Brendan O'Connor: 'A bit of Sunday common sense'
We are trialling a new section in the paper this week. We like to call it Old Fashioned Common Sense.
We are trialling a new section in the paper this week. We like to call it Old Fashioned Common Sense.
I act like I don't know why I'm getting fat. Every time I am surprised to step on the scales to see that I have put on another pound or two. And every time it feels unfair that I have to...
I've been spearheading a revival of classic easy listening from the 1960s and 1970s, even a few from the 1950s. Or as my wife likes to call it, "creepy songs from our childhood". I should say...
There is a trope in gangster films, and indeed in real life, where an older generation, who were gangsters but saw themselves as men of honour, are succeeded by a newer, more savage...
Brexit panic finally kicked in this weekend. While people had accepted in the last week or two that a no-deal Brexit had become the most likely outcome, being Irish, they were also able to believe...
A few years ago my wife, Sarah, was on a small island off the west coast with our kids. They were in the local hotel in the afternoon. It was the summer holidays but the place was very quiet. Our younger daughter Mary, who has Down syndrome, quietly stole a chicken nugget off someone else's plate, bit off more than she could chew and began to choke.
May we be the first to wish you all a happy Christmas. Well actually, we may not. Brown Thomas beat us to it when it opened its Christmas shop last week. Obviously, there was uproar in certain quarters, what with the kids not being back at school yet, and an All Ireland not played yet (even an early one), and a Rose of Tralee not crowned. And sure then we have the Hallowe'en to get over, and Brexit.
One Litre Tesco skimmed milk.
So Brexit. That's going well, isn't it? Let's have a quick round-up. So the UK economy has gone into reverse, with an unexpected contraction. But rest assured, the Telegraph says, this is not because of Brexit, this is because of the failure to deliver Brexit.
Who'd be a parent? Take last week. Fifteen-year-old Mikey Leddy from Navan died after he fell from a wall in Puerto Del Carmen in Lanzarote. The 15-year-old was on holiday with his mum and dad, Aisling and Damien. Family holidays are magical times, when families reset and bond and get to know each other again. And then suddenly, in a split second everything changes forever and lives...
I probably wouldn't have noticed it. And I wonder if I had, how much I would have intervened. I might have asked them what was going on and then, reassured, left them to get on with it. But my wife is both more observant and more prone to getting involved than I am. And so it was that we found...
The 2021 census will include a new 'time capsule' feature, whereby people will be allowed, for the first time, to write a confidential message for the people of the future on their form. This...
Things were pootling along nicely. The sun had come out in fits and starts but enough to put on your shades and act like it was summer. The kids were off school, the traffic had eased and the...
I was supposed to cut down on my supplement, vitamin and pharmacy spend this summer. The budget was going to be cut via a series of clinical trials whereby I would phase in and out various...
Irish people have a long and honourable tradition of obsessing over the lives we could have led. There was even a word for it back in the day. "Disappointed" referred specially to a woman...
One of the various apps that tries to bully me into self-improvement is my free language app. I've been ignoring it lately and it has been sending me plaintive messages, like a demented ex. Those kind of "Have you forgotten me? Haven't seen you for a while". It's just short of ringing me and saying, "Oh sorry. Did you not ring me just there?"
It's back-to-school day at the G7 International School in Biarritz and the class are all somewhat giddy after another exciting summer. The other pupils are excited to have a new boy in the class this year. Swotty Emmanuel and Mrs Merkel, the teacher, have met the new boy already so the others are asking about him. "What is he like?" asks Sloppy Giuseppe. "What do you care?" says Justin the Jock, "You won't be here for long more anyway. I heard your parents can't pay the fees anymore. Does my hair look good? Anyone want to take a back-to-school selfie with me? Hey! I know! Let's...
Good old Angela. We have a chequered relationship with Angela in this country. It's hard to imagine this today, but, just as the Brits are now reinstated as the cause of and the solution to all of our problems, the last time we had a major crisis in this country we temporarily forgot about 800 years of oppression and blamed Angela and the Germans for everything. There were banners at football...
