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A pint and complain is yer only man

- One of the most dangerous creatures known to the man is the pub bore. John Updike wasn't wrong: a healthy adult male bore needs to consume one-and-a-half times his own weight in other people's patience; simply to get through the day.

The early evening is the only time I get to fall off the wagon these days. But the once solemn confines of the local are under assault from all manner of upstarts.

My personal nemesis is a fellow who, according to himself, "doesn't know a lot about anything, but knows a little about everything". All I can tell you is that the cabbage patch in which this miserable wretch was found should be concreted over forthwith.

Yesterday, I sought to salve my scalded brain with a few quiet ones when up he sidles and booms: "Kenny's seeing stars. Do ya get it? He wanted to have a party . . . a party?

''The country in the toilet, and those feckers want to have a hail and hearty . . . the Rabbitte put a stop to it, though. Oh, Alice in Wonderland alright!"

Such utterances are followed by thunderous laughter from their originator and I'm about to make my excuses and bolt, when he erupts again:

"There's too much begrudgery in this country; negativity, and giving out about everything. I'm not saying Enda's perfect; sure he's from Mayo, but look at the other latchicos, holding their jamboree in the RDS and tripping over the poor stampeding hordes trying to get out of the kip so they can give each other standing ovations for making such a monumental horlicks of the whole lot.

"I don't know, this country's finished.

''It's a sad state of affairs when neither of the two best known political parties in the country can even organise a piss-up in a brewery.

"Declare to God. Did that saint get his heart back yet?

''I'd say it was the Tin Man what done it, what do you think? Follow the yellow brick road, that's what the gardai should be doing."

When I finally got a word in edgeways, I said: "I have to see a man about a dog."

The worst that used to be said about this country was that it would drive you to drink.

These days it would nearly put you off it. Lent just got a little longer.

W M Harpur

Dublin city


- About 70 years ago I was involved in the running of a gym owned by 'Young Atlas', Ireland's then strongest man -- Charlie Geoghegan -- who went on to become world wrestling champion.

Among those who trained there were the Casey brothers and a golden gloves boxer.

I loved especially the all-in wrestling and judo and holds. One evening a tiny, skinny man joined the gym. We wondered where to place him, as most of us were at least welterweight. No one would enter the ring with such a puny fellow. Then he made us an offer: he would stand with his hands by his sides and ask us to punch him. Finally, one of us volunteered to throw a light punch -- but the little man wasn't there. Again and again, the volunteer tried to hit him. He never did. I took my turn but never once did I land a blow, no matter how I tried.

Little Hal Roach was one of the finest potential world champions this country ever produced. What finished his putative career was his eyesight. Hal went almost blind.

He turned to magic and became Mysto the Magician, playing the theatres. He was on the way to becoming the great comedy artist we all loved.

Hal had fingers of extraordinary sensitivity. He became a masseur because his fingers could trace tissue and feel out any strain or injury on your body. He became indispensable to boxers, footballers and others with injuries.

Hal Roach wasn't just a comedy genius. He was the man you could never hit. No matter where he was, he was never there.

Dermot C Clarke

Mount Merrion, Co Dublin

Party poopers

- The cancelled Star (spangled) photo-call is definite proof of missing frontal lobes in government party politicians. (Taxpayer funded, no doubt).

Perhaps that great artist who donated the portrait of 'Biffo in the Buff' to the NGI, would consider donating a drawing of the entire Fine Gael parliamentary party in the buff!

On reflection, fig-leaves to cover the embarrassing (missing) bits -- in this case, the brains -- may be appropriate.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

- It's just as well that Fine Gael's silly backroomers are only backroomers. If FG gets confused over bouncy castle-style, one-year celebrations, then confusion between FG and Labour over more serious issues is inevitable.

Florence Craven

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Old Firm

- I have just finished reading Chris Lowry's article 'Celtic fans should stop gloating because without Rangers to hate they'd be lost' (March 9).

That a journalist could turn Rangers' predicament into an all-out attack on Celtic and its fans is baffling, but perhaps I could clarify a few points:

(a) Celtic FC has never employed footballers based on religion and has always been all-encompassing. The fans come from all and no religions.

