Saturday 24 February 2018

Kirsty at large: Toilet chats, vodka shots and the Irish dream

Shot in the dark: Seána Kerslake in Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope
Shot in the dark: Seána Kerslake in Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope
Karen Nixon launches her Vintage Tea tour. Photo: Emma Moseley
Sophie White at the book launch of Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

How times have changed. This week, RTÉ's new puking, shagging and carjacking drama Can't Cope, Won't Cope hit TV screens.

It seems strangely fitting that Stefanie Preissner's series is premiering 10 years since RTÉ last ventured into the realm of twenty-something gals living it up in Dublin.

I'm talking, of course, about Fade Street, the post-Celtic-Tiger docu-soap about young women OMG-ing their way around D2.

The show wasn't exactly a hit, with critics describing it as "a slow motion train wreck sprayed in fake tan" which was about as enjoyable to watch as "pouring hot gravy down your trousers".

Fade Street was born out of an era when RTÉ seemed obsessed with emulating MTV formulas - in a bid to capture and cash-in on that late-teen/ early-20s target audience.

Remember J1 Summer in the Sun? A show we were told would rival the drama of MTV's Laguna Beach.

"Dust down your bikini, and press your prized FCUK T-shirt" the press release read, "as we watch students fend for themselves in the US of A".

Let's just pause right there, shall we? "Press your prized FCUK T-shirt"? Doesn't that statement make your blood run cold? Thankfully, Preissner's series couldn't be more different.

Not only is it a drama rather than reality TV but it hasn't been moulded by US sensibilities.

Preissner didn't want to produce a honed and honeyed American TV show or create an Irish version of Girls or Broad City.

She wanted something uniquely Irish.

"We're not the same as English or American people, we just aren't," she said. "I have not seen my friends naked, we do not hang around in the bath together like they do in Girls. I wanted to see girls on TV that are actually like me."

So we have Coppers, and deep-and-meaningful chats in a toilet cubicle, and losing a shoe on a night out, and drinking vodka out of Fruit Shoots and extremely patient taxi drivers.

Oh, and terrible, terrible sex with twenty-something men - which no one ever gives you enough advance warning about.

After the show aired there were the usual killjoys saying they were unimpressed by the vodka swilling but I'm glad RTÉ have stopped chasing the American TV dream.

This drama has more reality about it than Fade Street ever did - and, better yet, there's not a pressed, prized FCUK shirt in sight.

Love and devotion on back end of a tour bus

What better way to pay tribute to the ones you love than naming the back end of a bus after them.

Karen Nixon launched her Vintage Tea tour this week - a double-decker bus that trundles around Dublin while serving ladies high tea complete with finger sandwiches - dead fancy.

Karen Nixon launches her Vintage Tea tour. Photo: Emma Moseley

Karen has named the vintage bus after her late gran, Pauline - who loved a strong brew.

"She would have got a great laugh out of it," Karen said.

Pauline - the bus, not the granny - was previously owned by British wildlife artist David Shepherd, who is mates with David Attenborough.

David used the lower deck of the bus as a gallery and the top tier as a studio, which was filled with pots of paints. The bus will meander along Parliament Street, through Phoenix Park and over O'Connell Bridge.

I know what you're thinking; hot tea + Dublin potholes = scalding water all over your trews. But fear not; Karen has kitted the bus out with screw-top tea flasks to avoid spillages.

"We won't spill tea but we may drop a few scones going round corners."

Brangelina and brie sandwiches are Sophie's recipe for success

'I'm eight months pregnant and full of hormones so I'm either going to start crying or crowning," author Sophie White told the crowd at the launch of her book Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown.

"Anything can set me off."

In fairness to Sophie, it had been a very emotional day - news of Brangelina's split had broken just hours before.

Sophie White at the book launch of Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown

Needless to say we were all reeling. If Hollywood's glitziest couple and their exotically named brood couldn't go the distance - what hope was there for the rest of us?

"Plus, there were no mint Aeros at the Maxol garage," Sophie told me. "And last night's episode of Grand Designs was very high stakes".

The launch took place at Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen underneath The Little Museum of Dublin. Guests crowded through the doors and tucked into bacon-and-brie sandwiches.

Gay Byrne arrived with his wife Kathleen Watkins. "I'm double jobbing tonight," Gaybo said. "John Bowman's book launch is on upstairs so I'm moving between the two". What a pro.

Sunday Independent journalist and RTÉ presenter Brendan O'Connor was officially launching Sophie's book and explained he had been there at its conception - on Sophie's wedding day.

"It was during her mother's speech that Sophie realised she needed to write a book documenting their relationship," Brendan said. "It's a love letter to her mother Mary - and when I say love, I'm talking tough love. I think it's the best book about mother/daughter relationships since Mommie Dearest."

Hmmm, if I remember correctly, the "mommie" in that book (Joan Crawford) was a vicious psychopath.

Obviously, Sophie's book is a different class altogether. It's part cookbook, part memoir, and part self-help manual. It's a gorgeous read, with lots of recipes that rely heavily on full-fat butter.

And we need that. I think we're all fed up of models whose names end in 'a' telling us to eat bee pollen. Or claiming goji berries are as tasty as Haribo Strawbs. They're not, Rosanna - they're just not.

Once Brendan finished his speech, Sophie thanked the most important people in her life - her dad Kevin; 'Herself', aka her mother Mary; and 'Himself', her husband Seb - for their support and, more importantly, for providing her with such a bounty of material for the book.

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