Monday, 27 February 2012

The Irish Sun on Sunday - How shit was it really?

In the sparkling sun of July last, a glorious event unfolded. An event that every virtuous person in the land will regale to their grandchildren as the slaying of an abhorrent institution. After putrid details of phone-hacking within the corporation was revealed, News International, owned by that devious shit Rupert Murdoch, were forced to close down the wretched News Of The World. As the ink dried on the last copy there were celebrations on the streets, worldwide displays of revelry and joy and the burning of a massive, 30ft effigy of Rupert Murdoch, lizard tail, fangs and all included. Or at least that's how I pictured it in my head. It might have worked out differently in reality, I was too busy being happy.

Anyway, 7 months later and NI have gotten round to releasing their brand-spanking new replacement to NOTW, creatively titled The Sun on Sunday. To be honest, I always saw the NOTW as The Sun, just on a Sunday. The SOS (haha, funny acronym) is being branded as more family orientated than the NOTW with less emphasis on sex and celebrity scoops. To investigate whether or not they were telling porkies, I picked up a copy of The Irish Sun on Sunday to assess for myself.

At first glance, it's just your standard The Sun newspaper really. No new design or free toy or anything. Bit of a let-down actually. After the build-up that preceded its official launch I expected the front page to at least carry a picture of Rupert Murdoch's chiselled face with the caption 'YOU CAN'T KILL WHAT ISN'T ALIVE BITCHES' emblazoned across the front but The ISOS have instead opted for some banal story about Brian Kennedy implying that Jedward are shit. That's not news. But of course this is a family paper and families love Jedward so by running a story about them they're relating to families. Them considerate chums. That whole family claptrap is down the drain though as soon as the first page is turned. Page 3 features a charming picture of X Factor judge and Beyonce botherer Kelly Rowland clasping her bare breasts. A sight for all the family to behold of course.

Having leafed through the first few pages I begin to ponder to myself, "What kind of warped family are The ISOS writing for?" Page 5 features a story on "Sex killer" Michael Bambrick "back on the prowl" in West Dublin. Page 19 and 20 feature a two-page-spread on the Tallifornia "Hotties" all holding their bare breasts in a pose not too different from Kelly Rowland's way yonder in Page 3. Page 25 is on Stephen Ireland's wife "exclusively" telling The ISOS that her husband could be the next Ozzy Osbourne. Don't ask me why, I didn't read it after the first two lines. Page 31's main story is a quite remarkable piece of journalism actually. It tells of "porn peddler" who "ballsed up" by selling "dodgy dickie medicines." Now guess where he's from. Go on. Kilcock. The fact he's from Kilcock is emphatically highlighted  by way of block capitals as if to suggest the writer is pissing himself silly like a 13-year-old boy whilst typing up the article. To make the piece even more jocular and humourous, the writer peppers the article with some horrendously funny erection puns (in block capitals of course) including, the convicted man not doing "HARD time" and dodging a "STIFF prison sentence". It's possible that the family orientated SOS is reserved only for the British editions of the paper and that the Irish paper does not fall under the same bracket. This would qualify the sex stories as suitable. Well, not really but it gives them an excuse.

The new columnists The ISOS has to offer range from passable to Katie Price. Passable being Jennifer Maguire, Katie Price being Katie Price. Enda Kenny even is afforded his own column in the inaugural toerag, I mean paper, but I just hope a grown-up helped him write his little propaganda piece. Roy Keane gets an entire two pages in the sports section to wax lyrical about Man City, this of course having nothing at all to do with his ongoing feud with Sir Alex Ferguson. Not a bad piece though in fairness, he seems quite the erudite writer. Oh God, I just read Katie Price's column. In one of her stories, she informs us that she recently attended a debate on feminism at Cambridge University and won the debate. This leads to the question, who was she debating against? Hugh Hefner? Larry Murphy? She claims it was Boris Johnson's sister. That woman is an editor of a magazine. I refuse to believe Katie Price beat her in a contest that involved structuring sentences. 

