Sunday, April 28, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombing I turned to Twitter for information, and just as quickly I turned away disgusted by what I saw. At the time I thought humankind couldn't possibly stoop any lower. I was wrong. The body of Sunil Tripathi, 22 years old, was pulled from the waters of a Rhode Island river this week. What drove this apparently happy young man to take his own life? At this moment in time no one knows. He had been missing since mid-March so it is conceivable that he may have already been dead before the events of April 15th. But at that time his family were still unaware of his whereabouts and still held out hope of him returning to them safely. 


What followed next was a new level of trauma, a new low even for those who call themselves 'citizen journalists'. Thanks to some clearly well-thought out research and powers of deduction Sunil was named as the person responsible for the bombings. In a matter of hours this misinformation spread all over Twitter and Reddit until it became not just a theory but fact. His Facebook page was bombarded with offensive messages and his stricken family members were targeted by irate patriots eager to vent their fury. None of these people had reliable sources, none of those people had any affiliation with a credible publication and yet here they were delivering the news with gusto. We now know that this young man had nothing to do with the bombings, something his family knew all along. Of course the grovelling apologies have begun in earnest and Sunil is being lauded as a credit to himself and all who knew him. Bit late now though isn't it?

I was genuinely surprised to learn that France is only the fourteenth country to approve a law allowing gay marriage. My automatic assumption was that the majority of forward-thinking countries had long since sanctioned same-sex couplings. I was even more surprised to see that this ruling had resulted in widespread protests throughout Paris. This is 2013 right? The fear among those protesting is that this ruling will allow for the adoption of children by same-sex couples. And I agree, it is inevitable that once gay marriage enters the French legislate it is only a matter of time before those sharing vows are given the opportunity to start a family. However I don't agree with the belief that those children will be in any way affected by having two daddies or two mammies instead of the traditional one of each.

Because yes it is 2013 and in case you hadn't noticed the notion of family has undergone quite a change since the post-war baby boom. That traditional 'one of each' is still prevalent across society but it now has some serious competition in the shape of the single mother and even the single father. Think of your own friends, every one of us knows at least half a dozen single mothers and some of us may have been brought up by a single parent ourselves. Time was when this deemed unthinkable, “how can you raise a child on your own? Away to the nunnery with ya!” And now? We barely bat an eyelid when a woman brings up her kids by herself. I just hope that in another thirty years time those protesting this legislation will have overcome their prejudices and can accept children being adopted by loving parents regardless of their sexual orientation.

It's a horrible sinking feeling. Your favourite footballer, the man upon whom all your hopes rest, has just done something stupid, something guaranteed to be the talk of the nation for the next few days, or even weeks if you're unlucky. An immediate decision is made; a complete media blackout, it's the only way you'll get through this. It's going to be bad enough listening to the uninformed opinions of work colleagues without subjecting yourself to the moronic masses online too. You'll keep an ear out for news of the inevitable ban and fine but nothing more.

How close was I Liverpool fans? Pretty close I'd imagine, after all I do have consummate experience in this field. Eric, Keano, Rio, Rooney, they've all had me recoiling in horror and defending the indefensible. So when Suarez chomped into some prime Serbian steak I couldn't help but laugh. Yes, a player from another club is going to be put through the wringer, and better still it's a Liverpool player. And even better still it's the lovable non-racist, Uruguayan. Thank you Lord. 


And what did he do? He bit somebody. In itself I don't think it's a particularly heinous act. The only modern-day reference point we could find was Jermain Defoe's nibble on Javier Mascherano which accrued a yellow card. But I'm sure if we were to cast our net a little wider we could find several more examples of flesh-hungry footballers. I'm thinking of Serie A in the 1970s, La Liga in the 1980s, South America since time began, places and times where the dark acts of defending were practised religiously.

But that was then and this is now, so Suarez gets ten games and is depicted as a madman. He's cast as a terrible role model and warned about his future conduct. Just about apt in today's climate. The suggestion has been mooted that Liverpool will dispense of his services in order to maintain the reputation of the club. Nonsense. He's the best player they have by some distance and selling him right now would be folly. Keep him I say. The longer he stays the better chance he'll commit more extraordinarily malicious acts and have them Scousers squirming in discomfort. Give him a long-term contract Liverpool, and do it now. 


