Our great country would be even better with a roof over it
Our traditional Leaving Cert weather finally arrived at the weekend as a reminder that we do not belong in the sun. The tan was once seen as the sign of the peasant, until Coco Chanel accidentally came home from holidays with a golden brown hue. She did not, however, walk around a shopping centre with straps down and shoulders that looked like two smoked hams, nor did she go 'tops off' at the first sign of sun, showing off tattoos and a Pointillist canopy of future melanomas.
Considering the number of liberated rotisserie chickens waddling the streets, it is clear that huge numbers of us have no idea how dangerous the sun actually is, or how quickly it can ruin the skin. But what can we do? Perhaps RTÉ could wheel out Teresa Mannion to wander along Inch Beach dressed as the grim reaper telling people that they should divert to their local dermatologist.
Just as we say for most of the rest of the year, this really would be a great country if only we could build a roof over it.
Pop's patron saint of the unemployed
Speaking of the extermination of all human life as we know it: Taylor Swift. It's hard to know how she achieved a level of unpopularity that has made her the 'Isil of Pop', but few people in music today draw such absolute loathing.
However, I for one stand with Tay Tay, because for two-thirds of 2015, she kept me sane. I picked up my redundancy cheque on New Year's Eve 2014, and a few days later, I bought her opus, '1989'. The existence it portrayed, of giddily launching yourself into a world filled with possibility, was a million miles from the dole queues of my situation, with four kids and no job. As I trudged from job activation meeting to job liaison session, I played '1989' over and over to remind myself that the turgid hell I was stuck in would not last forever. After eight long months of playing it on repeat while I sent out CVs, cold called disinterested HR departments, and was talked down to by tan-shoed recruitment goons, I finally got a job, and I never looked back.
But I still love '1989', and am thus one of the millions awaiting news of her new album. So even though Tay Tay only seems to make headlines for her on-again, off-again relationship with Spotify (it's back on) or her Tupac-and-Biggie-style blood feud with Katy Perry (Tay Tay's relationship with Spotify went back on the same day Perry released her new album, in what the kids would call a sick burn), I will defend her to the hilt. Although I might have got a job slightly sooner if I hadn't been humming 'Shake It Off' in every interview.
Fake it til you vape it
Millennials may be feeling anxious that their jobs are all going to be taken by robots, but if the main street of every town in Ireland is anything to go by, they will always find work in a vape store. The explosion in vaping has seen a shift in the habits of the young, from the toxic habit of smoking, to the vaguely unsettling habit of vaping.
Sadly, some people simply cannot give up the leaf. Good news then from a company called 22nd Century, which is working on a genetically modified variation of the tobacco plant that will offer all of the lethal flavour but almost none of the nicotine.
It is also working on a version of medical cannabis that contains almost no THC - the active ingredient that gives the high associated with its social use - and only offers the medical benefits. No doubt these two products will be a huge success, mirroring the massive uptake in creations like non-alcoholic beer, softcore pornography and unsalted crisps.
St John and the Burning of Cork
Bonfire Night is upon us again, the annual tradition in which the people of the Rebel County remember the Burning of Cork by the Black and Tans.
It is a tragic moment in the city's history that is honoured by locals dragging old suites of furniture, tyres, and bags of household refuse into the middle of the green before torching them while sitting around with cans.
Except, obviously, Bonfire Night has nothing to do with the Burning of Cork at all - it is actually the ancient feast of St John's Eve, a sacred time of year when John the Baptist would drag old scrolls, parchments, and bags of goat horns into the middle of the green before torching them, quaffing mead and later on that night, throwing rocks at the fire services.
The celebration is a reminder that whether it's our own skin, an old sofa, sweet tobacco leaf, or just poor auld Katy Perry, we all secretly love to watch things burn.