulogies for Sir Alex and the endless montages in his honour I couldn't help but feel a frisson of excitement. Yes I was distraught at the idea of the great man leaving us, life without his mechanical jaw chewing vigorously on that gum seemed inconceivable. But the nature of football is that successes are quickly forgotten about, there is always a new challenge ahead, always something to look forward to. And after some initial misgivings I am looking forward to the David Moyes era. He wouldn't have been my choice but I can understand why the club have plumped for the dour Scot.

He might not have the star quality of Mourinho or the charisma of Klopp but what he brings is stability. Eleven years at Everton working under sometimes impossible circumstances point to a man not likely to buckle under pressure. When was the last time you heard of a controversy surrounding Everton Football Club? Can't remember? No, me neither. This is a man who runs a tight ship. A man who places the utmost trust in his players and expects the same in return. Remind you of anyone? But Moyes is his own man, and despite getting the job on Fergie's recommendation he will be keen to stamp his own imprint on United from the off. And how he does so will, perversely, depend on Sir Alex. Fergie will have learned from the mistakes made by Sir Matt, how his presence proved detrimental to those that followed, and he will endeavour to ensure they are not repeated.

We're great we are

What is it with those fuckin' langer eh? Think they're great lads so they do? The rebel county, the true capital of Ireland, blah blah blah blah. If yeer so great how come ye can't build a county that doesn't submerge at the sight of a few raindrops? Eh? Weren't expecting that one were ye? Anyway now that ye have yeer very own Rebel passports maybe it'll make it easier for ye to fuck off out of the country when the Lee inevitably floods its banks for the umpteenth time. Sadly these specially commissioned CorkRebel Week Passport's are merely symbolic and are not recognised by anyone that really matters.

I know Corkonians would just fuckin' love to be going through customs waving their big red Cork passports in every one's faces but, for the time being at least, they'll have to make do with Irish ones. I actually like Cork and it's people, lived there for a few years and a finer city you couldn't find. Apart from, let me see, New York, London, Paris, Beirut, Addis Ababa, the lost city of Atlantis and Kilkenny. I'm sure this civic pride has deep-rooted meaning and all that but it gets a little tiresome after a spell. Self-praise is no praise at all lads remember that. Ye have a lovely city, cute little voices and a couple of half decent GAA teams but steady on eh?

The wheels on the bus go round and round

I am an extensive user of public transport and on many occasion I have had cause to complain about the services provided by Bus Eireann and the CIE group. Sour-pussed drivers, faulty heating and chronic tardiness are all a part of life when using national transport in Ireland. Oh and not forgetting the extortionate prices charged to travel up and down our tiny little country. It strikes me as odd that the members of the National Bus and Railways Union (NBRU) are the first public sector workers to strike. Because, although some might disagree, they are by far the most dispensable. I realise that the lack of these services will have a huge impact on the lives of people up and down the country. But compare that to the anarchy which would surely prevail if nurses or the Gardaí went on strike.

Both of those parties have been treated like shit by the Government in recent times. However both understand how crucial their presence is to the state. And in understanding this they have taken hits to their livelihood so as not to upset the apple cart. They have maintained their integrity and continued to provide as best a service as they can, and what do they get for it? Less money, longer hours and an ungrateful public. I sympathise with the plight of those at the NBRU and I sincerely hope they get what they're due. But I can't help feeling that their actions are at best unguided and at worst disrespectful. There are far more worthy causes within the public sector who, if given the opportunity, would relish the downing of tools, but sadly in their case this is not an option.

I studied his story not History

For reasons unknown to myself I never studied History in Secondary School. My decision probably boiled down to what my mates were doing and how big the course book was. The irony is that now, long past my Leaving Cert days, I have a keen interest in all things historical and wish I'd taken the subject beyond Primary School. Have I suffered because of this? I think I have, many's the time I've been involved in a heated discussion about the exploits of ancient political leaders only to be left red-faced and contrite after getting my information completely wrong. Try as I may I haven't got the grounding in this topic that those fortunate enough to study it at second level do.

