Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Puppy-strangling, toenail-eating, anything but shopping!

EAT a bowl of Jade Goody’s toenails. Sit through every series of Sex and the City. Snog Brian Cowen (with lots of tongue). Strangle a puppy dog. Eat my own pancreas. Just a selection of tasks that I would gladly choose over doing one more minute of Christmas shopping this festive feckin’ season.

This really has to be one of the most tortorous tasks known to man. And when I say man, I don’t mean mankind, I speak of my fellow males because as far as I can make out gents, the women really seem to have taken to this shopping lark.

They don’t seem to mind piling into stuffy shops with hordes of other bloodthirsty shoppers and useless assistants where ‘Driving home for Christmas’, ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ and ‘The fairytale of New York’ are played ad nauseum. On the contrary, the ladies seem to enjoy this sickening environment.

I, on the other hand, start to sweat profusely and become short of breath the instant I set foot inside these cesspits shopping centres.

Being the only brother to two younger girls means I have not only had to endure a lifetime of “Your sister’s a bird” taunts from friends, but I also have to do my Christmas shopping in the horrific confines of the ladies’ shops.

Looking for all the world like a bunny rabbit that’s wandered into a Home for Demented and Rabid Rottweilers, I wander around the clothes shops, exchanging a knowing grunt or nod with the other male shoppers who are also on their annual trip to this particular corner of hell.

With no small amount of difficulty, I try to catch a glimpse of what other girls are buying while at the same time trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) not to look like at any minute I’m going to run off with them in a sack over my shoulder.

When the clothes shops fail, there’s always the perfume option. But of course this proves to be just as difficult an excursion seen as all of the available fragrances just smell like plain old woman to me.

At first, I presumed I’d be fairly safe buying one of those new celebrity perfumes that are so popular now. If they look pretty they must spell nice, right?

Wrong. An acquaintance of the female variety subsequently informed me that while a few of the celeb smells are nice, you may as well be buying bottled fart with some of the others. Apparently Beyonce has a pleasant odour but Britney stinks to high heaven, an example of fragrance imitating life if ever one was needed.

The Christmas shopping cannot be done in one trip but in several half hour, “in-and-out” bursts instead. Too long spent in those hellish environs would undoubtedly result in a complete breakdown of my mental - and possibly physical - functions.

Despite a few close calls, however, I have yet to collapse into the foetal position and wail for my mother while in the middle of trying to choose what kind of shoes 18-year-old girls are wearing these days.

Then once the shopping is finally complete, I can get down to the lovely business of looking forward to Christmas. But while most cite the anniversary of the birth of Santa as their reason for celebrating at this time of year, I’ll drink to the fact that it’s another whole year before I have to go shopping for bloody presents.

To my dear friends

AS THE year draws to a close, there are some housekeeping matters that need attending before I disappear into 2009.

While I do attempt to peeve the overly-sensitive members of each and every group, creed, gender, county, province, profession and persuasion equally, inevitably I will always miss out one or two. For this I apologise.

In a perfect world, I’d have the time, talent and round-the-clock security team to toy with the sensibilities of each and every one of the easily-offended but alas in a perfect world we are not.

The best I can offer the hilariously indignant for now is the promise that I will try and get round to making the blood boil in the veins underneath your impossibly thin skin as soon as possible in the new year.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Shite-spouting Peaches

