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Psychics and all that bull

Awoman called Margaret rang the Mooney Show on Wednesday because she kept having a recurring nightmare about being "chased by a bull". This came during a long discussion of premonitions and psychic dreams with former RTE producer Colm Keane (who has written a book on this topic) and newsreader/dream analyst Michael Murphy (who has had premonitions in the past and should have a show called 'Tomorrow's News Headlines').

Margaret talked about her problem in a weirdly practical way.

"[The bull] seems to be really intelligent," she observed. "He's able to open doors."

This extraneous detail (it made me imagine a nefarious bull with an eye patch, toupee and name: Sir Basil Bullington) suggested that Margaret didn't care too much about the symbolism of her dream and just wanted to learn some Inception-style fighting skills. But she got a little more than this.


"A bull in mythology has always been a symbol of potency, and it's a masculine principal . . . What's your thinking about men, Margaret?" asked Michael, seemingly trying to prompt psychosexual catharsis on live radio. "You should reach out to this masculine principal in your life," he suggested.

"Grab the bull by the horns!" quipped Derek Mooney.

Now, my usual response to psychic phenomena is scepticism. Colm Keane's description of the premonitions made them sound like panic attacks ("[overwhelming] fear, horror, terror and nausea") coupled with a confused understanding of cause and effect ("a sense or feeling that something is going to happen", followed by something happening isn't really that uncanny).

On the other hand, the bull is traditionally a Greek symbol and all week Greek realpolitik was rampaging through our dreams of a stable Europe. "A difficult week for newsreaders," said John Murray on Thursday, referring to tricky Greek pronunciations. So maybe Margaret was on to something.

On Wednesday's Drivetime an Irish-born Greek woman calmly articulated her own family's woes. While these were easy to relate to, they were, as yet, abstract problems of anxious uncertainty rather than immediate hardship (she mentioned "some short holidays recently"). But even as I'm typing this, that feels like it might change.

Meanwhile on Newstalk, George Hook was reporting from still devastated Haiti and heaping justified praise on Haitian people and Irish volunteers.

His substitute in Dublin was high-pitched private-sectarian Eddie Hobbs who happily ranted about the "permanent government" who secretly run Ireland (the civil service, they'd miscounted a few billion euro). He'll eventually be calling them "lizard people" like Cork's answer to David Icke.


It was, arguably, a good time to be away from Communicorp's offices. Today FM's Sam Smyth had been let go and Eamon Dunphy had just resigned. I'd had a spooky premonition that Dunphy wasn't long for Newstalk. It's probably because I'm psychic and definitely not because he's been criticising his boss on live radio.

On his final show (quickly removed from the website) he called the station "a slum" and said: "Denis O'Brien hates journalism. He despises it."

Not since Ron Burgundy told San Diego to go f*** itself has a broadcaster gone out with such stylish finality.

In a moment of parody (probably unintentional) Wednesday's Newstalk Breakfast featured self-regarding business icon Bill Cullen choosing whether to "fire" egg-shaped demagogue Ivan Yates or long-suffering child-labourer Chris Donoghue.

Cullen chose to "hire" Ivan (for his experience).

"Chris Donoghue, you're fired!" said Ivan gleefully.


Earlier Alan Dukes had patiently explained why the taxpayers were paying billions to bond traders on behalf of the defunct basket-case formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank.

Ivan summarised Dukes's position thus: "Ain't my fault, guv. I'm only doing what I'm told under contract law. This is above my pay grade."

Later Ivan ranted passionately about the hypocrisy of (as he saw it) an electorate which demanded accountability but voted against the constitutional amendment that facilitated parliamentary investigations.

But he's a complex man. He was also excited by a newspaper story about young women who socialise with ugly friends, or 'fringers', in order to seem more attractive.

"Ivan, you're my 'fringer'," admitted Chris. He eventually signalled the end of the segment with: "Leave it there me ould fringer, me friendly minger, Ivan Yates" (a T-shirt slogan, Newstalk?).