Irish children are getting fatter we know that. And sure what harm is it? 'Bout time someone got a decent feed 'cos we sure as fuck didn't get it when we growing up. Starving we were. 'Ate it in tya Peter you dunno where your next bit is comin' from. A little bit of chubbiness is fine I suppose. But what we haven't accounted for are the health risks. A new study has found that drinking fizzy drinks on a daily basis increases your child's chances of contracting diabetes by 20%. I find that terrifying and I don't even have any children. Kids will always want sugary treats, it's how they're designed, but they also have a unilateral aversion to needles. Try explaining that to the little mites though, yeah you can have a bottle of 7UP but here stick this in your arm first will you?


The last remaining participant in World War I died a few years ago and with him went the memories of that most horrific of conflicts. Those who survived it's successor will still be around for some time yet but one of them, now well into her nineties, decided that to time to recount her experiences was now. 95 year old Margot Woelk would have been in her mid-twenties during the height of World War II, not exactly the ideal time to be in the prime of your life I'm sure you'll agree. And because she was a fit and healthy speciman with little or no practical uses for the Nazi movement she found herself employed in a rather unique role. Her job? Hitler's food taster.

Along with fourteen other women Ms Woelk was forced to sample the fuhrer's meals before they were delivered to the man himself. Nice work if you can get it eh? Well not really, the food may indeed have been marvellous, far outstripping the wartime rations enjoyed by everyone else, but the constant threat of being poisoned ensured that no morsel could ever be savoured. We already know that Adolf Hiter put very little value on human life but this tale further underlines the sheer arrogance of the man. The lives of these fifteen women were considered dispensable just so long as 'oul one ball could eat in peace. That the Austrian despot took his own life before he could be captured must surely rank as one of modern history's biggest injustices.


Biopics of dead musicians have always been ten a' penny, no sooner have they breathed their last then auditions are taking place to capture their finest hour. There's a Marvin Gaye one forthcoming, it's bound to be a disaster, the Motown star was so incredibly complex and audaciously talented that I can't imagine anyone representing him with any authority on screen. The same goes for Freddie Mercury. I mean how could you replicate his showmanship? There's not a man on earth brave enough to even try it. Eh? Sacha Baron Cohen? Come off it, a comedy genius may be but Farrokh Bulsara, frontman of Queen? No chance. 


But it appears there's every chance. The creator of Ali G, Borat and Bruno has long since lobbied for the role of Freddie in any potential film of the star's life and now it appears that Brian May is on board too. And the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Let's face it Baron Cohen is clearly as mad as a box of frogs, his comic creations are proof of that. I remember watching Borat and thinking to myself “I will never see anything as shocking as this no matter how long I live”, then I watched Bruno. He's bonkers, crazy, and so was Mercury. From thinking that this was some sort of elaborate ruse I have now warmed to the idea. I now fully expect this biopic to be the truest possible representation of the greatest frontman of all time. Booyakasha!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


What's your first port of call when a big news story breaks? Depending on my circumstance I will always turn to BBC News or, if unable to access a television, Twitter. So on Monday evening when the first reports of an explosion at the Boston marathon surfaced I dutifully switched to the Beeb while simultaneously scouring my Twitter feed for updates. I lasted about 20 minutes before I had to switch both off. First to go was the TV, a steady stream of meaningless interviews containing nothing more than speculation and conjecture saw to that. But that was okay, I've come to expect tedium from 24 hour news channels. In the case of Twitter however I found myself logging out before I lost all faith in the human race.

The clamour to be first with the macabre details was unrelenting. “Follow all the action here”, “LIVE UPDATES FROM BOSTON BOMBING”, “Two dead, up to 100 injured, more to follow....”. And so it went on. A tragic occurrence reduced to nothing more than a sideshow as the world's populous vied for the most salacious headlines. Of course there were the odd conscientious voice lamenting the loss of two people but they were quickly drowned out by the braying mob. I, like everyone else, was eager to find out exactly what had happened in Massachusetts but not in this fashion. I didn't need slow motion replays of the moment of impact, nor did I need pictures of clearly distressed runners covered in blood, and I certainly didn't need a who's who of news stations engaging in their own civil war before my eyes.

