Monday 19 August 2019

Frank Coughlan: 'Time to see if there's life in the old stag yet'

Notebook

'All-male gatherings of any sort create their own peculiar, dystopian dynamic' Stock photo
'All-male gatherings of any sort create their own peculiar, dystopian dynamic' Stock photo
Frank Coughlan

Frank Coughlan

Stag dos are a peculiar anomaly in this enlightened age. Any other sort of lads-only debauchery is frowned upon as a remnant of the old patriarchy.

Indeed, it's one of the few spaces where female quotas aren't yet de rigueur.

Instead, this pre-wedding male-bonding ritual has not only survived, but flourished.

It's the one time men can gather, act irresponsibly and get away with it.

If the privileged members of these oath-bound collectives don't misbehave, it is considered as one big waste of time and money.

All-male gatherings of any sort create their own peculiar, dystopian dynamic. Men like the banter, the dizzying spell of mob silliness and, to use that over-worked phrase, 'the craic'.

Without the supervisory attention of the women who love them, or at least feel duty bound to tie their shoelaces and fix their collars during the rest of their lives, things can quickly go awry.

Stag pranks, as legend tells us, are as much part of the history of western civilisation as the great high art of the Renaissance itself.

Thankfully, I am too old and irrelevant to get invited along much anymore.

I still bear the scars of one or two hedonistic occasions from my misspent youth, but as they were long pre-digital there is no evidence floating aimlessly in a virtual cloud like some rancid pollutant.

Except, in the past year I have been summoned to two. One is done and dusted, the other soon to come.

Last year's was a second coming. That is to say, someone with so much faith in human nature and the institution of marriage that he was willing to rope up and tackle the north face of the Eiger again.

It was a terrific stag. We watched the Six Nations in the afternoon, freshened up in the hotel, had a nice meal in a fancy restaurant and then went on what was more a leisurely pub stroll than a crawl.

As our average age was in the high 50s, there seemed to be far more going to the loo than the ordering at the bar.

The hearts were willing but the bladders proved to be wimpishly weak.

So we were all tucked up in bed by midnight and the most outrageous thing any of us did was order the Full Irish with extra toast the next morning.

This coming stag is different though. It's my son's, so the average age has retreated to barely 30.

At that age your bladder is not only up to the challenge but doesn't seem worth having if you don't stress-test it occasionally.

I don't have the weekend itinerary yet but I fear that by seven in the first evening I'll be incoherent or asleep. If it's the former, I'd like the latter to follow close behind.

I think I might put that in writing. It could be the dying wish of an old man.

All is forgiven, Netflix, now go with God...

It's a truism that you can spend as much time searching for something decent on Netflix as you do actually watching it.

Then you belatedly stumble on a series as stupendous as 'Suburra' and you forgive everything.

Set in Rome over two series, with more to come, it involves mobsters, the Vatican and politicians at violent odds in a dirty, lucrative land war. Complex, thrilling and brutal, it's compulsive stuff.

One of the real stars is the Eternal City itself, portrayed as magnificent and tacky, sacred and wicked at the same time.

Another has to be hapless Friar F**k, the poor padre who doesn't count his blessings until it's too late.

Go forth and watch.

Irish Independent

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