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COLM TOBIN: Home from LA, just in time to see the great ‘Taylor Swift Show’

February 16th, 2024 12:00 PM

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I AM just back from California and fighting a losing battle with jetlag these past few days. I seem to remember it being worse after flying west to east in the past, and this confirms it.

Apparently, there are scientific reasons. Your circadian rhythm is less confused if you travel westward because it prolongs the body clock’s experience of its normal cycle. And so continues the theme of my life, veering east when my body and soul tells me to do the opposite (go West, young man!).

California was as wonderful and fascinating as ever.

I realise that the very idea of it is a nightmare for some people, but I am a total sucker for America and what it can do to the mind of the immigrant, even if it is only for a week.

The possibilities expand, old hang ups disappear, there is a sense that you can begin anew, even now amid a growing political nightmare. We spent a day in LA, most of it stuck in traffic on fivelane freeways, but it felt as authentic as any travel experience.

It was our downtime after a week of networking in San Diego and we topped off the work with a visit to the Warner Brothers studio lot, followed by an hour in the company of Jimmy Kimmel and guests in the Hollywood Masonic Temple.

It was amazing to see the efficiency of a US late night talk show in full flow. It’s hard to understand how they can churn out four shows a week but they have it down to a fine art and everything is conducted with an almost military precision.

Of course, the guest interviews themselves are short, rehearsed and ultimately pretty boring. We were unlucky to get two Brits and no band – Dua Lipa (not singing) and some lad from White Lotus 2 – and there was certainly no sign of Tommy Tiernan-style improvisations or open-ended conversations. No time for that sort of freeform chat in Hollywood.

The high point of the jetlag was getting back to Ireland in time to watch the Superbowl, otherwise known as ‘The Taylor Swift Show’. The game was a classic, not to mention the hype surrounding Swift flying back from Japan to see her fella Travis Kelce winning a classic final that went into ‘overtime’.

See, I have all the lingo. I’m like one of those lads who went to America for a week in the 80s and came back wearing a backwards baseball cap and talking like Tom Cruise.

I was glad I came back when I did. A small earthquake hit California while I was in the air, and with a Trump presidency careering into reality later this year, it’s fair to say that it might be a while before I get back.

The rainbows of the 90s

I WAS sad to hear about the passing of John Bruton while I was away, a figure who loomed large on the political stage when I was a kid but who may not be familiar to many youngsters these days. Bruton and his rainbow coalition governments played key parts in laying the foundations for what became the Celtic Tiger, not to mention what ultimately became the Good Friday agreement.

Both of these are forever associated with Bertie’s Fianna Fåil in the consciousness but it’s easy to forget how many architects are involved in the making of a nation, and in the making of peace. Mr Bruton, like a certain previous Taoiseach, certainly ‘did the State some service’. Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam.

A mature look north

A DOCUMENTARY that John Bruton would surely have enjoyed was Andrew Trimble’s fascinating study of identity on these islands in his RTÉ One show For Ulster and Ireland which aired last Monday and is most certainly worth your time if you haven’t seen it.

It was one of the most personal and thoughtful pieces I have seen on the subject and Trimble’s articulate and heartfelt study of the shifting sands of identity from his Ulster-Scots heritage to his growing sense of Irishness through experiences playing international rugby was truly insightful.

The show was very nicely balanced with contributions from former Munster rugby player Barry Murphy, representing a southern perspective, and an interview with the daughter of the inaugural First Minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble, who talks about the complexity of her own identity, having grown up in a staunch Unionist household only to marry her girlfriend in Scotland because same-sex marriage was banned in Northern Ireland at the time.

I found the show to be profoundly mature and hopeful and I admire Andrew Trimble for using his platform to put forward such a sophisticated overview of the nuances in our relationships on this little island, particularly of the northern parts of which we are often so ignorant.

Plans leave them cold

BACK in the USA, the poor auld billionaires trying to have themselves cryogenically frozen so they can be reanimated at a later date have hit upon some unforeseen issues – estate law.

Most trusts typically run out after about 90 years and it turns out that those hoping to be revived centuries into the future are worried they’ll wake up broke.

Some clever lawyers in Arizona have come up with ‘cryo-trusts’, which last for up to 500 years and give your future, re-animated self-access to your assets.

Ah, America. You gotta love it, don’t you?

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