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Gerry O'Carroll: Amanda, you know nothing about talent

After the professional glitz and style of The X Factor, I wasn't expecting much from our homegrown All Ireland Talent Show.

But when I heard the banal contributions of the busty ex-beauty queen Amanda Brunker, my expectations truly hit the floor.

I might allow her to judge a glamorous granny competition in Butlins, but her comments on this show left me cold and proved she has no appreciation of genuine talent.

Frankly, RTE can do better.

Amanda should stick to her other new job, flogging cut-price sofas with a flirty smile.

Gordon should stick to carving up fancy food...and not his face

I'VE never considered any form of cosmetic surgery, but one look at the scary face of Gordon Ramsay (below) has confirmed my fears of going under the knife.

The foul-mouthed chef was photographed emerging from a clinic where he had indulged in a €40,000 hair transplant.

And judging by his enormously puffy face, I'm guessing that Gordon might have indulged in a few other treatments in recent weeks.

Of course, he's just the latest in a long line of celebrities who let vanity go to their heads by tweaking, pinching and sculpting every body part.

I blame the fact that he's working in America. Over on that side of the pond, it's practically de rigueur for TV and film stars to undergo some form of physical enhancement before facing the cameras.

Gordon fell victim to this trend last year when he decided to get botox to fill in the lines in his chin. Whatever happened to growing old gracefully? If he doesn't slow down, Gordon is in danger of looking like something out of Madame Tussauds.

I remember being on the Late Late Show with him a few years ago.

Like myself, he had the pugilistic looks of an ageing prize fighter. Yet it shouldn't matter.

Gordon's not a leading man in a film, he's a talented chef, and the state of his face won't make a difference to his fancy grub.

As for me, even if I won the lottery in the morning, I'd never interfere with my ugly mug, because at least it's all mine.

Blathnaid mystery is sadly very similar to case of tragic Trevor

I can't think of a worse time than the New Year for devastated families attempting to cope with the disappearance of a loved one.

The holiday season was turned into a nightmare for the family of young Galway woman Blathnaid Timothy.

The 33-year-old business executive who lived in Dublin went missing on December 14.

With each passing day, hope for her safe return has diminished and in a poignant statement her brother Ronan admitted that the family is facing the fact that she may never come home.

Following an examination of Blathnaid's phone and internet activity, gardai have ruled out foul play, and the coastguard searches are focusing on Howth harbour.

For most of us, Christmas and the New Year is a joyful time when we enjoy reunions with family and friends.

But for the Timothy family, Christmas may be blighted forever by the disappearance of their beloved daughter and sister. To my mind the case has many similarities with that of young bank worker Trevor Deely, who disappeared just over 10 years ago.

Like Blathnaid, he was last seen shortly before Christmas, on December 8, 2000, as he walked across Baggot Street Bridge after his office party.


Like Blathnaid, he too was a young person in the prime of life. And like Blathnaid's family, the Deely family left no stone unturned in their desperate efforts to find their loved one.

His photograph has now become iconic, staring down from posters on almost every lamp post in the city every December.

His disappearance sparked an intensive and sustained investigation by gardai, and every year Trevor's family renew their appeals for information that may shed some light on this mystery.

For those of us untouched by this type of trauma, it is impossible to even contemplate the depth of suffering endured by the families left behind.

There are so many unanswered questions that plunge them into an endless black nightmare.

Nothing can assuage the gnawing pain or give peace to the relatives of all the people who have disappeared without trace. Our hearts go out to them.

Now the new year has dawned in a cloud of black for another family, and this time it is Blathnaid Timothy's loved ones who will never enjoy a day's peace until they get some answers.

All we can do is pray for them, in the hope that the Timothys, and the Deelys, and indeed all those families caught in this horrible limbo, will one day see their searches come to an end.