It’s Festivus (actually, yesterday was Festivus. I would have posted except I was tempted by a delicious little Australian red a bit too early in the afternoon which meant I was stinko by the time the guests arrived, which meant that I couldn’t keep my shirt tucked in, which meant that, to the disgust of herself, guests were treated to views of my expanding Buddha, which meant I was sent to bed in disgrace) – that non-denominational holiday which was created on an episode of Gerry Seinfeld years ago where people participate in the ‘Airing of Grievances’, a ceremony in which everyone gets to complain about the various ways in which everyone else got up their nose in the previous year. The festival is now celebrated for real in the US and this year I’ve decided to participate. So instead of the annual ‘Things That Sucked’ list, from now on we’ll be having Festivus For The Rest Of Us. Here goes.
8 Bono's interest in architecture.
We’re all entitled to our opinions, etc., but oh how I wish that Motivational Speaker for Starbucks and habitual leaver-of-the-country-before-midnight would just get into etchings. That's the back of his head, by the way, as he greets the 'awesome' Tadao Andao...
7 Practically Useless TV Commercials.
When was the last time we had a really good television commercial? Sure, it’s no wonder the country’s freefalling into a recession when the capitalists have lost the power to entice us into wasting our money on completely useless things. It’s gotten so bad that Duncan’s public service announcement actually makes carbon monoxide sound like something I might want to try (only joking! – go out right now and check your boilers for signs of soot or condensation!).
I can remember a time when TV ads were as good as Proust. For example, it’s hard to believe that this pure-class ad for Metz schnapps is more than ten years old. Get past the fantastic imagery and focus on the story: what the admen are telling us here is that from the moment you get your very first taste of their alcopop you’ll be so hooked that you’ll immediately abandon you're wife and kids and join the other Metz addicts juddering with delusions in an evil den. Naturally, I didn’t fall for a single word of it, but I was tempted to taste their product. And glad I am too – it gets you off your head far cheaper than wine and makes a great hair of the dog.
6 The ‘Bertie’ TV series.
A four part, historic television event about a nickel-and-dime chancer who, because of a gammy election system, finagles his way into the top job. It featured Matt Cooper hinting that some serious questions should be asked about something of someone at some stage. It was sort of like an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ with the production values of a youtube 911 conspiracy theory video.
5 The Irish Times/RTE campaign to prove that we would never have voted ‘No’ to Lisbon if we’d known where Declan Ganley got the money from to fund Libertas.
Billions of euros missing, burnt or gambled, and IT/RTE continue to fixate on where Ganley got that whole ginormous €150K from?
I couldn’t think of anything for no. 4
3 ‘Ireland is an open economy’
A euphemism for ‘Ireland is a teenage drug addict forced to work the streets’ which is what years of Fianna Fail domination of political life have made of our society.
Here’s my version of the Celtic Tiger. Tens of thousands of young Irish people went to the US in the 1980s and made being Irish so popular that when editor of the Irish Voice newspaper, Niall O’Dowd (brother of Fergus), had the audacity to name Bill Clinton Irish American of the year in his, up until then, little known Irish American Magazine, Clinton actually accepted. Then the 12.5% thing happened, followed by the peace process (again, O’Dowd influenced). While all this was going on, successive Fianna Fail governments, in the belief that the soaring economy had something to do with their lack of ability, flittered away our self esteem.
And that’s the story of the Celtic Tiger.
2 BBC breakfast television
As I tried to establish if a single one of the thousands of sports people attending the BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year last week actually had a personality (or, indeed, if cricket can be counted as an actual sport why, then, didn’t the woman who dances with the dogs in Krufts not qualify for a nomination?), I suddenly found myself wondering if people still watch the BBC?
If, like me, you sometimes stay in hotels you’ll be familiar with that thing that happens to you just after you wake up in the morning: it’s a sort of a weird combination of two emotions where the more you keep remembering you’ve forgotten your toothbrush, the harder it is to stop watching the dreadful BBC Breakfast and its relentless promotion of just released and thoroughly stultifying government statistics.
Look, when I get out of bed and prepare myself to face the day, what I want to see on television is Pamela Anderson being interviewed about her new book wearing something tight and revealing, not some fake-bantering silly billies telling me that, according to some new statistics just released, two in three people are at risk and government guidelines are what’s needed. Only last week someone from The Alliance For Single Parent Families With More Than One Child And Who Like To Go Swimming had a Breakfast TV bun fight with a Government Minister about the new regulations which state that every single child attending a public swimming pool in the UK must have their own individual accompanying adult. And then, after the interview with the environmentalist who was looking for people to sponsor him in a Frostbite-athon to highlight the degradation of the polar icecaps, we had the woman from the People For Ethical Hairdressing toss buns to express her astonishment that, after all we know about the associated risks, unqualified people should continue to be allowed to apply peroxide (all examples cited are more or less true).
(On a related note, those of you with kids of a certain age will be familiar with the excellent new Disney cartoon, Phineas and Ferb. The best episode – ‘A Hard Day’s Knight’ – sees brothers P and F travel from their home in the US and head to England on holiday, giving the scriptwriters tons of scope to exploit (totally unfair, etc.) stereotypes of English weirdness. The best bit is the part where Phineas, Ferb, Candace, et al, get culture shock when they turn on the TV just as the newsreader declares ‘… in breaking news, the BBC has just announced that it’s about to make yet another series of Jane Eyre...’)
1 Dara O’Brian
For those awful faux-convivial support-your-local-pub radio commercials alone he would have made no. 2 on this list. But his trying to somehow justify that overly-long-liv’d Jonathan Ross for his role in the Andrew Sachs thing puts him into a category all of his own. What the hell was that all about! Ross reveals himself to be the witchery grub we always knew he was and, out of the blue and in answer to no great demand, Dawa wushes to his defence? Like the jokes on Dara Talks Funny, I don’t get it.
Dara, dude, I'm getting a heavy Terry Wogan vibe offa ya.
Merry Christmas to all! I'm off now to buy some larger size shirts.