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It takes a special guy to blow-dry his bits in public

THE silly season in the news business doesn't traditionally kick off until the summer, when our hard-working TDs head off to the sunshine to practise their gaffes.

But recent events would indicate that the seasons are now out of whack.

Last week we had the ludicrous idea floated of a "new Beatles" and this week Minister for Justice Alan Shatter threw his toys out of the pram when asked if he had met with that little spiv Michael Lowry since assuming office last year. However, even that hissy-fit paled into insignificance as Ben Dunne yet again bestrode the news like a colossus.

And while this time round there wasn't the entertainment factor of one of our captains of industry off his box on coke and consorting with hookers, before subsequently getting embroiled with dodgy politicians (hello again, Michael Lowry!) Dunne does give great value when it comes to stories.

It transpires that, following the evidence of his own eyes and reports from several managers of his gyms/leisure centres, he has removed the hairdryers from all male changing rooms. The reason for the removal of what would appear to be an essential element of any changing facility is the fact that too many patrons were using the dryers in "an inappropriate manner"... namely pointing them at their genitals.

Now, I've been in hundreds of dressing rooms down the years, from schoolboy football days through many a backstage area at rock gigs and through to gyms, but never in my life have I seen someone pointing an electrical device at their nether regions. I've seen people blow-drying their feet -- which is just plain weird -- but toasting the tufts? 'Fraid not.

And yet when it was suggested to Dunne that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt for his frill-free gyms, several radio programmes that covered the story (on a slow news day something like this is manna from heaven) were contacted by people who had worked in leisure centres and confirmed that the practice was indeed widespread.

Quite apart from the fact that the combination of electricity and genitalia would clearly be a rather dangerous proposition (although I'm willing to wager that there are several specialist websites on t'internet devoted to the practice), you would really have to be a special kind of person to stand in a room full of blokes perming your pubes with nary a bother on you. A very special kind of person indeed.