Maybe this is an odd thing for a middle-aged man to say, but in recent years I find myself warming more and more to Kanye West. Then again, maybe it's not odd. Maybe Kanye speaks for the cranky middle-aged man in all of us. Sometimes it feels like, in a world of celebrity and music gone increasingly corporate and sensible, Kanye is the last truly magnificent mad ba*tard out there.
Signs you're getting old, No 859. There are two weeks left in August but my body has given up on the summer. It's had enough. It's craving routine. It's screaming out for it. You don't even want to know the way my body is saying enough is enough. Just trust me. It is.
I'm such a wuss. I got in the sea the other day, and one of the regulars was beckoning me over urgently, clearly to tell me something she didn't want to say out loud. Uh oh. When someone beckons you in the water, you obviously can't just zip over to them. It takes a while as you paddle over in slow motion, both of you kind of looking at each other expectantly.
The Sunday Independent has seen a leaked Cabinet memo outlining plans for a no-deal Brexit. The document reveals that in the case of no deal, a detailed plan will kick in, a plan the Government is calling: Operation Project Fear 2.
Let's don the green jersey for a few minutes and talk about Ireland's interests. And let's talk goal congruence, and whose interests coincide with ours. Over the past week, we saw very clearly who the main losers in a no-deal Brexit scenario would be. It would be us, and the UK.
Not meaning to be unBritish, or to be one of the gloomsters and doomsters who are holding Boris back, but you'd have to say we must be approaching the end of the world. It's hard not to look around and think these must be the end times.
In this game you're always looking for the next thing. Journalists, in general, are a bit sociopathic. It's all, as Nora Ephron's parents told her, copy. Sometimes, when you are having an experience, good or bad, you disgust yourself by stepping back from it for a moment and thinking, "I'll get a piece out of this."
We do not say this lightly, but today, the Sunday Independent is calling for this country to leak a picture to some online news websites of all of us together, sitting around a table in a beer garden in rural Ireland, looking happy. We need to send a clear message to the world that despite anything our neighbours or anyone else thinks they may have heard, everything is in order here and the people of Ireland are very happy together. We are united on the domestic front.
I'm not really tribal. I don't follow a soccer team. I don't overly define myself by place, or profession or circumstance. I think being a New Order fan is the closest thing I ever feel to being part of a tribe. But I don't beat myself up about it because I feel it is a tribe of outsiders. So therefore not really tribal at all.
The only one who can stop Boris now is Boris. This is what we are endlessly told by those in the know. And, at this stage, you wonder what even Boris could do that would out-Boris what Boris has already done?
Some are more different than others for sure, but every single one of us who is a parent has a child who is different. They may be too tall, too pretty, too sporty, too quiet, too loud, too into music, too not into music, too into dancing, not into dancing, too shy, too bossy, too happy, too sad. That's the nature of the world and the nature of people. We are all different. Our children are all...
Will we look back on the era of the gut and laugh at ourselves? I mean, I'm buying into it for now. I'm buying into it wholesale. Right now, denying the fact that the gut is the most important part of our body that determines not only our physical health, but our mental and emotional health, would be akin to being a climate change denier. It's science innit? And you can't argue with science apparently. Until new science argues with old science. We may have to pivot at that point. But for now we need to abide by the Gospel of the Gut.
OK. Joke's over. Somebody clearly didn't get the memo. Certainly, there was a time when this would have been acceptable. There would have been a time when we wouldn't have complained. But that is not who we are any more. We've changed.
I find myself getting prickly when people give me any variation on the old "Gift from God" line about having a kid who is a bit different. It takes many forms. They will maybe make a big show of talking about how cute the child is, how smart the child is. Isn't she doing great? Oh, and it talks too? Round of applause! They will often just do it by ignoring the sister and being all over the different one. Sometimes they will just go straight for the jugular and talk about the great joy it must bring.
Butter wouldn't melt in the mother's mouth. She innocently left a few boxes of stuff on my bed when I was down last weekend. She's gradually trying to clear out junk, so now and then she'll surprise you with a bit of junk. As if it was just stuff. But of course it's not just stuff, is it? It's random chunks of the past. Artefacts that cause the past to come flying up from the depths, to remind you of who you used to be, in case you might forget.
Now that we have all finished getting our collective knickers in a twist over Donald Trump's visit, here are some takeaways from the week and some things you may have missed.
