FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Idon’t know what year it is. I mean, I know now, right this minute, be­cause I’m think­ing about it – and if I for­get again I can al­ways sneak a peak at the cover of this mag­a­zine – but gen­er­ally, as I’m me­an­der­ing through life, I am find­ing it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to re­mem­ber what year it is. And don’t mean just this, brand, spank­ing new year – for God’s sake, who amongst us can be hon­estly ex­pected to re­mem­ber that? – I’m talk­ing about ev­ery year now.

Last year (which was 2014, lest we for­get), I fre­quently paused my pen over the year when I went to write the date. Some­times I went for 2013, some­times 2015. But mainly, I found my­self writ­ing 1914. I am not los­ing it, I still know who the Taoiseach is. But, oh man, there’s just too many years out there for me to know in which one I’m cur­rently stand­ing.

It was eas­ier when we wrote cheques for ev­ery­thing (of course, there were fewer years back then, which helped). Be­ing obliged to write the date on an almost daily ba­sis meant that part of our brain got a reg­u­lar run- out. Plus, if you were in the bank writ­ing a cheque, then there were al­ways lovely staff nearby happy to help out. Ad­mit­tedly, some­times you’d come up against a ballbuster type, who’d vol­un­teer that it was the ‘fifth’, but wouldn’t of­fer as­sis­tance as to the month or the year.

But be­cause the date-re­mem­ber­ing lobe of ev­ery­one’s brain was match-fit back then, that rarely pre­sented a chal­lenge. Now, I am lucky if I can re­mem­ber what sea­son I’m in (and even that, what with last year’s per­fid­i­ously balmy au­tumn, isn’t al­ways a given).

It’s not just cheques. Be­cause most of us com­mu­ni­cate pri­mar­ily through email now – which dates our cor­re­spon­dence for us – we rarely have to write the date at all.

Also, I am con­vinced this whole decade of an­niver­saries palaver isn’t help­ing. Is it any won­der I kept call­ing last year 1914 when all around me, peo­ple were re-liv­ing the First World War? At least this year, there aren’t too many 100-year mile­stones – though per­son­ally, I’ll be paus­ing for a mo­ment’s si­lence to hon­our the fallen from the first 50 years of the Euro­vi­sion Song Contest in a cou­ple of months’ time. But with all the talk al­ready about next year’s com­mem­o­ra­tions, I al­ready know I’ll spend most of this year think­ing I’m ei­ther in the next one or back in 1916 it­self.

In ad­di­tion to the lack of cheques and bal­anced let­ters, the other trou­ble with the 21st cen­tury is that not enough has hap­pened to mark the years as dif­fer­ent from each other. Maybe this is a start of cen­tury phe­nom­e­non – with hind­sight, noth­ing what­so­ever hap- pened in the world be­tween 1900 and 1912, when the Ti­tanic did fu­ture fans of cen­te­nar­ies a favour by sink­ing – but we’re al­ready con­sid­er­ably more than a decade into this new cen­tury and still, the years have failed to dis­tin­guish them­selves from each other.

Ob­vi­ously, no­body wants a world war or another 9/11, but a Saipan (2002! See? I don’t even have to check!) might be use­ful just to help us all keep the years clear in our minds. Ob­vi­ously, with nei­ther a World Cup nor an Olympic Games in prospect this sum­mer, another sports-based civil war seems un­likely (and Rory McIlroy’s en­ter­tain­ing off- course life spills across sev­eral years, so doesn’t help with cal­en­dar-con­fu­sion). But surely a home­grown popular en­ter­tain­ment sen­sa­tion is not beyond ei­ther our imag­i­na­tion or ex­e­cu­tion.

To this end, maybe we could man­age to turn up the heat on the imag­ined ra­dio wars that we’re cur­rently ex­cited about, per­haps arm­ing the re­luc­tant com­bat­ants and de­mand­ing they fight du­els on the rolling lawns of Mon­trose.

I don’t think any of us would strug­gle in the fu­ture to re­call 2015 as the year – for ex­am­ple – in which Ray D’Arcy shot Matt Cooper at dawn. We might even get a coun­try song out of it which we could en­ter into the 50th Euro­vi­sion and end our run of shame at the contest for once and for all. Which, of course, would also help us dis­tin­guish 2015 from all the years be­fore. As Johnny Lo­gan, the pa­tron saint of Euro­vi­sion, once so aptly posited: what’s another year? Surely now, 35 years after he first asked the ques­tion (see? SEE?), it’s time that we gave him an an­swer. Over to you, Ray D’Arcy. Ire­land ex­pects.

I’m not los­ing it, but is it any won­der I kept call­ing last year 1914 when all around me peo­ple were re-liv­ing the First World War?

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