So the Education Minister's decision to downgrade History as a non-compulsory subject for the Junior Cert can only be a bad thing – by the way what kind of a fucking school did I go to where it wasn't even compulsory fifteen years ago! Of course the subject that should be removed is Irish *dons tin hat as the Gaeltacht vents its spleen. What use is it to the majority of students? Unless you plan to get a job with TG4 then not much use at all. But you can't say that because it goes against everything our ancestors fought for. How dare you suggest we stop teaching our kids Irish?! I suppose you'll be telling us to stop fighting for the six counties next? No, I wouldn't, probably because I don't know enough about it. If only I'd done History in school.

A grey day for mankind

At the age of 24 I made a quite startling discovery. No, no it wasn't my first encounter with a naked female (that came much later) it was the sight of something which I hadn't expected to see for years to come. A big fuck-off grey hair. There he was, right by my temple, smiling away at me. At first I thought it was just a trick of the mind. The sun was shining on my hair at a funny angle, I reassured myself, sure I couldn't be going grey yet. But a few weeks later he had a pal on the other side of my head. The bastards are multiplying, I thought to myself, pretty soon they'll take over completely. And that was what I thought. Afraid to share my experience I envisaged a white shock of hair by the time I reached thirty, the last vestige of my youth disappearing before my very eyes.

But it doesn't work like that. Now, ten years on, I have a smattering of grey but I remain as tall, DARK and handsome as ever. Hurrah. But it won't last forever. Or will it? Professor Karin Schallreuter thinks it might. A cure is at hand it would seem. No more George Clooneys, no more Phillip Schofields and no more worried Simon Bourkes looking at the mirror in dismay. I should be delighted, the chance to maintain an even coloured mane of hair for the rest of my days. But for some reason I'm not all that bothered. I see my grey hair as a badge of honour, proof that I've done some living. Take that away from me and my silver siblings and we'll all just look the same. Mind you it's easy for me to say that now, if things carry on the way they are I'll most likely be purchasing some of this miracle cure the minute it hits the shops.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

If I hadn't seen such riches

Every single one of us does indeed love Sir Alex Ferguson, but here's my tribute to the great man

You'll neever wiin the leeague! You'll neever wiin the leeague!” The taunts rang out around the schoolyard, their gleeful faces pressed close to mine. Some of the bigger lads responded with a swift kick to the bollocks but I just lay down and took it too dejected to respond. And anyway they were right; we wouldn't ever win the league, that's what Liverpool did, what Arsenal did, and what even Leeds did now. It had just been another false dawn, another bitter failure, we were stupid for even thinking it could end any other way. Eventually, mercifully, the final bell rang and I scampered home before another wave of insults could begin. Once inside I knew I was safe, they understood I was in mourning and would leave me be.

May 2nd 1993, Aston Villa 0 Oldham Athletic 1 – Manchester United are English Premier League Champions. It was over. No more schoolyard taunts. No more 26 years and counting. We were Champions, the best team in England. A year earlier I'd sat, crumpled, by the radio, as the Kop revelled in our misery, now I danced a merry jig of delight as that same radio brought news of Nick Henry's winning goal. As great as it was this wasn't how I envisaged it. What do I do now, I thought, where are all those schoolyard bullies when you need them? I strode out my front door into that hot summer's day and the world just felt different. Birds sang louder, the ground felt soft beneath my feet, my senses were sharpened, this was what being a Champion felt like.

Twelve months on and that feeling remained, and this time we had an FA Cup to accompany it, a Double. We had done it in a style unlike anything seen before, with panache, daring and swagger, the United way. A team which could outplay you or outfight you whichever you preferred, led by a mercurial Frenchman we had defended our title with ease putting to rest any fears that it had been a once-off never to be repeated. We were an established force, the paranoia was slowly receding, helped no end by the continued demise of our friends up the M6. What next, we thought, dare we turn our eyes to Europe? Is it really possible?