Now that we've all got over our fit of righteousness against Maria Bailey, -the only politician who ever made a mistake, and who is solely to blame for Fine Gael's poor performance in the local and European elections, and who certainly proved right those who say women in the workplace are often the least supportive of their female colleagues - maybe it is time to look at the bigger picture.
It was all very well when people were letting their kids and David Attenborough tell them how to vote, but the country then woke up with somewhat of a green hangover. It was all great fun at the time, but then came The Fear on Sunday morning. David Attenborough never mentioned anything about €100bn to retrofit our houses. For €100bn, we could build 33 rural broadband projects. Or maybe one children's hospital (You know with computers and everything we will probably end up rounding it off to an even 100).
I'm trying to figure out what to get a guy for his 50th. It's not a good thing to have to ponder. Because every time you think of it, you end up thinking "50! F**k! How did we get here?"
A & E departments were overwhelmed last Friday after the local and European elections. Several older people collapsed from the exertion of trying to lift the enormous ballot papers while some people became entangled in them and had to call ambulances to be released. Last night some people were still being found buried under large ballot papers, some of which were up to eight feet long in the south of the country.
Bobby Gillespie, singer with Primal Scream, perhaps the most debauched rock and roll band of the last few decades, thinks everyone needs to calm down a bit. Gillespie caused outrage when he appeared on Newsnight recently and said, among other things, that Madonna was "a prostitute" for appearing at the Eurovision in Israel. Gillespie, it should be said, did stress that he has nothing against prostitutes.
It's weird the things you remember. I was watching a Top of the Pops round-up of the biggest hits of 1978.
Most of us can't understand all the fuss over Donald Trump's potential visit to Ireland. It's not as if there is anything new here. We all know it's perfectly possible to be polite to an American visitor's face while bitching and moaning and laughing at them behind their back.
At this stage, they have learnt to just ignore whatever is my latest enthusiasm. They are stoic. They've seen it before. It will pass. And it could be worse. Usually it's nothing that is going to trouble them. The worst they can expect is to be slightly bored if they get caught by me.
I could see her face drop when I got out the leaf blower/hoover. You could almost say she looked in pain. "Would you not wait a bit? Give people a bit more of a lie in on a Bank Holiday?" It was half nine, was my attitude. They should be up by now. I'd been up since half six, which is my new waking time these days. I get woken every morning by the gum pain. I'm a martyr to the gums these days. So I was well into the day at this point and I felt the need to do something productive. I'd been lazy the day before due to a vague hangover and I always get this need to sort everything...
Environmental boffins have discovered an unexpected new side effect of climate change. "Not only are we getting milder winters, but the actual timing of seasons is changing too," said Prof Norbert Von Nomates, chair of Irish Climate at the University of Utrecht. "Looking at the data over the past 20 years, it's clear the Irish Silly Season is coming earlier each year. For example, last week we saw a story about a deer on the Dart. I wrote a short 'funny' letter to The Irish Times to ask if this is a record, and it definitely is. Usually quirky wildlife stories don't occur until later in May, though...
Once seen, it can never be unseen. It's one of the most uncomfortable things you'll ever watch, like a particularly cringey scene from The Office multiplied by 10. It makes David Brent look like George Clooney. It actually makes Enda Kenny high-fiving his way around the country on election campaigns seem rather dignified and sophisticated. It almost makes Enda's air guitar moment at Bruce look cool.
I'm doing the seven days of gratitude on the old meditation app. I can't seem to remember seeking it out as such. I think the app pretty much presented it to me one day so I went along with it. As you know gratitude is all the rage these days. I think the general idea is that if you fill your head with gratitude there's less room for bitterness, or the gratitude at least serves to distract from the bitterness. What? You thought the gratitude might be more about other people and less about serving yourself? No. Don't be naive. Once you get into the whole wellness and mindfulness area to any...
'Navan O'Mahonys 'Pride of Cubs' nursery is a phone-free zone. During this one hour, please put your phone away, watch your child learn a new skill and play."
A recent arrival to Ireland would have been confused in the past few days at the national outpouring of grief and affection on the death of a grocer. But then, Feargal Quinn was more than just a grocer, wasn't he?