The "less emphasis placed on celebrity scoops" method seems to have been a figment of Murdoch's imagination as articles on celebrities form the backbone of The ISOS. A massive two-page spread on pages 6 and 7 is dedicated to a "World Exclusive" with Amanda Holden  divulging information on her recent caesarean section scare. No complaints here actually, it's a good story that fits in nicely with that "family orientated" spiel they were stringing out last week. Some of the other articles however are the conventional, NOTW-like celebrity nonsense. Besides the aforementioned Stephen Ireland, Tallafornia and Kelly Rowland articles, there are two celebrity sections, one written by the amiable Jennifer Maguire and the other charmingly entitled Bizarre. The rest of the paper is peppered with more celebrity junk including humdrum stories revolving around Mark Wahlberg, Blake Fielder-Civil (Amy Winehouse's former husband), Adele, Holly Willoughby and "TV3 beauty" Anna Daly (Nope, me neither). I simply loath this soporific bile but if you do enjoy your "CELEB GOSS" then you'll probably love The ISOS. If you're an idiot basically.

I could carry on with my review or diatribe, whichever way you look at it (I prefer diatribe) but I feel I've said enough. I feel dirty for buying The Sun, seedy for reading it and downright repugnant in the knowledge that I've given Rupert Murdoch money. If you do like The Sun, you'll like this. It's the same old rigmarole, horribly biased reporting and shoddy celebrity stories being de rigeur, in much the same vein as normal, weekday The Sun. I would urge everyone not to buy it though. Buy the Guardian and inform yourself. 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Jesus wears a pair of skinny jeans. So should you.

If you were to die tomorrow, what would people remember you by? Quite an aberrant question I know but bear with me. I know my answer. If I were to die tomorrow and my friends were trying to jog the memories of people who vaguely know me they'd say "You know Conor.. ah you do. That dashingly handsome chap with the wit of Peter Cook and the charm of Dudley Moore. Oh and a fantastic blog, Snappy Shit is the witty appellation he bestowed upon it. No? Ah the lad who wore skinny jeans a lot. Yeah him."

My skinny jeans are part of my identity. Indeed they may be my entire identity in the minds of some people. Yet I am virtually alone in my wearing of these lustrous trousers. I think I can count on one hand the amount of men I've seen in UL wearing skinny jeans since I started my course way back in August. A skinny jeans wearer such as myself stands out like a sore thumb in UL, the land of Hollister hoodies and Munster Rugby tracksuit pants. (If you are a Hollister wearer and are reading this, I advise you get off the laptop, find a mirror and take a good long look at yourself you spurious ninkenpoop). 

So why are they so unpopular? Why is it that so many males abhor the mere suggestion of wearing them? A lot of men I speak to claim that they would feel physically constricted by skinny jeans that they are afraid that they would, in the most eloquent terms, "chafe my balls." That's a good enough point but I'd wager that most of these men have never worn skinny jeans. I find them snug and comfy with plenty of space for manoeuvring. It's more than this though. There is a certain social stigma attached to skinny jeans. Most men like to think of themselves as manly men who do men things in a manly way with other men but in a totally non-homoerotic way. "The wearing of skinny jeans is for girls and girls only. Any man who wears them has to be gay." But some of the world's most famous womanisers are partial to the wearing of skinny jeans, Russell Brand being the most pertinent example. As amazing as it may sound to some people, I too am straight. Only just about though.

More Irish men need to tear down the self-imagined boundaries that restrain them from totally expressing themselves. Many men just don't like skinny jeans, fair enough, but I'd wager lots more would like to wear them but are afraid of the supposed social implications, My message - ignore them. So go on, shatter the mental inhibitions that hold you back! Ignore the chuckling, buy a pair of skinny jeans and show off your feminine side.

Just one thing. Make sure you have the legs for it. Oh, and that goes for girls too.

