By Dave Kenny
Irish Examiner, December 29, 2012
Another year, another notch tightened on the belt. So what did we learn in 2012? Dave Kenny reviews a year which saw two Quinns behind bars, less of us drinking in bars and one Irishwoman raising the bar for Irish athleticism…
We learned that …
A €100k wedding cake is (literally) a moveable feast.
In September, as the good people of Cavan rallied for Sean Quinn and his family, it was reported that the clan had spent €100,000 on a wedding cake.
The spectacular caca milis was flown in from New York for the 2007 nuptials of Sean’s daughter, Ciara. Although Sean was worth €4.6bn at the time, the €250-a-slice cake was charged to a subsidiary of the Quinn Group.
Have the people of Cavan ever heard the phrase ‘let them eat cake’?
No-one could tell ’em like Frank Carson, who passed away in March.
“A man goes into a chemist and says: ‘Have you got any Viagra?’ ‘Do you have a prescription?’ asks the assistant. ‘No,’ he replies, ‘But I’ve got a photograph of the wife’.”
That the printed word is DOOMED.
2012 saw Encyclopaedia Brittanica publish its last printed edition. More than 7m sets have been sold since 1768. Thousands of unemployed door-to-door salesmen are now out on the streets. Actually, that’s where you normally find them, isn’t it?
We learned that the printed word is alive and thriving in Aengus O Snodaigh’s office.
In February, The Sinn Fein TD became a laughing (paper) stock when he admitted using €50,000 worth of Dail printer cartridges over a two-year period.
‘Inkgate’ earned the prolific leafleteer the sobriquet of ‘The Wolfe Toner’. One commentator summed it up musically. All together now: “Come out ye blackened hands, come out and type me like a man…”
That northern radio presenters are an innocent bunch.
In November, BBC Radio Ulster’s, Karen Patterson, had to apologise for reading out a prank text about Jimmy Savile.
It said: “I wish everyone would stop criticising Jimmy Savile. He was a nice man. When I was eight he fixed it for me to milk a cow blind-folded.”
That Charlie Haughey was the Weaker Link when he tried to grope a TV presenter.
In October, Anne Robinson told The Guardian that CJ had tried it on with her in 1969.
“I like to imagine he went to his grave with my bruises on his hands after he tried to grope me,” she said. So Charlie came out of the Arms Trial unscathed in 1969, but didn’t fare so well in the Hands Trial…
We learned nothing new about Katie Taylor.
We always knew she was going to make us proud at the Olympics. We did learn, however, that people who abhorred women’s boxing could change their views overnight when there was a gold medal involved.
See you down at the National Stadium?
That we’re rubbish at soccer, but good at making money from it.
After an embarassing Euro 2012, we learned that FAI boss, John Delaney, was taking a 10pc pay cut. He now earns a mere €360,000. That’s €160,000 more than the Taoiseach.
What’s really impressive about John’s salary is that it’s bigger than the combined wages of the Spanish and Italian soccer chiefs. What a world-beater he is.
We make the Germans laugh.
We had a risible Euro 2012, but Ireland’s fans still stole the show with their trademark good humour. A group from Limerick made headlines worldwide after they unveiled a Tricolour emblazoned with the words ‘Angela Merkel Thinks we’re at Work’.
When the boys got home the German ambassador had them around to the embassy. And they returned unharmed. Who says the Jerries have no sense of humour?
We make the English laugh.
In May, Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown’ Boys stumped the critics and won Best Sitcom at the Baftas. Were the Brits laughing at us or with us?
We have oil fields and are rich beyond our wildest dreams.
The waters off Cork and Dublin are awash with the black stuff. Hurrah! Hump off, Troika, we’re saved!
Actually, we’re not. Ray Burke, a man you wouldn’t trust with his own wallet, signed away our oil rights years ago. Get back in the dole queue, Paddy.
We learned to understand Dublinese.
Thanks to Love/Hate, you can’t walk into a posh pub in Montenotti or Dalkey these days without hearing some yuppy attempting to talk like Nidge or Frano.
“Gis a bleedin’ pint of Pinot Grigio or I’ll bleedin’ burst youse, youse geebags, youse.”
‘Geebag’, by the way, is Dublinese for ‘windbag’ (from the Irish ‘gaoth/wind + bag’). Honestly.
That pop stars, like property bubbles, can go pop too
In June, Westlife’s Shane Filan was declared bankrupt in England after his property development company (which is based here) went into receivership. Shane filed in England. This meant that his business wings have been clipped for just one year, as opposed to three-plus.
We also learned that he’s a headline writer’s dream. Shane’s ‘Filan’ for bankruptcy. Too easy.
We learned just how much we loved Maeve Binchy.
