Wednesday 16 January 2019

If the Ploughing gets any bigger, it'll soon be as big as Katie Hopkins' mouth

In a week when it finally appears something was done about putting a halt to the gallop of those barbarians of IS, ISIL or whatever the savages are calling themselves today, the focus of the Irish media was primarily centred on somewhere down in Co Laois which I'd never even heard of until Monday.

If you were to believe all the baloney being spouted by people who should really know better, then Ratheniska was the centre of the universe for a couple of days, it being the venue for the National Ploughing Championships.

Now, being an inner city lad, the concept of ploughing never really held much appeal for me, it being something I'd occasionally see Benjy Riordan doing on the telly, but somehow the PR people behind the event have managed to convince the country that this is A Big Thing.


Certainly the broadcast media seem to have drunk the Kool-Aid on this one, with Newstalk despatching Pat Kenny, Sean Moncrieff and their breakfast team to the place while, naturally, RTE gave the event massive coverage.

I'm sure the ploughing was well up to scratch but what really galled me about the guff surrounding the shindig was how we were being sold the notion that somehow this was a representation of "real Ireland".

What it looked like to me was Glastonbury for culchies, a chance for people gutted at the Garth Brooks cancellation to wear wellies and stupid cowboy hats while trying to convince themselves that they're somehow a purer, nobler breed than us gurriers who live in cities and get buses and trains to work. If we have work, that is.

Yes, I know the farming sector has been badly hit by the recession and falling prices but, lest we forget, for several decades they were the most pampered and cosseted section of the country's population.

For years, Government and EU subsidies showered down on these people - don't get me started on the children of 'poor' farmers wangling college grants - and they gleefully sucked at that teat until it went dry.

Still, once there's a consensus that the National Ploughing Championships is a true representation of the spirit of the Gael then we're stuck with this nonsense for the foreseeable future.

Elsewhere, we had professional stirrer Katie Hopkins give a display of contrarianism on the Late Late Show which was a joy to behold.

Indeed, I can only imagine what Ms Hopkins' reaction would have been to a sign I saw on a menu this week which read 'Eat As Much As You Can' for a tenner.

No, not 'Eat As Much As You Like' or 'All You Can Eat' but 'Eat As Much As You Can', which actually sounds more challenge than invitation.

This 'grab a knife and fork if you think you're hard enough' approach to advertising may be slightly out of kilter with modern mores - you can't turn on the radio or telly these days without obese people crying and talking about going on some class of a 'journey', when the only 'journey' they should be worrying about is the one to the chipper, but I'd have to commend the people behind it for their chutzpah.


Over beyond on the mainland, matters musical provided plenty of amusement, with the rector of Bath Abbey (the splendidly named Rev Prebendary Edward Mason) abandoning Sunday's evensong service due to the racket being created by buskers in the square outside.

I've always considered buskers to be a menace and little more than beggars with badly-tuned guitars but since they've started using amplifiers they are truly a blight on the city's landscape.

Honestly, how the staff at certain shops in Grafton Street haven't emerged from their premises wielding cudgels is beyond me. They truly are blessed with almost divine patience.

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