Unfortunately there is an audience for this kind of reporting. Never once during 9/11 did I stop to consider how horrific it must have been to die in a towering inferno or to be left with no choice but to plummet to your death from thirty storeys high. I was too busy firing texts back and forth, glued to Sky News as I willed the attackers to hit the Pentagon and keep the entertainment going. We can't help ourselves, it may be happening in real life but because it's on TV and is happening far away we care not for the welfare of those involved. Indeed as I went for a walk to clear my head of all things Boston and bombing I sensed an air of disappointment in my own corner of the world. As I walked past a man engaged in a panicked phone call with a loved one I overhead him say, “Quick turn on Sky News, there's been a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Two dead and 22 injured.......but there could be more”.


Surprised isn't quite the word. No, no appalled doesn't quite fit the bill either. If I was to sum it up in one succinct phrase I think I'd plump for 'dejected bemusement'. The source of my confused sadness? He of the Beliebers. Justin. Writing in the guest book of the Anne Frank museum that she was a “great girl” and he hoped that were she alive today “she would have been a belieber” is not in itself all that surprising. He is after all a teen icon, a child cosseted by minders and money, someone completely out of touch with reality. I wouldn't expect much more from him to be honest. What reference point could he possibly have as he attempted to reconcile his own life with the experiences of the tragic Anne Frank? None whatsoever.

But even the most simple-minded of modern-day heroes must surely be able to heed the advice of those who have thus far steered his career into the stratosphere. Did someone explain to young Justin just how important a figure Anne Frank is when it comes to our recent history? Did they warn about making glib statements which might reflect badly upon him? “Hey Justin, this Anne Frank girl went through a helluva time, be cool alright man”, “Yeah dude, I'm on it”. Or maybe his entourage are just as dumb as he? Maybe the people who control this pop puppet thought it was okay to desecrate Anne's name with this simpleton's musing? That's what really concerns me.


Picture the scene; you're at home on a Saturday evening and it's approaching dinner time, “What shall we have for our dinner”, you ask the assembled throng, “Mmm I'd quite like some Indian”, says little Ricky, his eyes lighting up. Immediately the poor child's request is drowned out by a chorus of boos, “Ooooohhhh, ohhhh, aahhhh, nnooooo, bbooooo”. He tries to respond with an argument furthering his case but is again overwhelmed by the protests of his determined siblings. “Fine we won't have Indian then”, says Ricky as he sullenly scans the pizza menu. Not really the best way to settle an argument is it? And yet it is the method favoured by those charged with running our country.

I rarely watch the Daíl's daily dealings, but on the odd occasion that I do I'm invariably treated to a group of grown men behaving like primates. I'm vaguely aware of this slanging and slagging having historical resonance but this is the 21st century can it not be replaced with something more urbane? Buzzers perhaps? Or maybe not, can you imagine the mayhem if they all had little buttons to press? Red-faced and sweating they'd all hammer their buttons into submission before bitterly complaining that “mine wasn't working”. How about they signal their intent to speak by raising their arm in the air and frantically chanting “Miss, Miss, Miss” just like we did in school? Although the last thing anyone wants to see are the flabby underarms of our government. Or they could just try something completely radical and wait their turn, that sounds a bit far-fetched though in fairness.


I still can't be quite certain what this means can you? Misadventure? defines it as “bad luck, mishap”. So essentially what they're saying is that Savita's death was a terrible mix-up, an awful mess, we're really sorry about that. What a cop out. Even worse is the list of recommendations which were set out to avoid further similar 'misadventures'.

1 The Medical Council should lay out exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of the mother in similar circumstances.

Erm is there no such thing as common sense these days? Why must a doctor adhere to protocol when there's lives on the line?

2 Blood samples should be properly followed up and proper procedures put in place to ensure errors don't occur.

What the fuck is this, a Carry On movie?

3 Protocols should be followed in the management of sepsis and there should be proper training and guidelines for all medical and nursing personnel.

Ah yes proper training for our doctors and nurses, why didn't we think of this before?! Doh!

4 Proper and effective communication to occur between staff on-call and a team coming on duty and a dedicated handover time to be set aside for such communications.