(b) Celtic fans were awarded the UEFA and FIFA Fair Play Awards in 2003, the only fans to have received such awards.

(c) The songs they sing are connected to the club's footballing history and traditions. IRA songs are strictly banned. The only rebel song heard occasionally is 'The Boys of the Old Brigade'; but even that can be heard after a Fine Gael Ard Fheis.

I am not sure if Chris Lowry has attended any Celtic matches in Scotland. Sometimes the comments of barstool analysts on the Scottish and English leagues can bear little relationship to the truth.

Chris Lowry needs to get to a Celtic game soon.

He might even see the light.

EF Fanning

Churchtown, Dublin 14.

Gold standards

- In the light of Pat Rabbitte's comments that people expect 'Gold Standard' performance from our National Public Service broadcaster, does anyone feel nausea when listening to Pat Kenny (€729,604 in 2009 -- 4,560 TV licences), Ryan Tubridy (€519,667 -- 3,248 licences), Marian Finucane (€513,270 -- 3,208 licences), Joe Duffy €389,314 -- 2,433 licences), Miriam O'Callaghan (€290,625 -- 1,816 licences) and Derek Mooney (€268,985 -- 1,681 licences), totalling €2,711,465 (16,946 licences), harping on about poor people who don't know where the next meal is coming from or how they will clothe and feed their children tomorrow? I do.

Add to the above sums payouts for defamation, taxi fares and other bloated expenses, all paid by us.

JP McGovern

Dundrum, Dublin 16

Home thoughts

- Given that a major problem that has not been seriously addressed is the debt burden of a large number of citizens who bought a house for their own use, could I make the following proposal?

Anyone who bought a principal private residence during a five-year period of the property bubble, taking 2007 as the peak, would receive a partial debt write-off as follows:

If you bought in 2007 you would get a 30pc write-off of your loan, up to a maximum loan value of €200,000, ie €60,000 write-off paid for by the State. If you bought in 2006 or 2008, you would receive a 20pc write-off, and for 2005 and 2009 a 10pc write-off. The loan value would be taken at January 1, 2012.

This would benefit about 250,000 mortgages -- up to 750,000 people.

The total cost would be about €9bn, borne by the banks and the State.

It would be a psychological boost to a lot of people. It would lessen the likelihood of bad debts in our banks.

It might even, in a small way, allow some confidence into the economy/country.

We have given about €60bn to the banks, €30bn of which went to one bank, for which we have never received a full explanation. Part of the other €30bn was given on the basis that there might be bad debts on mortgages, which the above would mitigate.

The cost of the write-offs would be a fraction of what we are giving the banks, much of which is being used to write off loans to speculators.

A write-off scheme would be hard to enforce but it could be done. The figures could be varied slightly, depending on the number who qualify.

Edward Timmins

Co Wicklow

Silence on Syria

- The revelations about the atrocities and appalling crimes being committed by President Assad and his henchmen in Syria grow more shocking.

Still the international community fails to act. And while Russia and China have displayed inexcusable support for the regime, one is left with the impression they are a convenient excuse for the rest of the major powers to sit idly by.

However, the latest reports about civilians being tortured and murdered in hospitals must compel the Irish Government to act unilaterally -- at the very least severing all diplomatic relations with Syria and calling for Assad and his murderous gang to be tried for their crimes against humanity.

Silence is complicity in the face of mass murder. Thanks to journalists like Marie Colvin, who gave her life to expose the savagery of the Assad regime, we have no excuse if we don't speak out.

Indeed, her final report, in which we witnessed a baby dying on our television screens from shrapnel wounds, underlined why the Government must take any appropriate action, and support any initiative, that will ensure Assad, and all of those members of his regime who are culpable, are removed from power and tried for war crimes as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it should do everything possible to isolate that regime, and ensure that Assad is seen to have earned that ancient term of obloquy, hosti humani generi -- enemy of the human race.

Ronan Tynan

Stillorgan, Dublin

Irish Independent