Ian O'Doherty: You gotta love this town. Or do you?
Published 05/12/2012 | 06:00
At this time of the year, when the Christmas madness shopping begins, it all gets far too intense for my blood.
So I was more than happy to wave goodbye to Mrs iSpy as she headed off into town on Sunday morning to go Christmas shopping with her mother, who was up from the country for the occasion.
Initially they were wandering around Henry Street where the most notable thing was, they felt, the rudeness and aggression of so many of their fellow shoppers – particularly the gangs of young lads who were lurking with menace, awaiting the first chance to nick someone's bag.
By the time they got up to Grafton Street, they were pretty tired and went into a café for a coffee.
There, the wife explained to her Ma that while Henry Street could be full of bogies and was to be approached with caution, this part of town was much more civilised.
Yup you guessed it – just as she was saying that, they looked on as a gouger stole a girl's phone and pegged it down towards Dame Street.
He was chased by a bunch of lads but managed to get away.
That's probably just as well for the chasing lads – who more than likely would have been arrested for assault if they had tackled the thief.
And for the record – neither of the women saw a single police officer for the entire duration of their shopping excursion.
Down with this sort of thing. Etc
A long time ago, I worked in a restaurant kitchen.
I was a kitchen porter which, as anyone in the catering trade knows, is the lowest of the low in the caste system that operates in restaurants.
But one of the things that always struck me as stupid was the amount of waste that happened every day.
And Christmas was the worst, when whole bin bags of turkey legs would be discarded because the chef only used the crown.
I suggested that we give them to a mate of mine who was volunteering in a soup kitchen at the time but was sternly told to forget it – because the restaurant would be liable if someone got sick from the food.
I was reminded of that incident, for the first time in years actually, when I caught the story currently coming out of California.
Shelters and soup kitchens across that State are now having to operate under strict food guidelines and are prohibited from serving certain 'fatty' and 'unhealthy' foods to their clients.
So, you have the right to remain homeless, destitute and broke.
But you can't have a free burger.
Um, is it just me or does someone seem to have their priorities slightly out of whack?
Maybe we've gone too far?
I wonder will this year's I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! come to be seen as a bit of a tipping point.
Brian Conley had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalised and now Helen Flanagan (pictured) claims to be living in fear of 'hate mobs' who have been threatening her on d'interweb.
Now, I watched some of it and she was undoubtedly a remarkably annoying, vacuous and self-obsessed individual.
Let's put it this way, she was not the sort of person you'd want beside you in the trenches.
Having said that, she is obviously an insecure and vulnerable young woman who has become the target of some pretty vile abuse. And as usual, the abuse has come from anonymous internet cowards who sit in their darkened rooms throwing out insults and threats the way a baboon throws its own faeces at a wall.
And a friend of mine nailed it over the weekend when he pointed out: "We all give out about cyber bullying and how kids are constantly being told by their parents about the dangers of bullying.
"And then those parents and their kids sit down together to watch I'm A Celebrity and laugh as they look at someone going mad."
Which, I think you'll agree, is a fair point.
The 'Burke' series by Andrew Vachss remains (alongside the astonishing Stephen King 'Dark Tower' series, of course) my favourite ever collection of books.
And when Vachss decided that it was time for Burke to stop fighting, I feared the worst.
Would the author be able to replicate the brilliance of Burke in his new ventures? After all, Burke was an avenger, a violent criminal dedicated to killing any paedophile he could get his hands on and, despite being an outlaw, he had a strict moral code.
And the answer is . . . yes.
Vachss's latest is Blackjack, which introduces us to a killer-for-hire called Cross, who finds himself in the employ of a secret government organisation after a series of gruesome, grisly and possibly supernatural murders around the world.
It's a cracking page turner and will make the perfect stocking filler for anyone who likes their thrillers raw, violent and visceral.
Now that's sensible political discourse . . .
Of all the lunatic fringe political groups out there, Éirígí are one of the funniest.
They don't mean to be, of course.
But this collection of old Republicans, commies and assorted random losers seem to think of the old '70s comedy Citizen Smith as some sort of political manual and not a satire.
No, their idea of radical political interventionism is . . . throwing some paint on Mary Harney's coat.
It's all quite pathetic and, frankly, a little bit sad.
You may have noticed that one of their members has been in the news for the last few days (wink, wink).
I was interested to see that they helped organise a public 'trial' of Queen Elizabeth in advance of her visit here last year.
And then they guillotined an effigy of Her Majesty in a mock execution after finding her guilty of crimes against Ireland.
Now, in a culture where you can have the cops banging your door down for sending an offensive tweet, since when did it become okay to conduct mock public executions of living people?