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Michael O'Doherty: Congrats to curvy Miriam -- but who voted for her?

CONGRATULATIONS to mother-of-eight Miriam O'Callaghan, who's just bagged an award for having the ‘best body on Irish TV', as voted for by the readers of Curve magazine.

She was particularly delighted as it was voted for by the readers of the mag -- "real women", as Miriam refers to them.

There's just one teensy-weensy problem.

Though I'm a magazine pubisher, and thought I knew of every Irish publication, I must confess that I've never heard of Curve.

I'd hate to think this was some token award handed out to a well-known celebrity, simply so that a fledgling magazine could get its name in a newspaper.

And I'd love to know who exactly these 'real women' are who voted for Miriam.

Perhaps someone from Curve can put me in the loop?

Here's why image of banjo-playing, cross-eyed country simpleton lives on

Spare a thought, if you would, for the demise of one of those great Irish institutions, a tradition passed down through generations, now destroyed under the crushing name of progress.

I refer, of course, to the 'country way of life'.

In the past week, two monumental decisions have impacted on this most treasured of traditions, which allowed our good country folk to exercise their unique identity.

These involved -- please stop me if I'm wrong -- charging around on horseback, watching their dogs rip a poor unfortunate beast limb from limb, and after filling their bloodstreams up with a celebratory gallon of booze, risking a fatal accident by driving home while pissed out of their minds, then in a drunken rage beating up whoever had lost the TV remote.

Yeah, that's a real loss...

The first nail in their coffin was the legislation passed this week to outlaw stag hunting. It is naturally, according to cretins like Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, "an attack on the country way of life". Quite why the only way our country brethren can control the stag population is to have blood-thirsty hounds rip them apart as they kick and scream with their last breath is a question which has always eluded the simple minds of us plain, urban folk...

But as if that wasn't enough, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has also sounded a death knell for another rural tradition that has continued to defy modern times -- the favoured country sport of drinking and driving. Predictably, we have the Vintners Association complaining how this will further hit the poor, oppressed drinkers of Ireland.

They make it sound like people can't live without alcohol, that they have to knock back pints or glasses of wine simply in order to survive. At the core of their arguments is this extraordinary Irish attitude that you have to drink alcohol.

Here's a novel concept -- when you're driving, why not just just have a glass of water with your meal? As ever, the Vintners also bang on about the effect this will have on jobs. Its CEO Padraig Cribben moans that 1,500 pubs have closed in the last five years, with more to follow.

Well rather than being shocked at this loss of business, surely we should ask ourselves why the hell we had so many pubs in the first place? Everyone knows the tales of villages in the arse end of nowhere with a church, a shop, a petrol station and four boozers...

Why should pubs, rather than any other business, have some God-given right to exist and thrive? If you lose all your customers because you don't move with the times, then you go bust. But what really gets me is the backwater TDs and publicans, talking about the poor beleaguered customer/constituent who now can't have a casual pint or two with his lunch, or on his way home, without incurring the wrath of the law. Just like their moronic hunting comrades, they turn it into a 'city v country' issue, making us believe that it's urban decision-makers conspiring against a way of life they don't understand.

Ever wondered why the stereotype of the banjo-playing, cross-eyed country simpleton living beyond the law -- as immortalised in the movie Deliverance -- persists? Well, just listen to Mattie McGrath and Padraig Cribben...

I should have known our new Mayor was too good to be true

Dublin has a new Lord Mayor. What, you didn't know?

Well, with the long-promised introduction of a mayor elected by the people of Dublin still on hold -- it may happen later this year -- Dublin City Council has done the traditional thing and given us one of its own that no one has ever heard of, courtesy of a bit of inter-party back-scratching.

But, at first glance, I must confess that I like the cut of Gerry Breen's gib.

The Fine Gael councillor seems to be one of the few voices of reason in that crusty old establishment, having spoken out vociferously against the absurd 30kph speed limit in Dublin city centre, and warning that the running of the capital was being taken over by bicycle-loving fanatics.

I was just about to say, "Good on you, your Mayorness, at last someone with a bit of common sense", when I came across the nomination speech of one of his supporters -- Fine Gael Councillor Dr Bill Tormey.

Cllr Tormey applauds Breen for his work as the chairman of Dublin Bay Watch, and his lifelong dedication to preserving its wildlife.

"Gerry will save Dublin Bay for Brent Geese, and for that earn the approval of the Inuits in the Canadian Arctic," intones Dr Bill.

Oh, hang on a sec... we seem to have rejected bike-riding loons, and chosen a nature-loving crackpot instead. Er, can we have a recount?