Thumbs up, Pat

I ONCE gave hitchhiking a try. It was for a piece in this very newspaper. And it didn't go well.

Listening to a man called Pat Fitz on The Ray D'Arcy Show, it all started to come back to me. Indeed, my journey had kicked off with a phone call from a panicked editor ("Jesus, don't get yourself killed!"). Pat, on the other hand, received a different type of call.

"Are you serious about this, Pat?" asked Ray on Tuesday. "I'm as serious as a heart attack," said Pat, aka 'The Man with no Plan on his Way to Poznan'. That's right - Pat is off to Euro 2012. And he's thumbing his way there.

The first time we heard from Pat (33), from Abbeyfeale, he was pulled over next to a Centra in Cork.

His buddy was helping him get started, and he badly needed a breakfast roll (the buddy, not Pat). "Hey, Ray Foley, how are things?" asked Ronan (the buddy). "No, it's Ray D'Arcy," answered Ray (the radio presenter). "Ah, he knows that, he's only a blaggard," said Pat (the poor fool). But that isn't to say that he doesn't know what he's doing.


The last we heard from Pat on Tuesday, he was on his way to Rosslare. The next morning, he had made it to Fishguard, Wales (boats are allowed). Yep, it looks as though Ray has found his very own Tony Hawks (the British comedian who, with a little help from the late Gerry Ryan, managed to hitchhike his way around Ireland ... with a fridge). He's keen to hold on to him, too.

On Wednesday, Anton Savage (filling in for Ray, who was having his nose 'refractured') had an interesting question for Pat.

"People who stand around in major ports," pondered Anton, "trying to attract the attention of passing truckers ... they're not all looking for lifts. Have you had any interesting offers other than lifts?"

Pat laughed. "In the words of Meat Loaf, I'd do anything for a lift to Poznan, but I won't do that!" So, even the man with no plan has his limits.

Naturally, a fair amount of planning is advised for women who are considering giving birth at home. Less than 0.5pc of births in Ireland are planned home births. Minister for Health James Reilly reckons it should be higher.

"It strikes the absolute fear of God into me," said Tom Dunne this week. "I'd be saying a Decade of the Rosary in one corner of the room."

You're not alone, Tom. Even if your listeners are all for it. Take, for example, young Eva (she gave birth to her child at home).

"I was able to go upstairs," explained Eva. "I was able to take naps. We had a birthing pool in our kitchen ... "


Hold on there just a second. A birthing pool in the kitchen? Where are all the men in this discussion? What happened to the Rosary beads? "You're certainly painting a very rosy picture," said Tom to Eva. "You're putting the goo on me here!" Good man, Tom. "No, not quite, Eva, only joking ... " Too late, Tom.

I wonder if Rex Velvet was born at home. A real-life supervillain from Seattle, Rex doesn't like being asked about his eye patch.

See, one of Sean Moncrieff's tasks this week was to interview a supervillain. A supervillian whose arch-nemesis is a guy named Phoenix Jones - a vigilante superhero, also based in Seattle.

The latter has a secret lair (behind a comic book shelf) and is the leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement.

Just like The Avengers, then. Only, without the superpowers. And without Scarlett Johansson.

"At a young age, you steal candy from other children, and you don't apologise for it," said Rex, explaining the evolution of the supervillain. "When you're older, you don't pay parking tickets, and you just get bored. Things get worse, and before you know it, you're overthrowing an entire town, ridding it of their superheroes."

Wow. Moncrieff asked him if he was planning any villainy in Europe. "I would not have a problem skipping over to your side of the pond and thwarting superheroes," answered Rex.

And there you have it, Europe -- two men to keep an eye out for. One of them is looking for a lift. The other might steal your car.