Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rancid Ruminations - June 2013

Photograph from RHA Annual Show 
I do despair of Channel 4.  They have revamped one of their very best programmes, Channel 4 Racing, and in the process destroyed it.  Like the base Indian throwing away a pearl richer than all his tribe.  Did they know not what they had?  Recent surveys have told them that about 90% of people prefer the old formula.  It's not merely the irritating new people:  Claire Balding running around like a head girl on crack, commandeering the mike at every opportunity to bellow out the bleeding obvious; and the deplorably eager Rishi running after her with his tail wagging.  It's more the change in tone.  It's moved from low-key knowing professionalism with a tincture of world-weary cynicism (usually courtesy of John Francome) to a jolly hockey sticks false heartiness, dizzying location changes, and relentless bon homie.  It's lost its soul.  And is it my imagination but hasn't the royal ass licking grown more intense in recent weeks?  With Royal Ascot yet to come, heaven forfend.  It isn't just the amiable old broiler Bess who gets the grovel, that bettle-browed autocrat from Dubai is also smothered in deference.

Don't you grow weary of all this guff about Seanad reform.  Let's be honest and abolish both the Dail and the Seanad.  The Dail does not run the country - it's merely a container for lobbyists with specific local interests.  There is no real debate - no freedom of expression - just kiss the whip. The country is run by 3 or 4 senior ministers and the upper echelons of the public service - with the connivance of the Law Library.  Nothing radical will happen.  Imagine this lot abolishing RTE as Greece has just done with its public broadcaster.  We are even afraid to tackle the obscene salaries of our jaded time-servers.  The abortion debate is a non-issue cranked up following an incident of egregious medical negligence.  It's a distraction merely, a side show. And while we had no problem bringing in special powers to handle the IRA, we lack the will to touch the robber-barons who have plundered our finances.  They laugh at us from the US and other lands of capitalist refuge.

There is a worm at the heart of Tipperary hurling.  They have a young and highly skilful team leavened with a few wise old heads.  They won an All-Ireland a few years ago and looked set fair to win a few more.  But now that seems a freak result.  They caught Kilkenny weakened by injuries and on an off day.  Every time they meet this weakness surfaces.  They lack real appetite for the physical battle. Kilkenny are close to them in skill and organisation - but radically harder and more cynical.  Intestinal fortitude is where they differ.  This dearth showed itself again last Sunday against Limerick.  The Tipp forwards were physically bullied by the Limerick backs.  What to do?  Maybe send a few big lads forward - blend beef and skill up front.

The annual RHA show seemed stronger that usual this year.  Of course there were the usual waxen portraits of worthies from academe (step forward James Hanley) and way too many undistinguished pieces from the RHA members.  However,  there seemed to be a lot of new names, many of them foreign.  Mick O'Dea had some great portraits of fellow painters Charlie Cullen, Mick Cullen and Stephen McKenna.  There were a number of outstanding photographs (see image) and the customary elegant beauty of Eilis O'Connell's work.  My favourite piece was a typically edgy rural landscape by Martin Gale ("Fences").