Author Archives: claire

Ray Darcy… (sigh!)

Ray Darcy is now on RTE, a radio show that I have yet to hear. It seems unfair to even contemplate criticising it. But my criticisms really have nothing to do with the style of show or any individual broadcast. It is more to do with the remit of the show, and how that is not being fulfilled.

One of the more remarkable things about Gay Byrne’s radio programmes were their openness to deal with social issue. They rarely presented solutions, and in many cases there weren’t any. But they gave a voice to those who otherwise would be happily silenced, and this is what made it great.

Gay Byrne at the RTE studios.

However, have a look at what the Ray Darcy show puts together. There is remarkably little contextual pieces, and by that I mean this show could be produced anywhere in Ireland, on any radio station. There is no unique stamp attached to it. It also covers none of the major concerns that might be held to exist; the economy, immigration, mental health, limiting resources, the marriage referendum. Imagine the kind of show that Gay Byrne would create today. He might ask those suffering poverty levels to speak about the experience, and how they are affected. He might speak to parents of gay children, or gay parents, and ask them their views about life and the referendum. The women who go abroad for abortions might be asked for their views. And those in Direct Provision, or even just those born abroad that now live here, would it not be good to hear from them?


But the show that is happening now is not giving air to these types of things.  It seems to be a magazine show, one that isn’t really focused on anything. Think, for example, about asking a Dublin bus driver about life. Or a binperson, or a pilot, or any of these professions. They’ve seen huge changes over the last ten years, mostly moving to contract work and the removal of a sense of connection to the communities they serve. Do you honestly think that the Dennis O’Brien fuelled media circle is going to reach out to such employees? I don’t.  Have a look at the Callan’s Kicks Parody here, illustrates nicely what I’m saying.

Callan’s Kicks…

Anyway, feel free to click on the podcasts in the links above,. I’ve no doubt that they would be entertaining. But they won’t do more than pass the time, and there is little enough of that already.

I’m sorry to all the mothers she had to work with.

In which a woman realises to her shock that mothers are useful employees, too.

…I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her “commitment” even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.

It seems like a fairly thinly disguised promo for her own company, but the attitude of her younger self is indeed very widespread. I’m regarded as a non-essential member of staff here in UCD, but the attitude exists all round for all staff members in the university who don’t put that role as a priority.

I’m not a fan of her earlier behaviour, mainly because it is repugnant. It insists that one should live to work, and that this is the moral centre of one’s life. To live otherwise is morally vacant and wrong; why else would she herself enjoy such disdain of those who make other choices?  Her own story, however, at least suggests that the attitude is one that can be changed, even if it takes a life changing event to do it.

Katherine Zaleski








From here. 

There is nothing wrong with 50 Shades of Grey.

No, seriously, there isn’t. There is nothing wrong with it. It is fine. Just fine.

But, you my beloved reader might ask, surely it is wrong, and indeed wrong on several different fronts? It is badly written, so badly written as to be a source of mirth? It is also wrong in terms of its morality; the relationship it depicts is abusive, incorrect, lacking in moral fibre and abusive? BDSM communities hate it, as it shows the worst stereotypes of its community, and it is also just filth? It will lead young girls to believe that these relationships are normal, correct, happy? This book is wrong, and indeed should be removed from circulation?

To these points, I make the following retorts;

1. Badly written work; Oh, yes, it is trash, but for the purpose it has it does just fine. Millions have read it and liked it. It is fantasy, not reality. And for most of us, the concern is not that it is badly written, it is that it is badly written for such a popular novel. Right now, there are millions of badly written books out there, but no one cares. We care because it is so lauded by its sales figures, and because it has become a stock of popular culture.

2. It’s morality  – the story told is a fantasy, of a billionaire falling in love with a naive young woman who falls in love back. After much sex, tension and misunderstanding all is well. The book is a fantasy; billionaires do not care much for undergrads, nor do they seek out their thoughts. Certainly he has money, but she is not a heroine focused on that, it is not a big deal beyond a point. The point is that this is porn, not just a novel. It is for the reader’s sexual gratification rather than the reader’s literary one. The morality is besides the point.


One ring to rule them all? Pfft, sure!


3. BDSM; again, this is FANTASY, people. If readers are led to an abusive BDSM relationship because of this book, then they are easily led. Then there is the spoken aloud concern for young women who might read this work and thus believe that they can get happy by entering such a relationship. Women will not be saved by an abusive relationship because they don’t read this novel. Men and women are abused for a host of reasons, but this novel is only a single point of pop culture. This is not the fear we all think it is.

They ain’t gonna find a billionaire, either.


Interestingly, there is rarely a spoken concern or fear about the elements given to male sexuality. There is no worried frown or fear given over to the education, or message, young men receive from pop culture, or for that matter from the sex education they receive from porn. And porn is considered more and more the norm for young men these days. It’s not considered cheating, it’s not considered deviant. Indeed, Cindy Gallop points out in her Ted talk that the vast number of young men she dates have received their sex education from porn. There are free sites for porn on, and the titles alone make 50 Shades look sweet; They speak about hurting, about mastery, about destroying and about humiliation. Of all this, because it is focused on men, no one cares. 


Women are, once again, made to be the standard bearers of morality and otherwise. They must be protected, men must not. The point is, that 50 Shades gratifies without morality, and for some that has to be stopped.

This is good.

The practical way he writes about writing makes me want to pound on the keys of my keyboard.

We’ve all watched a lifetime’s worth of TV and movies that put big and often violent events into the first five minutes as a hook to get our attention. The assumption is that we have the attention span of chimpanzees. But hooks are hard to live up to; you can’t stay at that level. Besides, screen culture does violence better than written culture — leave the big violence to the movies. Better to start with a small mystery and build up to a bigger one. The truth about a situation is always big enough to sustain someone’s attention.


Keys to the Past

I’ve had a lot of change in my life in the last ten years. Tried one career, failed, and tried another (it seems to be sticking). Tried one relationship, really really failed, then tried another (that one seems to be sticking too). Moved house four times, from a shared house to a shared flat to a flat on my own to my own flat and now to the house I live in in the suburbs. Got married. Lost my Mum. Had my little boy…


It’s funny how all that change led to small pockets of resistance within me. I still have items about me that are no longer in use by me, but which I retain nevertheless.  An example of this is my set of keys. I have on it the old house key to my family of origin’s house, a key for a lock that isn’t there any more. Same goes for the key into the kitchen. It was where you’d find my Mum, and the family jack russell, both usually the ones I’d be missing the most. There would be something in the fridge or in a biscuit tin or in the oven to eat. And there would be a chat, a welcome, something that would remind you you’re home.

That door isn’t even there any more. They renovated the place long after I moved out, and I found some element of sentimentality kept it on my key ring. The same instinct applies to most of the keys on it, for some reason I’ve kept keys that don’t exist any more, have no where to go. I couldn’t use this key now if I tried, there’s no door there to let me in.


I’m going to get rid of all of these old, unwanted keys. I’m going to walk around a little lighter, without all these keys to remind me of places I can no longer go.

Except for that kitchen key. That one I’m keeping.