PEACHES Geldof is a twit, a shite-spouter extraordinaire, a trollop with notions so high above her station that the station has long disappeared in the distance. You get the picture.
Now in fairness to Peaches - and her sisters, Turnip and Avocado - she didn’t have much of a chance from the off, seen as she is the spawn of that paragon of poop-talk, Bob Geldof.
But despite the Hairy One’s tendency of scolding the entire planet at once from atop his high horse, Sir Bob’s heart does seem to be in the right place. His daughter is another kettle of (spoilt-rotten, self-important) fish entirely however.
Hailed as a fashion icon and the new It girl - the only requirement of which seems to be getting photographed wankered drunk, walking into nightclubs with apparent “musicians” - Peaches really took the biscuit this week by claiming that daddy was the product of a poverty-stricken upbringing.
Trying to explain why she would be spending Christmas with her father instead of her husband of four months, the 19-year-old said it was tradition to spend the festive season with Bob.
"My dad takes Christmas very seriously because he had a very deprived Irish childhood, so he loves to go all-out to compensate. I think it's more for him, but it's very sweet,” Peaches told Hello magazine during a rare window of sober lucidity.
For those not in the know, Bob’s “deprived Irish childhood” was spent in Dun Laoghaire, not exactly the ghetto by any stretch of the imagination. A community association that includes the likes of Bono, Van Morrison, Eddie Irvine and Neil Jordan would further suggest that Geldof’s old neighbourhood isn’t quite a hub of deprivation.
Geldof also received his secondary education in Blackrock College, one of the most exclusive and expensive private schools in the country.
Not many impoverished boys have dragged their hungry broke asses along those corridors I’m afraid Your Peachness.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Louis Louis!

EVERYBODY already knows that Louis Walsh is a great throbbing boil on the tip of society’s nose who thinks that - because he can market atrocious music to tasteless pre-teen girls - his is a voice worth listening to.
But what is it that makes Ireland’s most shameful export think he is entitled to spout on about music like he’s George Martin? Well it helps that, more often than not, the people he is judging tend to be unstable, insecure, talentless nervous wrecks who would do just about anything for a millisecond of fame.
Easy to sound knowledgeable about music in that sort of company, right? Well, you’d think so, but despite spending decades in the ‘music’ industry, Louis still quite can’t manage it.
Instead, he comes across as a hybrid between one of the spoilt little pre-pubescent girls - from whom he makes millions - and a tantrum-throwing son, who gets cheeky with his dad (or in this case; Simon Cowell) because he’s bitter over not getting any of the good genes when all he really wants is a big hug.
But up until now, Louis has pretty much stayed off my radar, seen as I’m not really a fan of his two main products (shite music and shite TV) but last week, I heard a distinctive beep as the little dweeb ventured onto unfamiliar pastures to comment on my hometown.
Speaking at the launch of a charity CD, the Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, John Gallahue - presumably sick of discussing potholes and road signs - said entry to the music business was controlled with a mafia-style grip by a small number of promoters who make vast sums of money.
Try as I may, I cannot for the life of me think why a councillor in Limerick would go out of his way to criticise Louis Walsh and his cronies - although he may have just watched back to back episodes of the X Factor. However, I lost all interest in discovering Gallahue’s motivation when I saw what the pompous one had to say on the matter.
“Mafia? He is the one from Limerick - that is very rich,” he responded. “God knows Limerick could do with some good PR.”
Now, we are notoriously sensitive in Limerick when it comes to the city’s reputation and some of its defenders do verge on the delusional when it comes to denying the city’s problems.
But so much has been done to highlight the many beautiful aspects of our city that it is infuriating to see a bottom-feeder like Walsh having his ignorant, harmful comments printed on the front page, even if it is on a tabloid.
There is nothing wrong with accurately reporting the problems which Limerick has experienced in recent years with violent crime but why carry the ill-informed opinion of the man who brought us Johnny Logan and The Carter Twins on your front page?
And to make matters worse, the sensational headline accompanying the article wasn’t criticising Walsh for his remarks, instead it was talking of the ‘Mafia slur’ against him by the County Manager.
In the words of an incredulous Jacobim Mugatu in Zoolander; “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here!”
How can a Limerick county councillor pointing out the pitiful state of the pop music industry be considered a ‘slur’, but Louis Walsh can have a go at a whole city without retribution?
In a decent world, little notice would be paid to the mutterings of a twit such as Walsh but unfortunately we live in a time when his bigoted opinion is classic tabloid fodder. Worse again is the fact that the red-tops take the side of the guy who is insulting thousands with his ignorant remarks.
Louis may not understand someone taking issue with derogatory comments about their hometown - he has made no secret of his dislike for Mayo in the past - but he has let his notoriously loose tongue go a little too far on this occasion.
John Gallahue hit the nail on the head when he said Walsh and his cohorts were in the business of humiliating people (mostly teenagers) on TV.
But Louis’ area of expertise starts and finishes with taking advantage of the gormless for his own personal gain, so any opinions he has on anything else should not be put into the public arena.
Yes Louis, we have a crime problem in Limerick. But did you know we also have one of the biggest club rugby sides in the world? And we have produced some of the best music acts in the country (not that they’d interest you, seen as they didn’t gestate on reality TV)?
Or did you know Louis, that the majority of Limerick people are characterised by their straight-talking and inability to spout nonsense? They’re kind of like an anti-you.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Taking the piss

