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Only hardy can buck euro-crisis news but it's worth it


ONE of the many delightful features of Hardy Bucks is that it is timeless.

While it is set in a small town in the west in the present day, the lads who feature in it are just like any other lads who have grown up in a small town in Ireland at any period during the past 40 years -- or whenever Chinese restaurants started in the provincial towns, creating that essential scene in the new series in which the lads arrive into the Chinese horrendously drunk.

There's a lot of getting sick on the carpet and faces plastered in Chinese sauce and maybe a bit of fighting, and then the arrival of the ambulance to take the lads off to hospital to have the stomach pumped. Who among you has not been there?

It is just another night, on the old rialto. Just another night in Ireland, long ago, and not so long ago. Just another vision of hell.

Because broadly speaking, it has always been hell, for any vaguely intelligent human being living in a small town -- and probably in a few of the big towns too.

I say that the lads in Hardy Bucks are intelligent, because they are connected enough to the outside world to want to go there, and never to come back. Unfortunately they are also deeply damaged men, unable to convert their appalling energies and appetites into anything but self-destruction, or anything that the outside world might want.

There was a scene in an AA room which perhaps would not have happened 40 years ago, because back then, the alcoholic had to be nine-tenths dead before he could be acknowledged as such.

But as it turned out, the lads were only passing through. While one of them declared, not that he was an alcoholic, but that he was "a bit of an alcoholic", the other entertained the room with a white-knuckle soliloquy about how much he loves the drink, and how much he wants it right now.

It is funny, this Hardy Bucks. It is funny because it is true.

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You could see it essentially as a documentary about the Irish way of life, with moments of chilling resonance such as the hardy buck wearing a Liverpool shirt -- wherever men are in a spot of bother, it seems the liver bird is never too far away.

They know things, these hardy bucks.

They might even be able to talk drunkenly about the state of the euro, but I couldn't join them there.

I have never endorsed the common complaint that "the news is so bad it just makes me switch off the telly", but the story of the eurozone is different.

I still watch that stuff, but at a critical distance, as if observing some horrible creature in a glass tank. Because you do not want these people in your life.

Ask yourself: does that chap there on Bloomberg want what is best for me? And when you have stopped laughing at that one, you can make this judgement -- that the authoritative and seemingly sensible chap who is just assessing the overall situation on your behalf, is to be regarded in the same light as the chap who comes to the door selling you a bottle of home-made medicine.

They have us where they want us, the moneymen. They know that we don't really understand what the hell they are talking about, and they like it that way, rattling off their bulls**t like Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys-Jones selling a stereo to poor old-fashioned Mel Smith in Not The Nine O'Clock News, mocking the poor fool with their talk of woofers and tweeters.

Eventually the moneymen have regular folks thinking about getting into the Canadian dollar or the Swiss franc, and at that point they have won.

The markets have lost confidence, they say, but then anyone with any sense would long ago have lost confidence in the markets -- clearly they are in a state of advanced hysteria, and should be accorded the respect you would give to some addicted gambler who spends his life in the betting office, his mood entirely dictated by the day's dog racing at Crayford and Perry Barr.

There is but one way that your life can be made better by all this -- when Jeremy Paxman or Vincent Browne announces that he'll be discussing the eurozone again tonight, you can walk away in the sure knowledge that no good will come of it.

That way, the moneymen don't get your time, your attention, your helpless wrath. And you get an extra hour's sleep.

Or if you want to see men wrestling with the great issues in a way that is relatively uplifting, try the Hardy Bucks.

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