Friday 23 March 2018

Rockin' down amnesia lane on a trip to the nineties

The Moncrieff Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 1.30pm), almost out of all Irish radio, covers an admirably diverse range of subjects. Tune in at any random time and you don't know what you might come across.

This might be partly because the show is three hours long, five days a week, which is a lot of air-time to fill - temporary beggars can't be choosers, sort of thing. Anyway, it's great, and a refreshing alternative to the steady diet doled out elsewhere.

This week Seán had a fascinating little bit on breastfeeding - a subject usually either ignored on radio or else stupidly "debated", as if this most natural and important of biological phenomena was a proposed new ring-road or a rise in the price of stamps.

He spoke to Ann McCrea, founder and co-ordinator of the Milk Bank in Co Fermanagh, which facilitates something genuinely remarkable. Science has never, and probably will never, improve on mother's milk - the definitive superfood - and premature or sick babies are helped hugely in their first faltering steps towards life by breast milk, donated by other women.

Even more remarkably, though, many of these donors are women who have lost their own infants. What a wonderful thing, and proof that the human spirit can sometimes be immeasurably great: these women turn the most profound tragedy into something beautiful and life-affirming.

Ann said that, for many of the bereaved, this process actually helps them to grieve - the feeling, I suppose, that something good and positive is coming out of a terrible situation. Some even volunteer to donate while still pregnant, knowing their child is incompatible with life but determined to help others all the same.

I found this quite incredible, and very moving, in the nicest possible way. The milk of human kindness, indeed.

The Sunday Show (Today FM, Sun 11am) had a most enjoyable chinwag about 1990s pop culture, between host Aingeala Flannery and this newspaper's John Meagher. The nineties is the new eighties, apparently, in terms of media and cultural nostalgia: ripped jeans in fashion again, a Kurt Cobain documentary in the cinema, The X-Files coming back, Blur already back.

Having come of age during the nineties, I am in no way biased when I state, categorically, that it was beyond a doubt the greatest of all decades. And this ramble down nostalgia/amnesia lane, thus, was highly entertaining.

Blur versus Oasis, The X-Files, Friends, the Clintons, Twin Peaks - ah, bliss it was to be alive in that dawn, except for Friends, which was awful.

My only quibble was with Mr Meagher choosing Pulp as the defining band of that era. No, John, noooo… Suede and Nirvana towered over everyone else in the 1990s - Brett Anderson's fringe alone deserves its own "20 years on" retrospective.

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