We treat the Famine as if it hap­pened yes­ter­day yet have learned noth­ing from a decade of boom and bust

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

If there has been one pos­i­tive as­pect of the aus­ter­ity years, then it has been the demise of din­ner- party chat­ter about property prices (the demise of the din­ner party it­self prob­a­bly is the sec­ond-best thing about our read­justed re­al­ity – there’s only so much squid ink pasta a man can eat be­fore he de­mands a de­cent steak and a plat­ter of chunky chips).

Back at the height of what we used to call the boom and now re­fer to as the bub­ble, en­tire evenings could be whiled away on hor­ror sto­ries of house­hunters find­ing that the property they ex­pected to buy for € 300,000 went for twice that at auc­tion.

Of course, a hap­pier view of such ex­cess was taken by those who were sell­ing, when they re­alised that far from look­ing to spend the wind­fall on a bi­jou mews in Dublin 4, they now could put down a de­posit on Bul­garia. All of it.

In the past few years, it seemed as if we had out­grown such non­sense, yet now there is the sneak­ing feel­ing, es­pe­cially in Dublin and other ma­jor ur­ban ar­eas, that those days are back.

With new builds vir­tu­ally at a stand­still, ex­ist­ing hous­ing stock can­not of­fer enough sale prop­er­ties to cater for de­mand. Not only are pur­chase prices ris­ing, rents also are go­ing through the metaphor­i­cal roof. In Ire­land, we treat the Famine as if it hap­pened yes­ter­day, but seem to have learned noth­ing from a decade of boom and bust.

And that’s why, this week, I’m telling you what pro­gramme I ac­tu­ally won’t be watch­ing. It’s Des­per­ate House Buys, to­mor­row night at 9.40pm on RTÉ One.

I’ve had enough of that malarkey to last me many life­times, be­lieve me. Tom Hol­lan­der gives a com­pelling per­for­mance as the Welsh poet Dy­lan Thomas (above, with Essie Davis as his wife Caitlin) in this fea­ture-length drama, ex­pertly scripted by Andrew Davies. It chron­i­cles Thomas’s fi­nal, fa­tal visit to New York in 1953, where he gave read­ings, was li­onised, and man­aged to com­plete Un­der Milk Wood. But what he mostly did was party, chase women and drink self-de­struc­tively. It’s a trib­ute to Hol­lan­der’s per­for­mance that he man­ages to make this self-in­dul­gent drunk so like­able. This is a sad tale, but there are wel­come flash­backs to hap­pier times when Thomas’s life seemed full of prom­ise, and well-cho­sen pas­sages from his writ­ings to re­mind us of what a talent he once had.

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