Veering West

COLM TOBIN: Blue Monday is giving way to Worried Wednesday, and then Sorry Saturday!

January 23rd, 2023 11:00 AM

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SCIENTISTS in NASA have telescopes that can look back across oceans of time to the very birth of the universe. But I’ll bet they’ll never find a lens powerful enough to see to the end of January. 

Yes, January is dragging on like a bad Netflix series this year. A particularly long, badly written Soviet spy series filled with clunky dialogue, long camera zooms and plodding synthesiser music. 

Some months zip by in the blink of an eye. 

The zippy symphony of May. The my, my, my of Mundy’s July. 

Not January.

January goes on like an extended box set, episode after episode filled with down-and-out characters failing to stay out of the pub. They think about going for a run, then opt for a biscuit. They smash bathroom mirrors and fling weighing scales out of windows. 

‘Netflix and chill’ has no romantic connotations in this month. It’s just you clutching a hot water bottle, waiting for the kettle to boil.

And just when you think the final credits are going to roll on January, you realise you’re only halfway through the series. 

There’s still another fortnight to go.

Good God, will this month ever end? 

I keep glancing at the calendar, hoping and praying that we might have reached the last week of the month, that the oasis of Pay Day might materialise before us in the desert of early 2023.

But no. 

It’s the 16th, then the 17th, then back to the 13th again – you wake up in cold sweats thinking it’s New Year’s Day. Blue Monday gives way to Worried Wednesday, gives way to Sorry Saturday. 

Thursday doesn’t even get out of bed.

By Sunday, you are in the foetal position on the couch watching Dermot Bannon picking out marble countertops, and you are pining for Ballyheigue in June. 

But however blue you might be feeling as we crawl towards the finish line of January, remember that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

Spring is only around the corner. As George Harrison sang – all things shall pass. Even January.

The evenings are starting to stretch. You might even consider booking a holiday.

And however bad you are feeling, take solace in that it cannot be as bad as how the lads in Fine Gael are feeling.

Pink faces all over FG

BOY oh boy, talk about starting the year by planting your face straight into the concrete. 

Yep, Leo and Co have begun 2023 with all the elegance of Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit. (Spoiler alert: it crashed into the sea).

The twin crises in healthcare and housing are now so omnipresent you almost accept them as part of the furniture of our national dialogue. 

All this has now been augmented by other, slow-creeping mini-crises that are currently plaguing the coalition, all emanating from Fine Gael. 

First, there was the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise Damien English who forgot to declare a property he owned to Sipo, the standards in public office committee. This can happen to anyone, of course. We all know that houses are like socks – you could find them in any old place – down behind the hot press, in the back of the couch – anywhere! 

But the government’s woes weren’t over after Mr English resigned. It turned out Paschal Donohoe was in trouble. Yes, Paschal ‘I finished all my business studies homework and read a novel’ Donohoe.

Having got elected on the last count seven years ago in Dublin Central, O’Donoghue’s election campaign is now being revisited due to discrepancies in election expenses. This could spell real bother for Paschal, particularly if more undocumented expenses emerge.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough for Fine Gael, while English and Donohoe were in hot water, poor old Michael Collins was in hot pink! 

Doctored images emerged online of Collins carrying Dior and Chanel shopping bags in either hand. 

The provocative little piece of pop art is called ‘Duty-Free State’ by Dublin-based artist Will St Leger.

I’m hearing reports from West Cork that this isn’t going down at all well. 

Needless to say, I stand ready for battle in the capital if called upon. 

(Not on Thursday please, though, as I have a hair appointment).

Maybe that’s what can bring Fine Gael out of their funk – an old-fashioned war with Dublin hipsters. 

Old dog for the hard road

IF the coverage of Prince Harry’s blockbuster autobiography wasn’t driving you all spare already (see what I did there?) there was a bit of a lift to the January gloom this week when Jeremy Clarkson was forced into making a second apology for his disgraceful comments about Meghan Markle before Christmas. 

Obviously, his bosses in Amazon and ITV were none too pleased with his scurrilous remarks, which might be the real impetus here. 

Nothing moves powerful men like the real and present threat to their powerful jobs. Hopefully, Clarkson, an old dog in the broadcasting game, and truly skilled at it to boot, can take some stock and learn some new tricks.

Words have power. Only a few weeks ago in Ireland, junior minister Anne Rabbitte had excrement thrown at her, a new low surely in this country. 

Although nobody is suggesting these incidents are linked, it behoves the adults in the room, especially influential broadcasters with huge audiences, to use their words responsibly. 

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