Someone said to me recently that sisters Joan and Jackie Collins had done more for culture than any number of chin-stroking novelists or self-important film-makers.
They were being tongue-in-cheek, kind of, but in a very real sense, they were right: Jackie’s clever, entertaining sex ’n’ shoulder-pads novels and Joan’s immortal turn as mega-bitch Alexis in Dynasty (among other roles) will endure long after the world has forgotten all those dreary Booker and Oscar winners.
Jackie, sadly, died in 2015. But Joan is still rockin’, aged 88, and was in fine form on Ryan Tubridy (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 9am). Promoting a memoir, My Unapologetic Diaries — what a quintessentially Collins-esque title that is — she was flinty, funny, sharp-tongued… and very nice. She was just acting as Alexis, after all.
Their chat ranged over everything from fame to relationships and the “casting couch” of the sexist past (Joan’s agent father, Joseph, recommended a “knee in the groin” to any sleazeball who got grabby).
Oh, and shoulder pads, of course. Joan demurred when Tubridy credited her with the invention of the hideous “inverted triangle” shape, saying: “People have been wearing them since the 1930s”. She added: “As far as I’m concerned, they never left. I wouldn’t dream of wearing a suit or jacket without shoulder pads.”
Well, nobody’s perfect, even Joan Collins.
The future may include shoulder-pads, but what it might not include is shop staff.
As heard on The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 4pm), Tesco has opened its first checkout-free store, in London. Where supermarkets lead, other retailers presumably follow. Amazon Fresh, the US- and UK-based chain, does a similar service; Aldi and Sainsbury’s are trialling it.
Consumer affairs expert and frequent radio contributor Conor Pope commented: “This is the world we’re going to live in. I don’t know if it’ll happen this year or next year, but it will happen.” He went on: “It seems alien, but this is going to be the future.”
Meanwhile, more good news: Dublin is the third-most congested city in the world. According to a report heard on Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri, 7am), commuters in the capital spend an average of 246 hours in traffic every year. Only Bogotá and Rome fared worse. Somehow — this scarcely seems possible — huge metropolises like London, Mexico City and Moscow are less congested than Dublin.
Could a London-style congestion charge improve matters? Environment writer journalist John Gibbons reckoned it would be “music to the ears of anyone concerned with our chronic congestion”. Eugene Drennan of the Irish Road Haulage Association was sceptical, saying: “Dublin doesn’t have the standard or quality of public transport in London — and if we stop people going into the city centre, it will ruin retail.”