Paul Healy’s Week

EVERY DAY

Showbiz, baby!

At the World Cup, the football’s been great. But the pundits?

As a veteran football panel watcher, admittedly spoilt by the RTE dream team of old, I respectfully suggest that the Class of 2022 could do better.

That legendary RTE panel featured John Giles and Liam Brady, with Graeme Souness – maybe the ultimate ‘person not to get stuck in an elevator with’ – happily joining in, studs and grimace at the ready.

Each of the aforementioned contributed to the magic chemistry, but the key duo were anchor Bill O’Herlihy and contrarian/court jester/football romantic Eamon Dunphy.

As for Qatar 2022, I get the impression that BBC duo Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand are highly rated by UK viewers. In reality – certainly by the standard of those RTE superstars – they are residents of Bland Street (just off Cliché Square). As for Jermaine Jenas, he reminds me of the arrogant guy who has bored everyone by the end of the party.

Micah Richards is likeable in a ‘Guy-you’d-like-to-go-for-a-pint-with’ type of way, but his sense of fun and that distinctive laugh distract from the paucity of pearls of wisdom. Dion Dublin would also be good company for a pint, but he’s not punditry gold either.

Monotone Danny Murphy is knowledgeable and articulate, while Alex Scott is arguably the best pundit on the BBC team. Anchor Gary Lineker is a safe pair of hands with an endless supply of weak but endearing puns/jokes.

I’ve never taken to ITV’s football coverage much, but they have big hitters. Gary Neville is superb. Roy Keane, even allowing for the pantomime moments, has some aura. Graeme Souness is the ageing gunslinger who just wants more action!

On RTE, I haven’t seen Damien Duff in this tournament yet, which suits me fine. Without Giles and Dunphy, Liam Brady isn’t quite the force he was. As for Didi Hamann, there’s probably an interesting man trying to break out, but his inner pen-pushing tax collector-like persona is winning! Like Hamann, Richie Sadlier is a good pundit, but Dunphy said this is showbiz (baby!) – and Richie ain’t showbiz.

It’s unfortunate for the current RTE crop that social media went all nostalgic for Dunphy last weekend, after someone posted the great man’s classic outburst against columnist Rod Liddle.

What a sensational pundit Eamon was (ask Platini, Ronaldo, or Niall ‘Mother Teresa’ Quinn). His exchanges with the late Bill O’Herlihy and that classic rapport with Giles, Brady and Souness was world class punditry. The guy’s a national treasure. To paraphrase Eamon, we just didn’t know how good we had it, baby!

 

SUNDAY

Great Scott

I’ve made it clear on this page before that I’ve no time for modern-day culture snobs (everyone’s seen Coronation Street at some point!).

Tonight, the current series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! ended. As in previous years, we unashamedly tuned in. Critics will say it’s the lowest form of entertainment – some of the trials are indeed disgusting and very hard to watch – but this jungle jamboree is always entertaining and often fascinating.

After three weeks of highs, lows and more intimate animal body parts than any of us would wish to have ‘served’ up for nightly viewing, footballer Jill Scott was voted new Queen of the Jungle by viewers. Remarkably, former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock made it to tonight’s final three, leaving a trail of public outrage/grudging respect (and evidently some admiration) in his wake.

At the end of the day, I guess it’s enjoyable escapism for viewers. It seems millions of people like seeing celebrities squirming and screaming as they confront their fears. Maybe it makes us a 21st century version of the Romans watching brutal gladiatorial battles in the Colosseum (except our version comes with ad breaks  and silly one-liners from the likeable Ant and Dec).

 

MONDAY/TUESDAY

Lights brigade

And so, Christmas is (almost) here…

Last night, returning from a family event in Cavan, we had to do the ‘town tour’ – having missed the Christmas lights switch-on for probably the first time in two decades or so. It was just after 11 pm, and there was hardly a person on the streets as we drove into the town centre from Lanesboro Street. We were immediately wowed by the quality (and tastefulness) of the lights.

Driving towards the square, we finally saw a human, a man who (helpfully) had a Santa hat on his head. Smartphone raised, he admired the lights in the ‘new’ square, and so did we. (By the way, it wasn’t Santa… still in town after doing the formalities earlier in the evening; I understand he was back in the North Pole, regaling Mrs Claus with a very positive report on his Roscommon visit, in between catching up on highlights of the World Cup).

Anyways, the Square and the rest of the town looked fabulous. The Christmas lights in Roscommon are excellent and atmospheric.

This week, you can really feel the ‘Christmas vibe’ kicking in, with shops and other business premises’ sporting their decorations, and people beginning to focus on buying presents and continuing their preparations for the festive season.

While the cost of living crisis is a very difficult backdrop to the 2022 festive season, it does have the status of being the first – here’s that word – ‘normal’ Christmas since 2019.

*Congratulations to the wonderful volunteers on the lights’ committee on all their great work over recent weeks. It was, you might say, the charge of the lights’ brigade…

 

WEDNESDAY

Slick saga

I watched episode two of ‘Quinn Country’ on RTE last night, and am looking forward to tonight’s finale. This major documentary on the rise and fall of Seán Quinn is very slick, and leaves one breathless at the scale of all that went on. I can see why Quinn was a local hero, but the word that comes to mind when summing up the entire saga is ‘Greed’.