Have we just witnessed what happens when identity politics gets real? Have we just witnessed a generation maturing beyond identity politics and into the real world? Have we just witnessed terrorism and nationalism disrupted in the way that taxis, food delivery, retail and family values were disrupted? Is it #Time'sUp for terrorism? Is it #Metoo for murderers?
I'm starting to realise I have some form of seasonal affective disorder. I literally became a new person last weekend. Just like that, something changed in some subconscious place, in some sub-atomic, sub-cellular way. It was like my very genes shifted. I think I know the exact time it happened. The sea was flat and clear and blurred in with the sky on Good Friday morning. And a slight shimmer seemed to hang over it. It was like a scene from Excalibur. A Good Friday swim always feels like a baptism, but this was special. I got out and everything had changed. Or I had...
The burning of Notre Dame was almost the perfect story for our age, a drama that revealed much about the social media era and the world we live in.
Today's offering comes to you, unashamedly, courtesy of BMW. Full Disclosure. I got a car to 'review' for the week. I think they were a bit nervous as to what my 'review' would consist of, given I know little of torque or road-holding. But nonetheless, when my own beloved had to go to car hospital for the week, the motoring editor said he'd been meaning to get the new X5 reviewed so I could do it.
There was a time when this wouldn't have seemed like such a big deal.
Every generation stands on the shoulders of giants. And in an ideal world, that means that every generation can reach a little bit higher. They can take the achievements of the generation before as a new baseline, and then leap higher again, creating new baselines.
It used to be that smart Irish mothers would tell their children to get into the law. Smart Irish mothers knew that everything always ends in tears and that when it inevitably does, lawyers are there to ramp up the aggro, and with it the billable hours. There will always be a living in things falling apart and love turning to hate.
The hysteria is contagious.
I'm not one for labels, but I think I've identified a new form of anxiety and I think I have it. I have Anxiety-Book Anxiety or ABA. This is a condition whereby you become troubled by all the self-help books landing in the offices of a newspaper on a daily basis. You worry for the people involved. As each one arrives you wonder if this person has done something special that will set their anxiety book apart from all the others, and if not, will this all end in disappointment for them? Indeed, you worry that they might be feeling anxious themselves about how crowded the market has become.
You wonder if we should just start ignoring It. There is a theory that when a child is behaving badly, and you give out to it, then the child is incentivised to keep behaving badly because it is being rewarded with the thing we all crave the most - attention.
A turning point for some of us was when Nick Boles quit the Conservatives last Monday night after his 'Norway' Brexit plan was defeated again. His voice cracking with emotion, he said: "I have given everything in an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union, while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion. I accept I have failed." And...
Well, this is tricky, isn't it? Mother's Day? I mean, what's all that about? A pat on the head for the little women from the patriarchy? A pat on the bum, more likely. 'Good girl. Here's some flowers from the petrol station. Well done for putting your hopes and dreams on hold indefinitely while you give up the best years of your life to rearing my children so that I can climb the corporate ladder and cycle around with other lads in tight clothes at the weekend. Now run along and do it for another year. Unless I remember our anniversary, when we commemorate the day you were sold...
It is the year 2040 and the Maybot is gearing up for MV387. She is literally a Maybot at this stage, though her head has been preserved due to the miracle of German engineering, and she can still wear her nice coats due to the ingenuity of French couture.
Every school in the country should gather their pupils and make them listen to the dreadfully sad interviews Hilary Murphy gave about his daughter Katie to Sean O'Rourke on RTE and Kieran Cuddihy on Newstalk last week.
Q: What does Brexit mean?
I have a new credo, a new key to success. I have found the answer. And you'll never guess what it is. I was reading about Barcelona football club, who have a big innovation unit now to try and improve football. So they have data analysts who are tracking and monitoring the players and trying to make them better, and ultimately trying to prevent injuries before they happen. Things are in their early stages with all this stuff, and the analysts say they are making no huge difference to performance yet.
