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The O-Zone: One night in Paris

On a heady interview with Ray D’Arcy, raw nerves in the city of light, and swallowing it whole at the theatre

Monday

Sigh! OZone is growing increasingly weary of this tedious Galway-Dublin train ride. When are those useless bastards at Iarnrod Eireann going to get their s**t together and do something about changing the monotonous view? It's driving me off the rails.

Cheering me up slightly is the newspaper photograph of shifty ex-Teflon Bertie Ahern sporting an unbecoming pair of dark 3D glasses and coming across like Tony Soprano's halfwit Irish cousin. An image that'll haunt him to his grave, it's possibly the most ill-advised political photo-op since someone convinced Willie O'Dea that it'd be a good idea to point his gun at the camera.

I'm in Dublin to interview Ray D'Arcy about Today FM's 'Shave or Dye' campaign -- for which presenters are either shaving or dyeing their hair to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.

There are posters of him, looking like a member of a Sigue Sigue Sputnik tribute act, plastered all over town. When we meet at the station's HQ on Digges Lane, I'm half-surprised he doesn't have half-a-head of electric-blue hair. He tells me the posters were photo-shopped and he'll be shaving (or dyeing) live on air on February 18.

Worryingly, we don't get off to the best of starts. D'Arcy is obviously under the impression that the interview is to be concentrated solely on 'Shave or Dye', and quickly objects to my personal line of questioning.

He doesn't get thick about it, but he's obviously concerned: "I don't want to p**s you off! It's just I don't feel comfortable. I'm not hiding anything, it's just I don't do this sort of thing, just because I believe that once you start courting that sort of thing and you talk about yourself in that sort of way, that then all bets are off and people can say and do whatever they like.

"Once you maintain a little bit of privacy about yourself, you can get offended if somebody, sort of, breaks the trust, if you like. So, I don't know, what do we do? Do we switch that [recorder] off and have a chat, and then switch it back on? Do we have rules of engagement? If that doesn't suit you either . . ."

We settle on some rules of engagement ("Look, I'll just ask the questions and if you don't want to answer anything, tell me to 'f**k off'") and the interview proceeds.

Thankfully, he doesn't use the "f**k off" option at any point.

Tuesday

Morning flight to Paris. I've an interview with English singer Charlie Winston before his sold-out show at La Zenith this evening. Winston is the younger brother of singer-songwriter Tom Baxter (they both use their middle names as stage surnames), and has become an absolute sensation in France, where his second album, Hobo, has shifted almost 400,000 copies. Le Figaro has described him as the new Waits or Dylan.

La Zenith proves tres difficile to find, and with thousands of fans hopping around when I eventually arrive, even more difficile to get into. When I finally get past security and into the backstage area, Winston's manager informs me that he doesn't want to do the interview because he's too nervous about the show. Merde!

Later that night, I go for dinner with the gorgeous PR woman Gaeil O'Donovan and an internationally famous Canadian rock star (who requested anonymity). They both order steak, while OZone opts for the duck. A good choice. When their portions of "Steak Tartare" arrive, it's platefuls of raw mince with egg yolks on top. Yummy!

Wednesday

Although OZone is aboard a flight to Galway at the time, I don't witness the fireball reportedly spotted in the Irish sky around 6pm. Which is probably just as well. Having recently watched the movie version of The Road, I'm slightly paranoid about meteorite matters. In Cormac McCarthy's bleak novel, the apocalypse comes in the form of "a long shear of bright light, then a series of low concussions."

Can you imagine our Government's response to a meteorite strike? Neither can I.

Thursday

Afternoon telephone interview with Charlie Winston. "I'm really sorry about the other night, man," he apologises. "I know you'd flown over especially, but there was just so much going on. It was one of those days when everything took a little longer than it should have.

"There's something wrong with my neck and I've got a physiotherapist on tour with me. So it's really important that I get treated before going on stage. Anyway, at least you got a trip to France out of it." True enough. Winston will be bringing his quirky blend of folk, rock, hip-hop and pop to The Village in Dublin on February 18.

Friday

Suffer little children. OZone spends the afternoon hanging out with his kids, Jack and Layla. We watch In The Night Garden, Peppa Pig, Dora The Explorer and Barney. My brain is fried.

Saturday

Any theatre company named after a Leonard Cohen song has to be worth checking out. So to the Town Hall for the Blue Raincoat's production of Flann O'Brien's At Swim Two Birds. Adapted by Jocelyn Clarke and directed by Niall Henry, the play is occasionally as hard to follow as O'Brien's original novel, but it's a hugely enjoyable performance nevertheless.

All of the cast are impressive, but the talented Sandra O'Malley delivers a particularly stellar performance. Early in the play, she downs a full pint of porter (or at least a porter-like liquid) in one long swallow. A pint of plain is your only woman!

Sunday

Attempting to swallow a pint in one go, I wind up with violent hiccups. That feckin' play should carry a health warning. HIC!!!


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