What? We have to talk to each other? And tell one another what's wrong with the patients? Ah come on now this is getting excessive!
The rest of the recommendations follow a similar suit as doctors are told to always tie their laces before coming on duty and nurses are advised to go wee-wee at least once every four hours.

It's rather crass of me to joke about such a sensitive case but it's got to the point where I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The least the Halappanavars deserve is justice, the very least. Instead they have been fobbed off with rhetoric and spin, told “we're very sorry now toddle off and stop being such a nuisance”. Praveen plans to take this to the European Courts, and who can blame him? His wife has been unnecessarily taken from him and those responsible for her death are hiding behind the state in a desperate attempt to maintain their careers. I hope he takes down not only those directly at fault but each and every person who so guilelessly tried to cover up this sorry affair into the bargain.


I often bemoan the lack of freedom given to kids today, let them run free I say, didn't do us any harm. But it's a different world now, a world full of child-killers and paedophiles, you'd be crazy to let them out of your sight for even a second. It's often made me wonder about my own childhood, I mean where were all the nonces then? I was fortunate enough never to be an altar boy but was it just the Catholic church that spawned these odious creatures? No, the BBC was in on it too. The unmasking of Jimmy Savile was hardly that surprising, he was always an oddball. The same goes for Jim Davidson, Stuart Hall and Freddie Starr, it didn't take a huge leap of the imagination to envisage that motley crue getting up to no good. But Rolf?

He released a song entitled “Two little boys” and still no-one batted an eyelid. And why would they? The cuddly Antipodean looked about as harmless as they come. “Can you tell what it is yet?” he'd ask as his latest creation came to fruition, and we would innocently guess 'Kangaroo' or 'Koala' when in actual fact it was his penis, rising in his pants. Oh Rolf, say it ain't so. But it is so. Just in the same way prospective paedos joined the priesthood in the hope of gaining access to vulnerable children their broadcasting counterparts did likewise via the BBC. They may indeed have been simpler times but thanks to these monsters we'll never look back on them with the same fondness again.


Daft Punk are quite rightly regarded as one of contemporary music's most important acts. Their 1996 début Homework deserves to be ranked among the very best of any pieces of music, never mind the electronic dance genre. The follow-up Discovery was a similar tour-de-force and cemented their status as arguably the most influential band of my lifetime. Human After All was a slight let-down by their own very high standards but it did nothing to sully their renown. They are legends in their field and if anything their slight back catalogue only enhances their standing. So when it was announced that a new album was forthcoming in 2013 the world, quite rightly, turned on it's axis. Early samples were devoured by eager fans and the hype surrounding the first single was unparalleled. And then it came out, and Pharell Williams was on it, and it sounded a bit meh, but the public lapped it up. What's gone on here then?

Firstly the presence of the Neptunes producer goes against everything that has come before. Daft Punk have never needed superstar guest appearances in the past so why start now? What else can we expect once the album comes out? Justin Timberlake? Will.I.Am? Who's next up to desecrate their once pristine reputation? You may think this an overreaction but to me Daft Punk are one of the few remaining bands that can be relied upon to try something new, to eschew the path taken by others and release something brave, something daring. I'm loathe to use the phrase sell-out but that's what it looks like to me. Get Lucky is everywhere at the moment, all over the Internet, all over the airwaves. Daft Punk were never about that. Naturally I will hold fire until I hear the final product, after all there was a similar reaction when One More Time came out - and Discovery didn't turn out too bad eh? 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


First up we had recreational grief and now we have recreational rage. It can be defined as follows; the need to prove that you and you alone are the most angry out of all the world's social networkers. As soon as the news broke the competition began. The Iron Lady had barely breathed her last before the internet was awash with thousands of less than favourable epitaphs. She was a cunt of a woman, of that there is no doubt. But what struck me was the demographic of those revelling in her passing. People that weren't born until long after her reign of terror had ended. People who grew up in parts of the world largely unaffected by Maggie's iron fist. And yet, to them, this was one of the greatest days of all time!

