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The Beast arrived and Late Late audience disappeared

 

 

Wednesday-Sunday

We waited, patiently, but the Beast (from the East) didn’t dwell that much in Roscommon. The snowfall was significant enough, but there was no major dance-off between the Beast and Storm Emma on Thursday evening, and therefore no big blizzard. Still, there were substantial snow drifts in South Roscommon, and some resulting inconvenience for householders/farmers.

  Other parts of the country were hit a lot harder. But while it wasn’t as bad as we might have expected, the weather did briefly stop us in our tracks in Roscommon. Between the actual bad weather and the fear of what might be coming, two surreal enough days saw families almost entirely house-bound, normal life suspended.

  Wednesday night was pretty bad – with heavy snowfall – and by late that night, businesses and schools were beginning to make plans to close up. Road conditions were very poor on Thursday morning, and in Roscommon town, the majority of businesses didn’t open.

  People had been warned to stay indoors from 4 pm on Thursday until 3 pm on Friday. We took the warning seriously, but not everyone did. There were still quite a few vehicles passing our house (on the Athlone Road) through Thursday evening. It seemed unnecessarily reckless. As it turns out, the swirling snow and winds that were a ‘wannabe gale’ never quite lived up to the dire expectations.

  The country of course went a bit mad, emptying shops of bread and other ‘essentials’, before (almost) everybody went home and watched/listened to wall to wall weather coverage on television/radio/social media.

  On one level the media coverage was absolutely excellent, on another it was over the top and tediously repetitive.

  Keelan Shanley played a blinder in the RTE engine room, excelling at asking the same questions in slightly different ways to different people. She was superb, but at least she was warm.

  It was the reporters on the front-line who had to bear the brunt of the cold and the snow, not to mention being forced to say the same thing over and over again/pursue new ‘angles’.

   ‘Our man’ Ciaran Mullooly was flying it (from Tullamore) the few times I dipped into the coverage, unearthing a wedding party in one report and an amusing tale about writer Michael Harding’s circuitous snow-challenged journey home to Leitrim from the UK.

  I couldn’t keep watching however, as the relentless coverage (which really was over the top) became tiresome. The last thing we needed after Keelan had spoken to all reporters, a minister, the man from Irish Water, Evelyn, Sean from the National Emergency Coordination Group and two stranded tourists, was for her to cut to George Lee for a summary of everything we’d just heard.

  Still, plaudits to the media, the Government, the various agencies, and most of all to front-line and emergency services and volunteers, all of whom played a great part in standing up to the Beast and Storm Emma.

  Now (hopefully) for something completely different…

 

Friday

On tonight’s Late Late Show, there are just thirty audience members, and most or all of them will be the night’s actual guests. It’s odd, almost eerie, and while Ryan is understandably anxious to push the ‘show must go on’ philosophy, you wonder was it really the right call to proceed with a Late Late Show once it became apparent that the general public wouldn’t be able to attend on account of the weather ‘crisis’.

  The upshot is that we just can’t take our eyes off that tiny audience, and the visual impact is all the more stark because the camera is content to show off all the empty seats surrounding the motley group.

  They’re like a group of forlorn, worried-looking prisoners who have been rounded up by grim-faced guards, their fate unknown. It turns out that their ‘punishment’ is to sit through over two hours in ‘captivity’ in the LLS studio and be subjected to yet more talk about the bad weather.

  Joe Duffy’s smile looks just a little forced; indeed everything looks and feels a little forced. This is an odd mix of celebrity and ‘ordinary folk’, at least some of whom were probably thinking they could have had a more enjoyable night elsewhere. They resemble strangers with little or nothing in common who have been thrust together at a dull party.

  Fair play, I know how well intended the decision to proceed was, but RTE might have been better off cancelling the Late Late Show and sticking on a Bond movie.

  Instead, it’s ever-cheerful Ryan as Bond, taking on The Beast from The East, Storm Emma, selected villains and Graham Norton.

 

Saturday-Sunday

No national newspapers on Friday and Saturday was bad enough, now there’s the prospect of little or no sport this weekend. There was no Six Nations action scheduled, the GAA fixtures are all off, and the Winter Olympics have been cancelled due to snow (well, actually they’re over).

  Thankfully, most of the English soccer schedule has survived.

  All we can do is watch another sad episode in the Arsene Wenger drama. The Arsenal manager’s decline is sad and it really looks now as if it might be irreversible. I can understand why young Arsenal fans (in particular) must be very frustrated by the club’s (relative) struggles in recent seasons. But Wenger’s great achievements at his peak should never be forgotten and this ought to end with dignity rather than in a toxic atmosphere. Part of the problem is that Wenger has stubbornly hung on too long. But he’s a good man, he was ahead of his time, and his best Arsenal teams played some of the most sublime football the English game has seen. It’s looking unlikely, but I hope there’s one more hurrah in Arsene and then a dignified goodbye.

 

Sunday/Monday

I couldn’t get to the Oscars, with the snow and all that…plus Roscommon’s allocation of two tickets had been snapped up by Chris O’Dowd and Paul Young, from the Boyle wing of Hollywood.

  The highlights, on RTE 2 tonight, were a little underwhelming. Meryl Streep looked regal and a touch smug (I suppose you might too if you were on Oscar nomination number 31); Jane Fonda looked amazing; Saoirse Ronan was radiant and unfazed by not winning (her Oscar(s) will surely come in the future). Frances McDormand is quite a character, and was predictably animated and quirky when she made her acceptance speech. Host Jimmy Kimmel did fine – hosting the Awards is a tougher job now in this #MeToo era.

  Indeed, in light of the sexual assault and harassment controversies that have emerged from Hollywood and elsewhere, watching the Oscars just isn’t quite the same as it used to be.

  Besides, I got bored with all the faux niceness emanating from the gushing speeches. I switched over to Matt and Ivan, where The Man Who Will Never Change – Deputy Bernard Durkan – was well on his way to winning Best Supporting Actor for his defence of Leo & Co.

 

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