Paul Healy’s Week

CHRISTMAS DAY

Empty chairs
We had a lovely Christmas. You do notice the fact that less chairs are required now. You visualise those who have passed on, regulars at the table for so many years. You remember where they sat, even how they took their place at the table. You remember their smiles, their oft-repeated phrases, what they liked to eat, how they embraced the children and the spirit of the season too…while probably revisiting the Christmas Dinners of their youth.

As every year, there were lots of ‘empty chairs’ in households all over the country this Christmas. Our thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones recently.

ST. STEPHEN’S DAY

Christmas curbers!
There are, as we know, two types of people in the world…

There are those who know that Christmas ends on January 6th (but who are realistic enough to accept that the process is long underway by New Year’s Day)…and those who, annoyingly, insist on trying to confine the festive season to a couple of days, or worse still, Christmas Day only.

The latter group – the Christmas Curbers – cannot be allowed to win. They are the people you typically meet on St Stephen’s Day who (unwittingly) spoil our collective joy by announcing: “That’s it for another year…it’s all over. A lot of fuss for one day!”

ALL CHRISTMAS (1)

‘Nothing on the telly’
It’s a phrase we’ve all heard (and maybe used) – even though it makes little sense.

“There’s absolutely nothing on the telly”. There’s also the seasonal version: “There was nothing on TV over the Christmas!”

I take a deep breath when I hear these cliches! Then again, I’ve been guilty of similar mutterings myself from time to time. The problem these days is that having too much choice has transformed us into ungrateful, short-sighted, deluded screen zombies.

Taking traditional TV on its own, it’s obvious that viewers have never had it so good. Is it laziness/old habits that results in some people still insisting there’s nothing to watch/nothing ‘good’ on?

A few years back, when we had a mere five or six channels, there were probably Christmas nights on which the viewing options genuinely disappointed. Hence that time-honoured refrain someone in your household was sure to voice: “Christmas night…and there’s nothing on the TV!” Yes, Some Like It Hot is a classic movie, but realistically, how often can one watch it? And having had some regard for its originality when it first aired years ago, I now consider Mrs Brown and her boys to be dire TV.

Nowadays, we have access to hundreds of TV channels, as well as some great streaming services. Therefore, the lazy tut-tutting about the options available – at Christmas or otherwise – lacks credibility. Yes, there’s some dreadfully inane content on TV, but there are also excellent documentaries, films, vintage comedies, news channels and live sport. And while some of the offerings on Netflix may be old and/or lightweight, there’s an abundance of good series’ there which can offer the two Es – escapism and entertainment – particularly during the winter months.

A final thought (for now). How did those of us of ‘a certain age’ survive at all at all back in the 1970s, when we had ONE TV channel, up to the arrival of RTE 2 in 1978? Anyone for Bunny Carr and Quicksilver?

SUNDAY

In the Sindo…
‘Coalition in firing line for bringing back the guillotine’ read the headline in today’s Sunday Independent. A bit extreme, I thought, as I considered checking to see who is sitting in for Justice Minister Helen McEntee (currently on maternity leave).

It turns out the word has more meanings, and also relates to parliamentarians restricting debates on a Bill.

Meanwhile, I see Willie O’Dea-r is at it again. In today’s ‘Sindo’, Deputy O’Dea-r gently snipes at his own party (Fianna Fáil) while u-turning a little in relation to leader Micheál Martin (whom he has strongly criticised in the past).

Could it be that Willie is no longer as confident as he was that Martin is doomed as leader?

ALL CHRISTMAS (2)

Albert scare!
I usually don’t watch Eastenders, and haven’t seen Coronation Street in about 20 years…but as regular readers will know, I’m no TV snob.

Enjoying the festive break, I saw a few Eastenders’ highlights over the past week or two…which now prompts my annual warning about Albert Square.

It’s just not safe. From what I saw over recent days, the landlord in the ‘Queen Vic’ is missing (presumed dead) after a chaotic car chase involving his current and former wives. Just a few doors down, party revellers were hospitalised due to carbon monoxide leaks. Meanwhile, growling Phil is threatening to kill enemies. Next, Kat Slater and her son are kidnapped (in broad daylight). It’s all happening in a tiny area – Albert Square. It’s just not safe.

Not much chance of two locals in the ‘Vic’ meeting at the counter and agreeing it was a ‘quiet Christmas’, is there?

TUESDAY

Missing the target
I missed the target. Normally I’d always watch the PDC World Darts Championships, but the event just seemed to pass me by this time.

This evening, I worked late in the office, checked on Arsenal v Newcastle on getting home, then completely forget that the darts I had yet to connect with had already reached the final stage!

I later discovered on Twitter that it had been quite the classic, with Michael Smith beating Michael van Gerwen 7-4, and producing a magical 9-dart finish too. Year in year out, the darts provides brilliant entertainment.

WEDNESDAY

It never ends…
That there are around 900 people on trolleys/chairs in hospitals while awaiting beds is disgraceful. The saga just goes on and on. We’ve been raising the issue for years, but far from seeing progress made, this aspect of our health service just seems to get worse. What a damning reflection it is on successive governments. Can we not treat our ill and elderly with dignity?