But back to eulogising the skinny jeans. And apologies for going all Gandhi there but it had to be said. The best thing about skinny jeans is how they make you look like a rock star. Well, in your head at least. They're so suave and swag and tidy. They don't impetuously wave in the air like normal, baggy jeans but they glide. They compliment your shoes as well. What's the point in purchasing funky new boots if they're half-obstructed by the ends of your billowing jeans? 

If you do choose to venture into the unknown and try out skinny jeans then bear in mind you're in good company. Some of the coolest men in history have been connoisseurs of skinny jeans. Elvis. The Beatles. Russell Brand. Alex Turner. Me. Noel Fielding. Kanye West. And of course, one of the most divisive but legendary men in Ireland, Paul Galvin. 

Skinny jeans aren't for everyone and Ireland may be less receptive to their wearing than most countries in the Western World but for the men who love them, they're nothing less than beacons of absolute coolness and daring. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Facebook creeping - Just how weird is it?

Facebook creeping is a bit like normal creeping except, y’know, socially acceptable and a bit less weird. It’s joked about, it’s trivialised and it’s thought of as perhaps an integral part of the facebook experience. We all do it too. Once you find out someone’s name, it ain’t their family tree you’re interested in, you go straight to their Facebook profile page. And then, based on his/her privacy settings, your reaction may be something like this…“She left her pictures open to the public? THE FOOL. I shall take advantage of this glorious opportunity. I am now going to exploit her most precious visual memories”.

Once you’ve been on facebook for more than a year, creeping becomes almost a daily chore. You don’t even think about doing it, you might innocently stumble upon someone’s page by way of your newsfeed or the friend list of a friend’s page you’re innocuously interacting with and then BOOM, you’ve cleared half of that person’s photo albums and judged them by their music and film choices. I do without almost thinking. It’s such a brain-sapping, time-wasting activity as well. Sometimes I’m in a mood where I just like looking at people’s page, be they male or female, friend or stranger, attractive or ugly. For a few seconds when I’m creeping their page I become almost intrinsically attached to their lives, sharing the worries they express and wondering how they spent their day. I read their status updates and survey their profile information and make a judgement on that person based on the information I can gather. Quite hollow and superficial I know but natural too. There is no sexual malice in this kind of creeping, it’s more caring creeping.

Then there’s sexy creeping, otherwise known as creepy creeping. It works a little like this:
1. Find attractive girl be it randomly or if you’re lucky, you may be facebook friends with her.
2. PRAY she is lax with her privacy settings.
3A – If she is quite the prune, and her page is more or less closed off, retreat back to the newsfeed. 3B – If her page is as open as the red sea, pat yourself onthe back, thank God or Buddha or whatever and on with the creeping.
 4. After 15 minutes of creeping, log out disgusted with yourself for being such a repugnant and pervy nit.
5. 20 minutes later, wash yourself and repeat all four steps.

The clincher to whether or not you’ll return to her page is if she is ‘In a relationship’. If yes, you may creep once, approbate her attractiveness with a solemn nod, praise her boyfriend for acquiring such a hot piece of booty and be on your way. If she’s not, you may find yourself revisiting her page. And it’s nothing disgusting or malicious. Sometimes us boys like looking at pictures and thinking “Cor… I’d love to sit and watch telly with her”. Honestly. Nothing really sexual (I shouldn’t really call it ‘sexy creeping’ so then, that’s misleading. I’ll stick by the ‘creepy’ part however), just a longing to be loved that we all experience when we’re single and alone and listening to Adele. Like the Blues Brothers sang, everybody needs somebody to love.

Creeping makes you feel all shallow and disgusting. This is only enhanced when Facebook reminds you that you were creeping excessively by way of the search bar. Ah, the search bar. Facebook thinks it’s being all helpful and amiable by suggesting what friend you are searching for based on the letter you have typed in. This is when you are caught in what I like to call, the creep-trap. You type in one letter, the letter ‘H’ for instance and the first person, the most relevant person Facebook can find beginning with the letter ‘H’ is often your creeping victim. “Oh shit”, I often wildly exclaim to myself. I then go through what I call ‘The Five Steps to admitting you have a creeping problem’.

