Saturday 10 December 2016

Left with furrows... on my brow

Men with braces ploughing up more than just fields, says Declan Lynch

Published 25/09/2011 | 05:00

TELEVISION

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National Ploughing Championships (RTE1)

Arthur's Day (All channels)

The Frontline (RTE1)

Rescue 115 (RTE1)

THIS week's column is coming to you from the National Ploughing Championships. Everything else has been coming to you from the Ploughing, so we may as well join in the fun.

Because as we know, the very idea of famous broadcasters and media personalities coming into contact with farmers is such great gas, it must be done.

It's a bit like that stuff you'd see on Up For the Match about families which have one parent from Kerry and the other from Dublin and there'd be terrible slagging about it -- again, this is inherently hilarious.

Yet it was not always thus. For many years you'd hear very little about the Ploughing except in those sections of the media which specialise in ploughing issues. There must be some RTE guy who dreamed it all up, this annual expedition in which the Dublin media can get all its business with "rural Ireland" done in one week, under strictly controlled conditions.

You can almost hear the twang of the braces as this genius had his vision of the great stars of Montrose doing their stuff with the people of "rural Ireland", as he saw them, on the other side of the ropes, gazing in wonderment.

Certainly the man who thought of that would not need to work again. Probably to this day he sits in the corner of some grand old Donnybrook lounge bar, his braces perhaps a little faded but still capable of a fair old twang as he notes that the political class, forever following the herd, last week decreed that the Ploughing was now the Irish equivalent of New Hampshire -- the first step for the next president.

ANY week in which the race to the Park cranks up is a major week in the calendar of bulls**t. So it was fitting that last week also featured Arthur's Day, or National Bulls**t Day.

Because Arthur's Day is not just your everyday brand of bulls**t, it is the five-star premium grade variety, the very quintessence of this thing we call bulls**t.

Again, I can hear the high-fiving of the men in the braces as they dreamed it all up -- that TV ad with all those wild and colourful characters in exciting places, raising a toast to Arthur, and what it means to them.

No more is Guinness for poor ould fellas and folkies with the foam drooping from their beards, Guinness is now the worst of all things -- it is zany.

If I were President, this would be stopped. But that would be exceeding my powers somewhat, which perhaps helps to explain my impatience with the first episode of the new series of The Frontline -- the debate about the presidency is so fierce, and yet the big job at the end is so trivial.

They had Diarmaid Ferriter waiting on the panel, because it would be repugnant to the constitution not to have Diarmaid on the panel. But as Pat worked the room, I'm thinking, will I last that long?

I put it to the three-minute test, whereby if I'm still watching it after three minutes, I'll keep watching it for another.... well, for another two minutes, knowing that at any moment someone might say, "and that's why I'll be backing Gay Mitchell".

The words we're looking for here, are "life", "too" and "short".

LIFE would be even shorter if it wasn't for the crew of Rescue 115, a programme about these guys who fly around Ireland in their helicopter rescuing people and generally doing great things. They do this in real life.

To be watching these men on the same screen where you might also be watching, say, Piers Morgan doing what he does for a few million more, seems wrong somehow. And we waited in vain for their chopper to land at the Ploughing Championships.

It is just too confusing.

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