Wednesday 21 March 2018

Television: Anything good does not need a winter break

Illustration: Jim Cogan
Illustration: Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch reviews the week's offerings

Boxing Day Football (Sky Sports)

Leopardstown (RTE2)

New Year's Eve Live (RTE1)

Everything that is any good is always under threat -- you must bear this in mind now and in the future.

For there is some terrible human urge to meddle, to fix that which is not broken. And because the fixers tend to be the sort of people who get to run things -- having no other discernible abilities -- their ambitions are limitless.

So you'll notice one day that some much-loved and fantastically successful chocolate bar will be just a little bit lighter and that the contents and even the wrapper are now of inferior quality, just because some corporate dude with nothing else to do is trying to justify his existence.

Or you'll find that they've done something with the ketchup bottle that takes the small bit of good out of it. Not, I suspect, because they are against goodness, as such, but for a reason that is perhaps even more alarming -- because they don't know that there is actually any difference between good and bad, between right and wrong.

There is just that urge, unceasing, to bring bullshit to places where once there was none. And now, they are going after Christmas.

Not the Christian festival as such, or the bumper Christmas TV schedule, which they've already destroyed. They are after the big one now, the Premier League fixtures which start on Boxing Day and continue with a match taking place every few hours until the first week of January. Perhaps it is the greatest of all sporting and cultural and, indeed, religious, traditions.

Meanwhile, the racing at Leopardstown is taking place on St Stephen's Day and for a few days after that, a festival without which the preceding Yuletide festival would be largely unendurable.

And to give Paddy his dues, it has never crossed his mind that the racing should not be taking place at this time, that there should be a "winter break" .

We simply shrug and say, "but this is the winter break". We do not want a break, from the break.

And we are right and those who are arguing for a "winter break" from the football are wrong, so wrong. Boxing Day will always be a better name for it than "Stephenses Day", but the fools, the fools, the fools, they are determined to talk themselves out of it.

The reasoning, of course, is ridiculous, something to do with giving England a better chance to win a major tournament and the fact that most leagues take a winter break.

This is the classic position of the bureaucrat, who does not know good from bad, who has no way of telling these things except to presume that the majority must always be right. They miss the point that most leagues in Europe are quite useless compared to the English one.

Jose Mourinho knows this. He made a post-match speech on Sky in which he expressed his deep love of the mid-winter football programme. He knows that for millions of people, life would not be worth living without it, along with the racing and of late, triumphantly, the darts.

And he knows too that it demonstrates a kind of a moral fortitude inherent in our game, this period in which footballers who are constantly being abused because of all the money they make, go out there and play four matches in about ten days.

Resistance of the kind expressed by Mourinho has been fierce, with the talk now turning to a winter break in January -- remember, these people have nothing else to do. And once they get a really, really bad idea into their heads, they'll make it happen somehow.


There used to be this thing too, called the music industry, which was going along quite well until the top people started tricking around with it. But even in that wasteland they have made, there must be a future for The Strypes, who played in Dublin and in Limerick on New Year's Eve, as committed to our entertainment as the footballers.

The Strypes remind us of a time when a 16-year-old would play his first chord on an electric guitar and this amazing noise would come out of the speaker and in those moments he would understand the meaning of life.

Naturally this had to be replaced, or stopped.

But it's started again.

Irish Independent

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