Friday, July 31, 2020

Tampon Tampon It’s All in Vain

As a mere male I should probably avoid this issue but it’s August, the start of the silly season, so why miss out on all the fun. I used to think that Ciara Kelly on Newstalk was a sound and sensible woman - now I realize this was only when juxtaposed with saloon-bar bore George Hook. These days she’s permanently outraged about this, that and especially the other. Her current anger is directed at the ASAI who have banned an ad about tampons. She has asked her Newstalk listeners to send her in tampons as an indication that they share her feelings. The tampons she receives will then be sent on the ASAI apparently to show them how affronted the women of Ireland are. I hope she has alerted the Newstalk mail-room about this initiative (do we have mail-rooms any more?) - and I sincerely hope that she has emphasized the unused nature of the tampons she’s requesting. Even if she did, I suspect that some will respond mischievously. Regarding the offending ad, of course it shouldn’t have been banned. It’s cheesy and has an undercurrent of sexual innuendo suggestive of a Carry On film (Carry on up the Vagina maybe ) and the English accents don’t help in this regard. But I think few people these days, male or female, are offended by its frankness and its physiological directness. It’s an eminently sensible message delivered in a tacky way. It was silly of the ASAI to ban it and I fear it was done on dubious grounds. It should of course be reinstated  but hardly justifies going to war. This is a spurious battle for a dubious prize between the perpetually offended and those perpetually offended by the perpetually offended.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Save the O’Sullivan

With online media setting the trends there is an increasingly blasé attitude towards spelling and grammatical usage. Anything goes: abbreviations, emojis (put me down if I ever use one) and the severe abuse of personal pronouns. A major casualty has been the use of the apostrophe - often seen now as an optional extra. A by-product of all this mayhem is that those who happen to have a surname with an apostrophe (all us O’Briens, O’Connors, O’Neills and O’Sullivans) are increasingly encountering problems when filling out forms that require a surname -  the sine qua non of most forms. The apostrophe is seen as a “special character” and renders our input invalid. So you have to omit the apostrophe to complete the form - thereby submitting a version of your name that’s inaccurate. You might imagine that Irish Government departments would recognise this requirement and program its applications accordingly. But not a bit of it. I’ve encountered it with many different departments including bizarrely the online Passport application - despite being explicitly (see image) told to enter your name as it appears on your passport. This morning I was filling out an application for an Age Card in which we are also warned that every detail must be accurate and when I had the temerity to include my surname as it appears on my birth cert with its O’ my form was declared invalid and I had to go back and delete the offending character. I expect this shit from non-Irish web sites but it’s the giddy fucking limit when our own bloody civil service can’t be arsed to build in such a simple requirement.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Irish Times Do Robert Lowell A Favour

Lucy Sweeney Byrne’s article on Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights (Irish Times July 11) was good for a hollow laugh. Commenting on Hardwick’s fraught relationship with the poet Robert Lowell, Byrne described him as “clutching” “a photograph of his third wife Caroline Blackwood” when he died of a heart attack in a New York taxi. Lowell had just left Blackwood and was returning to Hardwick who was his second wife. The alleged photo was in fact a painting of Blackwood by Lucien Freud. So perhaps less a poignant reminder and more a substantial asset.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Aer Lingus Refund Strategy is a Shambles and a Disgrace

I’m sure I’m not alone in being ignored by Aer Lingus in my efforts to get refunded for flights it cancelled. You can waste hours trying to talk to a human so most people just give up. It’s an appalling way for a seemingly mature corporation to behave. Give us our shagging money back.

This document tracks the status of the refund and voucher that Aer Lingus has said it will provide for two cancelled flights.

Case 1: Voucher for Cancelled Flight EI0422

When my flight to Venice on 13th May was cancelled I decided to apply for a voucher (+10%) as encouraged by its web site. I filled out the requisite form and on the 10th April 2020 Aer Lingus sent me an email with the following content:

“Thank you for your voucher request. Your booking has been cancelled and you do not need to take any further action. 

Your Aer Lingus voucher - plus 10% - will be sent to you shortly.”

88 Days later still waiting.


Case 2:  Refund for Cancelled Flight EI3930 

On the 13th May 2020 Aer Lingus sent me an email telling me my planned flight to Cornwall on 30th May had been cancelled:

“Regrettably your flight departing from Dublin to Newquay has been cancelled. This is due to the current extraordinary circumstances.” 

The letter encouraged me to apply for a change of date or for a voucher. I had to click on a further information link to discover that I could also apply for a refund. I did so on the 13th May using the Refund Request Form on the Aer Lingus web site. This is quite a detailed form and requires time and trouble. After you submit it you get a “Request Submitted” message on the screen but no confirming email to make you feel warm and secure.

55 days later still waiting. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Epsom Conundrum

The Derby at Epsom looks to be the most open in years. When you add the relative inexperience of most of the field to the quirkiness of the track it’s hard to make a convincing case for anything. Of the fancied horses Kameko trained by Andrew Balding was a good 2000 Guineas winner but I don’t see him staying 12 furlongs; and English King trained by Ed Walker didn’t seem to beat much in his trial.  Aidan O’Brien as usual has multiple runners. He keeps talking up Mogul who didn’t impress at Ascot but will certainly improve and I liked the run of Vatican City in the Irish 2000 Guineas - he was finishing very strongly. Ryan Moore seems to agree with his boss as he’s selected Mogul from O’Brien’s many runners and Seamie Heffernan has selected Russian Emperor. The most impressive trial I saw was Pyledriver’s comprehensive win in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot. If he was with a high profile trained like Gosden or Stoute he would nearly be favourite. But because he’s trained by William Muir you can back him at 16-1. I’ll be having a few bob each way at that price - with a saver on Vatican City, although he seems to be Ballydoyle’s least fancied with Padraig Beggy assigned to ride. (He’s a former winner of the race of course.) The Oaks looks like a straight match between Love and Frankly Darling and I think Love will prevail. She was hugely impressive in the 1,000 Guineas.