WE have more than our fair share of unusual sayings in Ireland but “Taking the piss” has to be up there with the strangest of them.

Often, I’ve wondered if, at some point in history, a prankster actually robbed a much-beloved jug of urine from someone else in order to ridicule them? Or is it possible that a famous court jester, many centuries ago, also moonlighted as a toilet cleaner and his two main skills in life - telling jokes and removing piddle - became somehow intertwined and were subsequently seen as meaning the same thing?

If neither of these potential explanations turn out to be true, I’ve come across two boys who have offered up a modern explanation for the origins of this bizarre term.

On two separate occasions, a judge threw out a drink-driving case because of the danger that the two defendants could have inhaled alcoholic fumes from their own urine prior to being breathalised at the station.

The judge told the court that, because the 20-minute period of observation of the defendants had been broken up when they turned their back on gardai in order to urinate, they could not be convicted.
Displaying an astounding knowledge of all matters urinary, the judge pointed out that; “Nil by mouth is the same as nil by nose. When he is urinating, he is inhaling vapourised alcohol and there’s always steam off it.”

Well isn’t that just wonderful? All a guy needs to do to get away with drink driving in Ireland is grab a quick ‘pee and sniff’ after getting caught. What’s next? Taking a dump in the station toilet after being arrested will get you off an assault charge?

Dubs, drubbings and dopes

DUBLIN has never appealed to me. Well, that’s an exercise in understatement. Being honest about it, excursions to Dublin or capital-themed conversation in general can cause my temperature to rise, brow to sweat and can occassionally result in some involuntary wincing and growling.
You may wonder why I have such an irrational aversion to all things Dub but unfortunately I can’t offer one concrete reason for why I’d like the feckin’ place to dislodge and float away.

Off the top my head I’d have to cite the accents (North and Southside), the unfounded superiority complex, the Spike, Reggie Corrigan, Mark Vaughan, Bono and the complete lack of knowledge many of its inhabitants display regarding anything outside of the pale.

Then you have the way the national media treats Dublin winning the Leinster football title like Ireland winning the World Cup (well done lads, you only have half the population and even at that you haven’t won an All-Ireland in well over a decade).

Don’t even get me started on the impossible task that is trying to navigate through the bloody place. Speaking of which, if you’re using the AA Route Planner around Dublin City Centre, don’t make the same mistake that I did and blindly trust the directions which instruct you to drive right up Grafton Street.

Quite regularly my friends who have defected to Dublin - either for college or work reasons - will ask me why I never call up to visit them in their adopted home. If I give an honest answer, there’s always the potential for seeming backward, jealous or even racist (although I’ll recognise shopkeepers as a race before I do Dubs.)

Now I’m willing to admit there are obviously a fair share of honest, decent, down-to-earth Dubs who get up in the morning and put their trousers on one leg at a time just like regular human beings. The only thing is, I’ve yet to meet them.

And until such a time arrives, I’m avoiding the capital like the bubonic plague unless I make the Irish team to play the first game in the reopened Lansdowne Road (I think I’m fairly safe here) or Limerick reach Croke Park (probably even safer on that one).

We’re off!

BREAK out the champers, throw your hats in the air and give the cat a kick because Limerick’s media soccer team has finally put some points on the board at the ninth time of asking.

After a somewhat disappointing but not completely unexpected start to the astro league season (eight absolute tonkings from eight games) our team made up of journos from around the city finally got a win under the belt last Thursday. We even managed to do it with a scoreline of 20-6 which brings our goal difference up to an impressive minus 57.