Secrets and lies. Crisps and milk. Underage drinking. Don't tell my mother. Being afraid of what your mother thinks - when you're nearly 50. Being crap at GAA. And indeed all sport. A difficult thing in this country. Making the most of the bit of good weather. Imagine if it was like this all the time, we'd all be so much happier. Shame. Uncomfortable with confidence. Bless me father for I have sinned. A long cream doughnut. The first 99 of the summer, obviously. Upgrading to one with crushed Oreos on it for 2018.
We cry out for leadership. For leaders who aren't craven, narcissistic, wanting power for power's sake, seeking votes by spreading fear and hatred. Sometimes that leadership comes from unexpected places and awful circumstances.
There was a certain smugness in settling in for the evening last week to watch the UK parliamentary drama. The juxtaposition of the veneer of ancient, formal, solemn ritual with the farcical reality was compelling. Such pomposity about such chaos.
At this stage we are actually gaslighting the poor Brits. And worse, we're doing it on Twitter which, post-Trump, has somehow become the default channel for international diplomacy.
When Barry Hankerson introduced his 12-year-old niece Aaliyah to R Kelly, Kelly was a rising R'n'B star, famous for raunchy performances and songs like Bump n' Grind and Sex Me.
I'm ashamed to say this but I was hoarding supplements ahead of the introduction of VAT on them that was meant to happen last Friday. The VAT increase has been long-fingered now, but at least I know that, in the event of a nuclear war, my gut health will be good to go for a few months, and I will also still get a bit of a boost in the morning.
I have no doubt that there were people who were in the cubs and scouts with me who had bad experiences. To what extent I don't know. I hear mutterings and whispers and now and again I go online for a look around, but I've never found anything.
We at the Sunday Independent, along with some Russian data specialists, have dug deep into the list of popular children's names for 2018 and our findings are very disturbing.
Much was made of the fact that the no-confidence motion against Simon Harris last Wednesday didn't matter a damn, because the vote wasn't going to go against him. But that's not the real reason why it didn't matter.
I was entranced by the huge glitterball pizza oven. I suppose I was a bit overstimulated anyway from everything. The woman who was waiting for her pizzas out of it caught me looking. "It's exciting, isn't it?" she said. She was grinning ear to ear, practically doing a dance. I was relieved to be able to express my enthusiasm openly. We agreed we were pathetic, but we also agreed this was the best thing that had happened in our tiny lives in a while. I bet she didn't even want pizzas, did she? "I have a cooked chicken as well", she said breathlessly.
Do you ever think that all the mindfulness might be turning all of us into psychopaths? Or sociopaths, which is largely the same thing I gather. Or at the very least do you ever wonder if it might be making us all like those previous generations of Irish men who weren't in touch with their emotions and bottled everything up.
Spring hasn't officially sprung, but when we know, we know, and let's face it folks, we felt it in our bones last Friday. For a few weeks there had been mutterings about the 'grand stretch', which is the technical term for the beginning of the end of winter. But last Friday was unequivocal. It wasn't just spring, it was practically summer. The 16 degrees recorded in Dublin would be an above-average summer's day around here.
There was something about the look in her eyes in Brussels last week. Something, too, about the way she held herself. You worried for her. And when she looked us all in the eye and said she would deliver Brexit and she would deliver it on time, you couldn't help but worry for her.
One of the great milestones in life is not when the gardai seem younger. The real blow is when the Taoiseach is younger than you.
The 10 words are haunting me still.
Pick three of your best friends, and then imagine all four of you are wiped out in one fell swoop. Imagine that at nine o'clock tonight, in a heartbeat, the four of you are obliterated. It's hard to even imagine. It's hard to imagine four people, four centres of their own universes, just gone, like that.
I've been paying your 13-year-old daughter in Amazon vouchers for me to have unfettered access to her phone. I can see what is in every window or what is on the screen at any time. I can see what apps she uses and how much she uses them and what she does on them. Does that make you want to come around to my house and smash my face in? OK, I'm lying, - it wasn't me and it wasn't your...
OK, we better get around to the weight loss. I know it bugs some of you, but just be patient and remember not everyone is as fortunate as you, and we in the weight loss community like to know what other big losers are up to. So, here's the current regime in a nutshell:
When Bono channelled John Maynard Keynes's "animal spirits" at Davos this week to talk about how capitalism is a wild beast that, if not tamed, can and has chewed up a lot of lives, he could have been talking about technology.
