Paul Healy’s Week


Watching Joe…

Doubts over Joe Biden’s fitness to run for re-election aren’t just persisting, they are growing. The worry for his handlers must be that when Biden fell during an Air Force Academy ceremony today, it wasn’t in any sense a shock. The reality is that many people are increasingly nervous for Biden’s welfare. And it’s not just his physical frailty that’s noticeable; the US president sometimes looks confused and uncertain when speaking.

My own view is that Biden running again is a risk… for Biden (and his legacy), for the Democrats, for America and the world. Already the oldest US president in history, he would be 86 if he completed a second term. In what other walk of life would a person of his age and frailty even consider trying to renew their position? Biden is not running to be president of his local golf club; he is running for re-election as President of America, otherwise known as ‘most powerful man in the world’.

Asked recently if he is too old to run, Biden replied: “Watch me”. The problem for Team Biden is we have been watching. Biden is showing signs of not being able for the job, both cognitively and physically. Today was an unforgiving reminder of that.



So many legends…

As readers will be aware, there have been numerous offences against the English language in recent years. One of the many irritants I could reference (by way of example) is the ridiculous overuse (and incorrect use) of the word ‘legend’.

Growing up, I always thought the word ‘legend’ was reserved for someone incredibly famous, usually a person who had achieved greatness over a long period. A ‘legend’ was someone who stood head and shoulders above the rest in their particular field. Muhammad Ali was a legend, so too Christy Ring. Philip Greene was an earnest, passionate commentator, but Michael O’Hehir was a legend. Paul Gascoigne was a great footballer, but Pele was a legend.

Then the silliness took over. Those of us who work in the media are probably most at fault, as we can’t resist a bit of hyperbole. Now any footballer who plays for 15 or 20 years is described as a legend when they retire. In actual fact, they’re a player who has played for a very long time. An average actor quits a TV soap after ten years, and next time they’re on a (morning) talk show they’re inevitably introduced as the ex-EastEnders/Coronation Street legend.

The self-congratulatory types in RTE (and other national broadcasting houses) love to perpetuate this silliness. Marty Morrissey (blameless) will arrive at a GAA ground or at the ploughing, and a colleague might post a photo online: ‘Delighted to meet my colleague, the legendary Marty Morrissey…’

But Marty isn’t actually a legend, he’s a nice man who does a good job in his work as an all-round broadcaster!

It isn’t just Marty who gets the legend treatment; just about every DJ on national radio loves to bandy the ‘legend’ word around, usually about fellow broadcasters/station colleagues. Indeed the national radio DJs are the biggest offenders of all.

My musings on this issue of grave importance are prompted by a glance at the Newstalk website which suggests matters may actually be about to worsen. It appears we may now be moving into icon territory…

Reporting on the retirement of Evelyn Cusack after 42 years with Met Éireann, Newstalk describes her as “Ireland’s most iconic weather forecaster”. Oh dear!

Now I wish Evelyn well, and certainly she was an instantly recognisable national figure, and good at her job, but the definition of iconic is: ‘Relating to or of the nature of an icon; regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration’.

Have we as a nation actually venerated Evelyn to the point where we should deem her iconic, or could it just be that we’ve seen and heard her a lot, because she’s been on our TV and radio a lot?



Weekend sport

Manchester City remain on course for the Treble after victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup Final, Rory McIlroy disappointingly suffered final day blues in the Memorial Tournament, and Roscommon turned on the style late on to defeat Sligo at Hyde Park. See my views on Roscommon v Sligo on pages 42-43.




Cliché Lovers Club

There was a huge crowd at the weekly meeting of the ‘Cliché Lovers Club’ in Roscommon last night. “It’ll be the hot weather that has brought so many cliché enthusiasts out” a man said to a neighbour.

“Absolutely” came the reply, “in fact I think tonight is a special weather-themed cliché night!”

He was right. The place was packed to the rafters, great excitement discernible as veteran cliché experts lined up their greatest hits.

Johnny couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling. “It’s like an oven out there!” he announced, to loud applause.

A woman from town got in on the act. “You could fry an egg on the tarmac” she proclaimed. Sustained applause.

A middle-aged man with a long beard stood up and wiped his brow.
“Sure if we had weather like this in Ireland every summer, you’d never have to leave the country” he said. When he sat down, he was annoyed that he hadn’t added “There’s no country like it when the sun is shining”.

A young fella nervously chipped in with “It’s nearly too hot” (polite applause), while his friend added an old reliable: “I wonder how long will it last?”

By 10 pm, the club members had uttered over 100 hot weather/heatwave clichés between them. Veterans couldn’t recall an atmosphere like it.

Just when it looked like it couldn’t get any better, Paddy, an elderly man of considerable wisdom, stood up in the middle of the room and pounded his chest good-humouredly, as if to demand silence. Everyone looked at him. Pausing for further effect, Paddy then cleared his throat.

“Still, the farmers could do with a drop of rain soon…”

The place erupted. They loved it!




Teddy McCarthy

Desperately sad news today, with the untimely death of Cork GAA great Teddy McCarthy. He made history by winning All-Ireland senior titles in football and hurling in the same year (1990). I was present at both finals. Now he was a legend. May he rest in peace.