Isn't it a bit crass to celebrate the death of anyone other than the most wicked of beings? Were it Ian Huntley or Peter Sutcliffe who had kicked the bucket I could fully understand the joyous reaction - but a politician? Again I don't wish to make light of her actions, she deprived me of my school milk after all, but surely the time for partying was when she was removed from power? By exulting in her passing and regaling in her demise all we are doing is giving further credence to an era best consigned to history. She's probably loving it you know, all those grimy proles drinking themselves stupid and causing public disturbances, it's what she would have wanted.


Is there anything so heart-wrenching as the death of a young person in the prime of their life? All of that hope and ambition wiped out leaving nothing but sorrow and loss. Those affected do all they can to carry on, to piece their lives together and make sense of it all. But in truth nothing will ever be the same again. The Savita Halappanavar case will likely change the face of Irish legislation for years to come but is this inquest really necessary? Her family's need for answers and their desire to take it to the courts is wholly understandable. But perhaps those on the other side of the argument could have saved Satvita's grieving relatives yet more heartache.

A simple admission of guilt, that's all it would take. No more interviews with her solemn-faced widower, no more tawdry headlines detailing the events of her final hours and no more pictures of a smiling Savita in happier times. Because someone was at fault in her death. Whomever he, she or they were is yet to be disclosed. But when the inevitable happens, and an ashen faced member of University Hospital Galway is held accountable for their actions, the end result will be yet more salacious news reports and finite details of this never ending case. All of this could be avoided if only someone had the courage to put a stop to it, if someone had the courage to admit fault in their actions and spare the Halappanavars one more moment of this harrowing ordeal. Sativa's name is already ingrained in our history so let's give the family a break eh?


And sure why wouldn't it be? The little fuckers have everything they want nowadays. Oh I tell thee back in my day it weren't like this, oh no. So anyway, according to UNICEF, Ireland is the tenth best place to be a little 'un these days. Who knows how they come up with this shit? But according to the boffins it comes down to a few simple things; food in your belly, fags in your mouth and babies in your tummy. More of the latter and less of the two former that's what we're after and it seems Ireland scores well on all accounts. Our children are now fat little fuckers who neither smoke nor have sex. Sounds a bit boring to me but they're happy and that's the main thing.

The survey goes onto say that one in three Irish kids exercise for at least one hour per day. Well fuckin congratulations! Fair played to ye lads! Dragged yourself away from the cakes and Ipods for an hour? Praise the Lord. Even more astonishingly Ireland scored first in this particular discipline. What the fuck are children in other countries doing? Not much by the sounds of things. And the worst thing of all is that this exercise is probably carried out in some supervised area, an astro-turf pitch, an indoor arena or wherever. Not for this lot the epic games of football which started after your dinner and carried on until either the street lights broke or our mothers came a-calling.


Steve Collins is feted as one of Ireland's great boxers, his exploits in the mid-nineties have earned him legendary status and his victories over Chris Eubank will never be forgotten. That The Celtic Warrior fought both Eubank and Nigel Benn when both were past their prime is however, rarely considered, and his decision to retire rather than fight the up and coming Joe Calzaghe further tarnishes his legacy. But, for many Irish people, he is something of a folk hero. So his decision to return to action at the grand old age of 48 is mystifying to say the least. What can he possibly hope to achieve?

If you ask him that question he will tell you he wishes to right some wrongs, to fight the man who dodged him during his previous iteration as a middleweight firebrand. The man in question is Roy Jones Jr, the greatest boxer of the 1990s and one of the sport's most skilled combatants. RJJ, unlike Collins, hasn't even bothered to retire. Despite being the wrong side of forty himself he has continued to fight and has subsequently smeared his own legacy with ugly defeats to fighters not fit to lace his gloves. I stopped watching Jones Jr fight a long time ago, preferring to remember him in his pomp when he was without peer in the sport. But I do hope he beats Collins, firstly because I never bought into the whole Celtic Warrior shtick and secondly because it might knock some sense into the clearly deranged Irishman.


