Veering West

COLM TOBIN: I feel like grumpy Roy Keane – scribbling away as his studio buddies jump for joy

December 12th, 2022 11:00 AM

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I DON’T know about you but I’m finding these past weeks a bit of a slog. Dark in the morning getting up for the school run. Darker still leaving my attic office in the evening with no appetite for getting out for a bit of exercise. End-of-year deadlines approaching faster than Chris Rea in a Honda Civic trying to get home in time for Santy.

I’m just not feeling it this year, lads.

Indeed, I’m nearly as grumpy as Roy Keane at the World Cup who’s been a constant source of amusement for the last few weeks – declaring, from Qatar, that the competition in Qatar shouldn’t be happening in the first place, giving out about Brazilian players disrespectfully dancing after scoring, and ruefully taking notes when his co-analysts are jumping for joy after each England goal … What was he writing down I wonder? ‘Bin night tonight’?

I’d be surprised if he doesn’t walk before the end of it.

To add to my own woes, my old friend the Elf on the Shelf is back in our house. I have a love/hate relationship with the lad, to say the least. On the one hand, the kids adore Buddy, as our elf is called, and can’t wait to check where he’s hiding every morning. Is he sitting on top of the fridge, dangling from lights or snuggled up with some teddies in the corner?

On the other hand, I find his presence a bit intrusive and ‘judgy’ like having some Twitter millennial in my kitchen telling me how to live.

Yes, Buddy is full of little titbits of life advice for the kids and he leaves notes to the same effect around the house, like one of those passive-aggressive housemates we all had in college. Stuff like: ‘Don’t forget to tidy your room, kids’ or ‘Why not get some healthy exercise, today?’ or ‘You might lay off the Taytos there, Colm. It’s not Christmas Eve yet.’

In many ways, Buddy the elf is very much like Roy Keane – a visionary seer from another dimension, who sees things as they are, and isn’t afraid to call out injustice.

I can imagine Roy leaving cryptic little notes around the dressing room, too. Notes like ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ or ‘Aggression is what I do’.

But it’s difficult when you have to live up to those high standards.

Buddy-ing up for kids’ sake

BUDDY isn’t the only mildly threatening visitor from the North this week. There’s that band of Arctic air that the media has been in a frenzy about since Monday. There hasn’t been such a build-up to the arrival of a band from the North since Ash last toured.

Maybe this is all a sign of climate change to come – the fact that we’re putting in place early warning systems to keep people safe when the elements get more severe.

Or maybe it’s a symptom of an increasingly nanny-like State, addicted to broadcasting colour-coded status warnings and keeping us all on high alert since the pandemic.

I mean, were we better off not having to worry a week in advance about a touch of ice on the footpaths? I know Roy would want us to be prepared, but like, come on ....

Yes, mistakes were made!

LIKE most of you I was glued to the Quinn Country trilogy on RTÉ One last week. For those of you who didn’t see it, it was like a cross between Citizen Kane and Room to Improve as we watched Sean Quinn pottering around his considerable mansion over the course of three episodes. Against sprawling and expensive-looking windows, Quinn would stand in silhouette against the backdrop of a shimmering lake, attempting to answer tough questions about the rise and fall of his immense business empire. 

Lads, it must be very hard to heat the place.
It was an absolutely compelling retelling of the strange and disturbing events that went on around the border area and the dismantling of Quinn’s Zanadu-like empire before and after the property crash. I think they missed a trick by not simply calling it ‘Mistakes Were Made’.

It’s a tale as old as time of course – Macbeth, Citizen Kane, Citizen Quinn … when ambitious, talented men don’t know when enough is enough and can’t let go of the thing they’ve built up.

Strangely enough, it was poor old Alan Dukes who ended up with a bloody nose after the broadcast, which is ironic given his controversial comments referred to people from that part of the world and their, ahem, proclivity for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

It’s well worth catching up on if you haven’t seen it and you get the sense the story isn’t over yet.

Rose-tinted glass on us

THIS weekend saw the latest Irish Times/IPSOS opinion poll, which asked some probing questions North and South about the national question.

The results were pretty interesting. On the one hand, support for a United Ireland in the South is running very high, despite our tendency to more or less completely ignore the North in many ways for the last 50 years. Whereas in the North, the appetite for a break with the Union seems markedly less enthusiastic, even among Catholics, and there was a large majority against unification.

What this tells me is that there are lots of people down here who have not really thought about the practicalities of unity beyond a jingoistic story about lost territory. And people in the North actually know the lived reality day to day.

It’s grey, it’s complex and it won’t be resolved on some glorious day with King Charles sailing out of a tricolour-laden Belfast harbour with his royal tail between his legs. Life is more complicated than that.

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