57 channels and nothing on
- Ship of Fools (Network 2)
- Cuairt na Cruinne (TnaG/RTE)
- 42 up (BBC1)
This really is the silly season - as I scanned the screen in
desperation for a half decent programe, I was faced with some
desperate choices from the turgid satellite channels, whose aim
it is to turn your brain to soft putty .
Pamela Anderson was starring in Barb Wire on Sky Movies ``as a
leather clad avenging angel who helps smuggle an underground
leader across the border before setting out on a quest for
contact lenses with the power to save the world''.
Over on Sky One there was a choice between Tattooed Teenage Alien
Fighters from Beverley Hills, The Stupid or Last of the Dogmen
while on Channel Bravo (which is a cover name for soft porn),
Italian Stripping Housewives was showing twice a day.
The only semblance of sound mind amid this applesauce was the
National Geographic Channel, which has appeared recently,
unnanounced but much needed.
It has substituted the atrocious Super Channel, and A Lizard
Summer was showing last night - which sounds better than the
summer we're having at present. Tune in!
Sky News were busy broadcasting the news of a fire on an American
cruise ship, which had no casualties, while the deaths of three
thousand `second class' Papua New Guineans was relegated to the
Teilifis na Gaeilge is another exception to the dross of the new
stations , and one of its recent successes, Cuairt na Cruinne,
was picked up by RTE.
Renowned Donegal poet Cathal O Searcaigh was setting off on a
quest to conquer the Himalayas, assisted by Irish Everest hero,
Somers was cutting in his assessment of the chubby Cathal: ``I
don't have much respect for poets - they're weak and there's too
many of them''.
His appraisal at first seemed accurate as O Searcaigh seemed more
interested in the maelstrom of culture and religion that is
He missed his first team meeeting as he ``cleansed his soul'' with
the Milk Baba Guru, a local dude who has survived on milk alone
for sixteen years.
O Searcaigh wasn't long however at buckling in to the long days,
up at 6.30am, and long treks, although this is always alleviated
by the poor sods from Nepal who have to carry their supplies.
O Searcaigh isn't long bringing his poetry to use, describing the
Himalayan foothills as ``the first day of creation'' and describing
the locals as ``poor bur proud''.
Somers has a similar grá for this amazing country as he
crepeatedly returns to grapple with the mountains.
Somers asserts his school masterish personality as the team nears
the summit of 20,000ft Paldor, causing a clash with Cathal who
opines his preference to relax: ``I'd be as happy as a donkey,
drinking a cup of tea down in the valley''.
The expedition ultimately suceeds, and Cathal proudly nestle ``in
the sunfolds of the mountain summit'' feeling a liitle like Yeti
but more like a Mountain Guru.
42 up, on BBC 1, was beneficial in that it showed how
spectacularly boring most of our lives are by the time we reach
Simon, Sue and friends, who have been visited every seven years
by the cameras since their 7th birthday, had all progressed to
married life, children, nice house etc.
None of them had progressed to pop stardom, football fame,
Westminster, serial killing, drug addiction - in fact the most
interesting event in their lives was Symon's divorce and Tony
getting caught in bed ``with another woman'' by his wife.
The most pugnacious were the public schoolboy trio, who at seven
were reading the Financial Times and complaining about ``poor
They all predictably developed into snotty nosed Tories, working
``in the city''. Law etc, called their children Timothy and
Alexandra and sent them to the same public schools of their
One clear difference to be seen is the confidence instilled by
the public school system, which lasts a lifetime, something which
needs to be instilled in the educatiuon system as a whole.
Maybe I'm the fool, but the much heralded Ship of Fools didn't
deliver any message other than: aren't we all terrible for
fighting, and when is all the violence going to stop?
The animation was very admirable as Captain of the ship sailed
into stormy waters where we saw images of exploding skulls,
riverdancers, hurlers, fishwives and lambeg drummers.
The stars on Captain Baldy's show- Balaclava, Bishop, Orange Man,
Politician and Mortar, were followed by Tricolour and Union Jack
clad coffins and crying babies.
Much cartoonography, but alas mumbo jumbo and no new messages.
The Tour De France is trundling along, drug kits intact, as the
men are being separated from the boys on the Pyrenees where the
Basque colours are very much in evidence.
Unfortunately cycling is not much of a spectator sport, as
thousands of Southerners recently discovered, unless you consider
a two second glimpse comparable to a football match. But then
again the Ulster Final was hardly a sporting spectacle - ``the
worst nightmare of a match'' as described by the
never-short-of-a-word Joe Brolly, who also compared teammate
Seamas Downey's posterior to ``a bag of cement'' .
The pink-trousered British Open was predictably mind numbing. The
only sporting respite being Clare triumphing yet again in
Munster. Their popularity is on a slide as they lose their
underdog tag and their manager is now perceived as arrogant. If
the unpopularity is the price of success then so be it.
Enjoy the rain, go to the pub or go mad!
By Sean O'Donaile