Step 1: Denial – “No fucking way, ah-ah. I’ve gone her page about three times? Maybe four but that was because she linked a video of Arctic Monkeys to her page and I was obliged to research her music tastes. THAT DOESN’T COUNT FACEBOOK”
Step 2: Anger – “FACEBOOK YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK LIKE A CREEP. What if my girlfriend is on my page and notices how quickly her name comes up on the search bar? Oh that’s right, I haven’t got a girlfriend…. THANKS FOR REMINDING ME FACEBOOK”
Step 3: Bargaining – “Alright Facebook. I’ve heard your side of the story. I’m going to keep visiting the page of my friend who has the same first letter in their name as my supposed (according to stupid Facebook) creeping victim in order to drive said creeping victim down the list of suggestions. That should work.
Step 4: Depression – “I only go on her page a lot because I haven’t got a girlfriend of my own to poke (virtually and physically) and I feel like she could be the next one for me. Don’t judge me Facebook. I’m going listening to Adele….”
Step 5: Acceptance – “Ok, I’m a disgusting human being who could and should be locked up for stalking. But in fairness Facebook, she’s like the LUAS, on-rail.”

Maybe I’ve dissected the whole concept of creeping a little too deeply. Maybe it’s not as complicated as I make it out to be. That’s for you to judge. I can say two things for definite.One, in response to the question I posed in the title, creeping is very weird. Two, creeping is a bit like taking heroin. You feel bad about it, you don’t talk about it, but by Jesus, you’re not going to stop it either.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Why we shouldn't laugh at the demise of Glasgow Rangers.

As an Irishman, a southern Irishman especially, I should be elated at the news that Glasgow Rangers have entered into administration and are now teetering on the brink, financially speaking. As any self-respecting Irishman knows, Rangers are bad. Celtic are good. Bad things happening to Rangers is good. We’re still meant to see Rangers in prehistoric terms as some sort of Orange bastion of protestantism in which no Irish Catholic should be sympathetic towards in the slightest. The religious lines are still drawn every time Rangers play Celtic and wearing a Rangers jersey isn’t simply seen as the innocuous donning of a football kit, it’s a badge of identity with which you display your religious as well as political beliefs. But I can’t help but feel compassion for my Glasgow brothers and sisters at such a difficult time. To so many of us, football offers an escape from the strain of modern life and our club is the vehicle which drives this departure from reality. When this vehicle breaks down, we’re trapped in the real world. And who wants that?
Glasgow Rangers’ falling into administration isn’t exactly a surprise. The financial turmoil at the Ibrox club has been well documented for some time which makes the ordeal all the more agonising for the fans. Amid all the fiscal strife however, Rangers have managed to win the last three SPL titles though that may say more about the substandard SPL than it does about the quality of Rangers. The news still comes as a blow to fans. One fan being interviewed by the BBC on Monday claimed that the administration was a ‘big embarrassment for the club’, another claimed that it was ‘a sad time for Rangers FC’ and one particularly disgruntled fan voiced his abhorrence at the besmirching of ’140 years of history’. The general feeling amongst the fans was that the owner, Craig Whyte, and his predecessors have a lot to answer for. Fans feel particularly aggrieved as the running of their club is out of their hands and in the hands of businessmen who see it as more of a business enterprise rather than a football club. A tool to make money rather than an institution that gives meaning to people’s lives every Saturday.
Rangers’ perilous situation has been greeted with a wry smile and a droll giggle here in Ireland and England as well. I heard one man exclaim sarcasically that ‘It couldn’t happen to a nicer club’. But these pejorative sentiments are extremely narrow-minded. Yes, Rangers have come to symbolise something that many Irish people see as threatening or derogatory towards their heritage but we shouldn’t be in the business of kicking a club when its down. The demise of Rangers is a profusely sad thing. Thousands of Glaswegians and many other Rangers supporters worldwide now don’t know if their once great club can compete. Good, honest, decent people with no delusions of grandeur but simply an innocent love for their football club face a nervy time. A very nervy time as Rangers face an uncertain future. This season is a write-off, what with the 10-point-penalty imposed on Rangers as a result of entering into administration, but many have gone as far to say that Celtic will now dominate the Old-Firm rivalry for years to come such is the financial black hole facing Rangers. Other mutterings, seemingly disingenuous mutterings uttered by overly optimistic Celtic fans methinks, have suggested that Rangers may go into liquidation and cease to exist. This, of course, is very unlikely. One Scottish club did fold as a result of financial difficulties fairly recently though there is a stark contrast between lowly Gretna and the footballing behemoth that is Rangers.
Rangers will never get much love from me. I am inherently programmed to hate their very being. I don’t hate them, but that is merely because I rewired the programming along the way. The SPL delights me not; I have a horribly condescending view of Scottish football but I do always shout for Celtic in the title race and Old Firm derbies. I’ll never wear a Rangers kit and I won’t dance the Fiddler like Gazza but when a club is down and when it is her fans who are suffering most, one cannot help but feel a sliver of empathy…..  Ah go on, y’do.

