Last week, by chance, I found myself back in 1985. I had received a query related to a story that appeared in Vincent Browne's Magill magazine all those years ago, written by the late Derek Dunne.
So, I found myself poking through the archives of the magazine.
Having quickly found what I was looking for, I got lost in a maze of stories from 1985. There was a lot going on, back in the day.
An archive is a wondrous place. It shows the world as it was then, strange and distant from the lives we live today.
At the same time, what it shows is familiar, because it contains the seeds of what we've since become.
And seeing things from the perspective of 1985, it turns out, is a useful way to put in perspective the events we're currently experiencing.
We've had weeks - indeed, we've had months - of breathless political reporting on a process the politicians and the media call "government formation".
The term conjures up an image of party leaders carefully moulding the elements at their disposal, to shape a government that will best defend the interests of the people.
It's a rather grand term for a grubby little reality.
In recent weeks, each time a semi-colon was added to or subtracted from the "programme for government", reporters competed to be the first to tell us.
In truth, the primary purpose of a "programme for government" is rather simple. It must provide the leaders of small parties with the cover they need to convince members to allow them to have what they desperately want - a ministerial position.
Quick as a shot, the politicians agreed there should be no fewer than 20 junior ministers.
How decisive these people can be when they're making a decision of importance to them.
Maximise the goodies.
After all, a lot of those TDs will be looking for the nod - given they have such a high opinion of themselves.
The junior minister racket began in 1977, with 10 of them. The numbers soared to twice that - junior positions are rewards for loyalty, and a way of shoring up party support in a weak marginal constituency.
In the austerity mood of 2009, Brian Cowen forced the number down to 15, but it's been edging back up.
We've had breathless political reporting on who gets what.
The nail-biting question for many was whether Mickey Martin would suffer the shame of being the only Fianna Fail leader not to become Taoiseach.
Such trivial matters are as meaningful to our lives as the result of a football match in a lower league in Croatia.
Yet, parties and media find the competition between FF and FG fascinating.
Wandering through the Magill pages, it dawned - not for the first time - that this concentration on the process of politics, rather than the substance, has consequences. While we're urged to watch the little shifts in power between FF and FG, huge political change can occur that the media fails to track.
For an example, I'll mention one story from the pages of Magill in 1985.
It was published on June 26, 1985, exactly 35 years ago last Friday. It was about homeless men.
The significance of the piece, by Philip McGovern, is not that the problem of homelessness existed then and is far worse now. The significance is in the change in the nature of homelessness.
The piece centred on a homeless shelter in Athlone, set up by Brother Frank, a Marist. He spoke of about 60 homeless men on the Sligo "circuit". And how there were 10 or 15 circuits in the country, around which homeless men drifted. They seemed all to be alcoholics. And many had what would today be described as "mental health issues" - a term unknown then.
It's evident from the piece that public services for the homeless were minimal. The men travelled the circuits - Sligo, Cork, Dublin, wherever - arriving in a town on dole day if possible. You could depend on a few pence from those who didn't have much.
The men slept where they could. In a nine-month period, Brother Frank counted the deaths of eight men who had stayed at his shelter - their bodies found in barns and derelict buildings.
Homelessness today is sharply different.
We are appalled when a rough sleeper dies. On the other hand, we accept it when families are housed in crowded B&B rooms; we allow evictions when profit-hungry vultures demand maximal rents.
We accept that house and apartment prices and rents ensure young people must live with their parents or sofa-surf with their friends.
The neglect in 1985 and the profits-before-people ideology of today didn't just happen.
The decisions to leave the fate of homeless alcoholics to the charity of Brother Frank were those of the parties that have governed us for 100 years - Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
On the other hand, it was the political parties that in the 1930s decided there should be municipal housing, to ensure the growth of a productive workforce. Government decisions ensured that housing was affordably priced.
And still, over the years, the builders and developers made fortunes - enough for them to bung large amounts of money to the politicians.
And it was the political parties who decided to stop building municipal housing; they decided that house prices should be let rip, so everyone who owned a house could feel better off.
They decided that rather than ensuring the provision of social and affordable housing, and stabilising the housing market, they would channel countless millions to large landlord companies, via housing subsidies.
The same parties repeatedly allow costs to run out of control. They will not confront the grab-all attitudes of their base - topped by the complacent classes.
For the best part of a hundred years, FF and FG took turns running the country, their policies differing only in detail.
Innately conservative, usually moving only under pressure from the people, they have limited what this country could be. In climate politics, they offer just enough to siphon off the soft green vote.
As their vote - and their relevance - decline, they cling together to maintain control. Their duopoly is a roadblock to any kind of meaningful change.
This was the political choice facing us - not whether Micheal Martin managed to fulfil the destiny his supporters longed for.
Who will get this position or that? It doesn't matter.
Who will be one or two points up or down in the next poll? It doesn't matter.
These things are ephemeral.
This was, and will remain, the central political issue - preserving that conservative bloc, or allowing it to continue to decline.
The Greens see benefits in propping up the FF/FG duopoly - and some benefits will be real. But they will be crumbs from the table.
When they last shared power with FF, the bigger party used them as a rubber stamp.
Meaningful climate change will require a radical government. And that's a long way off yet.
Settling for crumbs from the table is - some Greens would say - better than nothing. And that's true, if that's all you want.
But preserving the duopoly means the Greens are avoiding the longer-term work towards radical change, and will always settle for those crumbs from the table.
And so, the same old rough beast, its hour come round yet again, slouches towards Leinster House to be born.