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School's in with added bling

Tom Dunne has a thing for school stationery. "Some of it's just rubbing the stuff," he said on Monday morning.

As weird as it sounds, he isn't on his own. He and Niamh Shaw could barely contain their excitement as the latter discussed back-to-school bargains, presenting to an enthusiastic and, indeed, emotional Dunne (his youngest daughter started school this week) a wide array of options for the stationery aficionado.

They spoke of gorgeous stapler sets (ooooh), colourful highlighters (aaaah) and lovely new zip pencil cases.

Some textbooks these days even come with stickers ("Do they know how lucky they are, Tom?! Stickers!"). But what's all this about 'back-to-school bling', eh? Space pens and Swarovski crystal pencils, would you believe. And let's not forget the pencil sharpener that knows when your pencil is sharp enough. Wow.


Speaking of sharp, Matt Cooper certainly likes to keep his guests on their toes. On Monday afternoon, The Last Word featured Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, who spoke of all things debt and mortgage related as well as discussing the thorny subject of social welfare (or lack thereof) for the self-employed of this country.

"How committed is this Government to actually doing something tangible and real about assisting people who, often through no fault of their own, are in trouble?" asked Matt.

As usual, Joan ploughed ahead, doing what she does best, ie listing off various facts and figures in that monotonous, half-asleep drone of hers. Like a bored schoolteacher, basically. At one point, Joan mapped out the possible future of young people entering employment in Ireland. Some of their working life, she said, will be spent as employees. Some will be spent freelancing. But it's later on that they might make the move towards setting up their own firms.

"Throughout their working life," she droned, "we're going to have to, as a society, put in place a structure that does make provision for them to be able to participate in the welfare..."

Matt interrupted (something he's very good at): "Well, that sounds like a big job for you."

Another job that might have seemed impossible at the time was transforming a 'ghost hotel' in Co Cork into a school. But that's exactly what Principal Siobhan Ni Chathain and her team have done, relocating the pupils at Gaelscoil Ui Drisceoil from rugby club prefabs to their new, refurbished school in the small town of Dunkettle.

It's a remarkable achievement, and on Tuesday, George Hook spoke with Principal Ni Chathain about the obstacles she and the developer overcame in achieving their goal.

Hook is a tremendous broadcaster. He approaches every topic on The Right Hook with the kind of necessary character and curiosity that makes him much more of a listenable and, indeed, interesting host than the majority of his peers. What's more, he isn't afraid to express his anger.

Wednesday's news that Tramco nightclub in Rathmines is set to offer free drinks in exchange for customers' underwear this weekend left George foaming at the mouth.


Having contacted the nightclub about the matter, our animated radio host explained how Tramco began pointing the finger at the marketing company behind the promotion. Cue a sarcastic laugh. "Can you just imagine," asked George, "on The Right Hook, if somebody said 'George is ranting away there', and we said, 'well no, it's actually our PR company'? This is unbelievable!"

For close to an hour on Tuesday night, Adrian Kennedy and Jeremy Dixon -- the insufferable duo of late-night radio -- discussed fashion trends for older men.

Actually, they just talked about Converse and Vans for a while. Avril Lavigne popped up in there, too (though not in person, mind).

Should guys in their 30s ditch the sneakers and hoodies? Is it right for a man of a certain age to be still riding BMX bikes?


Who the hell cares? Personally, I find it hard to believe that a barely amusing yarn about Jeremy's shoe-shopping experience that day could result in such a flimsy piece of radio. Aren't there rules about these things? There should be.

Anyway, I guess we've got more important things to think about. Such as Ryan Tubridy's return to 2fm.

He's got a tough year ahead of him, our Ryan. Naturally, he and his team should begin seeking out material and guests to help raise those all-important listenership figures.

Wednesday's show featured a lengthy discussion on the topic of webbed toes. Ah lads...