Fans from around the world attended the author’s funeral in Dublin in August. The only flowers were a spray of special roses placed on her coffin called ‘Rosa Gordon Snell’. Maeve had had the variety named after her husband as a gift.
If that’s not true love…
We learned just how much we loved Barney McKenna.
Barney passed away in April, leaving a banjo-shaped void in Irish folk music. His death marked the end of The Dubliners after 50 years on the road.
He’s now skulling pints with Ronnie and Luke in God’s saloon bar. And probably giving out about the 10c price hike.
That beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
China’s People’s Daily newspaper ran a mammoth photo spread of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un after a US website declared him The Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.
“With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-born heart-throb is every woman’s dream come true,” the paper quoted the website as saying. There were a few red faces when it was later pointed out that the source quoted was the satirical, The Onion website.
That timing is everything when you’re flashing your boobs.
Unfortunately for Rosanna Davison, her ‘tasteful’ shoot for German Playboy was overshadowed by the brouhaha over Kate Middleton’s baps being snapped by a pap.
Worse still for Rosie, Prince Harry then got in on the act and appeared butt naked in a Vegas hotel room. Poor Rosanna, her ‘flash’ turned out to be just a flash in the pan.
That Mick Wallace has a neck like a jockey’s undercarriage.
Wallace TD (Tax Dodger) became everybody’s favourite Pink Pariah when he admitted committing VAT fraud during 2008 and 2009.
Then there was the revelation that, while he was in trouble with the taxman, he ‘sold’ his €500k Italian vineyard to his brother. He still gets to visit it, of course. Mick’s not fond of VAT, apparently, unless it’s a vat of Italian wine.
Mick surpassed himself in October, however, when he told RTÉ that he once “threatened to hire a hitman to recover an IR£20,000 debt from a building firm”. It’s time he bit the bullet himself.
That, in December, we wouldn’t be able to remember who Mary Davis was.
Clue: she ran against Gay Mitchell (remember him?) and others in a big election during the summer.
That Twink just won’t zip up her gob about her lovelife.
November saw the launch of the ‘entertainer’s’ autobiography, detailing (yawn) the break-up of her marriage. The Sun ran extracts and its readers were treated to the nightmare vision of Twink wrestling in the snow with a ski instructor named ‘Willie’. In terms of sexiness, it’s up there with listening to your mother talk about the night you were conceived.
“In a weird way, I am writing this book for the women of Ireland,” says Twink. Which begs the question: ‘why?’
That Monday nights won’t be the same without Bill Cullen.
TV3’s ‘The Apprentice’ has been scrapped , his car dealership is up the Swanee, and poor Bill is down to the last of his penny apples.
Bounce back Bill, the country needs you.
We learned that Irishwomen like porn almost as much as teenage boys.
Fifty Shades of Grey, combined with the anonymity of the Kindle, meant that Irish mammies could finally do the shopping, drop the kids off, get the bus to work, and read about bondage all at the same time.
Is there any greater proof that women are better multi-taskers than men?
We learned that rats really do desert sinking ships (1).
In January, skipper Francesco Schettino abandoned the Costa Concordia after it ran aground. Thirty two lives were lost.
Captain Chicken now plans to reveal “the shocking truth” of what really happened that night in a book he’s writing. Initial reports didn’t make it clear what he would do with the profits from his book. You can’t buy a pair of goolies, can you?
We learned that rats really do desert sinking ships (2). Did we mention Peter Darragh Quinn fled across the border to evade a garda warrant?
We also learned that… Dr James Reilly has the bedside manner of a grizzly bear with piles (ask Roisin Shortall). He also has a huge mansion in Moneygall which he and his wife hire out for weddings… while receiving tax breaks for its maintenance.
We learned that the wife of Our Glorious Deputy Leader, Eamon Gilmore, is to get a new job worth at least €92,000 in Ruairi Quinn’s department when her current post with the VEC is abolished next year. No, Eamon had absolutely nothing to do with it.
That property tax enforcer, Phil Hogan, couldn’t stand the heat of the Budget… but he could stand the heat of Qatar. While we were crying into our empty wine glasses, Phil was photographed socialising in a hotel bar. The trip was expected to cost €30,000. That’s enough to reverse the €325 cut to the respite carer’s grant for 92 families.
We learned that Seanie Fitz is still free to play golf. That the US bankruptcy trial of his Anglo colleague, David Drumm, has been postponed by five months to the end of June 2013. That, basically, the wheels of justice move slower for rogue bankers than they do for you and I.
That the days of wine and roses are truly over. Sod the roses, why did Noonan have to tack an extra euro on our beloved plonk?
If 2012 taught us anything, it was this: that nothing ever changes on this damp little rock in the Atlantic. When it comes to politics, money and natural justice, the Irish still have a lot to learn.