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Monday 11 December 2017

Colette Fitzpatrick: What's wrong with blokes that they're not 'man' enough to see a ballet?

Before I went to the opening night of the Grand Canal Theatre, pretty much the only ballet I'd seen were a few scenes in Billy Elliot. That, and classes as a child more into pink tutus than perfecting a pirouette.

With an economy this depressed, culture and the arts don't have a heartbeat so having the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet perform Swan Lake on the opening night of Dublin's latest culture vulture hangout sprinkled some artistic fairydust on a sector which has had €9m slashed from its budget.

Most men think liking/admiring ballet calls into question their manliness. Must be something from way back in their childhood involving tights. Or the way everything is so defined under those tights.

When Ronald Reagan ran for president, his Republican handlers were concerned about voters' reaction to his ballet dancing son. There was a joke that when he shouted Nancy in the White House, both his wife and his son came running.

But ballet is extremely technical and makes a rugby rule book look like a Ladybird tome. It's so complicated, I wager that most people at Swan Lake last week could have done with subtitles and weren't sure whether the main characters were angry, sad or happy.

To be honest, I had thought ballet was elitist and for older audiences. It's not. If you're a male, well man-up and go. Or a dubious woman? Give it a whirl. To go to, I mean, not to do. If you're my age, built more for comfort than speed, classes would be ludicrous.

By the way, Gift Grub from the Today Fm Breakfast Show is at the theatre at the end of May. And ya don't wanna miss da, bud.

My terror of finally meeting a legend, my hero Gay Byrne

They say you should never meet your heroes. When I was told I was interviewing Gay Byrne to promote a documentary on road safety, my stomach did a little flip. Gaybo. Uncle Gay. Legend of Irish broadcasting.

Supposing he wasn't likeable or that he didn't like me? Supposing he was difficult to interview? People who've spent a lifetime asking other people questions are often like a fish flapping about on the bank of a river when the tables are turned.

I joked with colleagues during the day that he'd probably say to me, 'Sure I'll just take it from here dear. You sit back and I'll show you how it's done'.

He didn't. He was relaxed and relaxed me, giving of himself in the interview and agreeing to talk beyond the scope of the TV3 programme he was promoting.

"Have you an earpiece," he asked as we settled down. Of course I did. How else would I hear my producer tell me how much time I had left, that a clip of footage was standing by, that I needed to wrap?

"I never had one," he said. Remember the way he'd take off his watch at the start of the Late Late show and put in on the desk in front of him? Well that was so he could do his own timings, keep an eye on the clock himself.

He didn't use the autocue either. Never. The dummyboard is the crutch of every broadcaster I know. It makes your ad libs appear to be ad libs and not scripted to within an inch of a carefully rehearsed autocue -- when in fact they are.

When you're Gay, you don't need it, because everything comes to you naturally; nothing is artificial or contrived in a contrived studio atmosphere.

When we wrapped our interview, of course everyone wanted pictures and books signed. And he did it all graciously and patiently.

They say you should never meet your heroes. I feel privileged that I met and had the pleasure of interviewing mine. I hope I did okay, Gay...

My wardrobe, anything but Sex And The City

Just became a fan of the 'I love the smell of freshly cut grass' Facebook page. Other signs that spring is in the air include pastels in every shop window, the search for a 'drop a dress size in a fortnight' diet and I'm thinking of a wardrobe detox.

I'm more than happy at the thought of toxins leaving my body every January in a post-Christmas purge, but getting rid of offensive items from my wardrobe is like asking a mother to denounce her firstborn. I have always ignored the 'one new thing bought equals getting rid of an older item' rule.

I sort of have a bit of a MacGyver attitude to my clothes: if I can dye it, shorten it, rework it or fashion a utensil out of it in some way, I will.

My fantasy wardrobe is a fusion between a walk-in number that might belong to a Kardashian, and a sliderobe. It is psychotically organised; by colour, by season, by item. Everything is steamed, ironed and dry cleaned.

In reality, my wardrobe looks like a jumble sale, clothes exploding from every shelf. More How Clean Is Your House, less Sex And The City.

It comprises of 'small size Colette clothes', 'middle size Colette clothes' and post-Christmas and holiday tents. I have several 'when I lose a bit of weight, I'll get into that' numbers and many that could be consigned to Clothes Siberia by the fashion police.

A recent stab at organising it resulted in an enormous pile in the middle of my room. The shoe pile included sandals and flip flops; a timely reminder that it's time to get a sander at my hooves after hibernating in UGGs all winter. Wardrobe detox? Sure it's not really spring in the northern hemisphere 'til April ...

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