Frank Coughlan: 'An election will always get my vote'
So, it has finally shown up. The election rumoured to be around so many corners for so long is standing right there in front of us. Waiting impatiently.
A decent general election has all the qualities of a good World Cup. That is, spectacular triumphs, unexpected defeats, penalty shoot-outs and, of course, own goals. I enjoy being canvassed, never ignore that knock on the door, and will embed myself in the sofa with my cup of Barry's, and dunkable ginger nuts, for each and every broadcast ding-dong. The televised leader debates, in particular, offer great theatre, even if we are none the wiser at the end than we were when the opening credits scrolled.
Last May I found myself cajoled into canvassing for a young candidate, a member of a party I have never even considered voting for, in the local elections. Passionate, hard-working and truly committed to the area of mental health, I had no problem parking my political prejudices and misgivings to stomp the streets and bang on doors.
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It was not only an eye-opener but at times proved to be inspirational too. The dedication, stamina and cheerfulness of her canvassing team reminded me how much people care about their communities. The reception on the doors showed how voters respond to that.
That reflex bar-stool trope about how all politicians are the same, are only in it for themselves and are bloody useless anyway is so toxically pervasive that it is easy to see why there is so much corrosive negativity about.
But it's really nothing more than a lame excuse for those who are too lazy, selfish or politically illiterate to engage in the electoral process at any level.
Politics matters. For the duration of an election campaign, it happens to be bloody exciting and good gas too. It gets my vote every time.
Yes, he's far from perfect - but let Bond be Bond
James Bond has always been an arse. It's the way Ian Fleming created him and how 007 has been played since he was first shaken, not stirred, on the big screen in 1962.
But the old rogue has developed some worrying traits of late. For one, Daniel Craig's James does far too much frowning, which would suggest a man developing a conscience.
Now in a new spin-off television advert for the forthcoming 'Time to Die', Bond is seen sipping a cool beer in a bar. All good, except it's alcohol free.
Bond teetotal? What next: happily married and faithful, perhaps a feminist fighting the scourge of misogyny across the globe, or tackling climate change by taking the tram? If our moral guardians want a movie spy who isn't a privileged white male, doesn't wallop back the cocktails, objectify women or pollute the planet they should go off and write one.
But 007 is a dinosaur in a tux and, let's face it, most probably a Brexiteer. Leave him be.
Unplugged Ireland a powerful experience
Woke up pre-dawn on Saturday to a scheduled electricity black-out as ESB crews in cherrypickers went about doing whatever it is they do.
This meant no lights, tea, toast, shower, radio or internet. It was either burrow under the duvet until civilization was re-instated or do something completely different.
We chose the latter and drove deep into the heart of windy Wickla, going on a long muddy hike around the lakes before retiring to the village for a breakfast feed of scrambled eggs, bacon, brown soda bread and strong coffee.
The ESB should switch off the 21st century more often. Ireland unplugged is simply gorgeous.