In defence of the Donut District
My block's been taking a beating.
For the past six years, I have lived on George's Street in Dublin city centre - four floors above the All American Laundrette, opposite The Long Hall pub, and pushed up against an abandoned outlet store that doubles up as a bus shelter.
Before you ask - yes, it is small. I don't have a kitchen, I have a kitchenette, I don't have a balcony, I have a balconette (aka a large windowsill).
My wardrobe is in the living room, and there's no room for a table. Eating is done either standing up, or balancing on the sofa.
It's also expensive, and the lack of storage means there are piles of folded clothes stacked everywhere like terrycloth towers.
Then, there's the noise. All-Ireland finals and Patrick's Day are the loudest. Even when it's quiet, it's roaring.
Ambulance sirens, bin trucks bleeping, and belligerent drunks shouting at each other have become my whale music.
But I love it. It's a neat little bolthole overlooking chimney tops. Plus there's some great people watching - offering vignettes into other's lives. It's a bit like Rear Window, only without the murders.
My appreciation of my apartment is heightened at the moment because I am due to move out at the end of this month. As well as the flat, I'll be leaving six years of memories behind.
This may also explain why I've become hyper-defensive of my turf. When I moved in, this area was being marketed as Dublin's Creative Quarter. Now, it's better known as the capital's designated Donut District.
I don't mind that - I love passing food fads. But strangely it seems to bother people who don't live in this part of town.
In recent weeks, I have read worthy newspaper articles, as well as haughty blog posts and unoriginal tweets giving out about the lack of originality on George's Street and in other inner-city quarters.
"It's not what it used to be, Guv!" is the usual refrain. For many, the most resounding cultural death knell for George's Street came with the opening of all-Americana fast-food chain Five Guys.
"It's so tacky now," one of my colleagues told me.
Why? Because a burger joint had replaced that bastion of high culture and artistic wizardry: a Dunnes homeware store?
Whenever I hear people giving out about my block, I'm reminded of that bit in Mean Girls when a young woman gives a heartfelt speech about the school returning to happier times. "I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, and we'd all eat it and be happy again," she wails.
She's interrupted when someone shouts from the back of the hall, "she doesn't even go here". Complaining about the lack of decent pubs, and how my block is not what it used to be in the "rare auld times"? You don't even go here, pal.
When you live in the city centre, the side streets filtering off your building become an extension of your living room. Listening to passers-by complain feels akin to guests coming over to your house for dinner, and remarking on the blandness of your Ikea sofa.
Cities and times change, moods shifts, donuts come in and out of fashion. You spend six years living in an apartment and then - poof! - life takes an unforeseen turn and you've gotta go.
I'm only there for a few more weeks, and don't want anyone else hating on my block.
So here's a reminder of all the good things about it: the noise, the small dogs, the steps of Powerscourt townhouse wet with rain and covered in flowers, the weddings and proposals, the pregnant women in Five Guys, a man in a deerstalker hat, tea, those pesky seagulls, uneven flag stones, red brick turrets, and abandoned pint glasses perched on window ledges.
Some intimate details can be left off the wedding tape
Proof - as if we needed it - that we have reached peak wedding season.
This week, a soon-to-be-wed couple advertised for a skilled videographer to capture the magic of their wedding.
Not the day mind, the wedding night.
The couple - who have set aside €2,250 for the service - said they are having difficulty in finding a wedding videographer who doubles up as an amateur porn director.
So they have launched a search on website Bark to help them find that special someone.
"Obviously we know that this is a bit of a weird request," they said. "But we just really don't want to forget any moments from our day, or night, which is why we want everything on tape."
The couple said the cameraman will need to be available to work between the hours of 1am to 3am. "We'd like a mixture of still and moving shots, we also want it all to look professional, so any lighting in the room will need to be sorted beforehand," they added.
I have so many questions about this. First of all - what wedding winds down at 1am? Things are just getting started at that stage - with all the boring speeches done and dusted. They'll just be bringing out the cocktail sausages by 1am.
And would it not be awkward excusing yourself/explaining who that creepy looking man in the trench coat with a lighting rig is?
"Don't mind him, mum - he's just setting up the soft focus lights for our porno."
I am not married, but are wedding nights even that passionate? A recent survey showed only a third of Irish newlyweds actually have sex on their wedding night.
I guess all-day boozing and watching your aunts dance to Sister Sledge's 'We Are Family' on top of the residents bar can be a bit of a passion killer.
And what if the tapes get mixed up, and you send the wrong stuff out to all your extended family/colleagues?
It's a minefield. Look if you want to make a filthy film - go ahead - but incorporating it into your wedding day is an unnecessary complication.
Also, not everything needs to be captured and stored on film or in phones. Sometimes the memory can be better than the reality.
Thanks to Rihanna's Vogue cover.
Walk to Joe
Joe Duffy scaling Croagh Patrick on his holidays. Also a new Tracks and Trails-style series for RTÉ (probably).
Commuters in Japan are being paid to carry advertising stickers on their armpits - visable when they cling to the overhead rail. The pits.
The most dangerous dance craze since jitterbug marathons.
My conduct as president would be very different from Trump
Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy distances himself from The Donald.