He said it was and we had no reason not to believe him. Our faith in him was now absolute. Forget about the banners bidding him goodbye or the game against Forest which could have been his last, he was our oracle and we hung on his every word. But we were still getting used to being Champions of England, both us and the team. Humiliating nights in Barcelona, Gothenburg and Turin followed, and once again we were cast in the role of nearly men, once again the schoolyard rang out with songs of our failure. We're not good enough, I said to myself, but I couldn't complain, he's brought us more than I ever dreamed possible. Maybe it's time for someone else to have a go? He is pushing on after all.

26th May 1999, the greatest night of my life. But it's just a football match I hear you say, how can it be the greatest night of your life, you weren't even there?! Well it was and it will remain so until something like perhaps the birth of a child surpasses it. And even then the kid is going to have to be pretty special. I watched it at home on my own; the same way I watched all the big games. Not a drop of alcohol passed my lips, I had waited all my life for this and I wasn't about to let it pass me by in a haze of booze. This is the one. The Holy Grail. The Promised Land. He had brought us there now it was time to fulfil our destiny. But the Germans hadn't read the script, for 89 minutes they held us at bay, repelling the efforts of Manchester's finest with ease.

The next three minutes were a blur. At some point, I don't know when, I came to a halt. The scene was one of devastation, armchairs were missing cushions, photos sat lopsided on the wall, bulbs shuddered in their sockets and a very scared Red Setter lay cowering in the kitchen. I found myself sat, cross-legged, on the floor, just inches from the television. Tears streamed down my face, I wept shamelessly like I'd never wept before. My boys had done it, his boys had done it. He'd delivered on the grandest stage of all. I sat like that for a long time watching the celebrations, scarcely believing what was happening. And then, as if rebelling against the occasion, my body went into meltdown. A pounding headache, ringing in my ears, pains from head to toe, I was forced to go to bed. But it mattered not because when I awoke Manchester United would be European Champions. Football, bloody hell.

And still the success came, we became inured to it. Complacent even. League titles were summarily dismissed as par for the course, our goals were greater now. More trebles, more European Cups, the best players in the world, we want them and we want them now! We were a global force, a brand recognisable throughout the world. And all thanks to him. But then he said he'd had enough, retiring and leaving a void in our hearts. How could he do this we're only getting started? But of course he could never go and his decision was duly reversed. Why go when there's still so much to fight for? So many enemies to vanquish? And they all fell at his sword, the studious Frenchman, the Special One, the Fat Spanish Waiter, each succumbed to the great man and we rejoiced once more.

He brought us to the pinnacle again in 2008 with a team headed by one of the greatest we'd ever seen. A young floppy-haired kid plucked from Madeira and turned into the finest footballer on the planet. Only he could do that, only he could navigate these precocious talents through their formative years bringing them out the other side as men. Two times he'd captured the big one, but you sensed it wasn't enough. To be truly great you had to win it more times he said. We watched as he progressed through his seventh decade and wondered where he got his energy from. No longer just a football manager he was now an institution in his own right, He was Manchester United. Without him we were nothing.

Another domestic rival rose, this time our most domestic of rivals Рour noisy neighbours. And just like previous foes it had seemed impossible to topple them, funded by Arabs with bottomless pockets we feared the worst. Our club strangled by it's penny-pinching owners would now play second fiddle. There was no overcoming this one. But somehow he did it. How could we ever have doubted him? We romped home putting those cocky upstarts in their place, yet another glowing achievement to add to his already frightening resumé. However the one he coveted most eluded him yet again. One flourish of a referee's red saw to that. Too devastated to speak we wondered if this was a sign? Had he known it was his last tilt at the biggest prize of all?

