News Ian O'Doherty

Wednesday 27 August 2014

I neknominate you... to grow up

Ian O'Doherty

Published 18/02/2014 | 02:30

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Young man drinks vodka from a bottle. Picture posed

There have been times, I'll admit, when I have been a little harsh about the Irish tendency to wallow in our own misery and to completely lose the run of ourselves in the face of a perceived problem. A few years ago, it was yokes and then coke, with a public panic and righteous demands that every nightclub in Ireland be searched on a regular basis.

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In fact, this Reefer Madness, Irish-style, reached truly ridiculous levels when one Irish celebrity passionately argued that all nightclubs should have their own sniffer dogs.

Common sense went out the window around that time but that made no difference to the mob, who had found a new enemy to exercise them. And in the few years since then we seem to have lurched from one media scare story to the next, pausing only to take a deep breath and to ensure that we never, ever let the facts get in the way. Well, not the facts we don't like, that is.

But, in fairness to the more excitable elements of the Irish chattering classes, and even allowing for all the overblown hysteria we've seen when it comes to the transient craze that is Neknominate, the Brits are responding in an even more irrational way than we did. And that makes me strangely proud. Sad, I know. But what can you do?

We might be an inherently illogical people who prefer emoting to actual thinking. Hell, we might even be a people who need an occasional scare story to make us all feel alive, and we have certainly always been a people who have placed greater emphasis and weight on 'feelings' over facts.

But – so far, anyway – we haven't had Irish lawyers suggesting anybody who nominates someone for a dare in this latest drinking meme should be prosecuted.

In England and Wales, however, lawyers and doctors have come out and suggested that if someone dies as a result of accepting a nomination, then the nominator should face prosecution for manslaughter.

In fact, according to Dr Phil White, a doctor with the Welsh Local Medical Committee: "If there was one prosecution, it would stop overnight because everything is recorded over the internet. Drinking games are dangerous. I've seen people die from them."

On that score, the good doctor is correct – drinking games are dumb because even the most enthusiastic boozer will readily admit that bravado and booze just don't mix.

But should we be looking to adopt a similar approach in this country? Should we start to prosecute one eejit for egging on another eejit?

Frankly, I'm amazed that we haven't done so already.

After all, this is a country where a drunk can sue a pub because he fell off his stool and hurt his back.

Well, we could. Or – and this is a phrase I never thought I'd find myself using – we could just teach people one simple rule: Just. Say. No.

After all, if you're the type of spanner who can be peer-pressured into drinking two pints of neat gin with a couple of live goldfish thrown in for good measure, then you really can't blame anybody else for your subsequent misfortunes.

HE LOVES ULSTER. HE JUST HATES 'EASTENDERS'

Willie Frazer, that well known purveyor of peace, understanding and cross-community relations, has found a new and rather unexpected source of anti-Unionist hatred – British soap operas.

Our friend in the North had a spectacularly ill-advised pop at the denizens of the Queen Vic the other day when one of the characters was seen wearing a GAA jersey – prompting him to complain to the BBC about "an organisation that is completely anti-British being highlighted in a soap opera on the mainland".

As it happened, the jersey belongs to St Patrick's College in Ballymena and he has now been forced to backtrack because even he realises that he looks rather silly accusing a well-respected school for being a hotbed of terrorist activity.

Still, it's a good excuse to boycott 'Enders.

Not because it's a frankly rubbish soap that is filled with angry, squat, balding red-faced people shouting at each other.

No, because it is obviously a vehicle for subliminally promoting terrorism.

I never thought I'd need another excuse to switch off anytime I hear that bloody soundtrack in the background. But thank you, Mr Frazer, because you've just given me one. Even if that reason was monstrously ill-advised and entirely without merit.

A bit like the show, then.

LOVE YOUR PET. BUT NOT LIKE THAT

This Thursday is International Love Your Pet Day. But then, you already knew that, didn't you?

We're all encouraged to pay more attention to the animal members of our family and, that, I'm sure you'll agree, can only be a good thing.

A raft of events will take place in Ireland as pet owners celebrate their non-human friends.

But let's hope they don't take that too literally in Germany, where a weird legal loophole means it is not a crime to have sex with animals, although it is illegal to watch animal porn.

Will Germany now be the first country to mark International Love Your Pet Day by introducing heavy petting zoos?

Irish Independent

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