Sunday 21 January 2018

Blindfolded, I was told to sit in the kitchen

Wednesday: The good woman told me she wanted to blindfold me tonight.

Liking the sound of what I imagined might be on the menu my eyebrows shot up, and I suggested that we wait till the young lad and the younger lad had gone to bed. She then looked at with me with pity. 'I want you to do a taste test,' she said, 'it's to do with work.' 'I knew that,' I said with a nervous chuckle, before taking my place at the kitchen table.

She had roped the brother-in-law in too. There we sat, two grown men, with two tea towels wrapped around our heads so that we couldn't peek. 'Now,' she said, 'I'm going to give you two glasses to drink from. In one, will be Coca Cola, and in the other, Coke Zero. The objective is to see if you can tell which is which.'

She went on to explain that Coke Zero is a low-calorie product of the Coca Cola Company which is specifically marketed to men, and they are not supposed to be able to tell the difference between the two drinks. A healthier alternative, if you like.

As it turned out both of the males present picked out the proper Coke from the new Coke with little difficulty, though there was a slight hitch when the good woman forgot which glass was which, and we ended up conducting the experiment three times. In summation, the words 'a slightly more pleasant Mr. Freeze' were used to describe the new product. As for the the moral of the story? I'm not really sure what that is, apart from the good woman establishing that you should take advertising at face value.

And how you could put tea towels to use left playing on a man's mind.

Friday: Hearing that Seamus Heaney had passed away, the first thing I thought of was his poem, Mid-Term Break. The first time I heard what is arguably one of his most famous works was in Fifth Class, in primary school. Our teacher was out for the day and the school principal took the class. He read Mid-Term Break to us and it stuck in my head, almost word for word, ever since.

In the late 1990s, I recall conversations over pints of cider with a college friend in Wales through which we discussed Heaney's works in detail, Blackberry Picking being my drinking partner's favourite. We agreed that it was his ability to use ordinary language, brilliantly, to set a scene that appealed most to us. And it was during the celebrations of his 70th birthday a few years back, when asked what his advice to upcoming generations would be that he showed once again how a few words, executed with grace, can be more effective than any long-winded prose or diatribes. His words of wisdom? Be kind.

Friday: I hadn't followed RTE's summer show The Hit that closely, though I did catch the episode which featured Samantha Mumba in a sing-off against the Republic of Loose. It was entertaining enough. Seeing the presenters, Aidan Power and former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne, I assumed that the target audience might be of a younger age. More specifically, middle-aged and downwards.

However, flicking around while the final was on tonight, we happened upon Finbar Furey's winning song and were blown away. Though the good woman was unimpressed at my hopping back and forth to the penalty shoot-out in the UEFA Super Cup; we missed the uileann pipes the first time around.

Including Finbar would certainly have caught the attention of a more seasoned audience. Having seen The Fureys live twice, and being the owner of several of their albums, this new song struck me as an instant Fureys' classic. It could have been penned thirty years ago and held its own in such company as When You Were Sweet Sixteen, Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway and I Will Love You. Good to see, also, that when it comes to choosing a winner the public doesn't always get it wrong.

Gorey Guardian

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