Paul Healy’s Week


US political drama

The drama continues in American politics, where society is now dangerously divided. Extremists are in their element. It is worrying for the future of democracy itself.

The latest shockwaves to hit the political system there saw Kevin McCarthy become the first ever Speaker of the House of Representatives to be removed from office. The publicly declared reason for his humiliating downfall – at the hands of members of his own party – was that it had to do with spending and policy, but in reality it was personal, a ruthless move by Republican rebels who plotted the overthrowing of their own man.

While this drama was being played out, the shadow of Donald Trump loomed large, the former President continuing to stir up passions and division in his unique style.



THAT Late Late Show…

I can see why people enjoy the Late Late Show country music special. It showcases the industry’s leading performers singing much-loved songs during what is, after all, a flourishing era for country music in Ireland, where the past decade or more has seen a spectacular revival in popularity for that genre.

I respect the performers who have been packing venues out nationwide in recent years. But I still consider life too short to fully commit to an entire Late Late Show country special, choosing instead to merely briefly check out tonight’s latest version of the annual love-in. For some viewers, there’s still a bit too much forced bonhomie involved!

From the half hour or so that I watched, it certainly came across – no surprises here – that new host Patrick Kielty is much more comfortable with the genre than Ryan Tubridy was. Tubridy always tried his best to look excited, entertained and energised by the country music phenomenon, when viewers actually knew he’d have been happier if trapped in an elevator with salivating members of a Dáil committee.

It was good to see that great character Philomena Begley still going strong. Over 50 years ago, my late parents launched The Kon Tiki Bar & (Singing) Lounge on an unsuspecting public, down Rooskey way. Philomena Begley was a big draw in The Kon Tiki in those days. In fairness, many of the songs sang then and since – mawkish and all as some of them might be – are a part of the soundtrack of Irish rural life.

It’s good to see country music thriving in Ireland, but it’s still hard for some of us to sit through an entire LLS ‘special’. I watched for a while, before disloyally turning over to my recording of the smug quipsters on Have I Got News For You? Sorry!



Weekend sport

St Brigid’s were magnificent in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday, a clinical first-half performance ending Roscommon Gaels’ hopes of an upset. The Gaels stuck to their thankless task after the break, but St Brigid’s – oozing class – eased to a 15-point win. On this form, they look odds-on to collect another Fahey Cup; time will tell.

After attending the Brigid’s-Gaels game, it was back home to settle in front of the television for the eagerly-awaited Ireland-Scotland game at the Rugby World Cup.

Scotland have improved in recent years, and are often full of flair, so this was nicely set up for the underdogs. Indeed many in the Scottish camp had very willingly talked up their prospects of beating Ireland.

Any doubts about Ireland’s current pedigree, mindset and calmness under pressure were soon dispensed with as Andy Farrell’s team produced a devastatingly brilliant performance – in defence and attack – to win with ease.

On Sunday, Boyle made it to another county senior final, after a tense semi-final against Padraig Pearses. For Boyle, the dream of winning a first senior title in almost a century is still very much alive.



(Not) a moving experience…

It seems there were more big butterflies around houses this year than usual. I have no evidence to back that claim up, but the summer months were certainly notable for the remarkable number of fluttering butterflies showing up in houses. I heard a number of people reporting that as their experience. It may be that if you have seen a lot of butterflies in your house, they have been hibernating in a chimney, or the attic. As they tend to appear stranded after a while, I went into full life-saving mode with one or two this year, ‘trapping’ them in a container and then releasing them back into the (outside) world.

Huge spiders are another kettle of fish (whatever). Recently, I noticed one in a corner in our house, lurking under the desk where I sometimes work. I meant to move the spider, but forgot to. Next day, I noticed it hadn’t moved itself. In fairness, it may have voluntarily halted its progress after coming within earshot of Danny Healy-Rae on the telly. Slightly intrigued, I went about my business. On day three, this large spider was still in the same spot, as stationary as the Queen’s Guards at Buckingham Palace.

Today (day four), I planned to formally remove the presumably dead spider to the great outdoors, only to discover that it was no longer there. It had moved (and wasn’t dead). The WorldWideWeb (aptly) has lots to say about motionless spiders. Seemingly they will sometimes stay in one place for many days, as they are conserving energy ahead of pouncing on their prey. I presume it’s much the same concept (quaint, in their case) with the Queen’s Guards!



Breaking: Budget…

I hope today’s Budget was good for you. I got home from the office at 8 pm, and couldn’t face the Tonight Show (Virgin Media) or Prime Time (RTE). Neither was there a spider sitting in front of the TV, all motivated to watch the usual blah blah blah. While very mindful of how the Budget affects our lives, and having earlier in the day looked at some of the headline decisions, we turned our gaze from the often tiresome analysis – and instead continued watching Breaking Bad, which we’ve only recently caught up with.

Breaking Bad is brilliant, and, for all its drama, murder and mayhem, probably less stressful than all those Budget statistics and postmortems.