When did the annual crowning of the best footballer on the planet become such a big deal? Time was when the Balon d'Or and the separate World Footballer of the Year award were handed out with a minimum of fuss to the players that most agreed deserved them. But that was before the days of Messi and Ronaldo, the greatest footballing rivalry since, well since ever. In a team sport it's rare to see two individuals develop a conflict like their's, even more so when you consider they're rarely in direct contact on the occasions that they line up against one another. And you could argue that if it wasn't for Cristiano's gigantic ego there wouldn't be any rivalry at all. Messi appears happy to just plod along and receive whatever plaudits come his way, Ronaldo on the other hand..
For what it's worth I prefer Ronaldo as a player, because you have to pick one don't you? His ties with United may have something to do with that but my reasons are my own and I won't bore you with them right now. But even as someone who believes Madrid's number seven is the finest talent on the planet I've found myself getting irked by the continued campaigning for him to win this year's Balon d'Or. His backers point to his goalscoring feats and his individual masterclasses as evidence of his credentials, they compare the stats of his competitors and declare each and every one of them his inferior. I think they're missing the point.
Remember all the excitement surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey and it's successors? Women worldwide were visiting book shops for the very first time and getting all hot and bothered by the antics of Mr Grey, or whatever the fucker's name was. It was a sexual revolution and hardware stores reported a sizeable increase in the sales of chains, ropes and other bondage type materials. The female population were outed as the kinky little tarts they were and us blokes simply sat back and enjoyed the ride. But it couldn't last, neither the depraved coitus nor the interest in literature. Where are those ropes and chains now? And more importantly where's your copy of Fifty Shades?
If you loaned your book out to a friend or an acquaintance you might wanna think twice before asking for it back: because you have no idea where it's been. Researchers at a Belgian laboratory undertook a study which involved running chemical tests on the ten most popular books at their local library. All ten tested positive for cocaine; that's hardly surprising though given the prevalence of the drug in most urban areas. More concerning is that two of the books – one of which was Fifty Shades – tested positive for herpes. Oh my.
And just in case you were thinking this was just a strange coincidence you should be aware that the other book which had traces of the clap was also a romance novel, Tango by Pieter Aspe. But don't text that slutty friend of yours telling her to keep your book forever just yet. Because although traces of the herpes virus were found on the books the researchers were quick to point out that there was no possibility of catching the disease from simply handling the saucy tomes. So you can rest easy, unless of course you're one of the filthy fuckers smearing your dirty microbes all over one of E.L James' novels, in which case you need to get yourself to a clinic and hand back that library card right now.
The wait is over
The relationship between the déise and the good folk of neighbouring county Kilkenny is at best, fractious. But for the most part this antipathy is rather one-sided. Sure what have us Cats got to be angry about? A constant, steady stream of All-Irelands makes one very content with their lot. And that in turn explains the sourness of pusses in and around Waterford county and city. They hate us, fuckin' detest us they do, and in reply we ruffle their hair, pat them on the back and say “maybe next year lads.”But 'tis only sport at the end of the day and I personally have great fondness for Waterford and it's people having lived and worked there at various intervals in my life.
There's one thing that Waterford has that us Kilkenny people are all secretly jealous of though, no not the minor All-Ireland sure we've loads of them! The Blaa. Ooh I'd love a Blaa now, but I'm in Limerick and you can't get them here. Which is how it should be. If you've never heard of a Blaa you need to get yourself to the South-East to sample their floury delights, but in the meantime I'll describe them as best I can. They're kind of a round little bread roll, with flour dusted on to the surface. And they're crunchy on the outside and squidgy in the middle. They go great with corned beef, luncheon, salad cream, crisps, bananas, cheese, pickles and anything else you can think of – although not all at the same time obviously.
And in a testament to their delightfulness we, and people from the surrounding counties, took to naming our Waterford neighbours as...the Blaas. And they weren't even offended, if anything they were proud to be named after their finest export. That pride swelled even further this week with the news that the Blaa was finally to be granted European Union protection, meaning that it is now illegal to use the name Blaa to describe any other type of bread. To give you an idea of how big a deal this is other foodstuffs to be awarded the same protection include the likes of Champagne, Cornish Pasties and Gorgonzola cheese.
So all in all it's a proud moment for the Blaas, both the people and the bread. But while we'll continue to sneak into their land and nab some of their lovely rolls they have no chance of laying a finger on a single one of our All-Irelands.
Yes, I'm seeing someone
Single men have it tough. They might not have to contend with the daily stresses that come with being in a committed relationship but all in all the negatives far outweigh the positives. Yes they can head to the pub whenever they want and, in theory, they can shag as many women as they want but it can be a quite lonely existence. It's all very well getting pissed with the lads and waking up beside strangers but all most of us really want is a good woman to cuddle up to of a chilly winter's night. But by far the biggest problem any single man faces is how other people perceive him.
If you go a couple of years without entering into a serious relationship chances are your sexuality will be brought into question: “Jaysus I haven't seen himself with a young wan in a while, dya reckon he's, yknow, gay?” If women decide to be single for a while then they're congratulated for being independent. But if men do the same, well then there's clearly something up with them. Arrive at a family gathering by yourself and straight away suspicions are aroused, “When you going to find a nice girl for yerself?” “I know someone who'd be lovely for you,” they say, automatically assuming that you're a lovelorn loser incapable of meeting someone all by yourself.
But now a solution is at hand. Whether you're a single man who's enjoying his freedom or someone who's hapless in affairs of the heart then the Invisible Girlfriend app is the thing for you. For just €7.35 a month you can fool friends and family into believing you've finally landed the girl of the dreams. Interactive text messages, voice mails and a false Facebook account to be 'in a relationship' with should go some way to convincing them. But that's just the basic package, stick another €30 on top to avail of the 'Almost Engaged' plan which includes random gifts and phone calls from your mystery lady.
Many fellas will be looking at this and thinking “€37, that's a lot cheaper than the bitch I'm with now, and I wouldn't have to listen to any nagging either.” But until they offer a deluxe deal which includes a few extras I think most of us will be happy to remain with our living, breathing and all too visible, better halves.