Passmaster Scholes shows his class yet again

In a match dominated by a collection of unsavoury events, the performance of United veteran Paul Scholes slipped under the radar. Indeed, that could be a metaphor for Paul Scholes’ career. For a man blessed with such deft feet and such supreme vision and decorated in countless domestic and European honours, proper recognition has often eluded Scholesy. His unassuming manner on and off the pitch may have contributed to this, he isn’t a playboy footballer like many of his contemporaries, but there is a reason so many professionals hold him in the highest regard. Again, at Old Trafford  against Liverpool on Saturday, Scholesy showed exactly why Fergie wanted him back from retirement – and why only last year, Xavi of Barcelona described him as “the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years”.
Simply put, Paul Scholes was majestic against Liverpool. I would advise any young midfielder, looking to progress his/her skills, to acquire a DVD of this match and meticulously study Paul Scholes’ performance. It was a masterclass in ball retention and passing. What sets Scholes apart from so many of his contemporaries is his awareness. Indeed, this was evident around the hour-mark in Old Trafford on  Saturday as Paul Scholes took control of the football 10 yards in the United half. As he controlled the ball, two Liverpool players stomped on the ground in pursuit of the ginger maestro. The crowd took in a sharp intake of breath and wailed excitedly at Scholes, no doubt screaming the proverbial ‘MAN ON’. But there was no need. Paul Scholes knew. With one swivel he turned from both players and neatly played his pass to Michael Carrick. In this seemingly innocuous moment of play, Paul Scholes showed why he is above mere mortals on the football pitch. His anticipation of events is legendary. It really does seem like he has eyes on the back of his head at times.
Paul Scholes’ awareness finds space and with that space he is free to pass to any player of his choosing. And I mean any player. Scholesy’s range of passing is phenomenal. He doesn’t whack his passes, he caresses them. He does it so quickly as well. He lifts his head and only a split-second later lets fly with a deft touch of that magic right boot. Just watch the flight of the ball in mid-air when Paul Scholes passes it. So straight, so composed, barely shifting its axis. Each of his passes is thoughtful and into space. Paul Scholes doesn’t pass for the sake of passing. On Saturday, Scholesy dictated the tempo of the game with his sweet, cushioned passing. Jay Spearing is young and raw, and Liverpool are missing Lucas Leiva, but Scholesy dominated the Liverpool midfield. He and Michael Carrick have formed a strong midfield partnership that may not be able to out-muscle but are certainly able to out-pass most opponents. Wingers love playing with Paul Scholes as well for his measured passes out to the wide areas of the pitch seem to elude even the most proficient of full-backs. Luis Antonio Valencia is a noted beneficiary of these incisive balls. Scholes’ link-up play is superb, he knows when to pass short, when to pass long and very rarely hits an inaccurate pass. On Saturday around the half-hour mark, Scholes’ intelligent pass to Ryan Giggs on the left wing from a position where so many other players would have blindly shot is indicative of the quality that sets him apart from other midfielders. That pass led to United’s best chance of the first half when the also magnificent Giggs crossed for Scholes who was waiting at the 6 yard box. Scholes’ header was straight at Reina unfortunately. At 5ft 7in, heading was never going to be Paul Scholes’ forté!
Modern football has its fair share of problems, and many of them were on display at Old Trafford on Saturday, but with players like Paul Scholes around, football is always going to be the ‘Beautiful Game’. His comeback may end this year or next year but we can only hope that some of Paul Scholes’ magic has rubbed off on some of the other midfielders plying their trade in the Premier League. For 18 years now, Paul Scholes has been a credit to himself, a credit to Manchester United and a credit to football. There is a reason Zidane referred to him as ‘my toughest opponent…. the complete midfielder’. So let’s enjoy him while we still can. Just don’t ask him to tackle!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

