Paul Healy’s tongue-in-cheek
take on THAT launch in Sligo; on Dermot & Daniel; the return of Bertie; how the FA Cup can still delight; brazen banks and vultures…and memories of Inspector Clouseau…
Today, the political version of Dancing with the Stars, live from Sligo. I saw a little bit of it, and could barely suppress my excitement. Simon Coveney, rather predictably, started with a waltz, but any time someone came within range of him, he indignantly upped the ante and switched to foxtrot. Leo arrived on stage amidst much camera clicking, cheering and general fanfare, and treated fans to a typically smooth and assured performance.
Judges Micheál and Mary Lou were measured in their comments, certainly less enthusiastic than some of Leo’s fans, who were stamping their feet, chanting enthusiastically and waving ballot papers in the air.
Mary Lou opted for conditional praise of the dancing stars but Micheál sniffily complained that it was style over substance, too many flashing lights and flashing smiles, too many routines we’d seen before.
Leo didn’t even wait for the judges’ scores; he knew he had the public vote all wrapped up, he knew what was driving Martin mad; the fact that Leo is the most formidable of opponents…a competitor who has the quality and (for now at least) the likeability factor, like a devastating cross between Michael Flatley and Marty Morrissey.
Friday & Sunday
With the Hollywood A-listers not taking any calls from the Late Late production team – keeping an eye out instead for the words ‘Graham Norton’ to flash on their screens – the show resorts to the usual shameless plugging of other RTE programmes.
Thus, we have what ought to be considered the mindboggling decision to feature Dermot Bannon, a guest on Friday night purely on the grounds that two nights later a new series of ‘Room to Improve’ will air.
Bannon’s on with Ryan (a) because his series is back and (b) because it features a makeover of the home of Daniel and Majella O’Donnell.
What next? RTE weather presenters previewing the weather? (‘Lots of room to improve’?). On Sunday evening, we saw what all the hype was about. Dermot had ventured to Donegal to revamp the home of Daniel and Majella. I didn’t bother seeking out social media reaction, but I thought Majella was great, while Daniel was generally sulky, occasionally rude and sometimes disinterested. Still, Daniel’s input is what made the show entertaining for viewers.
As for Dermot, he was his usual smug self. As always, it all ended happily. Whether the editing distorted the true picture or not, viewers were left with the impression that there had been ongoing tension between Dermot and Daniel. Dermot, as ever, won the day, although he did have to listen to Daniel singing at the end!
Bertie’s back. Well, he guested tonight on the Claire Byrne Show, providing a reasonably if not totally modest overview of the peace process, twenty years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Bertie didn’t quite say ‘It was much better when I was in power’ but he did reference his negotiating prowess and his encounters with Tony Blair quite a lot. Possibly mischeviously, Bertie also managed to be a bit more gracious towards Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney than he was to Micheál Martin, the man who leads the party which Bertie marched to three General Election successes. Martin and Ahern are enemies now and Bertie ever so gently slapped the Cork man on the wrists over his response to the breakdown of talks in Northern Ireland.
I’m not sure that it was wise for Bertie to twice reference the importance of not celebrating until a race is over, which he said in the context of the premature visit to Belfast by Varadkar and Prime Minister May last week (when they thought a deal was imminent). Bertie’s reference to races reminded me of his much-maligned claims at a Tribunal that he “won the money on the horses” – and I’m sure it was the same for many more viewers!
Wigan v Manchester City in the FA Cup. A third-tier team versus possibly the most devastating team in Europe. I catch the first twenty minutes but then go to the shop, not too worried about missing mundane manoeuvres on a Monday night.
Later, I check in to see how many ‘City’ have scored. But it’s still 0-0 with twenty to go, and now I’m keen to see what happens. What happens is that Will Grigg scores a great goal for Wigan, on the break. The fans go crazy. Pep’s shocked superstars launch desperate siege on the underdogs’ goal. The last fifteen minutes are fantastic; the mundane transformed into the marvellous. It would seem that reports of the FA Cup’s demise have in fact been greatly exaggerated.
Wigan hang on for a great victory and it’s impossible not to feel joy at this great giant-killing act. This is a welcome sprinkling of cup magic.
Unfortunately, there was trouble at the final whistle, some Manchester City fans venting their anger by throwing missiles at police.
Yobs. Manchester City fans fight after cup exit! How ungracious. It was a bit like guests at a lavish banquet sulkily smashing the plates just because a few strangers finally got a morsel from the table.
I’m sure there will be repercussions arising from some unsavoury scenes after the final whistle (there was also an altercation between City’s Sergio Aguero and a home fan) but the enduring memory of the night will be of the joy on the faces of the Wigan players and supporters. This was the FA Cup admonishing us for losing faith in it. There’s still life in the old competition. It was a wonderful sporting upset, a Pep in the step for dreamers everywhere.
Now, we’re told, the banks are planning to offload distressed mortgages to faceless and potentially ruthless vultures from abroad.
Permanent TSB are in the eye of the brewing storm. That bank is the prospective offender just now, but we’re told that other banks will follow suit, unless, that is, our politicians can stop this heartless throwing of Irish citizens to the wolves.
A little while ago, I received a call from a bank we deal with. The man had a query about a standard transaction. He wasn’t making sense to me, and seemed miffed when I asked him to clarify exactly what he was saying. He muttered that he was right and I shouldn’t doubt him. I asked if he could check out the exact details and ring me back.
“It would be better if I didn’t have to call you back” he said. “These calls are a drain on the bank’s resources”.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think of responding: “Well, we baled most of the banks out in 2008, after your reckless conduct had been exposed, and that really was a drain on our resources!”
Instead, I just paused and marvelled at his arrogance.
That’s the problem with the Irish – we just don’t complain!
I see two men and a dog standing on the street, on the way to school. The two men and the dog aren’t on the way to school; we are.
It suddenly reminds me of Inspector Clouseau (played perfectly by the great Peter Sellers) in ‘The Pink Panther’.
Clouseau is speaking to a man, who has a dog by his side.
“Does your dog bite?” the French Inspector asks with a smile.
Clouseau stoops down to pat the dog on the head, and is attacked by the vicious animal.
“I thought you said your dog didn’t bite!” a startled Clouseau exclaims.
The man looks at him.
“That is not my dog”.