Tag Archives: The Irish Times

Dirty Movie

An adult website has made a porn video on a litter-filled beach to highlight the problem of plastic pollution (Irish Times 31/08/19) ….


It was just after dawn, and a cold wind whipped lines of sand across the deserted beach. The tide was on its way out, leaving a line of debris to mark its highest spot – bottles, nappies, six-pack rings, styrofoam cups, a solitary flip-flop.

And a shopping trolley, because no litter scene is complete without one.

The film crew – all three of them – stood looking gloomily at all of this.

It was the actress who spoke first. Her given name, more years ago than she would admit to, had been Brenda, but when she had first fallen into the industry she had followed the maxim that a good porn name was arrived at by combining the name of your first pet and the name of the street that you grew up on, giving you something like Fifi Braxton, or Kitty Bellevue.

Her name was Tiddles Forty-seventh.

“I just don’t get it,” said Tiddles. “There’s no bed, or couch. No kitchen table, even.”

“There’s no washing-machine,” said the actor, who had taken a simpler approach to choosing a name, and was called Dick. “Like, what am I supposed to have been called to repair?”

“You’re not going to be repairing anything,” said the Director, a much younger man wearing a Greenpeace T-shirt and an odd air of embarrassment, “except the environment.”

“Ah, a problem with the air-con,” nodded Dick. “I bet my line is ‘I’ll have to get my spanner out’.”

“No,” said the Director, “you don’t understand. Just look around. There’s way too much plastic.”

“Are you slagging my boobs?” asked Tiddles angrily.

The porn movie Director blushed, possibly the first time that sentence has ever been used. “Er, no, of course not,” he said. “They’re very, um, upright. No, I’m talking about the seashore. Look at all the rubbish. We’re killing the oceans, and I’ve decided to make a film protesting about it.”

Dick’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not actually a porn director, are you?”

“No,” admitted the Director. “I’m an environmentalist.”

“Then why didn’t you just make a podcast?”

The Director threw out his arms. “Do you know how many people watch podcasts about litter?” he asked. “Almost none, that’s how many. Whereas what type of film does everyone watch?”

“Star Wars,” said Tiddles.

“Porn,” said the Director, as if he hadn’t heard her. “And when they watch this one, they’ll see all the trash washed up on the beach in the background, and it will have an impact.”

“You really are new at this,” said Dick. “Trust me, the kind of person who watches these films watches one thing only. They wouldn’t notice if we had Bigfoot in the background. In a Batman outfit. On fire.”

“The whole idea is ridiculous,” said Tiddles. “I’m going home.”

“Me too,” said Dick.

The Director looked at both of the desperately. “Please,” he said. “I’ve put so much planning into this. I’m spending all my savings on it. It’s really, really important – to me, to everybody.”

He looked so forlorn that Tiddles hesitated. “Do you even have a storyline?” she asked.

“Um, I was thinking something like, Dick here is walking on the beach -”

“Naked,” said Dick.

“- er, well, yes,” said the Director, “and then Tiddles comes out of the water, like Ursula Andress, only she has a plastic bag stuck to her face -”

“Yeuck,” said the porn actress, another first.

“- and she can’t breathe, and Dick, you rush in and help her out of the water, and you rip off the bag, and clean off all the rubbish she’s covered in, and then, well, um, then -”

“Dot dot dot?” asked Tiddles sweetly.

“Er, yes, something like that”, said the Director, by now red enough to be visible from space.

“And where is this dot dot dotting to take place?” snorted Dick. “Standing up in the shopping trolley? -”

He stopped. Tiddles spun around and looked into his face. He met her gaze. They both were professionals. They both needed the money. Most of all, they both enjoyed a challenge.

Tiddles nodded at him.

“We’ll make the film,” said Dick.

“Seriously?” said the Director.

“Yes,” smiled Tiddles. “Let’s hope it sweeps the world.”



Lonely Out In Space

An astronaut has been accused of committing the first crime in space, by hacking her ex-partner’s bank account while aboard the International Space Station (Irish Times 31/08/19) ….