That one time I thought I was Russell Brand.

Quite a snappy title, innit? I liked it. Oh yes, the story. Well, we all have idols. We all have those celebrities that we hold as a paragon of virtue, that what they say is gospel and to whom we feel we can relate to much easier than, say, people we actually know personally. Very rarely do we actually think we are a celebrity. Well ok, that's slightly misleading. I didn't think I was Russell Brand, but there was a time I made quite an effort in trying to replicate his every mannerism and incorporate his own little quirks into my personality. I think I was about 16.

It all started when I re-watched Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2007. I had seen it when it first came out but on second viewing, it had a much more profound effect on me. For the uninitiated of you, BFQOTY is an annual quiz show featuring teams of celebrities battling against each other to see which celebrity knows most about the past year's events shown in the last week of December. It's a very flippant show, more Mock the Week than an actual quiz. In 2007, one of the celebrity duos featured were the Goth Detectives comprised of the Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding and one Russell Brand. The other teams were strong and quite funny. They amused me. But the Goth Detectives entranced me. Noel Fielding was the junior member of the terrible twosome. He liked to convey a sort of dopey and innocent image of himself on BFQOTY. He was hilarious. The other member of the Goth Detectives....

Russell Brand. Fuck, even his name sounds like he was born to be famous. It rolls of the tip of your tongue and the name 'Brand' especially conjures up visions of glamour. Watching him on BFQOTY was a personal and comedic revolution for me. Everything he was in that 90 minutes of programming, I wanted to be. He was charming, he was witty, he was mirthful. Visually, Russell Brand is an anomaly. As a socially frustrated 15 year old, who constantly saw himself as different from his peers but with no outlet to express this individuality, I wanted to have Russell Brand's demeanour. Well, not literally. I wanted my own one but as wacky and as aesthetically pleasing as Russell's. I couldn't imagine myself growing my hair to the same length as his or cultivating a beard akin to his lovely, plush face-scarf but I wanted his effulgent individuality.

In a comedic sense, I copied Russell too. Honestly, I tried my darndest to be him. I fastidiously watched clips of him attempting to learn each of his idiosyncrasies no matter how subtle or seemingly insignificant. For instance, I tried to learn how he always cocked his head forwards just as he was about to answer a question in a humourous manner. I didn't try to imitate his voice for my cockney accent is notoriously poor but I did try and incorporate mannerisms of his speech into my thick Kerry accent. Imitating the way he broke up sentences by wildly overstating the word 'but' was one of my favourite tricks. These tactics worked well. I soon became known as someone who could make someone laugh and a lot of it was down to Russell. Sure, any joke or insult I made was mine but the content is only half the beauty of the joke. Delivery was key and my delivery of jokes was my imitation of Russell Brand. 

