Sunday 25 February 2018

People will be talking: Setting the scene for sweet '16

Aidan Turner in the BBC drama Poldark.
Aidan Turner in the BBC drama Poldark.
Swift: running out of bad boyfriends to write about.
Donald Trump

Anne Marie Scanlon

Happy Easter! What do you mean it's only New Year? No, it's 2016, the centenary of the Glorious Rising of our people against the Brits and their oppression and we will celebrate our victory every single day. Up the Republic!

Expect fast-food restaurants to cash in, I mean pay tribute, to the men of the GPO, with the likes of Seven Signatories Shakes, Jim Connolly Workers Party Packs and Maud Gonne Meal Deals.

Hipsters will swap their Edwardian beards for 'The Connolly' moustache.

By this time next year, the percentage of children called Pearse, Constance or Maud will have risen significantly. Meanwhile, every single person in the country, whether they were born here or not, will claim to have had a grandfather in the GPO. (Anticipate Twitter spats where counterclaims are made of said grandfathers being "under the bed")

No doubt, centenary week will see a drama depicting the Rising but tailored specifically for today's cultural needs (and viewing figures). As such, Padraig Pearse will be played by Caitlyn Jenner, Benedict Cumberbatch will own the role of Jim Connolly, while a random asylum-seeker will get to give his all as Eamon de Valera. Expect cameos from Pauline McLynn as Mrs Doyle, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham and Aidan Turner as Poldark. Up the Republic!

This year we're going to Allez to the Euros

There is always Istanbul. No shortage of flights from Ireland and you could buy a camper van for half nothing. After that, it's a straightforward drive to Bordeaux. If you leave now.

This is us for the next few months. It starts out with half a notion that you might like to go to France for the Euro finals in June. It ends up in a camper van heading west on the ring road around Belgrade. The problem is we're going to get a national dose of FOMO. (That's Fear of Missing Out. It's also contagious.) Every possible route to France will be snapped up by hard-core fans come the end of March. That number is back up to half a million of us now that we're winning again.

It's at this point that the 'stay home and watch it on the telly' crowd will start to feel the strain. People who shudder at the words 'mighty craic' will suddenly find themselves Googling 'second hand camper van Slovenia'.

This isn't about soccer. It's about everyone agreeing that we are the nicest people in the whole world. Irish sports fans run on cheap lager and praise from foreigners. Nothing tickles our belly more than a report on French television showing a gang of Irish people standing in a fountain, singing Depeche Mode's I Just Can't Get Enough. Who'd want to be stuck at home watching that? Not you.

So, here's the deal. Let's put the whole country up on Airbnb for June. The French will be glad to get away from fountain-loads of our lads. Then it's a matter of planning our route. We hear there's a glut of second-hand minibuses in Warsaw.

Pat Fitzpatrick

'Nazi Barbie' to rule 2016

Camille Paglia recently called her a "Nazi Barbie", accusing Taylor Swift and her anatomically-perfect girl-squad of representing a "regressive public image."

She probably didn't mean it as a compliment, but given the workings of the pop world, the "Nazi Barbie" characterisation might just have provided inspiration to Swift's creative team for the theme of her next music video. After all, one is just not pop if one leaves all the controversy-stoking video concepts to Rihanna.

Not that Swift is likely to be in need of any profile-boosting in 2016. After all, in 2015 she attained an almost platonic state of pop-culture ubiquity. With her collection of powerful female friends in tow (including Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham and Cara Delevingne), she's been busily spreading the upbeat culture of Swift across the world through the power of a million selfies.

Her romance with Calvin Harris is still apparently going strong (the Scottish DJ is reported to have recently had his first audience with Mama Swift, suggesting that things are starting to get serious between them), so she may, this year, find herself rather short of bad boyfriends to write hits about. Many of her songs have been inspired by thwarted romances with a string of famous hunks, including John Mayer, the rumoured cad behind the song Dear John, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who is rumoured to have provided the inspiration for the caustic chart-topper We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. But no matter. Perhaps next year we can expect some new hits about being called mean names by combative feminist social commentators instead.

Julia Molony

Trump will trump Trump

2016 will be the year of Ivana Trump. All the politicos think it's gonna be Hillary, or possibly Boy-nee (which is the Staten Island prostitute-voice we always hear Bernie Sanders's name in) that finally defeats The Donald. But there's only one woman with a proven track record of taking him on and winning.

Our prediction is that Ivana might not run exactly, but she'll be vocal enough to throw a spanner in the works, perhaps pointing out that their kids are the children of immigrants and so on. She can also do it because she's not American and her ex-husband's novel tactic - essentially trolling an entire population of 320 million people - doesn't work as well on Europeans.

For instance, from here it's difficult to get outraged about Donald when he suggests stuff like abolishing the sun ("but it gives us light and heat!". He may not have actually said this, it's hard to keep up). You realise watching him that America misses Panto like deserts miss rain. If they only had Sammy Sausages they wouldn't have a need of a giant, racist hamster, who at this point is just saying anything that comes into his head.

Ivana is also perfect because Donald's success shows that right now America is craving something really '90s and tacky. If it could get a public voice that articulated those "concerns" without the combover then it might be much better off. Plus she has some great one-liners and that beehive will tide us over until the Ab Fab movie.

Donal Lynch

Let's all vote for emigration

It's not very politically correct, but the only way to get through 2016 will surely be to imagine everything you hear is being said in a comedy Chinese accent, so that it sounds funnier when reporters bang on about how there's a "big election" coming up.

Face it, people, there'll be no escape. From now until spring will be wall to wall erect … I mean electioneering, as politicians, who've spent their entire careers lying through their teeth about what they'll do once they get into power, hog the limelight to, well, lie through their teeth about what they'll do once they get into power.

It won't stop there either. Once the election's over, we could be seeing the most well hung Dail in decades, leading to months of negotiation in which, instead of lying to us, politicians from different parties get to lie to one another instead about what they'll do once in bed together in Cabinet. Will it be Fine Gael and Labour again? Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein? Or will Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin mark the first anniversary of the passing of the same sex marriage referendum by finally burying the hatchet of history and getting it on for the good of the nation - governmentally speaking, we hasten to add, both men being happily married for years. To politics.

Get through that and our reward is lots of earnest handwringing types boring on about what the centenary of the Easter Rising says about how far the country's come and how far it still has to go. The only good news is that it's still not too late to emigrate to escape it.

Eilis O'Hanlon

Water great idea

Irish Water finally managed to get off the ground, so there will be lots of room for start-ups chancing their arm trying to charge us for things that used to be free.

The formation of Irish Air will prove to be controversial in 2016, but there are always ingrates who think that everything should be free.

Even Irish Air's commitment to provide a clean, efficient air supply to the whole country won't be enough for some dissenters. And the generous allowance which meant that people only had to hold their breath for short periods each hour won't please everyone.

The Footpath Authority will also manage to get up and running despite some grumbles from the Right to Walk campaign. These thoroughfares don't grow on trees and the public just assume that they can swan around town with their purchases, thinking footpaths are free public amenities. The easy-pay toll system at the entrance to footpaths will cause a bit of a pedestrian backlog but that's the price of progress.

During summer 2016 the Irish Beach Authority's establishment will ensure that children pay a fair price for having fun and building sandcastles. They must learn early that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Will Hanafin

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