Land of naked ambition
There are many traditional signs that end times are upon us: two -headed farm animals, meteor showers, an eagle with a snake in its mouth, pop-star Rihanna dancing semi-naked in a field in Bangor. The latter occurred this week.
Indeed, when DUP Alderman Alan Graham permitted a film crew to access his land he didn't expect to find a popular songstress disrobing to R'n'B grooves in the middle of his meadow.
Of course, I'm making a big assumption here. Maybe he did expect it. Maybe he's constantly besieged by erotically writhing celebrities. Perhaps that morning he had to deal with Katy Perry booty-shaking on his tractor, Jessie J pole-dancing up and down his sycamores and Gary Barlow humping his flower beds. Maybe he's constantly exclaiming "Not another sexy pop star!" and the Rihanna moment was the last straw.
One way or another, Alderman Graham respectfully put a stop to all the syncopated sexing and asked Rihanna to film her video elsewhere. "Perhaps this type of activity for some people is day-to-day work," he told Morning Ireland, subtly suggesting that the Morning Ireland team might also be naked. "But I do believe that there does come a time when, from my point of view, things become inappropriate that happen on my land."
Soon the Irish people will be deciding what they consider to be appropriate behaviour on their land, presidentially speaking. On Wednesday, we got another David Norris appearance on Today with Pat Kenny and an interview with Martin McGuinness on The Ray D'Arcy Show. McGuinness didn't reveal anything he didn't want to reveal (except that he didn't know who the Environment Minister was), but apologised for causing Ray nightmares as a Kildare-based child down the road from the Curragh Prison where McGuinness lived in the '70s.
Then Sean O'Rourke hosted the first presidential debate on RTE 1 and did his best to stick his grumpy boot into everyone (he suggested Sean Gallagher was "an amateur", that Gay Mitchell was considered "waspish", that Michael D Higgins was old, that Norris was "hiding something" and that McGuinness was hiding something else). But everyone gave good platitude.
They were all standing on their "record", planning to "open up the Aras" and represent ordinary people. Everyone had excellent reasons to be president (no one planned to fill the Aras with yellowing newspapers and stray cats).
There was also showing off, of course. David Norris spoke Hebrew (to prove he'd have no problem visiting Israel) and outlined the qualifications he had in common with the Pope (to prove he could have a chat with the pontiff). Martin McGuinness likened himself to his chum Nelson Mandela ("We've all had our picture taken with Nelson Mandela," scoffed O'Rourke), Sean Gallagher prided himself on being the only candidate to ever have had a "herd number" (I presume this means he owned a herd, not that he was part of one) and Michael D Higgins referred to his long cabinet experience and wistfully recalled roaming the snowy Tundra tracking bison as the glaciers retreated (this is a joke about his age).
All-but-one debater scored highly in the Definitely Hasn't Killed Anyone category (including Dana, who Gay Mitchell helpfully confirmed was never in the IRA). David Norris, currently justifying his decision to hide further Ezra-letters on legal grounds, probably got the second toughest grilling of the day (O'Rourke even seemed to interrupt him when he mentioned how O'Rourke kept interrupting him).
Over on Newstalk's Lunchtime, there was a moment which put the presidential vanity contest into perspective. Jonathan Healy interviewed an ordinary voter Gavin Dunne, who was, as they spoke, packing to take his family to Australia. "I might come back to retire," he said.
The candidates themselves were probably more interested in Terry Prone's tips on public speaking on The Last Word.
She advocated "avoid[ing] all the bullsh*t tricks" like, for example, imagining your audience naked. "When I'm terrified of an audience, imagining them naked makes it lots worse," she said. Indeed, if your audience is the whole voting population of Ireland, imagining them all naked could be terrifying. You'd be tempted, I reckon, to ask them to leave your field and shoot their music video elsewhere.