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Friday 15 December 2017

Anna Nolan: My new twist on the annual Big Brother grilling

How many times can I be asked to recall my Big Brother days, for a Channel 4 documentary?

Well, 11 it seems.

Each year at this time I get a call from a researcher in Britain, who sounds utterly enthusiastic that I might contribute to a "Past Housemates" documentary.

For the first two years, I was enthusiastic. But between years three and 10, I couldn't face the same questions such as "What was Nasty Nick really like?", and "What was it like in the house?"

So for the final year of Big Brother, I will be heading over to Britain to give a 2010 twist to the same old questions.

I know it will be the last time I do this, and I think most of Ireland and Britain are glad that the show is coming to an end. And, of course, the answers will be the same -- the twist will be I look a bit older and no wiser!

Don't ever ask me to forgive Seanie and his pals -- they have killed part of our souls

I have avidly been following the life and times of Bernie Madoff.

The American one-time billionaire and conman extraordinaire is serving 150 years in a US federal prison.

Madoff was found guilty of one of the worst financial crimes ever. He had created a Ponzi scheme, or a pyramid scheme, and had fooled thousands of people over a 20-year period, (including his closest friends), to invest in his company.

People lost their homes, their pensions, their life savings because of the greed and arrogance of this seemingly charming, attractive man.

The life he and his family led was well documented. They were favourites on the New York social scene.

They holidayed in the Hamptons, spent time on their yachts, and basically spent everyone's money on their luxurious lifestyle.Celebs who lost millions with Madoff included Kevin Bacon, John Malkovich, Steven Spielberg and Zsa Zsa Gabor. He gained from the rich and the poor.

When the news hit America that Madoff had told his sons that he was finished, that he had absolutely nothing left, it was like the Godfather of Wall St had fallen. $36billion had been invested in his scam.

On sentencing he was quoted as saying, "I have left a legacy of shame, as some of my victims have pointed out, to my family and my grandchildren. This is something I will live in for the rest of my life. I'm sorry."

In a recent poll in Vanity Fair, a random sample of just under a thousand people were asked, "If you had to choose, which one of the following men would you be most likely to forgive?" Names included Tiger Woods, Roman Polanski, Chris Brown, John Edwards and Madoff.

Even though sympathy was low for pretty much all of them, not one of those who voted would forgive Madoff.

We can find it easy to forget the impact of financial crisis and the mismanagement that brought it about; the devastation and darkness it can leave.

But I hope with all my heart that any found guilty of wrongdoing are brought to account. I hope, too, that if and when that day comes, we feel no sympathy for them.

I remember hearing Sean FitzPatrick speak on Marian Finucane's radio programme in October 2008. His bank was about to be saved by us, and revelations of his loans were to be revealed later.

Have you ever listened to someone on the radio or television, and the arrogance and smugness that comes through the airwaves gets into your bones, like a cancer?

He was the most unlike-able man I had listened to in a long time.

When asked if he would apologise to the Irish taxpayer for having to bail out the banks he replied: "It would be very easy for me to say sorry. The cause of our problems was global so I can't say sorry with any degree of sincerity and decency but I do say thank you."

Brass Neck

The brass neck of this man, who didn't even have the inclination to be sensitive to those who had lost everything.

But how decent of him, he thanked them.

This year should be interesting, as those who have lost other people's money could face legal consequences.

Don't ask me to feel pity. I can't wait for the day when the powers that be recognise how savage and callous the mismanagement of people's finances truly is.

I firmly believe when we lose something we have worked for, for much of our lives, and are left with near to nothing, a part of our soul dies.

Electric Picnic line-up has me feeling old

Oh, I'm getting old. I see the line-up for Electric Picnic is out, and yet again I recognise so few names. Okay, Roxy Music, Massive Attack and The Waterboys -- I know them. But they are the "oldies". The other top acts -- Hot Chip, Beach House, LCD Soundsystem? Haven't a clue. I am not the young hip thing I thought I was.

But that doesn't matter when you go to the mature, organic-burger-providing festival that is Electric Picnic. I went four years ago and loved the lattes you could get each morning, beside the woman who would massage your head for a tenner. I laughed at the silent disco -- 300 people wearing headphones with the music coming through. When you took off the headphones, silence. Weird, but great.

I loved the fancy camping, with the posh loos and the pals who had silver caravans. It was three days of feeling like a hip young thing. So I might give it another go this year -- and rock along to Roxy Music and strangely sway to the silent disco.

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