Paul Healy’s Week

Friday

 

The Late Late Show’s 70th birthday tribute to Bob Geldof was enjoyable and certainly worthy, but it was also just a little bit strange.

The greatly reduced studio audience, despite being made up of family, friends and associates of Geldof’s, didn’t exactly add much by way of atmosphere. Panellists Andrea Corr and Imelda May hadn’t anything very enlightening to say, but they did sparkle when joining Bob and the rest of the Boomtown Rats in song.

Midge Ure was the ‘best guest’…gracious, generous and articulate. Three former UK Prime Ministers and two presidents of Ireland paid tribute to the musician/legendary campaigner who was of course the inspiration behind Live Aid. Why no message from the current Taoiseach, or a previous one? Surely this state isn’t still smarting from Geldof’s raw and ruthless depiction of us as a ‘banana republic’ all those years ago? Hardly!

As for former President Mary Robinson (who was in studio) there was an awkward few moments when she suggested that Live Aid had a patronising element to it, only for Geldof, his ego clearly stung, to rather ungraciously reject that view. He could have let it pass, but then again, it’s Geldof. They kind of made up.

What was really odd about the programme was its disjointed format, with anecdotes cut short and little of substance discussed. The lack of flow was so noticeable that I venture to suggest this may not have been quite as ‘live’ as we were led to believe, because I detected a touch of editing!

All in all though, a pleasant enough programme and a fitting tribute to a remarkable man. And Bob and the lads can still belt out the hits!

 

Saturday

 

Pedantic Corner (an occasional series): A brief promo on Shannonside – highlighting the station’s coverage of current affairs – features a clip of Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald accusing the Taoiseach of uttering “incoherent jibberish”. But surely if he’s talking jibberish, it’s already incoherent? Surely adding ‘incoherent’ contributes nothing of value to Mary Lou’s soundbite? (Micheál denies the charge).

Next time: Has anyone ever actually ‘literally’ died laughing?

 

Sunday

 

Mo Salah’s sensational goal for Liverpool against Manchester City today resonated with me in particular, as I scored a similar one many years ago.

It was around 1982, and ten or twelve (maybe even eleven!) of us were having a kickaround in the church car park in Rooskey.

Out of nowhere (just like Salah, who was lurking with his back to goal when he received the ball today, no danger seemingly imminent) I went on a run, past two ‘defenders’ and an indifferent dog. Approaching goal, and with one more teenage dreamer to beat, I suddenly noticed my right foot spinning the ball away from his hopeful lunge…I then somehow retained my balance and possession of the ball…kind of exactly the same move that Salah tried today. In fairness to Salah, his finish was much more challenging than mine; he had to deal with an acute angle – mind you, that was his own fault because he really overdid the dribbling – while I just slotted the ball past the goalkeeper and between the two jackets which doubled as goalposts.

I recall the last defender, the guy I’d embarrassed most, asking me where I’d discovered that foot-spinning-the-ball-followed-by-pirouette move, a query I chose not to answer. I went on to proceed to never repeat such brilliance during my junior soccer career.

I am not for one moment suggesting that my goal was better than Salah’s, merely almost as good, or as good. In fairness to Mo, he was under a bit more pressure, with the thousands of spectators looking on, the worldwide audience on TV, the Premier League defenders and so on. Just to be clear, Salah is definitely very, very good.

As for the young lads in Rooskey, we kept chasing our dreams, and wayward passes. From time to time we went back to play in the church car park, but the magic never returned. Nor did the dog.

 

Monday/Tuesday

 

“Is everyone else’s Internet down?” I asked of anyone who might be listening in the office, as if we all have our own personal Internet. Every now and again it happens, i.e. ‘our’ Internet goes down for a few minutes, presumably under the weight of our robotic googling of both the trivial and the important.

My own response tends to be an informed ‘we’ll give it a few minutes’. By mid-morning, I was still oblivious to the fact that the crisis extended beyond Abbey Street, to China and California and Downing Street and Dysart itself.

‘Our’ Internet actually did return after a few minutes, and we went about our work, not that we’re remotely dependent on the Googlemonster. Meanwhile, still unknown to me, the world was in a right panic because apparently Instagram and WhatsApp were down; worse still, and much to the relief of camera-shy cats everywhere, Facebook was off limits too. There was a worldwide outage. In New York, there were unconfirmed reports of a sighting of a man posting a letter, and there were wild rumours of humans talking to one another (like really talking) all over the world.

I should have known something was up. Out in Abbey Street, desolate farmers had abandoned their cars and were huddled at a corner (while sort of social distancing) sharing their anguish over the collapse of Insta. Meanwhile, two ashen-faced women chatted across the road about their fears that Facebook might never return.

In truth, Abbey Street was like a scene from a sci-fi movie. Dozens of schoolchildren were wandering around with sheer shock on their faces, all of them clutching their impotent mobiles. One girl cried out ‘Hey, I think this thing has one power left, apparently it can make a phone call, all’s not lost’ – but nobody passed any heed on her. If anything, dirty looks. Down town, there were unconfirmed reports that customers in Rogue and the Comfy Café and in Gleeson’s too had become emotional when they realised they couldn’t share images of their breakfasts on social media. It was awful.

I was going to email Mark Zuckerberg (once I’d googled his surname) but I thought better of it. He probably has more priorities than Abbey Street. Back in the office, the mood was a touch glum, but then again it was a Monday.

By night, all seemed well with the world again. According to a no doubt disappointed Twitter, FB, Insta and WhatsApp were back.

On Tuesday morning, two elderly but sprightly men met outside the butcher’s.

“I didn’t see you in ages” one of the men said. “How’s life? We’ll have to meet up and chat…like old times”. Still, there was no denying the sheer relief in their eyes. They were both just happy to have survived the previous day’s social media wipeout, with all its accompanying trauma.

“Meet up?” quipped the second man, “sure you can follow me on Insta, more details on Facebook!” They both laughed heartily, while in the background, having spotted that there was no smartphone in use, a shy but mischievous cat did its Riverdance impression along the paths of Abbey Street.