Tuesday 21 May 2019

Ian O'Doherty: Um, slightly missing the point?

I must admit, I approached the latest Ricky Gervais pilot with a rather large degree of trepidation.

After all, he's not exactly renowned for his sensitivity, so the fact that the programme Derek was about an educationally challenged volunteer worker in a care home was enough to have most of us fearing the worst.

And then, to my complete shock and amazement, it turned out that Derek was actually an incredibly sweet and tender portrayal of a guy who, despite facing all the challenges society can put up to him, remains an incredibly decent soul. The kind of bloke you would root for and admire in real life.

It's arguably Gervais's most mature piece of work yet and proves that despite all the earlier evidence to the contrary there is a soul in there after all.

But it would appear that not everyone shares that view.

The show has attracted massive criticism from various quarters and, bizarrely, one mental health advocate said that even though she felt the character was portrayed sensitively she hopes the programme doesn't get commissioned for a full series because: "It might encourage other people to mock people with disabilities."

It's a fantastically warped form of logic. Condemn a programme, even though you enjoyed it, because maybe, just maybe, some other people might, just might, be encouraged to make fun of people with mental difficulties.

So, rather than show people like this in the incredibly positive light that we saw last Thursday night I know what we should do -- hide them away somewhere they can never be seen.

Maybe the attic, perhaps?

Well, can you really blame them?

I must admit, I watched the Labour Party conference with hugely mixed feelings.

I come from a family that is Labour through and through. While I am one of those floating voters (just as long as it's not Fianna Fáil) I would have a degree of natural sympathy towards them.

But that is rapidly diminishing as this current Government just looks increasingly like Fianna Fáil merely with better tailored suits.

So the violent scenes outside the convention centre at their conference in Galway over the weekend were interesting.

Cops, as you know, were ultimately forced to use pepper spray on some of the protesters who ignored their warning to keep a clear distance between themselves and the delegates.

And, watching the violence on the news later that night, I realised why they were rioting.

Was it the household charge? The bailout? The fact that we are now somewhere between Albania and Botswana when it comes to terms of personal wealth?

No, none of the above.

Then it hit me -- any time I have had the misfortune to end up in Galway, Ireland's smuggest town, I wanted to smash the place up as well.

So I see where they're coming from . . .

Now that's what you call irony

I've always thought that the kind of people who volunteer to be on a quango are exactly the kind of people who should never be allowed anywhere near one.

In fact, if I had my way, I'd abolish the bloody lot of them. They're merely taxpayer-funded sinecures for people who can't get a job in the real world.

And one of the worst quangos in Britain is the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It justifies its whopping £53m budget by coming up with increasingly daft suggestions such as their recent call for terror suspects to be given more human rights and shown more respect.

It's an appalling organisation that has grown fat on the yooman rites bandwagon. But now it's in trouble after it emerged yesterday that this bastion of political correctness actually pays its male employees more than the female ones and the white staff are paid on average more than the ethnic minorities who are employed there.

This is obviously a serious gender and race imbalance but it raises an interesting question -- given that this is the kind of thing they're always giving out about, who will they report themselves to?

Readers, I share her pain

They say that the one word in the English language that has the most immediate and visceral impact on all of us is the word 'shark'.

It immediately brings Jaws to mind and the fact that it ends in a 'k' gives it a harsh sound.

But I have to admit I'm not one of those people on the grounds that a) I find sharks thoroughly fascinating and b) I have another word that fills me full of dread: IKEA -- in fact, I just gave an involuntary shudder when I typed it.

The thoughts of trying to make sense of their instructions alone is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. I remember when the missus brought a flat pack something-or-other a few years ago. I couldn't even bear to watch her making it, let alone help.

When it comes to stuff like that the only thing I can construct is a sentence and, let's be honest, that can be pretty hit and miss at times.

So I feel for the woman in England who was making a wardrobe -- and promptly got stuck in it.

She was forced to ring the fire brigade in Leicestershire to extricate her from her flat pack prison.

Oddly, however, the fire brigade then came out and said that: "She was quite happy waiting because she had her cigarettes with her."

Now, I'm all for smokers' rights and all that. But really, when you're stuck inside a tiny wooden box then maybe it might be a good idea to wait until you're released before sparking up?

Just a thought.

Competition time

I don't normally do blatant plugs, but Paul Wonderful is an old mate of mine and has a big show going on.

Thank You For The Music -- The Story Of Abba is running until the end of the month in the Tivoli Theatre and has been dragging in the crowds. The musical starts with their Eurovision win and traces the rest of their careers through their songs.

I've five sets of tickets to give away and if you're an Abba fan just email your name to the usual address.

Irish Independent

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