FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

Ihave a new email ad­dress. Ob­vi­ously, I’m not go­ing to tell you what it is — though not from any con­cern for my pri­vacy; more be­cause I know full well that you’re not go­ing to use it. No, in com­mon with 95 per cent of the peo­ple who I have no­ti­fied of my new ad­dress, you’re go­ing to carry on us­ing the old, mori­bund one.

About that old, mori­bund one: I had thought that ire­land.com and I were rub­bing along very well to­gether, right up to the point at which The Gath­er­ing robbed my ad­dress. It wasn’t the world’s great­est server, but it sort of fit me like a com­fort­able old sock. Also, cru­cially, be­cause I had hooked up with it so long ago, I had one of those pre­cious ad­dresses that are al­most im­pos­si­ble to come by th­ese days, un­less your name hap­pens to be some­thing like Ernest Sn­od­grass Hoopsworth — fiona. looney@ire­land.com. How cool was that? It was the kind of ad­dress you could pass on ver­bally to drunk peo­ple and they’d still re­mem­ber it. I loved it be­cause it was the email equiv­a­lent of hav­ing a phone num­ber that you’d hear in black-and-white films, like Fitzroy 24.

So there we were, ire­land.com and I, in a mu­tu­ally sat­is­fac­tory re­la­tion­ship for 12 years. It wasn’t my first such re­la­tion­ship, ad­mit­tedly, but I’m not one of th­ese peo­ple who flounces around with about four email ad­dresses: for a dozen years, I had been en­tirely monog­a­mous to my server. But then The Ir­ish Times, which owned it, de­cided to sell the do­main name to Fáilte Ire­land so it could use it to en­tice tourists to gather. Now if you log onto ire­land.com, you’ll get a lovely pic­ture of a beach, which pre­sum­ably is de­signed to make a user nos­tal­gic for Ir­ish beaches but in­stead just has the ef­fect of mak­ing me nos­tal­gic for my old email ad­dress.

Any­way, be­fore the 70,000 of us who’d stuck with ire­land.com and re­fused to have our heads turned by blingy servers like Gmail were un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped, we were given the op­tion to set up an au­to­matic no­ti­fi­ca­tion which would in­form any­one mail­ing us at the old ad­dress of our new one. I was about to set it up when it sud­denly oc­curred to me that in spite of its rig­or­ous fil­ters, I had ac­cu­mu­lated a huge

‘My switch­ing email ac­counts trig­gered that mar­vel­lous, if ut­terly point­less, Ir­ish mix of de­fi­ance

and tra­di­tion’

num­ber of un­wanted email cor­re­spon­dents over the last dozen years. Some of th­ese — Maria at spread­shirts.com, for ex­am­ple — have taken to con­tact­ing me on a more or less weekly ba­sis be­cause once, a cou­ple of years ago, I spent all of five sec­onds look­ing at their web­site. Now, I saw, I had the op­por­tu­nity to shake off all th­ese un­wanted cor­re­spon­dents.

So in­stead of no­ti­fy­ing ev­ery­one in my in­box of my fan­tas­tic jour­ney into Gmail, I just mailed ev­ery­one who mat­tered. And then I waited. It wasn’t till I fig­ured out that there was, for a short while, still a way to read, though not ac­tu­ally en­gage with, my ire­land.com in­box that I re­alised, in my wizard scheme, I had for­got­ten one vi­tal de­tail: we are Ir­ish. Sud­denly, it was ex­it­ing by the cen­tre doors of the bus all over again. It was as if my say­ing ‘you can’t use my old email ad­dress any more’ had trig­gered that an­cient Ir­ish gene that is a mar­vel­lous, if ut­terly point­less, mix­ture of bel­liger­ence, de­fi­ance and tra­di­tion. Just as once we re­fused to get off the bus by the cen­tre door, even though ev­ery shred of logic screamed that it was the sen­si­ble thing to do, now, the Ir­ish rose again and, al­most to a man, de­clared, ‘We can’t use that email any more? We’ll see about that.’

And so, al­most ev­ery­one I no­ti­fied of my new ad­dress con­tin­ued to use the old and now com­pletely in­ac­ces­si­ble one. I have lost at least one work en­gage­ment and a good friend who was sup­posed to stay with me over Christ­mas con­sid­ered her­self un­in­vited. Ad­mit­tedly, I also haven’t heard about spread­shirt.com’s New Year of­fers, but now I am won­der­ing, at what price?

On the other hand, I quite ad­mire all the peo­ple who sim­ply re­fused to lie down and ac­cept a change in email. Partly be­cause I know I would be amongst them, if I had re­ceived a sim­i­lar in­struc­tion, but also be­cause it is such an un­rea­son­able and per­fectly Ir­ish re­sponse to a rea­son­able re­quest. It is the kind of thing that makes peo­ple like us, and want to gather with us. It is the kind of thing you could put on ire­land.com. And for all I know, many of you may al­ready have.

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