Category Archives: Student Standard columns

I was too fat for skinny jeans in 2005 (and other such nostalgic thoughts)

This weekend has been one of nostalgia, dear readers.  Usually I am wont to tell nostalgia, politely as I can, to fuck right off. Nostalgia at it’s root means to long for something you can’t return to and I’m not down with that futile shit, yo.  But now and again, nostalgia can be a pleasant, warm ride.

I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaa-*Cough*

Last Friday I was mildly surprised to hear that the band that haunted my adolescence more than any other was splitting up.  This was strange for me, as I was under the impression that My Chemical Romance broke up in 2008.  Alas no, they have plodded on since the early days of 2006, which is when the first contagion of the emo craze was spotted in secondary schools across Dublin.  I was there, man. I remember it. Those little bug eyed cartoons drawn on schoolbags in sharpie marker. The elaborately decorated Nightmare Before Christmas wallets. And the music.  Oh God, the music.

I think I am completely qualified to talk about the emo craze because not only was I there, I desperately wanted to be one of them.  A younger BHT wanted so much to have a side fringe, a piercing in the cartilage of her ear and one of those chains you put your wallet on one end of and clip to your belt.  I wanted the Chuck Taylor sneakers and the dyed black hair, the gloomy outlook of a misfit child happily counterpointed with impossibly hysterical, chirpy melodramatic music and an aesthetic picked up from a children’s animated musical made in 1993.  But I didn’t manage to make the emo transformation for the following reasons:

1: I was too fat for skinny jeans.
2: My mam wouldn’t let me get piercings1
3: All of those accessories were so expensive
4: Razor blades make BHT so awfully nervous.  Poor 14 year old BHT saw one set of earring studs shaped like razor blades and she was outta there.

But ultimately I never really ‘got’ how to be an emo.  Young BHT did make a very ill advised decision to cut a side fringe over the Christmas of 2006 and spent the next eight months going around convinced it was the cat’s pyjamas.  My Chemical Romance existed on the side fringe of my teenage years: I was never really a true fan, but they were everywhere around me.  Slowly they soaked into my subconscious and made a damp little nest there.  BHT for one will mourn their passing as a band.  I will remember them fondly during my more melodramatic moments, where I am fond of screaming ‘I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaay’ in the style of Gerard Way.

I feel like the whole emo brand has come full circle on me.  Last week, I bought my first ever pair of Skinny Jeans.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet.  But anyway the whole MCR breakup was in my head for a few weeks while I encountered other nostalgic fare.

Is nobody else still excited about the TGV except me?   

I caught the last ten minutes of the 1996 boom fiesta Mission: Impossible on Friday night and it triggered yet another wave of nostalgia.  The climax of MI is possibly the most 90s thing put to film along with that scene in Baz Lurhmans Romeo + Juliet where Leo DiCaprio sits on a beach in California looking meaningful and young while Radiohead play on the soundtrack.  In Mission: Impossible, between product placement for the (at the time newly opened) TGV high speed train and Tom Cruise running away from things (as is his wont in every movie ever) we are treated to copious shots of mid 90s mobile phones, laptops and internet woes.  Then a freaking helicopter gets dragged into the channel tunnel as the train rockets through the English countryside.  Tom Cruise, why are you running everywhere?  How is this CGI so hilariously dated?  Tom Cruise, how did you survive that explosion? How are you not deaf?!  Why does the English bad guy look like the current prime minister of Australia?  Questions for the ages…

I felt a strange pang of nostalgia while watching this scene.  I can just about remember 1997, back when a mother fucking high speed train that goes through a tunnel under the freaking sea was pretty much the best humanity had.  The boundless optimism of the booming 90s, the clunky technology proudly flaunted as cutting edge.  The pre twitter, pre-wifi pre smart phone world is a quaint one indeed but it’s also the one little BHT was convinced she would inhabit one day.  I imagined myself sitting on my high speed train under the sea, tapping away on a ten pound slab of a laptop, while wearing a big hat.

I’m a Daphne in the street and a Roz Doyle in the Bed

The 90s were a good decade for Seattle- There was sleeping in Seattle, a little known music movement you might have heard of called ‘grunge’ which would eventually spawn the emo monolith discussed above, and then there was that spin off from Cheers set in the rainy north west city that nobody has given a shit about shit  (literally nothing else has ever happened in Seattle except for Jimi Hendrix and Boeing).

