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I learned everything about Christmas gift shopping watching Zero Dark Thirty

In a week when winter finally started to bite it was impossible to get away from football matters dominating the front and back pages.

FAI chief executive John Delaney's ill-advised rendition of a Wolfe Tones ballad in memory of a dead IRA hunger striker caused a stir both here and abroad, with UK broadsheets noting that if something similar had happened involving the head of the FA or SFA they'd have been obliged to resign their position.

Naturally, we don't do resignations in this country and the good ship Delaney sailed merrily on.

Mind you, given what he sang about in The Bath pub next year's visit by England to the Aviva should be very interesting indeed.

Do you think that the more nationalistic element among the travelling support won't have been aware of what the FAI's head likes to warble about when he has a few pints?


And then there's the matter of shy, retiring Roy Keane. Having dominated the run-up to the games against Scotland and the USA you'd have thought that he'd go off and get on with his job as assistant manager at Aston Villa and not trouble us again until we face Poland in March.

Not Roy-boy. Yesterday morning we were told that he was leaving Villa Park 'with immediate effect', despite the fact that the team are in a very precarious position in the Premier League.

And on top of all that we're now well and truly into 'that time of the year again' mode.

Yesterday saw The Late Late Toy Show was the first blast of a festive fanfare - and there'll be no stopping the onslaught in the coming four weeks.

You can barely walk down the street without seeing wastepaper bins overflowing with Christmas shopping guides, with many indicating that online purchasing is really the way to go.

Personally, I'm something of a Luddite when it comes to buying online and much prefer to buy whatever Christmas purchases I have to make in person in an actual shop.

The tried and trusted approach usually resembles the final part of Zero Dark Thirty, with targets identified days or even weeks in advance and then bought in a commando-style surgical strike.

Get in, do the job, dust off and be back at base - or, more accurately, the pub - within an hour.

Not being the most Christmassy person in the world I'll admit that the constant backdrop of seasonal songs can be somewhat trying at times but that's still something to be endured and is certainly preferable to the anonymity of filling a shopping cart in cyberspace.

On a shopping note, yesterday was the first time I heard radio ads urging listeners to make the most of 'Black Friday'.

For years, I merely thought that Black Friday was a rather fine song by Steely Dan but it turns out that it's a frenzied day of discount shopping which takes place in the US the day after Thanksgiving.


People have been known to queue up for hours on end to avail of pre-Christmas bargains so, naturally, UK and Irish retailers decided to test the waters on the concept a couple of years back and now it looks like it's yet another 'thing' to mark in the retail calendar.

Yay, more ways of getting punters to part with their cash and another sign of the increasing Americanisation of our culture.

Now, America has given us some of the greatest cultural achievements in history but an artificial shopping orgy isn't likely to be one of them.

And at least the Yanks get to have a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner before they mill into each other at the malls.