It’s hard to know what to make of the brouhaha over the so-called rude paintings of Taoiseach Brian Cowen other than to say that, somewhere along the line, somebody made a mistake and handled it all very badly. Lampooning of political leaders is as old as politics itself and, down the years, the best way to deal with it has always been to simply ignore it.
If a complaint had not been made to RTE prompting the Director General, Cathal Goan, into making a public apology, the story wouldn’t have merited a paragraph in the Tuesday newspapers because it would have been forgotten. But, instead, we had the gardai raiding the Today Fm radio station and detectives also visited the home of the naughty artist. The end result was a plethora of bad publicity for the government. Mr Cowen, even though it appears he personally made no complaint, is now perceived as somebody with little sense of humour and a very thin skin. I have never met him but I’m told the opposite is actually true.
According to reports, Mrs Cowan was very annoyed and one can understand a wife being protective about her husband and upset at seeing the man she loves and the father of their children being caricatured in an unfavourable light. But, unfortunately, that goes with the territory. Older readers will remember the British ‘Spitting Image’ television show when everybody from Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister down were sent up mercilessly and often very cruelly. It is the same with newspaper cartoonists and the names of Scarf and Martyn Turner immediately spring to mind.
But, when all the fuss dies down, the episode will be analysed to bits and, I think, will be seen as yet another instance of this government attracting unnecessary bad publicity at a time when they already have enough to be getting on with. Fianna Fail used to be head and shoulders above all the rest when it came to wooing and cajoling the electorate. Lately, they seem to have lost their political cuteness. They have become remote and it would appear that neither themselves nor their advisors can read the public mind or sense the public mood. As well as fixing the country they will need to fix that as well or suffer the inevitable consequences.
The future for Guinness drinkers?
Last week, I was in a foreign bar far, far away and I couldn’t help but notice that quite a few of the customers were drinking what looked to me like very respectable, creamy pints of Guinness. There was a Guinness tap or dispenser in a prominent place on the counter and it appeared as if the bar staff were topping up pints that had been allowed to settle. I was wrong.
What was happening was that cans of draught Guinness were stored in a special fridge at a certain temperature. The cans were opened and poured carefully but then the glasses were placed on a special plate underneath the tap/dispenser called a ‘surger’ and they were given what appeared to be an electrical charge that finished them off. I didn’t have a pint of the black stuff myself but I came to the conclusion that the bar staff were serving up pints of appealing looking Guinness very quickly and the end product was definitely an improvement on the draught can and certainly an improvement on a poorly poured pint by the traditional method. Loads of people were drinking Guinness and they were all coming back for more. Whatever will they think of next?
An old but dangerous ruse
I was told a story last week that will strike fear into the hearts of many motorists. A middle-aged couple were driving their Nissan X-Trail SUV on a main road in a county not too far away from Waterford. The road was quiet as it was 2 o’clock in the morning and then, to their horror, they spotted a man lying face down in the middle of the carriageway.
Being responsible people, the couple stopped their car and the woman got out to render assistance to the injured man. But, of course, it was a cruel ruse. The so-called injured man jumped up while, at the same time, his accomplice appeared out of the darkness and dragged the driver out of the car. Within a couple of minutes, the two criminals sped away in the couple’s car leaving the pair very shocked and shaken.
The Gardai are investigating but one wonders how many genuinely injured people will be ignored in future because of this kind of crime. Many people will be frightened to take a chance. Mind you, the ruse is nothing new as it happened to a friend of mine some years ago when he was returning to the city from a late gig in Tramore. Luckily, on that occasion, the thieves were not successful but he never stopped for anything or anybody again.
Show me the money
A Mafia Godfather found out that his bookkeeper had embezzled him out of ten million dollars. The bookkeeper was deaf so the Godfather summoned one of his men who knew sign language.
“Ask him where he has stashed my 10 million dollars”, shouted the Godfather.
Following a great deal of sign language, the Godfather’s man told him that the bookkeeper was denying all knowledge about the money.
The furious Godfather pulled out a 9 mm pistol, put it to the bookkeeper’s temple, cocked the gun and said: “Ask him again.” The gang member told the bookkeeper in sign language that the Godfather would kill him if he didn’t say where the money was.
At that stage, the terrified bookeeper gave in and revealed in sign language that the money was in a brown suitcase buried behind a shed in his cousin’s garden.
“What did he say”, demanded the Godfather.
“I’m sorry, Godfather, but the bookkeeper said he has always loved you and he knows you don’t have the nerve to pull the trigger.”
Romance at the table
Three cool dudes from Portlaw were having a meal in the Tower Hotel with their girlfriends last Saturday night. The first chap, acting all suave, said to his girlfriend: “Could you pass me the honey, Honey.” The girls all laughed heartily.
His pal, not to be outdone, said to his girlfriend: “Could you pass me the sugar, Sugar.” Again, the girls thought he was hilarious.
The third dude was under wicked pressure. He had to come up with something good so he blurted out: “Please pass me the pork, pig.”