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Michael O'Doherty: Patsy (72) and Daria (29) love story was a triumph of hope over adversity... for a little while

Looking at the RTE website on New Year's Day, I noticed that all of the top eight stories revolved around bad news.

The country coming to a standstill because of the cold; dead, or seriously ill well-known Irishmen; terrorist attacks, road accidents and natural disasters, a breathless barrage of misery to usher in a new year.

So it cheered me up no end to read about Patsy Brogan (72), the thrice-married publican from Donegal, reported as planning to walk down the aisle later this month with his Polish girlfriend, Daria Weiske (29).

A triumph of hope over and of love over commonly-perceived wisdom. Patsy gave hope to all of us who believe than love across generations is not an unbreachable chasm, but just another obstacle to be overcome in that near hopeless attempt that plagues us all to find true love.

Okay, so Patsy might have been a little over-enthusiastic with his claims that the pair would actually be walking up the aisle anytime soon - as it seems to have come as a bit of a surprise to Daria according to some reports today, yet I refuse to believe that love across the generation gap is impossible.

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Society mocks relationships between young, beautiful women and older men. Ageing, leathery and boozed-up rock stars like Ronnie Wood, who conduct very public affairs with cocktails waitresses 41 years their junior, do little to dispel this image.

But from a woman's point of view, there's much to be said in praise of older men. They tend to be set in their ways, so if they aren't raging alcoholics or drug addicts when you meet them, then they're unlikely to turn into one.

They also tend to have acquired some wisdom along the way, not the least of which is the acceptance that your being with them forms a contract of sorts -- they could very easily be with someone younger and less saggy, so you'd better treat them well.

They're more likely to bring you to nice restaurants, to pick you up with a chauffeur rather than refunding you a bus fare, and they are unlikely to be pestering you for sex quite as often.

And they tend to compliment you on your appearance more often because, let's be honest, they're grateful at their age to see a firm body that's not wearing a rubber glove.

And ultimately, there's an acceptance on the man's part that he's the luckiest guy on the planet, which ideally transfers itself into him treating his younger woman like a princess.

Which is why, for just a while, Patsy and Daria's story warmed my heart. Patsy started off my 2010 with a smile.

And that's good enough for me.

Be warned, it could so be like the end of...literacy

AS the publisher of KISS magazine, which is read exclusively by Irish teenagers, I've a unique insight into what the future holds for Irish society, and so am perfectly positioned to forecast the collapse of literacy in the coming year. Let me explain.

The biggest selling issue of 2009 featured the latest in the Twilight series of movies -- New Moon -- with pride of place being given to its star Robert Pattinson. RPatz, to give him his correct name, hit the news last week because of an accident that befell him during filming. Which is where I present a description of the incident as given by his co-star, Bryce Dallas Howard: "He was like, 'Oh, I have to go to the dentist.' And I was like, 'Oh no, what happened? Just a checkup?' And he was like, 'No, I chipped a tooth.' And I was like, 'How?' And he was like, 'Flossing!'"

Even if you get your head around the idea that chipping a tooth while flossing constitutes a news story, then surely you must fear for the future of our planet when you see the language used.

But I see this every day in KISS Towers, as a flood of letters and emails come in from the adults of tomorrow, all programmed to express pain, shock, happiness etc. with "and I was like, omigod ... ".

And if we do nothing else in 2010, can we please drop this infuriating habit of using witty abbreviations for people's names? JLo, RPatz, SuBo, LiLo ... Thank you, and have a great year. MOD.

No mystery about cause of this girl's heavy issues

I always believed that having an unhealthy lifestyle was a personal choice, which needn't overlap with anyone else's. But I was wrong, as I discovered when settling down in the cinema last week to watch Sherlock Holmes.

I had the misfortune to sit beside a woman who waited for the movie to start before unfurling her artery-clogging cinematic companions -- an enormous tray of nachos, set off against a tub of cheese-flavoured yellow goo, washed down with a vat of sugary Coke.

And so for the next 45 minutes, while trying to enjoy the movie, I was instead forced to endure the sight and sound of self destruction beside me beside me. She was not exactly slim. And as she woke up on New Year's day, and sighed wistfully, she probably rued how unfair life is, that despite all her efforts to stick to salad at lunch, slimline tonic with her gins and walking at several hundred yards a day, she just couldn't shift that darned spare tyre around her waist.

Well I've a hint for you love -- your own weight in nachos, a gallon of cheesy dip and a litre of Coke while sitting on your bottom for two hours ...

Remember that night at the cinema? I don't think we need Sherlock Holmes to work out what's gone wrong.


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