Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

Of course I don’t actually watch Eastenders, but well…you know the defence: It tends to be…er…on in the background. 

  So, having seen tonight’s blockbuster – and with maybe the odd eye on the unfolding storyline in recent months – here’s a few questions: 

  Why is it that every time there’s a murder in Walford, the murderer is tracked down in front of all the locals…in Albert Square? Why are none of them at work/on holidays, not to mention at home…watching Coronation Street? 

  How come the culprit is always caught just as it looks like they might be about to commit another murder? Isn’t it odd that they aren’t just arrested quietly at their house on a wet morning? 

  Tonight, serial killer Gray Atkins finally got his comeuppance, though no thanks to the police. (Another question: Why were the police running around in circles, oblivious to Gray appearing from the shadows to climb on to a bridge overlooking a train track?). 

  And why, when Whitney saw him on that bridge, did the one person who has long believed that Gray is a serial killer actually decide to climb the bridge to challenge him?  

  Then, when Gray was eventually bundled into a police car – in full view of the locals – isn’t it strange that the three or four people he’s been tormenting lately were all lined up side by side, staring him down? 

  Anyways, I’m glad he was caught. And it should be said that the long-running storyline addressed very serious issues.

  A final thought…in case anyone thinks the poor residents of Walford should have raised the recent murder spree with some helpful nearby legal expert, it falls on me to remind you that the now behind-bars Mr. Gray was the (very dapper) local…lawyer. 

  Anyways, like I say, I don’t watch it…

 

Saturday 

 

As we’re going to the cinema this evening, I record RTE’s coverage of Kerry v Mayo. After a stuttering start under previous management some years ago, Roscommon’s cinema (now Ominplex) has recovered well. It’s a fantastic asset to the town. 

  We’re there to see ‘The Batman’, a three-hour superhero epic starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. For lots of reasons – including the ambience, the overall viewing experience, the sense of escapism – I don’t think I’ll ever regret a night in the cinema, but this movie was a hard watch at times.  

  In ‘The Batman’, our hero takes on a serial killer (The Griddler) during a particularly chaotic and terrifying time in Gotham City. Pattinson is very good as an unusually moody and menacing Batman, though I wish the character had even a touch of charm/likeability. Kravitz is superb as Catwoman. As indicated in press previews, Colin Farrell is unrecognisable as ‘The Penguin’. He is excellent too.  

  The movie is superbly and atmospherically shot, with Gotham City dark, dreary, scary and forever rain-soaked. But, at almost three hours – every minute dark, tense and brooding – it’s a tough watch. This take on Batman is original and unsentimental, but very dark and grim. Some people will love it, some will want their three hours back, others (like me) will enjoy it with caveats. 

  Back home by 10.40 pm, I caught up on that recording of Kerry v Mayo. As in Gotham City, there was tension in Tralee. As in Gotham City, Tralee was rain-soaked. As in Gotham City, Tralee needed a superhero to repel those who would dare to upset the status quo for the locals. Naturally, David Clifford swooped in from the shadows and saved the day. 

  

Sunday 

While Eddie ‘I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid on this one’ O’Sullivan was probably not too far off the mark yesterday with his pretty scathing analysis of Ireland’s win over England in Twickenham, the no-nonsense verdict was delivered with a dourness and negativity that would stop The Grinch/George Lee in their tracks. 

  By coincidence, I’ve come across a section of Eddie’s childhood diary, in which he offered this analysis of Santa Claus’s annual visits (exclusive extract): “Santa? He’s a joke. I’m certainly not drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. Guy only appears once a year, makes a big song and dance about it, has the media in his pocket. Almost certainly operating a slave labour policy with those poor elves. Makes a hames of the chimney, leaves a mess in the kitchen. Fair enough, he drops off a few toys, but I reckon it’s more about him trying to feel good about himself than some heroic generosity of spirit. Spoofer. I’m not having it!”

 

Tuesday/Wednesday 

Due to how St. Patrick’s Day is falling this year, we’re finishing this week’s paper a day earlier than usual. We go to press Tuesday night, as opposed to Wednesday night. So if you are reading this on Wednesday night or Thursday, you will understand why we missed out on any big news that broke earlier on Wednesday. 

  Obviously if Lord Lucan cantered up Main Street, Roscommon on Shergar on Wednesday morning – while claiming to know where Funghie the Dolphin is – there will be regular updates on our social channels.  

 

One night in Ukraine, one night in Moscow…

Wednesday/Thursday 

The woman just wanted another uncomplicated night in bed, safe, shielded…resting, waiting, trying to push thoughts of the ‘war’ from her mind. She had been brimming with nervous excitement for several months. Now, after recent tumultuous events, she didn’t know what to think, how to balance her excitement with the new uncertainty of life. 

  Meanwhile, in a palace in Moscow, Putin settled down for a few hours’ sleep, surrounded by luxury, calmness and security. 

  The Ukrainian woman tried not to think about the invasion. Instead, she thought of her partner, and mainly of the baby, and the promise of their shared future. She prayed that the madness ‘out there’ would end soon. She was grateful for the care of the nurses, the comfort of the hospital bed, the serenity of the maternity ward, the latter quietness punctuated by the endearing cries of the newly-born. As she drifted into sleep, she was whispering words of love to the baby in her womb. 

  Meanwhile, in his (unnecessarily massive and gaudy) bed, Putin didn’t twist or turn…dictators don’t. Instead, he checked online coverage of the ‘special military operation’, took one more call from a key advisor, and then slept the calm sleep of a man who feels in control. 

  She remembers a sudden devastating explosion of noise, a series of flashes, then loud, unbearably anguished screaming. Objects spun through the air, dust crushed the light. She heard more screams from a woman nearby, only for that screaming to eventually fade to a whimper, then stop altogether with grim suddenness. Then, silence. Then, darkness. 

  She doesn’t know that she ended up lying in agony on a patch of ground, heavily pregnant, her clothes torn and blood-splattered, fragments of glass in her hair, cuts and bruises everywhere. She doesn’t know that other women in the ward had the same experience, that one of them would later die, along with her baby.  

  After a great night’s sleep, Putin made some early-morning calls in his study. 

  Back at the maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol – scene of the Russian attack – they initially reported three deaths (including a child), with many more injured, and others trapped under the wreckage. 

  Putin enjoyed his breakfast. 

  The woman looked down on her blood-stained clothes and waited for the emergency services to move her from the bitterly cold ground, hopefully to another hospital, one that had not been burnt out, and where the beds weren’t now charred symbols of man’s inhumanity to man. 

  Putin took a call from one of his senior generals, to discuss strategy. Putin smiled when they discussed the media frenzy in the West. The conversation turned to shelling cities, to tactics, to advances.  

  Lying in the rubble, freezing and terrified, she could see shadows, friendly shadows, and what appeared to be an ambulance siren. Still startled, confused, in pain, the woman said a prayer. Then, raising one hand to caress her ‘bump’, she whispered words of love to the baby she was carrying…and hoped for the best.