a moment during the 'Eurosong' Late Late Show when VFTB almost
succumbed to a 'Donnie Darko' hallucination. It came at the
very end, as Pat Kenny and Brian Kennedy raised each other's
arms in a gesture of entirely bewildering triumph. The docile
Late Late audience had been reunited with its complan, having
done its sleepy duty and sent Kennedy's own song to Eurovision.
The two happy titans of the mediocracy beamed waves of pleasure
back at them. Did they give each other a kiss? I can't remember.
What I do remember is the walls of my set merging with the
rest of the room, which itself had dissolved into the fuzzy,
rushing quantum flux Frodo Baggins sees whenever he unwisely
puts on his ring. I shivered violently at what I thought was
the sight of two fearsome wraiths, intensely hooded, intensely
middle of the road, with gaping maws of middle aged fire,
raising arms in a frenzy of tired self-satisfaction. Let the
hosts go forth from Mordor! Orthodoxy is restored. We'll show
those backward Balkans how you really win a senile non-talent
Once the hallucination
had departed, I felt, in a curious way, more violated than
if I'd just sat through three hours of Daniel O' Donnell,
or the collected speeches of Kim Jong Il (whichever is longer).
Orthodoxy was indeed restored. Donna and Joe were there, but
weren't called upon to sing. That strapping young wan, Linda
Martin, however, was allowed to beguile the Late Late's core
audience - which is clearly aged somewhere between 75 and
99 - with visions of their lost youth.
- or at least the Late Late audience's - Top 10 favourite
Irish Eurovision entries told us everything we already knew
about who really props up this colossus of self-satisfaction,
this Babel of the banal. In at 10 was Ireland's first ever
Eurovision entry, from way back in 1965, the late Butch Moore
singing 'Walking The Streets In The Rain.' Dickie Rock's effort
from a year later was right after it, and yes, Dickie got
to sing (just try and stop him). Could the under 75's be forgiven
for thinking that if Ireland had an entry from 1955 - or indeed
1855 - it would have featured in the top ten? Jaysus, instead
of spending money on the meretricious yawnfest that the Late
Late has become, why don't they just show footage of Ronan
Collins presenting his midday show from Radio One? They'd
save a fortune - and hold on to most of the audience.
of course, if such jamborees of the mediocracy can be said
to have an end, with Kennedy's entirely predictable, entirely
stage managed triumph. Never mind the fact that allowing the
designated singer to enter his own song is the most outrageous
conflict of interest since Richard Nixon attempted to investigate
his own transgressions in Watergate, sure we never get too
worked up about that kind of thing in Late Late land.
But why are
others getting so exercised? This, perhaps, is the most worrying
thing of all. Why all the national angst about an annual cavalcade
of songs and singers so bland and boring that they fade from
memory long before they've even left the stage? The sad truth
is that 50 years of Eurovision has produced just one good
song and one act memorable for something other than having
had gender surgery or wearing a silly costume. Whether you
loathe or love Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, Abba's 'Waterloo'
was rousing, technically clever and even original, all qualities
remarkable for having come unscathed through the creative
Chernobyl that is Eurovision. With the exception of Bucks
Fizz, a relatively short lived set of British Abba clones
from the 80's, Abba are the only act to ever achieve major
success after Eurovision.
successful act and one decent song - out of God knows how
many thousands - in fifty years. No wonder Ireland's mediocracy
love this gig so much. There's no danger of anyone getting
Yet, as lissom
young Linda assures us, the powers that be in music are watching.
Why? Are they starved of decent laughs? Is our utterly ludicrous
passion about Eurovision rooted in an aimless lust to fill
the emptiness left behind by our departing remnants of a culture?
At this point,
of course, it might behove us to wonder just what will happen
if the Balkans decide they don't much care for Brian's buttery
blandness, if they find his non-threatening falsetto more
irritating than cuddly. "Every Song Is A Cry For Love" - is
it? What about 'Aon Focail Eile?' If the Balkans turn out
to be less docile than the Late Late's captives and fail to
hand the Eurovision back to the mediocracy, will young Linda
stop giving out about Donna and Joe? Will 'You're A Star'
cease trying to cannibalise the hopes and dreams of young
Irish people in order to prolong a few tedious mediocracy
I bet I know
which way the Late Late audience would vote. Sure that Kennedy
fella was way too young. Send out Dickie the next time!
* * * * * * * *
show just how stunted political debate has become in this
country than last week's utterly absurd hullabaloo over Sean
Haughey failing to become a Junior Minister. A Junior Ministry?
For God's sake, there was a time when Haughey Senior used
to hand them out like cheap party jokes. Remember when poor
oul Jimmy McDaid got a senior Cabinet post for breakfast,
then had to resign it by lunchtime? This week, the chatter
focused on Sile De Valera, who hasn't even resigned yet. The
airwaves are filled with all kinds of comically fretful journos,
wondering just what type of fella the Taoiseach is at all.
We have heard the most hilarious speculation about Bertie's
secret motives, as allegedly opaque and clever as those of
a chess grandmaster. Is he victimising poor old Sean so that
the guy will top the poll in Dublin North Central next time
out? The remarkable thing is that so much space is being devoted
to something that really only matters to Sean Haughey, his
family, and a few of his constituents. You'd swear there was
nothing else going on in the country, which is probably just
how Bertie likes it.
The most cunning
of all, it seems, has devised his own version of political
'You're A Star' to keep Ireland's venal and vacuous national
media occupied, while he gets on with the business of, eh,
runnin' de country. Every so often, a la young Linda and 'Shrek'
O' Connor, he'll drag some little backbencher out of obscurity,
get his hopes up, then savage them live on national telly.
The distraction this offers to a Dublin media which, admittedly,
seems only too willing to be distracted, is enormous. Who
said backbenchers were useless? Here's Bertie rewriting yet
another law of politics.
It is a comment
on how effectively the cunning one has neutered most of the
national media that the corruption Tribunals began a new round
of public hearings last week, but the print and airwaves are
full of Sean Haughey and Sile De Valera. Those hearings have
offered fascinating insights into the mentality of some Fianna
Fail Councillors in Dublin during the relevant time. According
to one, Fianna Fail was a pro-development party, so there
was nothing wrong with getting a little money for voting the
way you were going to vote anyway. This is a statement with
enormous implications for the way our democracy has been run
over the past thirty years, yet no one in the Dublin media
wants to talk about it. Likewise, no one's talking about Eddie
Hobbs, state capital projects running massively over-budget,
the health services, the running into the ground of the postal
service or the competence or otherwise of certain senior Ministers.
Is it really that Bertie is so clever, or could our Dublin
4 betters simply not be bothered anymore?