Not just dumped, but dumped by videolink, which is being dumped and not finding out until seven seconds later.

And in front of your workmates.

Astronaut Jessica Caddick lay on her bunk, or at least just above it, staring gloomily at the ceiling. She had known something was wrong as soon as Greg, after saying “Hi Honey”, had carried on with “Heuston, we have a problem”.

He knew she hated that joke. All astronauts do.

The problem, it transpired, was Marla, her supposed best friend. The call would have won gold at the Cliché Olympics – we missed you, blah, comforted each other, blah, blah, developed feelings, blah, blah, blah.

On and on it had gone – great girl, plenty more fish, you’ll find someone too, blah, blah, blah, blarf.

And that had been that. She was now Jilted Jess, the Havisham of the Heavens, the Spinster of Space.

They’d said they’d wait for each other. It was only two years, they’d said, they’d talk every other day sharing silly, secret jokes to the bewilderment of the listening world, then she’d be home and they’d move to a dream rural home, where they’d sit on their porch every evening and watch her ex-office pass overhead.

He hadn’t even been able to wait ten months.

Whereas she had. She had stuck purposefully to her work, done her experiments, made appearances in faraway classrooms, and had stayed faithful. Even though she’d worked in intimately small spaces with crewmates to whom she had grown really close, she had stayed faithful. Even though billionaires – billionaires! – had come as space tourists, she had stayed faithful.

But who could resist the opportunity to try sex in zero gravity, with its endless possibilities? She could, that’s who. While other crew members had been at it like bunnies – well, like dust-bunnies, given the amount of floating around involved – she had remained chaste, because she believed in her life with Greg, felt that it was written in the stars.

She looked out of the window at those stars. The word that she saw written there now was ‘loser’.

There was a tap on the bulkhead. She looked around to see the Space Station Commander in front of her.

“How are you doing?” he said.

She sighed. “Well, I’m not crying,” she said, “though only because I tried that when I got here first and was really homesick, and discovered that the tears don’t fall, they just hover and mock you.”

“I think Greg is a gobshite,” said the Commander unexpectedly, “but as well as that, he’s on the videolink again.”

Jessica hurried to the control room. She looked at the screen, at Greg’s face, hoping he was going to say he’d been wrong, that he realised he’d made a terrible mistake, that it was her he really wanted.

He didn’t.

“Er, hi again,” he said. “Look, I wanted to say this earlier, but you looked kind of upset, but the thing is …. er, look, I’m going to need the money in our bank account. I know it was for our wedding, but, well, that won’t be happening now, and Marla and I want to put down a deposit on an apartment, and I know half the money is yours – well, more than half, because you earn more than me, being that you’re a spacegirl and all that, but anyway, I’ve taken it all for now and we’ll arrange to pay it back to you when you come back to earth.”

“You will in Uranus,” muttered Jessica. She cut the link, turned to the computer and began to type in mid-air, like Tom Cruise in the first Mission Impossible.

“What are you doing?” said a voice behind her.

She spun at the waist. The Commander was behind her.

“You shouldn’t have been listening,” she said.

“Well, I was,” he said. “And now I’m worried. You’re going to try to empty his bank account, aren’t you?”

“Try?” she snorted, returning to her keyboard. “We’re on the biggest and most powerful satellite in the sky. From here we could tell what TV channel Greg’s watching, we could turn make his doorbell ring, we could reverse his car into his bins, just to annoy him. There’s no trying involved. In fact,” she said, turning back from the computer, “it’s done.”

The Commander looked doubtful. “Isn’t that a crime?” he said.

“Is it?” asked Jessica. “Under the laws of which country? To be tried in which jurisdiction? At the moment we’re over” – she looked out of the window – “Mali, I think. Is that where the crime happened? All I’d have to do is never go there.

“Besides,” she went on, “I’ve pinged the signal off just about every spying satellite up here, including the ones belonging to the Russians, the Chinese, the CIA, and the Fitbit App, which is basically your gym-teacher watching you sleep. No-one will ever be able to prove it was me.”