There is something supremely comforting about the 1990s high-brow sitcom Frasier.  Because the series focuses generally on the lives and problems of well educated, gainfully employed people of means, it’s a very safe show.  Nobody is going to be left destitute, evicted or oppressed.  That’s not to say it’s a bad show. A modern comedy of manners with what is to me a wonderfully welcome early 90s trip.  The big hair, the baggy suits, the PHONES again, posh people bitching at each other and inevitably being zinged perfectly by the down to earth working class characters.

~

If given the chance then, would I wish myself back to the golden days of 1994? Or perhaps to 2006 to relive the emo glory days in the skinny jeans I could probably fit into now?  I think not.  Nostalgia is tempting but in the end, all one really remembers are the highlighted high points and moments of quality; with respect, if all I can remember of the emo craze are the ‘good parts’, I’m fine with staying here.  As for the early 90s, I actually can’t imagine life anymore without constant remote access to twitter.

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Niamh ‘That being said, I think I’d go back just for the big hats’ Keoghan

Beiber Fever

Column originally published on the StudentStandard.ie

About Beiber

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Just this afternoon on her train, Bank Holiday Tuesday (BHT) noticed many “tweenage” girls in short shorts and brightly coloured baseball caps. I wondered if I had in fact fallen through a wormhole to 1993.  No, these were just the final stragglers returning from staking out the Merrion Hotel where Justin Bieber was staying.  Oh Bieber fever.  When I was a girl it was Spice World and Boyzone – we were big into pandering the gender binary to little girls in my day and viewed the new wave of co-ed pop groups with suspicion. Liberty X and Hearsay and all that MIXING of the SEXES! It was too much for my little 9 year old head.  Now we’re back to the nice binary system of boys in one group, girls in another.  Now some don’t even NEED band mates: we have Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber to aspire to.

I drove past the point depot with my Ma last night and marveled at all the cars parked around- way more than you’d usually see waiting after a gig.  When I heard it was Bieber I realised this must be an army of mums and dads waiting anxiously to pick up their darlings from the concert, possibly chaperoned by cool older sisters or younger aunties.  There is something strangely cult like about Bieber.  I think his hair has nanobots in it, controlling the little girls via electron pulses.  That is the only way I can justify his alarmingly hysterical popularity.  Maybe he’s a cult leader. I think Anonymous needs to get onto him, to be honest.  He could be sacrificing virgins to Xenu for all we know.

But seriously, let us all be fair.  Bieber is pretty easily avoidable in music fan terms. He doesn’t get that much radio play and he’s not on the music channels (yes this is how BHT experiences her music because it is still 2003 in her head…) and the level of hate he produces online is about equal to that of Osama bin Laden.  People haaaaate this kid.  BHT is not sure why.  As far as pop crooners pandering to little girls go, he’s certainly not the worst.  Often I hear people complaining that kids are listening to shit music these days.  Eh, yeah, because that’s what kids do.  You have to go through a stage where you listen to total twaddle before you catch five seconds of, say, Joni Mitchell’s Blue played by your mother at 3AM on a Sunday and you understand.

We need shitty pop music slopped out by the mainstream labels: if we didn’t  we would have no way of obscuring our gems so they don’t get sucked in by the mainstream.  Let the little girls work themselves into a state of weeping hysteria. Let them get it out of their systems now in one fearsome  dose of fever: the Bieber fever.  Bad music is, to BHT, a rite of passage we must all take.  We don’t all have parents with extensive Rory Gallagher back catalogues or Uncles who lend you Talking heads ‘77 to help you in your education- some of us curate our tastes slowly, through accumulation.  The first Album BHT owned was Avril Lavigne and a best  of Britney Spears.  Let those without sin cast the first hip hop style diss.  Besides, little girls have always listened to inane crap. It’s how Donny Osmond and John Travolta made careers.  There is NO POINT trying to play Ani DiFranco to your 3 year old cousin (BHT has tried).

So let it be said now: BHT is defending Bieber.  She is defending Bieber because all little girls have to have their shitty music quota filled, so that when they are 24 and sipping ironic PBR at a party in a squat on Camden street wearing one of those absurd furry animal hats, she must still pause before passing judgement on another person’s music taste.  It is an  anchoring anti hipster force in the world, for no matter how hip and cool any of us will ever be,

There will always be a Bieber Fever scar on our heart.

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Niamh ‘I’m about to lose my mind up in hurrr’ Keoghan

Beyonce

This column originally appeared in the Student Standard volume 1, issue 1 on the 12th February 2013.  The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s independent new source and can be read online here 

published here with kind permission of Keith Broni, editor of the Standard.