His former hedonistic lifestyle did not deter me either for I saw Russell Brand as a genuinely good man. An ordinary person's relationship with a celebrity is a peculiar thing. Chances are, Russell Brand wouldn't particularly like me if we were to meet or vice-versa, but I have some sort of emotional connection to him no matter how superficial it may be. His rebellious attitude enticed me, as did his hyperactive nature. I have always been hyperactive and jumpy which is rather rare. I don't like staying in one spot for too long and I have a short attention span. With the right know-how, you can make people laugh with this hyperactivity. Russell taught me how. 

This phase lasted a long time and has deeply affected me. Who I am today, my fashion, my humour, my taste in music, all derive from this period. I don't think I am Russell Brand any more, though I do still love Russell Brand. I see that in my headless pursuit to express my supposed individuality, trying to copy another person (in this case Russell Brand) is a bit of a paradox. How can one be individual if they imitate another person? Seems simple but it took me about a year and half to learn. No one is truly individual, human beings are very impressionable creatures but we each have little quirks that make us who we individually are. If these quirks are perceived as funny, you're in luck. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

My application to the FA to be the next England manager.

Last night, in a wild fit of boredom and creativity, I decided to e-mail the FA to put my name forward for the vacant managerial position after the resignation of Fabio Capello. It took a while, and many cups of tea, but I think I got my point across. Here is a transcript of the e-mail I sent them:

Dear FA,

A chara,

Good evening. Firstly I would like to commend you on that fine job you did with dispensing with the captaincy services of that reputable, racist git John Terry, he was an awful gobshite. My name is Conor O'Riordan and in light of the recent resignation of Fabio Capello, I would like to put my name forward for consideration when choosing a suitable replacement for Mr.Capello. I'm 18, I'm a student and I'm Irish. Now it may seem far-fetched that I, a mere layman, replace one of the most revered managers in football history but if you bare with me I think you may realise that this could in fact be quite fruitful for all parties concerned.

To the naked eye it may seem that I am rather lacking in this department but if you were to open your mind you would realise that I am as qualified as any of your Harry Redknapps or Alan Pardews or Martin O'Neills. Firstly, I have the same amount of league titles and European Cups as Harry, Martin and Alan combined. Secondly, I have never lost a competitive international while the manager of an international team (My spell at the British Virgin Islands may have slipped under the radar but it was a fruitful time for all concerned. Especially the British Virgins). Thirdly, my football management skills have been thoroughly tested by a hi-tech simulator which tests the cognitive and reactionary ability of managers known as Manager Mode in FIFA 11. After four seasons managing Coventry City FC, I led the Warwickshire side to Premier League and Champions Cup success beating footballing powerhouses such as Manchester United, Barcelona and Stoke City along the way. My shrewd investment in players as far flung as Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro from Rochdale to Yoann Gourcuff from Lyon supplemented the local talent already there beautifully. I played an attacking 4-2-4 formation which obliterated most opposition defences. What really set me apart from my contemporaries however was my uncanny playing style which commentators described as 'Arsenal on steroids'. I believe this style would transcend well to the international stage.

My vision for England
I love England. I love Kate Middleton, I love curry and I love Jeremy Kyle and all his funny looking friends. I want to restore England to her rightful place at the top of world football. I have a long term plan which, if applied properly, would establish England as the footballing superpower in 20 years time. It involves genetically mutilating and combining the sperm of Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Ledley King and  embedding it in the uteruses (uteri?) of 11 young, English women. This way the offspring would be as skilful and handsome as Wayne, as quick as Theo and as hard as nails as Ledley. It would be a tricky and expensive process but I assure you in 20 years time when you see 11 albino chavs taking the field for England and pummelling Spain and their fancy tika-fucking-taka into the ground you will thank me. In the short-term, I advise a few simple squad alterations that  would galvanise the English team in no time. The first one involves locking Gareth Barry in a shed for the duration of Euro 2012. The second one involves bringing back Paul Gascoigne for A. We all love Gazza. B. If Gazza, Andy Carroll and Rooney played together up front for England it would surely be the prelude to a shift in the space-time continuum which would result in the transportation to a new universe where England can actually win trophies. C. We all love Gazza. Thirdly, I have recruited a talented young forward to complete the attacking quartet. His name - Colm Cooper. Cooper is a rather proficient footballer from the hills of County Kerry, Ireland. He is not English but I have acquired a semi-real English passport and have taught him how to speak in a strong cockney accent by watching episodes of Only Fools and Horses with him. He sounds like Trigger. Before you ask if I have FIFA clearance, of course I do! Sepp owes me. I did him a favour regarding fine wine, nun uniforms, whips and women a few years ago and he owes me big time. This would be my desired team for England -