She smiled, for the first time that day. “In space no-one can hear you scheme,” she said.

Beefed Up

Irish Times, 17/07/2019


There are many ailments that can cause an unfortunate cow to end up in hospital.

Brucellosis, pulpy kidney, summer mastitis, pseudocowpox, foot rot, fatty liver and wooden tongue are just some of the less gross.

And that is not even to mention the dreaded Mad Cow Disease, which might cause the creature to meow like a cat, wear a tinfoil hat, or believe it’s a Ford Cortina.

Imagine if we ate them.

Bettina was afflicted by none of the above. A week ago, on a very hot afternoon, she had simply swished her tail to try to cool herself, and had flicked it against an electrified fence.

The effects had been, well, electrifying. Her hide took on a ghostly sheen, her dung had the aroma of avocado toast, and the ring in her nose began to pick up Radio Luxembourg.

She had been rushed to hospital, and had spent a lovely week indoors, freed from the burden of daily milkings, of having to suddenly sit down when rain was coming, and of random visitations from Big Boy Billy, the local bull and bully.

Admittedly the grass that they fed her was dry and tasteless, but such is the way with hospital food.

But now they were planning to send her home. She looked despairingly at Doctor Duck (in the animal world all the doctors are ducks. Ever wondered where the phrase “quack doctor” comes from? Now you know).

“But I’m not ready yet, Doc,” she pleaded. “I’m still as sick as a parrot.”

“What?” squawked the parrot in the next bed. “Are you losing your feathers too?”

Bettina and Doctor Duck both regarded him silently for a moment, then turned back to face each other. “You’re fine, Bettina,” said the doctor. “Your temperature is normal, your stool is fine -”

“How do you know?” snapped Bettina. “It’s still back in the milking yard.”

“- and,” went on the doctor, ignoring her, “your weight is down to a healthy sixteen hundred pounds.”

“Really?” said Bettina, momentarily impressed. “That’s the best it’s been in years.”

“So you see?” said Doctor Duck. “You’re good to go.”

And so it was that Bettina, half an hour later, found herself outside the derelict building that housed the animal hospital, (humans don’t notice wizards running full-belt into railway station walls, they’re not going to notice an animal hospital in their midst) on the main street of Ennis, County Clare. She was just standing there, trying to work up the will to start her walk home, when a local farmer passed by.

“All right, Daisy?” he said.

Calling a cow “Daisy” is as annoying to them as is calling an Irishman “Paddy”. Bettina felt her blood begin to boil, which is unfortunate when you’ve recently been super-charged.

And even more unfortunate when at that moment the farmer gives you a friendly slap on the rump.

There was a loud bang and a bright flash. Bettina’s white-hot hooves burned four marks into the tarmac, the milk in her udders turned to brie and she had a sudden desperate urge to run with the bulls in Pamplona.

The farmer was blown in through a shop window. A china shop, as it happened.

Bettina glared at him as he sat up in bewilderment. Through her flaring nostrils Adele was yelling at someone to never mind, that she would find someone like him.

“I told them I was sick,” muttered Bettina.





A journalist called Malachy Clerkin wrote a really good, funny article in last week’s Irish Times about Twitter, the Rory McIlroy incident (he had a row via Twitter with a TV commentator who had suggested his caddie was useless) and the Social Network in general.

He wrote about the unfortunate naming of Twitter, Twits and Tweets and he said:

It’s a decent bet that we’d all be closer to feeling comfortable with it by now if it had been called something staid and dull like MyDiary or Bubble or Fridgenote. (Naming internet phenomena is the easiest thing in the world. It’s basically living space bingo. Look up from your paper right now and pick the first object that catches your eye that has 10 letters or fewer in it. Bam! You’re a heartbeat away from being Mark Zuckerberg.)

(It is encouraging, by the way, that proper journalists use sentences in brackets too.)

Anyway, I did as he suggested, though it was unfortunate that I was reading the paper whilst in the pub.

When I get going I hope you will all friend me on Beermat.