Saturday 25 November 2017

Anna Nolan: VIP is one thing, but a dad and daughter day at match is priceless

Orange Is The New Black
Cranes on the skyline
Claudia Winkleman

I walked into the Aviva Stadium last Saturday with my dad. Up the stairs and in through the VIP doors.

Yes, the VIP doors. The man from Ringsend and the girl from Rialto were going to watch the football and we were doing it in style.

I'm never one to be asked to corporate events and you won't see me mixing with the celebs at big sporting occasions, but last week I decided to be shameless, bold and brazen and put in a couple of phone calls to get some nice swanky seats for me and the old man.

As a young girl in the 1970s, I loved going to Iveagh Grounds to see my dad play with St James' Gate. He was a super player, he coulda been a contender!

As a seven-year-old I always loved standing at the side-line and feeling the power of these guys as they ran by. If they tackled each other near me, I'd even be a little frightened. And when they swore, I'd giggle behind my hands.

So it was wonderful to be accompanying him to this important international game.

We made our way into the corporate room and took a seat. Dad had not been to the new Aviva before and he was blown away. I asked him when was the first time he was in Lansdowne Road. He told me it was 1948. The Olympics had been on in London and the medal winners were brought over to Landsdowne for the Irish crowd to come and have a look at.

I asked him did he remember any of the athletes there. "Well, there was Fanny Blankers-Koen". I laughed, because I'm an immature eejit. "Flying Fanny was her nickname", he told me. I laughed even more.

As we sat on the couch in the lovely plush room, it was obvious we weren't regular corporate clients. We ate every dish that came out and drank much quicker than we should have. It was fantastic.

But it was the soccer that Dad loved more than anything. We sat side by side and analysed passes, goals, misses. He told me the Irish team just don't have what it takes. I told him I thought they looked like mice running all over the pitch, giving it there all. While the Scottish players took their time, and looked a whole lot slicker.

At half time a lovely man called Jim, from the phone people Three (who hosted us), came to talk to us and he and Dad spoke about Ringsend and how much it had changed. They both found out they had a connection with Ringsend 'Tech'.

Dad later told me that it was here that he could truly enjoy his love of soccer - the school he had gone to as a kid had a headmaster that throttled the boys if they were caught playing soccer and not GAA.

At the end of the match we decided to go back into the room, for one more. As the evening came to an end, the results of a competition to predict the score were read out.

Dad had said the game would have a one-all draw. So he got handed a very nice bottle of champagne.

We got the royal treatment on Saturday, but the highlight was me and me Dad hanging out together. That was priceless.


It seems that a violent, dirty, mediocre TV show is now the new black

I remember someone once asking me: "Do you think that being a lesbian ex-nun had anything to do with you getting onto Big Brother?"

Eh, duh. The question was as ridiculous as the famous Mrs Merton question to Debbie McGee, "so what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?"

Some things are just plain obvious and I imagine the people who commissioned Orange Is The New Black were pitched taglines and story lines that were as unsubtle as a lesbian ex-nun turning straight for a millionaire.

Orange, as we like to call it, is one of Netflix's most popular drama series and has ticked so many minority boxes it should be getting every diversity award under the sun. Lesbians, blacks, Hispanics, transgenders, nuns, hillbillys all play a part.

Orange Is The New Black

It's sexy, violent, dirty (in a rat floating across the water sort of way). It's basic, blunt and fundamentally limited in the stories it tells.

It also has probably the most irritating opening title sequences of all time, with a music track that makes me want to tear my ears off. So why does this detention centre of mediocrity continue to capture my telly time? I'm not entirely sure.

Series Three so far is pretty dire. It opened with a Mother's Day-themed episode. To me it seemed like this was written halfway through the series and later shoehorned to the start. It came from nowhere and went nowhere.

The first and second seasons were much better. But still, the writing and story lines are so thin, the only enjoyment we get is from the sex scenes. And there ain't a lot of those to go around.

Orange is short enough to not get too frustrated with the disappointment and also short enough to skip on to the next episode, hoping for more. But taglines and labels will only get you so far. If you don't have the substance to back it up, you will eventually get caught out.


Is that noise the return of a boom?

I can feel something in the wind, things are a-changin'. As I walked to work last Monday morning the ground beneath me was shaking.

Cranes on the skyline

And I am not speaking metaphorically. There is more building work going on in Dublin city than I have seen in years.

More cranes, more cement mixers, more drills. Houses being renovated, apartments being built, offices refurbished.

All the activity reminds me of days of the Celtic Tiger, when Dublin's skyline was crammed with cranes.

It's as if someone clicked their fingers and said: "wakey wakey Dublin, time to get moving again". I'm tellin ya, a change is coming!


Time to get with the programme

Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman

I read that TV presenter Claudia Winkleman doesn't own a television. What? Frankly I find that really bizarre.

Mind you, I have worked in the TV industry for 15 years and colleagues have actually said to me: "I don't really watch television".

I find it staggering. Imagine being a journalist and saying I never read a newspaper. Imagine being a musician and saying I never listen to music. Or a radio presenter or producer and never tuning in to listen to the wireless.

Surely if you work in an industry you need to know what the hell is going on in it! Get with the programme, Claudia.

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