Now, I’m not one to engage in wildly ungrounded predictions but I reckon this could really be a turning point for our beloved team. I’ll admit, you can use the term ‘athletes’ in only the loosest of senses to describe our players, and we’ve done for the beautiful game what the Taliban did for feminism, but no longer can we be known as the whipping boys of the league.

Everyone’s walking around the office with a little bit more spring in their step this week, buoyed by our first taste of sweet victory. However, this Thursday evening will tell if our first win was merely a flash in the pan as we take on the Moscow Brains (Castletroy College, 9pm, supporters welcome as long as they’re supporting the right side).

If we once again come out on top, expect to hear about it in boastful detail right here next week. However, if this week’s jubilance is replaced by the far more familiar feeling of resounding defeat, there will be no match report, no account of the goal celebrations, no mention whatsoever.

So just don’t ask.

The Brit-Factor

ANYONE with a modicum of taste could tell you that “talent” shows such as The X Factor lose all entertainment value once the truly atrocious have been eliminated, leaving only the semi-talented to battle it out.

Nonetheless the show is a huge ratings success which - despite further reinforcing the theory that people on the whole are without taste - didn’t seem like such a bad thing up until now.

However, the brains trust over at Republican Sinn Fein know better, pointing out that the X Factor is in fact “yet another attempt to gradually spread the normalisation of British rule in all of Ireland.”

Of course, it’s so obvious now. How could we all be so stupid? I knew Simon Cowell had a Cromwellian go about him.

And have you noticed the orange complexion of his two fellow judges, Danni Minogue and Cheryl Cole? Orange? Come on folks, quite a subtle way to show the true colonial ambitions of the show don’t you think?

Not subtle enough for our RSF friends though. Keep up the good work guys.

Vertigo, cough bottle and Cork Con

MANY so called “experts” will try and tell you that this pesky recession was brought about by the burst of the housing bubble but I can exclusively reveal that a fear of heights amongst Clare people is the real reason for the downturn. Well, in Limerick at least.

It was while ploughing through the archives of the Limerick Leader that I discovered a city council report which predicted Ireland’s economic woes while the Celtic Tiger was still only a suckling kitten.

“Families from Broadford and Scariff,” said one insightful councillor, “don’t come in to town as much anymore, because many of them are nervous about car parks like Arthur’s Quay.”

Of course! It’s those bloody tall buildings that did it! How could we expect those poor Clare folk to spend money here if they’ve to park their cars and carts several storeys up?

The valuable custom of Clare shoppers would be lost to supermarkets in Ennis where people could park at ground level as God had intended, the councillor predicted.

He added that he knew 20 or 30 families from Clare who had abandoned shopping in Limerick because of a fear of our skyscraping multi-storey car parks.

Years later, now that the recession is in full swing, don’t we look like the right gaggle of idiots, with our big fancy tall buildings and nobody to go shopping in them.

If you - like me - don’t intend on ignoring these wise words for a second time, then petition city council to invest in a big swinging wrecking ball and take it to any building in the city that has the temerity to go up more than one storey.

Let’s not ignore the wise words of this particular public representative and ensure that the Limerick of the future will be known for having nothing upstairs.

No place for Con
YOU have to love this. Cork Con - the rebel county’s premier rugby side (a fact on which they very much pride themselves) - have been denied permission to enter the Social Rugby World Championships because the organisers reckoned they were too likely to train for the event.

“We had an enquiry from Cork Constitution and we had to turn them away after looking at their website. It's not personal, it's just that they would have been training for it,” said tournament organiser Rolf Fitschen.

The two-week tournament will be held in Cape Town and will be run with the ethos that rugby should be about meeting and making new friends, having a few drinks and not worrying about the result.

"We wanted to set up a tournament which was a global outlet for the players still playing for fun only, for those who do not want to worry about getting dropped, who play because of the mateship, for complete and basic amateurs. That's what this is. A good team in this tournament would look like dicks," the ever-eloquent Fitschen continued.

With that in mind - and if the Corkonians aren’t qualified to be the Irish entrants - might I suggest the Bruff seconds throw their hats in the ring?