Ireland 1979. An innocent country. There was no contraception, divorce or gays that anyone knew of, though people had their suspicions about certain members of the theatrical community. It was the kind of country where a Pope could still get a good welcome, where the currency was a pound and it was worth the same as the English pound. We thought we enjoyed slightly strained relations with the UK in those days but, in reality, we didn't know the half of it. We liked to blame them for 800 years of oppression, but we were happy we had got out from under their influence since we...
There was no doubt about it. The scales was lying. It was clearly broken. Then again, it seemed to be working. It was turning on and settling on a weight when I stood on it. It was just overstating my weight.
About once a week I try to recreate the simple pasta dish that Rocco taught me. I know it will never be like his was - but each week it is a different approximation of it. So I'm circling around it.
Monday was a day of wonder. Wondering if this was really my life? Do I really do this? Do I really get up at this hour? In the pitch dark? Can I really swim in this pool in the dark like a caged animal, not like in the sea at a reasonable hour in that amazing weather and light we had over Christmas, with the sea carrying me along like an effortless superman? But I struggle along against the heavy water. And then I walk to work. I walked for pleasure over the holidays, roaming around chatting or listening to podcasts, bouncing along in new bouncy proper runners I got. So why does this walk...
Her name was Dawn Croke. She has been called a tragic young mum, a beauty queen, a hero, and she was all those things. But remember that her name was Dawn Croke. And it is scant consolation today for her family or her two young children, for those who loved her, or for the community in which she was embedded and to whom she contributed so much, that Dawn Croke is a hero. But in times to come, whenever they remember her name, her heroism will console them.
Ireland had actually maintained a level of stability until the Great Coffee Wars of 2019. All around the world chaos reigned, with the rise of nationalism, populism and general idiocy. But it would not be any of these that would push Ireland over the edge. It would be a rise in the price of coffee.
The Sunday Independent can today exclusively reveal that 2018 was, in fact, a bad dream. "Yep. Never happened," said a government spokesman. "It started out as a joke and it just got out of hand. We meant to tell people at some stage but there was never a right moment, and then eventually it had gone too far and we just decided to let it roll. We were planning to tell people when they woke up on January 1, but fair play. You guys twigged it."
I'm not great for memories. I don't tend to look back. But I guess if you prod them they are there all right, lurking with intent. In Cork, over Christmas, I needed to clear my head, so I decided to walk from my parents' house in Bishopstown into town, wife following in car with children. They weren't driving along next to me like a support vehicle, you understand. I just left half an hour early.
Following on from last week's definitive guide to the Christmas drinking, which was an irresponsible article about drinking too much at Christmas, many of you have asked me to produce a definitive guide to Christmas in general. To give some tips and rules and general wisdom on issues like eating, family and gifting. So here goes with my inaugural, and possibly only ever, definitive guide to surviving the festive season:
Not to spoil Christmas or anything, but today, in an exclusive scoop, the Sunday Independent has got its hands on the real secret hard Brexit file the Government didn't want you to see, because it knew it would lead to widespread panic and looting.
The Gatwick drone felt like a sign in a way, didn't it? It worked on many levels. It seemed like one final humiliation for the British in what has been an annus humiliation for them. Not only could they not do the big projects, it seems they're not great at the small ones either. There was a familiar sense of Dad's Army about their seeming powerlessness to do anything about the drone for about...
Lip-reading experts have released the full text of the conversation between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker: "Oi! Juncker! Did you call me nebulous? You can call me a robot, you can call me a bad dancer. But you do not call me nebulous!"
They had chicken and ham for lunch at the new Dunnes in Bishopstown Court the other day. "Pity they're not open Christmas Day," joked one of the older people from the neighbourhood who frequent it for lunch. I call it the new Dunnes to distinguish from the old Dunnes, the shopping centre of my youth, where we hung around as kids, where apart from Dunnes, the Read and Write store was...
Is it OK that sometimes these days I wish that Christmas was over and I didn't have to drink anymore and I could just sit in by the fire watching TV? The run-in is longer every year. When I say 'run-in', I mean drinking. And I haven't even been doing the dog on it. In fact, it's the opposite. I have a strict strategy this year.
