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The O-Zone: Don’t bank on it

It is awards season so time to judge the judges, Bertie’s karma, pension plans, porn and MF Doom


Today is March 1, and officially the first day of spring. Needless to say, in this luckless country it's already a broken spring. Still, there's obviously a serious change in the national mood. Or at least there is among certain members of the judiciary.

Step forward the outspoken Judge John Neilan, who stated in his Mullingar court that he would sooner lie in a gutter with a pig than meet a banker. Judge Neilan was hearing a case brought by ACC Bank against a couple who'd failed to meet their repayments on a car loan.

"The geniuses running the banks are no different to the geniuses who ran us into the ground in the first place," he said. He then remarked that if he ever met one of the banking executives, he would walk away, adding: "I would sooner lie in the gutter with a pig."

Attacking the "appalling arrogance" of senior bankers, he said: "If they had an ounce of decency then they would leave their offices in shame, with their heads hung low."

Amazingly, the judge even hinted that the public wouldn't be wrong if they decided to take the law into their own hands: "There was a time in the past when banks and their buildings would be dismantled stone by stone by the people in outrage at what is being done."

Judge Neilan was on the verge of winning OZone's 'Judge of the Year' award until he made his closing comments, saying that bankers were "totally, utterly, absolutely removed from people like you and me".

He had me until that last bit.


To the local shop for the papers. As the assistant goes to fetch my pack of red king-sized Rizlas, I spot a headline that immediately ruins my day: 'Bertie wins the Lotto'.

Closer inspection reveals that, thankfully, it wasn't the actual Lotto. Rather our ex-Taoiseach picked up an easy 10 grand in a rollover jackpot in a draw for a soccer club in the Beaumont House pub. It seems some guys have all the luck. First Bertie wins all that mysterious sterling on the horses and now this. OZone is seriously starting to doubt the laws of karma.

In the afternoon to the Bank of Ireland Theatre in the university for the NUI Galway Theatre Festival, where my friend Conor Montague has an hilarious one-act play called Who Needs Enemies?

Directed by Dara O Foghlu, and starring John Donnellan, Ray Kelly, Mark Dooley and Monty himself, the play is about the difficulties of staying on the straight and narrow when your so-called "friends" are a useless shower of time-burgling alcoholics, drug addicts and wasters.

Monty is an absolute genius. I've no idea where he gets his ideas from.


It's reported today that some jobsworth at the Health and Safety Authority had demanded that a Limerick garage owner remove a Pirelli calendar featuring pictures of topless women from his premises, despite the fact that he worked there alone. The 62-year-old mechanic was told that the risque calendar was a "display of pornographic material at the place of work," and should be removed.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and that ludicrous demand was swiftly withdrawn once the media were informed and the whole country started to splutter with a mixture of helpless laughter and incandescent rage.

Mary Hanafin is on The Last Word this evening explaining the Government's new pension plans and how they're actually doing us all a favour by making pension payments compulsory. The whole thing sounds a little suspect to me. Has there ever been a pension fund in the history of mankind that some thieving bastard hasn't dipped their greedy paws into?

Both the Health & Safety incident and these suspect new pension plans, remind me of that PJ O'Rourke quote: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."


Last week OZone wrote about a lunch in Soho with my bad friend Sebastian Horsley, and quoted his bon mots extensively.

You'd think the publicity-hungry gobshite would be grateful, but this morning he sends me a snotty email chiding me for my use of exclamation marks in the column.

"An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes. So far as good writing goes, the use of an exclamation mark is a sign of failure. It is the literary equivalent of a man holding up a card reading 'LAUGHTER' to a studio audience."

He signs off with the comment: "I like my humour like an Englishwoman. Dry as a bone."

Sorry, Sebastian!!!!! [LAUGHTER!!!!!!!!!]


OZone has had a bit of a headshop cold for the past couple of days. Nothing too serious, just a runny nose and occasional mild hallucinations. On an Aer Arann flight to Dublin this morning, though, it really kicks in. My eardrums feel like they're about to burst. The pain becomes even worse on my connecting flight to Heathrow.

By the time I arrive in London, it seems like my head is encased in a pressurised spacesuit helmet. My ears feel like they're stuffed full of cotton wool and my balance is slightly off-kilter. It wouldn't be so bad, but I'm in London to attend the Red Bull Music Academy.

In the evening to the Camden Roundhouse for a sold-out show by American hip-hop star MF Doom. Despite his hip-hop credentials, that 'MF' actually stands for 'Metal Face' (he wears a metal mask while performing). It's the first time all day that I'm grateful my hearing is impaired.


The flights home are even worse.


Deeply silly Glenda/Rosanna/Johnny Ronan story in the headlines today. Perhaps somebody should tell the NAMA-bound property developer that it doesn't stand for 'Need Another Moroccan Adventure'.