Saturday 23 March 2019

Take the books, but leave us Saoirse

Actress Saoirse Ronan
Actress Saoirse Ronan
CONTROVERSY: Berlusconi
Valerie Trierweiler

Pat Fitzpatrick

THAT didn't take long. A week after Michael D and his entourage said good luck to the Queen, we took a shot across the bows from the Daily Telegraph. It was a litmus test for the new warm and fuzzy relationship. Yes, the British claimed one of ours as their own.

The Telegraph ran a piece called the "20 Best British Novels of All Time" (you can see where this is going) and included work by James Joyce, Flann O'Brien and John Banville. Outrage ensued.

A copy of the Telegraph was burned outside Trinity College. Minister for Arts and Other Minor Things, Jimmy Deenihan, summoned the UK ambassador to his office and gave him a wedgie. And a gang of rowdy Joyceans gathered in Sandycove and started firing bon mots at English passers-by.

It's OK. You haven't been watching the wrong news programme. None of this happened. The Irish Times did try to work itself into a lather. It was like watching Jedward learning to box.

The Telegraph even changed the headline on its piece to the "20 Best British and Irish Novels of All Time". Not that anyone really noticed.

So far, so good. The British claimed three of ours, and we couldn't care less. The danger is that we get complacent and assume the past is in the past. Because all the Telegraph really did was claim three of our writers. Literary fiction sits somewhere in between cricket and goats' cheese on the list of our national interests. If the Telegraph decided to put a sly claim on Saoirse Ronan, well that would be different.

  • Pat Fitzpatrick

Blood's thicker than water? Not when it's taxed

SO the Cabinet's at war over water charges. No surprise. Fine Gael and Labour are at war over everything these days. If this was a marriage, they'd have "consciously uncoupled", like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.

The only thing keeping this equally odd couple together is that neither of them wants custody of the Government's legacy.

This latest row centres on Labour's anxiety about the ability to get re-elected ... sorry, I mean the ability to pay.

Apparently, they're worried the poor won't be able to afford basic necessities once water charges come in. Funny how that never stopped them imposing austerity in all those Budgets, but hey, who said socialism had to be consistent?

Either way, the disagreements in Cabinet are nothing compared to the fights there'll be in houses up and down the land when we have to start paying for water.

"Who left that tap dripping?" "Do you have to stay in the shower so long?" "Washing your hair again? You washed it last week! Do you think I'm made of money?" It's going to make the traditional family quarrels over the immersion look like a walk in the park. Before you know it, leaving the sprinklers on overnight will be the number one cause of marital breakdown in Ireland.

Still, the Government has to do something to keep the water flowing. It's not as if we live in a country where it falls out of the freaking sky all year round. Oh no, wait, we do ...

Eilis O'Hanlon

Silvio's sentence will end in tears

SILVIO BERLUSCONI has been sentenced to community service in an old people's home. That's bound to end in tears.

The 77-year-old may be close in age to the residents of the Fondazione Sacra Famiglia home in Lombardy, but his habits are slightly different. He's renowned for cavorting with women in their teens and early 20s and attending salacious bunga-bunga parties.

That's why any offer by Silvio, who was given the sentence eight months after his conviction for tax fraud was confirmed by Italy's supreme court, to take charge of the bingo-bingo nights should be treated with suspicion. As too should any shouts of "one little duck" or "two fat ladies".

The care centre's boss, Paolo Pigni, filled journalists in on the community service role: "They accompany the patients as they move around and help with entertainment-related activities and during the meals."

The poor residents may also have some of Silvio's singing sessions inflicted on them, given his past as a 1960s cruise ship crooner. The only positive is that he's hanging around with people his own age – for once!

  • Will Hanafin

Watch the banana peel, Kate

YOU can't win 'em all, as Kate Middleton well knows. She dresses to please the public, she dresses to please the fashion press, and she scores on both counts – only to be told by her husband that she looks like a banana.

Did she make the schoolgirl error, one wonders, of asking him for an opinion just before they left the house? She all trussed up in Roksanda Ilincic, a design carefully chosen to flatter her hosts as she arrived in Sydney with Prince George in tow. A colour picked because of its appearance on the Australian flag.

The duchess is nothing if not a literal dresser, just like her grandmother-in-law, HRH. But attire that satisfies her ladyship isn't likely to appeal to HRH's 32-year-old grandson, who, like most men his age, probably has ideas about what he likes his wife in, likely along the lines of "things I can see her legs in" and "nice tight jeans."

Bananas most likely don't come into it – unless we are talking a Josephine Baker-style banana ra- ra skirt that was little more than a prelude to a striptease. Nor, most likely do national colours, or high fashion. Still, like every person who has solicited an opinion from their other half and lived to regret it, perhaps Wills and Kate have learned their lesson. The golden rule is, don't ask, don't tell.

  • Julia Molony

Look out, Francois, Val's back

IT'S not like the sisterhood in France ever had their hankies out for Valerie Trierweiler (pictured). Even though she was thoroughly humiliated by her unceremonious dumping by Francois Hollande when his affair with the attractive actress Julie Gayet was revealed in January of this year, there was little public sympathy for her. But anyone who worried for the emotional wellbeing of the former First Girlfriend can now be reassured that Valerie is back on her feet and dating again.

The 49-year-old has recently been photographed in the Big Apple with Hani Yakan, 52, a Lebanese-American divorcee who works in the computer business in the city. It's said that she's introducing him to her friends as her "companion". La vie est belle for Trierweiler and her new man.

According to French gossip magazine Voici, the couple met in Lebanon while visiting Syrian refugees at the end of 2013. They hit it off, but Trierweiler was otherwise engaged with Hollande. A few months later, he flew over from New York to Paris to celebrate her birthday in February. And, in April, she spent a week with him in New York and was photographed arm-in-arm with her new "petit ami". Her tears for Francois have well and truly dried.

Meanwhile, it's reported that Trierweiler has been offered up to €100,000 by French publisher Albin Michel to tell her story about life at the Elysee and the demise of her relationship with Hollande.

The president and his staff are said to be quaking at the thought of what "betrayals and backstabbing" a book written by her could reveal. One thing is sure, and that's that Trierweiler is showing no signs of letting her recent romantic history get her down. And revenge is a dish best served cold, after all.

  • Aoife Drew

Temple Bar's not the worst

ACCORDING to The Huffington Post, which cannot be contradicted (except by its own subsequent editions), Temple Bar, our venerable artists' quarter, is now one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in the world. This, I think we can all agree, is the second most devastating indictment of our city after the perma-yawn that the Obama girls had during their trip here a while back. But, in fairness, they weren't allowed to drink.Had they been let loose in Temple Bar, they could've paid seven euros a pint and listened to diddly-eye music until they slipped on some vomit – which would almost certainly have woken them up quite quickly.

We will concede the name is confusing – there isn't even a temple, making it more misleading than Piccadilly Circus, which, many of us have been devastated to learn, has no lions, tigers or big top. But it could be argued that the HuffPo's edict is rather undermined by the fact Temple Bar isn't even the lamest tourist attraction in Ireland.

Competing with it is the Spire – the biggest syringe on the Northside; the stingy, solitary pint at the end of the Guinness Storehouse tour (which even left the Queen looking unimpressed) and Dublin Castle (most common exclamation by Americans: "It's not a castle").

So the message tourism chiefs should be promoting is, "Don't be so hard on Temple Bar. We have way more boring stuff in the back."

  • Donal Lynch

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