So it seems that Tory politician Priti Patel threatened to inflict another famine on us last week. This would obviously be a fairly appalling thing to say to a country that was once decimated by famine. But in fact, Patel didn't threaten us with another famine.
It was a bit perplexing. Why were we looking at a picture of the Taoiseach and his boyfriend with Kylie Minogue, an over-botoxed and filler-ed diva from yesteryear? And before anyone starts accusing me of various shaming, I have no problem if Leo and Matt and friends want to go to see Kylie. I have no problem with whatever Kylie chooses to do with her face, and I like a diva, especially...
For me, swimming is a solitary kind of activity. But then, for me many things are a solitary kind of activity. I have worrying tendencies in that direction.
I seem to remember that I often stumble into December a bit flat, punch-drunk and not sure where I belong. It's partially the rain and darkness and all that, and I think it's to do with the end of a run of TV too. No matter how long or short a run of TV is, I find it weirdly anticlimactic and bleak when it's over. You're dying to get to the end in one way and then you do, and you're not quite sure how to feel.
Finally, the UN has classified hurling and camogie as global protected cultural activities, part of our intangible heritage. So finally now we are up there with the Jamaicans and their reggae, the Belgians and their beer-making and the people of Naples and their pizza-dough making.
A PR company sent out some research they had commissioned, saying that the best present a man could get for Christmas is a bit of "me time". Apparently 61pc of men will be seeking to slip away for up to 10 hours during the Christmas holidays. Of the 2,000 men polled, apparently 95pc said they felt no guilt about slipping away, and 85pc said they felt better after a bit of me time.
The real shock of the heresy was that it was said to me by one of the most avid and enthusiastic self-improvers I know. "Do you not wonder if the meditation actually works at all?" she said casually.
I don't like group activities, I don't have a creative bone in my body, and I haven't picked up a paintbrush since I was a child. So obviously I jumped at the chance to go on a painting course for the weekend. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, as we will see.
Let's face it, we could be doing worse things to feed our appetite for nostalgia. For example, we could be trying to leave the EU while also staying in it in order to go back to some imaginary past when we ruled the world and foreigners knew their place.
It is easy to roundly condemn those who booed God Save The Queen at the Aviva last Thursday night. We all nod our heads and stroke our beards and agree that this is appalling, but then possibly connected to the treatment of James McClean over the poppy. But there is an undercurrent as well of classism. The unspoken sentiment among middle-class pundits and right-thinking people is 'You...
'The best you can do to get through life is distraction," Woody Allen says. "So we don't have to face up to the fact that we're just temporary people in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it's Shakespeare, Beethoven, Da Vinci or whatever, will be gone." And this was even before the world, and Woody, became so depressing.
In the unlikely event that I murder someone, I don't want Alexa to be there to witness it. As I write, Amazon has just been ordered to produce recordings from one of their Echo devices that may have recorded a double murder in a house in New Hampshire.
A friend of mine sent me this picture recently. Isn't there something magnetic about it? It seems so full of love and understanding. This is Charles de Gaulle with his daughter Anne.
It was hard for the people in 2018 to pinpoint when exactly their lives had become a science fiction novel. For some people it was when the toddler-in-chief had a tantrum with a journalist. It was just one of many, but it cemented for some that somehow, a major asshole had become the leader of the free world.
U2 believed it might be the end of the band when Bono lost his voice at the beginning of a gig in Berlin in September.
It's probably unfair, but don't you find yourself innately suspicious of people who are always picking up awards and making keynote speeches? Most of us feel, rightly or wrongly, there are two types of people in the world. There are workhorses and show ponies. The workhorses are the serious people who keep the show on the road in organisations and have no time for going around making speeches and hustling to get awards, while the show ponies put their primary focus on public perception.
U2 believed it might be the end of the band when Bono lost his voice at the beginning of a gig in Berlin in September.
When the unthinkable happened at U2’s recent Berlin concert and Bono lost his voice, it could have been the end. Bono tells Brendan O’Connor about that emasculating moment, about the crisis of faith sparked by a near-death experience, the reliving of his mother’s death on stage every night, and the gift of an olive tree from the Pope