PA­TRICK FREYNE

Love Is­land: An at­tempt to tell a beau­ti­ful story us­ing the medium of hunks

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

“Grand­fa­ther, what did you do dur­ing the ‘Dark Years’ (2017 to to­day in­clu­sive)?” asks a wild-eyed child.

Grand­fa­ther pauses from whit­tling an iPhone 8 from cal­ci­fied wood. “Well son, I largely watched Love Is­land.”

“You weren’t pay­ing at­ten­tion to global pol­i­tics?”

“I was! But I’d seen that al­ready. It was sh*t. All re­peats. I changed the chan­nel for a while in search of cheer.”

A shriek cleaves the air as one of the gi­ant mu­tated Nigel Farages ram­pages by, drop­ping tiny Trum­plings from his pelt as he goes. The child shud­ders. “I hate the Trum­plings.”

The grand­fa­ther puts a fin­ger on his mouth. “Hush now child. Put an­other rat on the fire and let me tell you of the Love Is­land.”

The child sighs, picks up a rat and puts it on the camp­fire. Grand­fa­ther sits back and con­tin­ues whit­tling. “Love

Is­land was an at­tempt to tell a beau­ti­ful love story us­ing the medium of hunks.” “This sounds stupid.” Grand­fa­ther ig­nores him. “A se­lec­tion of the world’s best hunks and hun­kettes were placed on an is­land where they took in­struc­tions from an anony­mous pro­ducer and were en­cour­aged to fall in love and play mind games and hope­fully have sex in front of ‘the gen­eral pub­lic’.”

“The gen­eral pub­lic? Those bas­tards! I’ve heard of them. They voted for Brexit and Trump and that thing with the ten­ta­cles and the Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coali­tion.”

Grand­fa­ther chuck­les and reaches for his scrap­book. “They re­ally were scamps, the gen­eral pub­lic.”

He opens the scrap­book. There in the mid­dle of a big love heart drawn in marker is a sepia-coloured pho­to­graph of the full cast of Love Is­land 2017.

The child gri­maces. “Ugh, they’re hideous mis­shapen freaks.”

Grand­fa­ther looks hurt. “Now son, be­fore our cur­rent skin con­di­tions and vi­ta­min de­fi­cien­cies and tooth­less­ness, this is what passed for ‘fit’.”

“But they’re so . . . lumpy. Who’s that?”

“That’s Car­o­line Flack. She owns the Love Is­land. She lives there still sur­rounded by her hunkbots if the leg­ends are true.” “She looks well paid.” Grand­fa­ther laughs. “Prob­a­bly not as much as a male coun­ter­part, son, but yes.” “So how did it work?” “Well, each day the is­lan­ders would gather around a sort of wa­ter­ing hole and would ac­cede to the whims of a hand­held de­vice. They bick­ered and formed two­somes and three­somes and touching bro­mances and en­gaged in ridicu­lous mind games and mugged each other off and had DMCs and had sex on telly and they all slept in a big com­mu­nal bed­room like the seven dwarves or the Smurfs. And they did so hap­pily, not out of ter­ror as we do to­day. All in all, it was a fan­tas­ti­cal hunk­topia and we shall never see its like again.” “Where are their clothes?” “They rarely wore shirts be­cause shirts chafed their del­i­cate skin.”

“Was there any dark side to this won­der­land?”

“Okay, ev­ery now and again The Flack would come and there would be an event called The Re­cou­pling. And then, in good Dar­winian fash­ion, those not in a breed­ing pair were ex­cluded from the group and sent out into the wilder­ness to die. But frankly we were okay with that; the cou­ples left over were totes adorbs.”

“I feel like you’re an­thro­po­mor­phis­ing them.”

“Um, it wasn’t a wildlife doc­u­men­tary.”

“You’re mak­ing it sound like a wildlife doc­u­men­tary.”

The grand­fa­ther sighs and flicks over a page in the scrap­book. “Let’s have a look at the ‘fi­nale’.” “The Trumpoca­lypse?” “No just the fi­nal episode of the se­ries. By the last episode [which was Mon­day night on 3e for read­ers in 2017] the four best cou­ples were left. There was Chris who had a head like a sullen Ken doll and Olivia who seemed to en­joy hurt­ing him. There was Jamie, who had a jaw like a rec­tan­gle and was a re­nais­sance man in that he mod­elled un­der­wear but also read books, and Camilla, who was posh and saintly and beloved by all. There was Mar­cel and Gabby who, hav­ing been a cou­ple for a whole four weeks, taught us all some­thing about monogamy and stick-to-itive­ness. And there was Am­ber and Kem.”

He sighs. “They were to­tal melty sorts.”

“Kem isn’t a real name,” says the child, a lit­tle sulk­ily.

“It to­tally is, Kem­sto­pher. Any­way, it was great. They all did the tango badly and wrote dec­la­ra­tions of love and jumped into the swim­ming pool and drank cham­pagne and then The Flack pre­sented them to the bay­ing crowd who loved them.”

“I don’t know Grand­dad, it sounds kind of ex­ploita­tive, het­eronor­ma­tive and a bit porny.”

Grand­fa­ther looks sad. “You don’t know how bad things were by 2017,” he says. “I was a tele­vi­sion re­viewer. I KNOW. Things were dark. The hun­klings seemed so sweet and naive and sim­ple and funny, like a Love Is… car­toon but with real sex. It was a world in which a woman could say, with a straight face, ‘It was very dif­fi­cult \for me] af­ter ‘Li­cence to Swill’.”

“But they were grown adults. How did they put up with such non­sense?”

“These were more in­no­cent times. None of them had fought in a war [yet]. Ex­cept pos­si­bly Mar­cel, who was in Blaz­ing Squad, a branch of the armed forces. All I know is, they were the he­roes we needed at the time.”

“I’m not sure they were,” says the child, lift­ing a roasted rat from the fire with his stab­bing stick.

“Any­way, the gen­eral pub­lic made their choice and it was Kem and Am­ber,” says grand­fa­ther. “Kem and Am­ber were the best at be­ing in love. And they had come through ‘dif­fi­cult times’ and they agreed to share the £50,000 prize. And then Elon Musk sent them to Mars to spawn a golden race of hunks. I think. I for­get. Things get a bit hazy af­ter the fi­nale be­cause of, you know, the hor­ror.”

The child raises an eye­brow. “I’m not sure that was ‘love’. And look­ing at the pic­tures in your scrap­book, I’m not sure that it was re­ally an is­land. At best it was an archipelago. It was a lust archipelago. That’s what you have there, Grand­fa­ther, a lust archipelago.”

Grand­fa­ther moans and clutches his scrap­book to his chest. “You have no po­etry in your soul, boy. Eat your rat.” He stares for a while in the fire­light at his wood-carved iPhone. He smiles and mut­ters to him­self as he taps on it. “They were so god­damned hunky,” he mut­ters. “Hash­tag hunky,” he adds. “Hash­tag my happy place.”

The child ob­serves him sadly. The old man is un­likely to sur­vive an­other win­ter, he thinks. In the dark­ness the Trum­plings emit an elec­tronic scream.

“A se­lec­tion of the world’s best hunks and hun­kettes were placed on an is­land where they took in­struc­tions from an anony­mous pro­ducer ”

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