And here was me thinking that Osama Bin Laden was the hide and seek champion of the world. He's got nothing on this fella. Twenty-seven years, that's how long Christopher Knight spent living in isolation. For reasons as yet unknown he took himself away from humanity at the tender age of nineteen and there he stayed until his recent arrest by Maine police. His crime? Stealing food. Well what else was he supposed to do? He's a hermit for fuck sake. Rather brilliantly Chris hadn't spoken to another living soul for at least twenty years, preferring to while away his time listening to rock music on his rickety old radio. There was times in my teens when I'd disappear to my room to listen to some angst-ridden rock but I had nothing on Christopher.

The question now is what will become of Mr Knight. Will he return to the woods and carry on his simple existence or, more likely, will he be forced to re-integrate by do-gooding locals eager to see him right. Imagine leaving the world as you know it in 1986 and returning in the present day. Liverpool won the League and Cup double that year, and look at them now! Christopher could probably head into the woods for another twenty-seven years and they still won't have recaptured those glory days. Whatever he ends up doing it is unlikely that anyone will ever break his hide and seek record and for that alone he should be applauded to the rafters.


Sometimes I overdose on news by listening to the radio and watching 24 hour news stations at the same time. It's not an easy feat, the tones of the radio broadcast permeate your brain and override the message portrayed by the images coming from the TV. This week, during one such news binge, I found myself watching Michelle Obama addressing a hollering and whooping crowd (at least I think they were). The rules of news binging state that you must mute the radio should an interesting piece present itself on the TV, they also state that you must never attempt to form an opinion based on images without sound.

But when I saw Michelle's impassioned speech I obeyed neither rule. My first thought was “What the fuck does she know”? Swiftly followed by “thinks she's another Hilary Clinton does she”? I admit to being only vaguely aware of Mrs Obama's skillset, a lawyer if I recall correctly. But this hasn't stopped me forming several spurious opinions on her merits as a public speaker and the motives behind this feckless act. Thus far I accused of her 'riding on her husband's coat-tails' in an attempt to become the first female and first black female American president all in one go, using her position to lead a group of finger-wagging sistas into war with North Korea and ousting Oprah from her number one talk-show host slot simply by fluttering her eyelashes at TV execs.

And I still don't know what her the subject of her speech was. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


When you're a young person learning the ways of the world your natural inclination is to consider yourself quite liberal-minded. Let them eat cake, you say. Legalise this, allow that, relax this, we just want everyone to get along. Then you see a bit of the world, you see what people are really like, and that idealistic youngster who thought everyone deserves a second chance turns into a realist. But even the most open-minded, anti-establishment youth couldn't argue against the return of the death penalty for people like Mick Philpott. The problem we have as a society have is that we believe ourselves above such primitive forms of justice. No let's rehabilitate them, we say, make them a better person. In this case that is not a possibility.

The notion that this man may be eligible for parole in fifteen years is truly mind-boggling. Almost as mystifying as the knowledge that he will be clothed, fed and given a roof over his head for that time by a state who must surely be as appalled as the rest of us by Philpott's actions. We console ourselves with the belief that he may meet into some of the prison network's more unsavoury characters during his time behind bars. But then we read of the heightened security surrounding the poor lamb, twenty-four supervision to ensure he remains unharmed. The kind of protection usually only afforded to heads of state and dignitaries. When all it would take to rid the world of this parasite is to simply set him free, let him walk out of that prison and into the welcoming arms of his adoring public. Now that's what I'd call justice.


I'm always dubious of nepotism in the workplace. It rarely works. Junior, having been mollycoddled to maturity, finally takes the reins from his much loved patriarch and rather than carry on the good work done by his old man he decides to shake things up a bit. Kim Jong-Un could have regaled the world with stories of magnificent rounds of golf and weather-changing abilities and we'd all have warmed to him like we did with his eccentric dad.

But no, the new heir has to go and be all power-hungry and start picking fights that he simply can't win. I imagine North Korea's nuclear arms to be primitive fare, rusty old, CCCP emblazoned relics foraged from the hills of Siberia. Do they really want to start picking fights with the good ol' US of A? I don't think so. America has, over the years, shown that it's not averse to a ruck and if Kimmy keeps rubbing them up the wrong way it won't be long before he's scurrying back into his rat-hole begging for forgiveness. Stick to propaganda like the your old man, and keep the stories of your bonkers country coming, we enjoy them immensely.


