Saturday 16 December 2017

the long and the short of world statistics day

>Ray D'Arcy is the kind of dad who bakes with the kids. And he'd make you realise the old spirit really isn't gone. He went down to the supermarket during the week for ingredients to make yummy Black Forest cupcakes with his daughter, and realised when he got to the cash desk that he'd forgotten his wallet. "So I still owe them €22.69 for the ingredients."

If your local supermarket trusts you to bring the money back, there's hope. Wednesday was World Statistics Day (on 20/10/10, a nicely statistical-sounding date), so Ray called in statistician extraordinaire Deirdre Cullen. Listeners had questions for SuperDeirdre. And smart remarks: "World Statistics Day, Ray -- what are the odds, eh?"

"God, that woman could talk stats to me all day," flattered one. "A voice like honey in my ears."

Ray asked Deirdre about ghost estates haunting the country. She said the last survey showed 266,000 vacant properties in March 2007. At the tip-top of the boom, 15pc of all houses in Ireland were vacant -- 112,000 of the 300,000 houses were built between 2002 and 2006.

"So anybody who'd stopped to look at those statistics in spring 2007, before there was ever a mention of the word 'recession' or 'downturn', could have seen there was something wrong with the housing stock in Ireland," Deirdre said.

Ray and his squealing team want to add a bit of sparkle to the statistics. Surprisingly, the Census doesn't note our height, so they offered to fill in. And not only that -- what about the average bra size? Already they were throwing up theories ranging from 34C to 38D. Ah now, girls.

> And it's not just bras. "There have been horrific rumours of €7bn budgets that would just rip the pants out from under us," wailed Chris Donohue on Newstalk's Breakfast.

Breakfast ran a great interview with Nicola Byrne, the entrepreneur who founded 11890 directory enquiries -- the only directory number with Irish staff in Ireland.

Time, she said, to take a drop in wages. Not to China's slave wages (tactfully, she didn't put it this way), but to a sustainable level -- and keep as many people as possible in work. And buy Irish.

Joseph O'Connor's Drivetime radio diary was a poem: "The budget is coming, our spirits are frightened . . . one thing untouchable, the treasure called 'hope'," he rhymed. "Hope is an armour, hope's an escape."

Hope he's right.

On her last Playback -- she retired on Saturday -- Ruth Buchanan indulged herself by including John Murray's show last week, when he brought in the multiple personalities of Oliver Callan, aka Nob Nation, to give Ruth a send-off.

Eerily accurate mimic Oliver inhabited the spirit of Ruth's husband, burly voiced Senator Shane Ross, with roars of "it's monstrous! Monstrous!"

Then he segued into a crime reporter searching for a missing person: "We need your help to find Bertie Ahern. When last seen he was in a cupboard . . ."

Oliver replied in the Ahernian snicker: "Jaysus, lads, it's awful high up -- a bleedin' helicopter. I never thought I'd end up here" -- and followed that with a nightmarish series of Bertie cries of "I never thought I'd end up here" -- from the stadium, from the zoo -- at last even from the moon ("Sorry for wreckin' yer buzz, Aldrin.") We'll miss Ruth -- her wild giggle, her superbly awful singing, and her unerring pick of the best shows.

Ray D'Arcy, Today FM, weekdays

Breakfast, Newstalk, weekdays

Drivetime, Radio 1, weekdays

Playback, Radio 1, Saturdays

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