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 GardaĆ­ 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.

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