And so it was. He bade us goodbye, a twentieth title his parting gift: we'd had seven when he'd arrived. I was seven when he'd arrived. He has given us so much, all those trophies, all those magnificent teams, but for me his legacy lies elsewhere. Often when new players arrive at United one of the first things they note is the family atmosphere at the club. Everyone from the groundsman to the tea ladies to the bloke who washes Giggsy's dirty gruds are made to feel important. Manchester United may be one of the biggest sporting establishments on the entire planet but it retains an almost homely ambience. This all stems from him, his desire to make sure everyone is looked after, if United are indeed a family then he is it's father.

But father time has caught up with our father, he's seventy-one years old now and even he can't go on forever. We may mourn his passing but it's not as if he's died. I'm sure he'll still pop up every now and again delivering diatribes in that unmistakable Govan brogue. Setting the world to rights. Fighting United's corner. Those who deal in hyperbole will say we'll never see his like again, and for once they'll be right. People like him come around once in a lifetime, I'm just glad he came during mine. Thank you Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson. Thank you. And goodbye. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


What a strange country we live in. First an otherwise healthy young woman is refused the option of terminating a baby which threatens her life and subsequently dies. And now a woman is told that she must let nature take its course and die in extreme pain and suffering. The ruling against assisted suicide in Marie Fleming's case hardly came as a surprise, we are one of the world's most conservative countries when it comes to these matters after all. But what was surprising was the complete and utter lack of empathy displayed by those handing down the decision. Yes there was unspoken intimation that Ms Fleming's partner would not face criminal sanction should he ignore the ruling, but the underlying message was absolute: The law is the law and we cannot change that.

But they can change that, and like it or not they will change that. Ireland is no longer the parochial stronghold it once was. Our people think for themselves now. We don't need the Catholic church to make our decisions for us. Assisted suicide, just like abortion, will become legal in this country within the next ten years, the people will demand it. We're considered one of the world's most forward-thinking nations in so many sectors but our legislature is that of a country still bound by ancient tradition. Only by freeing ourselves of those shackles can we ever hope to truly develop as a nation.


I may just have stated that abortion, one day, will become legal in this country. And I stand by it. But in what guise will this act take place upon our shores? I've always been mystified by women, and even more so by their bodies, but I never realised just how many ways a pregnancy can go wrong. Those charged with creating a new bill to protect the rights of women have been left in an unenviable position. I think we can all agree that abortion should never become a lifestyle choice, but thereafter the issue becomes decidedly more complex. The law, as it stands, states that abortion is illegal if there is a danger to a mother's health but not her life: however should the woman be suicidal then the procedure may be allowed.

Could it be any more vague? And of course the big question is how do you ascertain whether someone is suicidal or not? It gives me a headache just thinking about it. Put it this way how often do you hear the bereaved of someone who has taken their own life say “We had no idea he/she was suffering, why didn't they just tell us”. If those closest to a person can't tell whether someone wants to end it all then how can anyone else? You may say that a psychiatrist should be able to make a judgement call, but how can such responsibility be placed in one person's hands? Abortion will always be a divisive issue, which is why above all else any new legislature needs to be clear, concise and, most importantly, deliver closure.


The Irish government is one of the more laughable political organisations on the planet, but they've got nothing on the English FA. That lot are an absolute hoot. The days of fusty old men in smoky dark rooms are long gone but it seems their spirit prevails. How else can you explain the furore over Reginald D Hunter's appearance at the PFA awards last Sunday night? If you don't know Hunter he is an affable American comedian with a penchant for pithy social commentary. Oh and he's black. Which means he has the right to use the N word without censure. In a clever turning of the tables that particular word is commonly used among the African-American population as a term of endearment. It is far removed from the phrase spat so viciously in the direction of black immigrants during the past century.

So a black man on stage, performing to a cosmopolitan audience, peppering his repartee with the word nigga. Standard behaviour really. It was considered cutting-edge and radical when Eddie Murphy did it in the 80s, but not anymore. And by all accounts Hunter went down a storm, enjoyed in equal measure by Caucasians, Afro-Caribbeans and Hispanics alike. Well done FA jolly good show. “But wait, maybe this portrays us in a bad light”, they thought, “lets denounce this man and all who worship at his altar, just to be on the safe side”. And so it was. They apologised profusely, wheeled out an ashed-faced Clarke Carlisle, and promised to get Stan Boardman back next year. Two steps forward one step back. Oh well.


