Saturday 18 November 2017

Michael O'Doherty: We may have met under Clerys clock, but we didn't go in the door to shop

Clerys clock
Clerys clock
Lucy Kennedy
Sean Ward
Georgia May Foote
Tayto crisps

Thirty-six years ago, the iconic Dublin band The Radiators released their album Ghostown, a complex, magical tribute to the city of their birth.

And perhaps its stand out track was a ballad entitled Under Clerys Clock, a song ostensibly about young lovers meeting up beneath that iconic timepiece but, when you scratched the surface, you realised it was actually about gay lovers, and the manner in which homosexuality was not just vilified, but criminalised in Ireland at the time.

Fast forward to the present, and the "love that does not have a name", as Philip Chevron sung at the time, is now fully recognised in law. But as one door opens, another one closes.

And in the very week that Dublin City Council published their ambitious, visionary blueprint for a Dublin city centre free of traffic, with large swathes of the capital to become pedestrianised or given over to trams and cyclists, one of the city's great landmarks goes out of business.

Clerys is viewed with great affection by many Irish people, and not just Dubliners. "Meeting under the Clerys clock is a romantic phrase that has spanned generations," said one observer, probably not familiar with The Radiators' song.

In that sentence we find, perhaps, a clue as to the real problem. Because while Clerys may have been held with affection by many people, how many of them have actually shopped their recently? And while people may have met under the clock for a romantic rendezvous, how many of them ever ventured inside?

The sad reality, of course, is not enough. Just like the local cinema that gets taken over by Aldi or Lidl, or the family-run sweet shop which one day becomes yet another boutique coffee emporium, the harsh realities of commerce catch up with all those uniquely-Irish businesses that we grew up with. And stopped spending money in.

Clerys had become an irrelevance for many Dubliners, lacking the glamour of Brown Thomas, the modernity of Arnotts, or the value for money of Penneys and Dunnes.

While the touching stories of people who have worked there for over 40 years emerged, pointing to a sense of family which is sorely lacking in so many organisations, it also suggests part of the problem - Clerys was stuck in the past, mired in the era which spawned the aforementioned song.

No doubt the next few days will see commentators falling over themselves to wax lyrical about Clerys, the perfume counters, the iconic clock, and the aromas therein. And as they rage against its closing, they will put aside the fact they hadn't set foot inside its doors for 10 years which, ultimately, is why it has gone out of business.

Woolworths, Switzers, the Adelphi cinema and Renards. All gone but, to be honest, we got over their departures quickly, as long before they closed we had learned to live without them. Just like we will with Clerys.


Blind Date dumped in favour of 15-year-old Big Brother? It's heartbreaking

Lucy Kennedy

Lucy Kennedy

It would be easy, to the untrained eye, to believe that TV3 sometimes don't think things through very carefully.

Because it was revealed last weekend that, not for the first time, the station have announced a show with something approaching a fanfare, only for it to be subsequently canned.

Who can fail to remember the excitement when, a couple of years ago, they trumpeted a show called 'Give Adele A Bell', in which Ireland's great entertainer Twink would act as agony aunt to the nation's problems? I had personally drawn up an list of moral dilemmas to pose to Twink, and considered legal action to recover the counselling fees that I instead had to shell out to achieve something approximating to contentment with my life.

And now we find that once again TV3 have gone back on their word, cancelling one of the highlights of last year's autumn schedule launch, a version of Blind Date hosted by Lucy Kennedy.

"Blind Date has been scrapped," a well placed source confirmed. "Lynda McQuaid, the recently appointed director of content) feels the format is outdated and tired, they want to do something fresh," the source told this newspaper.

Of course there is an upside to this, as it's good to see that the new regime in TV3 have decided to stop re-working second-hand shows from other stations, which are long past their sell-by date, and concentrate instead on fresh, innovative TV which more closely mirrors their discerning, modern demographic.

Which is why, in the past month, their headline offerings have been Big Brother (15 years old, and dropped by Channel 4) and the IFTAs (12 years old, and dropped by RTE).

Oh, hang on...

Georgia has some blessings in mind

Georgia May Foote

Georgia May Foote

Maynooth's newest night club, the grandiosely-monikered Cathedral, opened last Friday. While this collection of bars, dance floors and smoking areas is, essentially, just another gigantic pub, the promoters managed to convince UK soap stars Sean Ward and Georgia May Foote to grace them with their presence.

It was the first time they have appeared at an event as a couple, and it seems that, sweet as she may be, Georgia shouldn't bother applying to Mensa any time soon. "We're so excited to be launching Cathedral," she said, "it's such a breathtaking venue and given the spiritual surroundings we almost feel like we're getting a sort of blessing for our relationship." Words fail me...


Fly or fry? Do both with Aer Lingus

It is debatable whether travel broadens the mind or not, but one thing is indisputable - it broadens the waistline. Hours sitting motionless on an airline seat, gorging fizzy drinks and fatty, fried food, there is in truth little that airlines can do to cure the unhealthiness of flying. But, one would have thought, they might at least try not to make it worse.

Tayto crisps

Try telling that to Aer Lingus, however, who have just introduced crisp sandwiches on board their flights. So not only do you shovel the holy trinity of fatty foods inside you - crisps, white bread and butter - but the airline is charging an obscene €4 a pop for the privilege. Make Irish people more obese, while also ripping them off? The proposed takeover of Aer Lingus really can't happen quickly enough...

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