I can guarantee that we will remain thoroughly uncompetitive throughout the tournament and as alien as it sounds to us, we will even try and buy into this idea of enjoying the post-match drinks as much as the game itself.

Cough bottle conundrum
GOING to a chemists is never fun. More often than not it means that you’re sick or, worse again, someone else is sick and guilting you into getting something for them because they’re too ill to get off their own infected behind.

On top of that, the potential for embarrassment is huge at the chemists. One wrong turn and you’re in the aisle for womens’ products where you have no business and may not realise your error before reading the back of the hair removal kit you picked up thinking it was hair gel.

Before you know it, you either look like your girlfriend/sister/mother has you so under-thumbed that you’re buying her moustache-remover or you’re the kind of guy that dons high heels and likes to be called Felicity at the weekends (apologies to Felicities everywhere).

The fear of a repeat of such embarrassment leaves me ill-at-ease when at the chemists, not quite a quivering wreck but about as keen to be there as a monk at a Cradle of Filth concert.

This visit was necessitated, however, by a bark of a cough that was keeping my housemates awake at night and making small children cry during the day.

After identifying and ensuring to keep a safe distance from the dreaded womens’ aisle, I located the cough medicine and discovered that the previously simple task of picking the correct bottle had now been turned into a rather perplexing chore.

In the past, it was simple. You either had a chesty or dry cough. Now, however it seems like they have decided to name cough medicine after the seven dwarves with Productive, Non-productive and Tickly joining up with Dry and Chesty. Industry insiders tell me that Smokey and Whoopi will be coming out in the new year.

Unable to decide which one of the bottles best suited my condition and aware that my booming cough had made the shop’s staff uneasy, I grabbed a few of each, threw money over the counter and made a bee-line for the door.

At least nobody’s going to call me Felicity this time.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Scientologists, beards and bitches August 25

Praise Xenu, they're finally here
PAT yourself on the back, Limerick, we've finally been considered worthy by that barmy lot known as the Church of Scientology.

Satisfied that our fair city finally houses the required number of easily-led nitwits, the scientologists are planning a visit in the next year.

For those not up-to-date on one of the world's most popular and ridiculous cults, this is a supposed "religion" which preaches, amongst other things, that Xenu, an alien ruler of the Galactic Confederacy brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft 75 million years ago.

The Church of Scientology is also vehemently opposed to the practice of psychiatry, which its members blame for the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the September 11 attacks.

Not that unsurprisingly, Scientology was thought up by the wild imagination of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, a man quoted in the past as saying the best way to get rich is to start your own religion. No surprise then that rich idiots tend to be high up on the list of the church's most desirable members.

Just to keep everyone happy though, Scientology members are also paid a commission for every new hapless recruit they bring in. At the same time, one of Scientology's most famous rich idiots – sorry I mean members – Tom Cruise says that Scientology can cure drug addicts and rehabilitate criminals.

No more junkies you say? No more crime? Tell you what Tom, give us a decent hurling team and I'll build you a church on O'Connell Street myself.

I'm with you, Willie

WILLIE O'Dea has gotten a hard time of late over his reluctance to shear his face of that famous moustache. The most famous lip-warmer in the country has been the source of so much coverage in recent weeks that this column suspects it could run in the next general election and give its owner a run for his money.

O'Dea has hinted that he is reluctant to shave off the soup strainer unless a truly astronomical offer to charity is made. And as a show of support for the Minister in his attempts to get the best price, I have decided to grow my own beard, which in time will be moulded into a tache, a la Willie.

Although nobody has mistaken me for Billy Connolly just yet, I have already encountered some of the problems associated with growing facial foliage. On most days now, you can tell what I've had for lunch as most of the meal is strewn across my Velcrolike face.

To make matters worse, not even my mother will kiss me any more for fear of sustaining third degree carpet burns from my grizzly cheeks. Most bizarrely, once the hair around my chin reached a certain length, it decided to turn a rusty red, making me look like I'm a raggedy kilt away from being one of William Wallace's sidekicks in Braveheart.