I have a theory; the Irish government, concerned that we're getting a bit disgruntled about our ailing economy, have decided to show us just how bad things could really get in an attempt to make us grateful for our lot. How else can you explain the wall-to-wall coverage of all things Cyprus over the past few weeks? Fuckin' hell we get it! They're broke, they're even worse off than us, they're a mere shadow of the nation that once celebrated a 5-2 victory over Stan Staunton's boys in green. We understood the severity of the situation after a couple of days, and in typical Irish fashion we offered empty sympathies before carrying on with our lives.

But now two weeks on it's still headline news. It's okay, it's okay, we got it the first time, we mutter as another maudlin Mediterranean laments the loss of their life-savings, didn't we hear this last week, I could have sworn I saw this exact same bloke bemoaning the price of petrol. What the fuck is going on here? It's obvious what's going on. This is the future, our future, unless we keep our mouths shut. In a couple of years this could be us, being shat upon even more than we are now. The message is clear; accept these new taxes, embrace the December budget and most importantly smile while we continually shaft you up the arse. Or else. Or else it'll be you on that telly crying into the camera like those poor Cypriots. Message received loud and clear.


At some point during the last twenty years there was a seismic shift in the way football reporters operated. Where once the story was what happened on the pitch it has now switched to off-field affairs. Sure there was always an appetite for gossip and the antics of George Best, Tony Adams and George Graham were greedily gobbled up by a public eager to discover the dirty side of the game. But those were isolated incidents, mere footnotes to another week of exciting action in the Football League. It's different now. Thanks to Sky's dedicated sports channel there is a need to fill every available minute with news, regardless of whether it's newsworthy or not.

So when a member of Sunderland's board resigned his post due to the perceived political stance of new manager Paolo Di Canio all hell broke loose. And did anyone really give a shit? I certainly didn't. I already knew that Di Canio wasn't a racist, a bit of a nutter, but not a racist. But what about that fascist salute during a game for Lazio, they cried? Old news, he had explained it away as a Roman salute at the time and I had accepted his reasoning and moved on. But in spite of this non-story the English media got plenty of mileage out of it and will do so until the next salacious piece of hearsay pops up. And then I, like everyone else, will give it even further credence by talking about it online. Oh sardines and trawlers.


When will it all end? With Jesus? With Santa? With the Queen of England? Will there eventually come a point when the entire planet is Irish and anyone not claiming Gaelic heritage will be shunned and forced to live out their days in Sligo? Tom Cruise isn't Irish. Look at the big tanned head on him, the big shit-eating grin, he's no more Irish than Saint Patrick. But his fuckin' ancestors were from Kildare! I don't give a shit. He's not Irish. The same way Obama isn't Irish and the same way George Clooney isn't Irish.

If we were all to trace our roots back a couple of hundred years God knows where we'd claim allegiance to. A big red-headed fucker walking down the street telling everyone “I'm from Venezuela”, “Yeah right boy look at the big freckledy head on ya”, “No, I'm serious me great-great-great-gran-uncle emigrated from there”, Fair enough so, you're Venezuelan, congratulations”. And so it would continue, until everyone in Ireland was from some far-flung land and everyone outside of Ireland was from Ireland. If your parents are Irish and their parents before them were Irish then it's fair to say you're Irish. So on that basis I'm sorry Tommy but you just miss the cut.


Just when you thought Bressie couldn't get any more enigmatic he drops this bombshell. He smokes weed! And he thinks it should be legalised! Swoon. As if the nation's women weren't already quivering at the knees, he's now gone and become a bad boy aswell. Give the rest of us a chance Niall will ya! The ensuing outcry was as predictable as it was tiresome but somehow Bressie has emerged from the whole thing relatively unscathed.

However just when I was about to roll my eyes skyward and denounce this latest revelation as nothing more than a publicity stunt he revealed that he suffers from anxiety. It's not easy to tell anyone that you're struggling with mental illness, whether it be your parents, your doctor or your mates. So to announce to an entire nation that you've been fighting this most debilitating of ailments takes some balls. And even more, he managed to do so without turning it into a sob-story, without tugging at our heartstrings and getting our womenfolk lost even deeper in those dreamy eyes of his. I want to hate you Bressie, but you're making it very fucking difficult for me.