The public wants what the public gets. No this is not another rant about our arcane policies and our refusal to enter the twenty-first century, it's something far more serious. Look at this list, it's FHM's 100 sexiest women as voted for by the British public. Notice anything? Yeah Mila Kunis gets top billing and no one could argue with that, cute as a button and sassy as hell she's a worthy winner. But from that point on things turn to shit. There's no other way of putting it. Rihanna? Helen Flanagan? Pixie Lott? They all have their merits but I see sexier women on a daily basis just walking down the street. That's not to say I wouldn't, because I clearly would, but this is the sexiest women in the world for fucks sake!

Think of the screen sirens of yesteryear, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Faye Dunaway, and compare them to this motley crue. Jesus Christ it's like comparing roast beef with Aldi's own brand luncheon. There is no comparison. Anyone would think we as a society are growing uglier as the years pass. But it's not even that – Marion Cotillard for example bears comparison with any past beauties – it's simply that these vacuous celebrities spend their every waking minute in the tabloids. Their one goal in life is to gain recognition for their existence however meaningless. And the knock on effect? Helen Flanagan becoming officially the sexiest woman in the entire British Isles.


They still haven't removed the HMV logo from the now defunct record store in Limerick City centre. Every time I walk past it I die a little inside. Not saying that I'd spend hundreds in there every week were it still open, but I'd like to have the option. But alas it has gone. Ah well at least we can still rent films. What? Xtra-vision gone into receivership? Now you've gone and done it. Sadly it's just another nail in the coffin for the brick and mortar store, pushed to their limits by the rise of online shopping and illegal downloading Xtra-vision now faces a battle to stay afloat. A battle they will inevitably lose. Luckily those of us in Limerick have the wonderful Moviedrome to avail of but the rest of the country isn't so fortunate.

I'm sure those at the movie rental chain are cursing the internet and it's file-sharing ways but no one is to blame here. Given the option of downloading something for free or paying for the privilege the majority are understandably going to plump for the former. You can bring in all the Copyright Acts you want but where there's a will there's a way and people will simply circumnavigate these laws and be on their way. I must be one of a dying breed in that I don't download films illegally. This is not borne from any moral substance, I simply prefer to just pop a disc into a player and proceed from there. And now with Blu-rays offering a home cinema experience unlike anything else I have no desire to fiddle around with torrents, laptops and wires. Call me old-fashioned, call me a Luddite, I don't care – just let me watch my movie (that I paid for) in peace.


I feel like I've been very political this week, it's quite tiring getting on your high horse all the time and I don't really enjoy it. “Ireland is shit, our government is corrupt, Enda's a wanker”, fuckin' hell it'd wear you out. Truth is Ireland is a great country, we just like to moan and even at the height of the Celtic Tiger we were all whinging our bollocks' off. Now America, that is a shit country. Yes they've got bright lights, huge portions and thousands of flavours of ice cream but they've also got guns which are manufactured for children. And not the little plastic things we used to fire at each as children either. No these are real guns with real bullets which cause real pain and in some cases death. One such case occurred in Kentucky this week when a five year old boy mistakenly shot his two year old sister and killed her.

But the strange thing about this case was not the fact that a five year old had access to a live firearm. The reaction of the child's parents was the real story here. Rather than lambaste the gun-makers and denounce their product they instead turned to God. It was God's will they said, it was her time there was nothing we could have done. Erm yes there fucking was. You could have removed the gun from the premises. You could have said to yourself “Hmm maybe five is a bit young for a gun, let's wait until he's six”. You could have behaved like responsible adults and bought your children toys which are, y'know not lethal and stuff. But then again you're American, so this kinda thing is quite difficult for you. I apologise.