I just hope Willie – O'Dea not Wallace – appreciates the hardship I'm going through. Of course there is a advantage to this dilemma, the most obvious being that once the moustachioed minister finally sets a date with a razor in the name of charity, I will be able to warm up the crowd as a support shave.

And I've no doubt, as was the case with Willie, the multimillionaires will be queuing up around the corner, chequebooks in hand, all eager to be the one that paid to have my slightly less famous facial fixture removed.

One lucky gal

A MAN in India married a right ol' bitch this week. Please don't write in complaining about the filth that they're printing in the Limerick Leader these days: that is a statement of fact that will have me chuckling right into next week.

You see this unfortunate chap named Selvakumar in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, felt that he had encountered tremendously bad luck in recent years as a result of his killing two dogs back in 1993.

To remedy the situation Selvakumar turned to an astrologer who told him he could undo the curse only by marrying a dog and living with it. The lucky bride in question was a bitch – that's right, a bitch – named Selvi, who the farmer's family picked up off the street.

The lucky pooch was even bathed and dressed in an orange sari and flower garland for the ceremony. For fear rumours of Selvakumar having any further marital duties were to emerge, a friend confirmed that the dog was only for "lifting the curse and after that, he plans to get a real bride".

Now that's one situation where I'd like to see a guy introducing his new girlfriend to his ex.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Farting cows and drugged up roses Sept 4 2008

Lets drug up our Roses
AS the world's greatest international contest drew to a close last week and nothing but the blood, sweat and tears of competition were left behind on the arena floor, I wondered how much longer we will have to wait before Limerick once again tastes sweet success at the Rose of Tralee.

It's been 14 years since the coveted crown came to the Shannonside and that's far too long for a county that has more than its fair share of lookers.

With that said, having the goods in the looks department doesn't always guarantee a win in the competition. So where is it that we are falling short?And more importantly, where should we be looking to get the edge over the rest?

After devoting an afternoon to this dilemma, I found a loophole in the RoT rules, an oversight so great that all other major competitions – such as the Olympics and World Cup – addressed the matter many decades ago. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the secret to regaining this prestigious crown lies in the lack of drug testing at the Rose of Tralee.

Year after year, every Biddy, Eileen and Sheila turns up in Tralee with their tin whistle, harp or dancing shoes at the ready. They churn out the same old performance that could have come from anyother competitor over the last 50 years, and have a little chuckle about how they're taller than Ray Darcy before tottering off the stage to make way for the next clone.

But imagine if the Limerick Rose at next year's event, instead of reading her favourite piece of poetry, bench pressed 200 kilos. Then, instead of talking to diminutive Darcy, she lifted him above herhead and flung him to the back of the festival dome – shot putt style. How could the judges possibly give first place to anyone else?

Admittedly, this wouldn't do much for the reputation of Limerick's ladies – and it may be hard to describe a girl with biceps like bowling balls as a rose – but we're looking at the big picture here.

So there you have it, the organisers of the Limerick Rose competition just need to invest in some steroids, protein shakes and gym membership for the 2009 entrants.

Another benefit of this is next year's rose could also potentially claim glory for Limerick in the world of competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting.

That's gas

WHILE flatulence is rarely welcomed with open nostrils by many people, it has become a particular bone of contention for my father in recent weeks, but not for the most obvious of reasons.

Unlike his son, who spends his days sitting in front of a computer, my father has a real job, the kind that leaves you stiff, muddied and occasionally soaked come evening time.

It was while at home on the farm this week that my dad told me how it may prove troublesome in the future to try and expand his stock due to our animals' "gassy" tendencies.

The EU, you see, may be putting a quota on the number of cattle a farmer can keep, so as to curb the amount of greenhouse gases being produced by farting European cows. Apparently broken wind from cattle is responsible for 35 per cent ofIreland's greenhouse-gas emissions.

Being the helpful sort, I suggestedto my father that we switch the cattle to a diet that would yield low gas intestinal production (less farts).

After a few weeks of a strict diet of cranberry juice, rice noodles and salad, they should pose far less of a risk to the ozone, I told him.

My father told me to stick with the journalism.