The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people that he didn't exist. Compared to Bertie Ahern, however, Old Nick is an amateur illusionist. The greatest trick the Bert ever played was convincing people that he's a humble man with no interest in money.
Last week, we learned that Ahern has claimed €270,000 in secretarial expenses since he stepped down as Taoiseach in 2008 on top of his €150,000 annual pension, far exceeding the sums claimed by other former Taoisigh.
Meanwhile, without a hint of irony, he blames the collapse in Fianna Fáil's popularity for "snookering" his presidential prospects -- as if his own tenure in office played no role in that collapse.
Ahern's appetite for prestige, cash and self-exculpation remains shamelessly voracious. Yet he continues to act and speak as though there were still a thriving public market for his aw-shucks, bloke-of-the-people, routine.
Now, that's magic.
How to look bad naked
The democratisation of popular culture has gone too far. Having established the dubious principle that anyone can be a pop star, we have now arrived at the point where some overconfident folk evidently believe that anyone can be a nude pin-up.
Rosanna Davison's decision to pose for Playboy has prompted an alarming degree of, well, navel-gazing among media pundits, with some unsightly, old dingbats openly deliberating whether they too should throw caution and their underwear to the wind in the name of photographic art. The answer to their question is, of course, an ironclad no.
Posing nude is for people who look good naked -- not for people who look good naked for their age, weight etc. As with most disciplines, there is a simple rule of thumb: nude modelling isn't for you if your body comes with its own centrefolds.