G. Neville ____̶T̶e̶r̶r̶y̶___King_________A. Cole                  
 (Yes, really)    RIO                                                                  

________Fat Frank_______JOEY BARTON_______


________Wazza__________ANDY ANDY CARROLL

Smashing, I think you'll agree. Especially Joey Barton. Every team needs Joey Barton.

In conclusion
I hope you enjoyed my e-mail and will thoroughly analyse it and come to the realisation that the best way forward for the English National Team lies in the hands of an Irish teenager. After all the pillocks ye have employed since Sir Bobby stepped down, ye'd be mad not to at least give me a chance. Salary would not be a problem. All I ask is the basic industrial wage and an annual meeting with Russell Brand. Cracking stuff boys. Thanks for your time.

Mise le meas,
Conor Ó'Riordáin

And yes, I actually did e-mail them. Here is the proof in pictures. 

Bit of a laugh sure. But at the same time, deadly serious and I expect a reply. Peace and love.
Conor x

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Friendship is.....

How can one accurately describe the abstract concept that is friendship? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as 'The quality or state of being friendly' or 'the relationship between two friends'. These definitions are pretty primitive. They don't explain the little intricacies and conditions that make up a good friendship. I don't expect them to, but at the same time, I wouldn't expect someone who wants to know what true friendship is to check for a dictionary definition. You don't need one. You know what friendship is when you have a true friendship.

Friends are people who you enjoy spending time with. I've got hundreds of acquaintances but very few I would regard as friends. This is because I don't want to spend that much time with all of them. That's not to say I don't like them, it's just that their company isn't something I long for. Their company can be quite awkward and cordial. I don't miss them when they're away. When you have a proper, lasting friendship with someone, you do miss them. You miss their funny little ways and their annoying habits. You miss the arguments and you miss the DMCs (Deep Meaningful Conversations to the uninitiated of you). Their presence is enough to warm you. A wise man or woman once said 'True friendship is when silence between two people is comfortable'. What a sagacious little quote. Some times friends need say nothing, they just need to be there.

Friendship of course, is not merely a same-sex matter. Society is keen to show us, from an early age, that we should focus on fraternising with people of our own sex. Be it the existence of same-sex schools or even clubs and organisations like boy-scouts or girl guides, there is an almost continuous attempt to divide children on the grounds of their gender. Friendship between a man and a woman is a very viable and beneficial relationship nevertheless. It's only when you reach adolescence that you begin to realise this. I attended a mixed primary school and a mixed secondary school so in that sense, I am lucky that I have no trouble fitting in in female dominated environments and forming lasting friendships with members of the fairer sex. Others are not so lucky and you can't really blame them, boys who attend all-boys schools for 14 years might not know how to converse with a woman in meaningful way, in a way that is not a precursor to him sleeping with her. Friendship with a female can be just as rewarding and as enjoyable as friendship with a male. They know us better than we know ourselves, they love chatting and the best ones can put up with a little bit of gentle insulting, colloquially referred to as 'banter'. They are also very useful when you have your own little relationship problems as they are well-versed in the art of providing a shoulder to cry on. Friendship between men and women is something that any equal society would want to propagate. 

In a world which increasingly emphasises the supposed importance of material wealth and social status, maintaining good and eternal friendships is often seen as secondary to progressing in your career. But no one can survive without friends, be they male or female. Friendship is basically the family that we choose. It is the glue that holds together our emotions and our mental well-being.