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Bank Holiday Tuesday 12th February 2013

Beyonce

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Another year, another Superbowl Sunday passed with me in bed early, not willing to stay up until 5AM watching the most excruciatingly boring sport known to man (Worse than Cricket, Curling and Lawn Bowls put together because AT LEAST those sports don’t stop for a little rest every every.  single.  Play) only for the faint promise of nine minutes of Beyonce that I could catch on YouTube the next day.  No, I experienced the superbowl the way I also experienced the Late Late show’s debate on marriage equality last week- tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate, following the proceedings via twitter.

Twitter is a great medium for experiencing telly, a crowdsourced annotated commentary of whatever happens to be on.  It’s basically watching highlights that are tailored to your own personal tastes- so in my case, the Superbowl coverage I saw was mostly ‘When’s Beyonce on?’ Then hysterical tweets when she actually did come on (SHE’S SO GOOD AT WALKING!) all about the dancing, the costume, the choice of song (‘Baby Boy?’ Really?  That song was lame back in 2004.  Come on Bey, do Bootilicious, come on-OH MY GOD THEY’RE DOING BOOTILICIOUS) and of course, the fact that Destiny’s child had ‘reunited.’ When really, all that happened was that Bey got her moderately famous backing singers back.  I always liked Kelly Rowland. She reached a minor solo peak around 2003 when I first got into pop music.  Sadface.  Oh wait, now they’re doing single ladies- I have to do Single ladies on this deadly silent train now, excuse me.

The Bey halftime show was a bit of an experience for me, watching it on my phone on the train to Maynooth Monday Morning.  It was when I finally sort of ‘got’ Beyonce.  We’ve long had a complicated relationship because she just doesn’t really have a lot of songs I can groove to.  Bootilicious and Single Ladies are aggressively good and that is Beyonce at her best.  Telephone is an over produced masterpiece of pop excess.  If I were a boy and her other break up jams always felt a bit flat to me.  It never really captures the actual pain of a break-up- they’re more like revenge dreams.  I’d theorise that ‘If I were a boy’ is really a dissing of the sort of casual misogyny  that’s common in most hip hop and rap.

Beyonce isn’t particularly titillating.  She’s too fucking scary to be titillating. Compare some of her earlier videos- writhing on  a beach because Sean Paul is just too hot to comprehend (note- it was 2004 after all) in baby boy, to the aggressive dominance of the Single Ladies dance.  Single Ladies is an aggressive, iconic song.  It’s not sensual- it’s a war cry.  She’s strong and she will fucking TRASH YOU in a song if you wrong her.  She’s not pandering to sexism so much as sticking a sharp heel through it.  Men do fancy her (note-I fancy her.  everyone fancies her. don’t lie.) but she’s not for a moment subservient to any man.  She consistently out-earns her husband.  All you need do to set off any woman born between 1980 and 1993 is to go up to her and ask earnestly ‘Kelly, can you handle this?’.  You will be treated to every woman in the vicinity shrieking the lyrics to ‘Bootilicious’ at the tops of their voices.

Which brings me to the title of her new tour- Mrs Carter.  Using her husbands name on her solo tour has been a bit… confusing to people who have always seen Beyonce as a strong independent figure.  Personally, I had actually forgotten Beyonce had a surname at all.  ‘Knowles’ sort of became redundant after Sasha Fierce came out- She’s reached Cher levels of ‘first name only’ recognition.  I had also forgotten Jay-Z had a surname either, in fact I just assumed they were monarchs and didn’t have a need for one, you know?  Privately, Bey and Jay apparently both hyphenate their names, going as the ‘Knowles- Carter’ family.  Bey has said publically that when she’s stressed, she likes to go make love to her husband to chill out.  She is one of the most athletic and accomplished dancers of our generation- I’d argue her choreography will define the dance of our generation in the same way Michael Jackson defined the 80s.  In the promo for this tour she’s dressed  in a Louis the XIV style leotard and a fur cape.  She’s Beyonce.  LADS.  She is Beyonce.  Beyonce is allowed name her tour whatever she wants.

Image (Beyonce for Pope)

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Niamh ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this Jelly’ Keoghan
@Keofunkel

An Interview with Sínead Kennedy- Pro Choice activist

Vigil for Savita

 

This the first interview I ever conducted.  Sínead Kennedy is a lecturer in NUI Maynooth and a spokesperson for the pro choice campaign.  She’s a member of the United Left Alliance and, as I told her TO HER FACE, is a bit of a badass.  I am still scarlet that I managed  to call my interviewee a ‘badass’ within the first ten seconds of the interview. I’d put my serious journalist face on for nothing!

The interview was written for the Student Standard, which is Maynooth’s only independant news source.  I am a massive hack for the Standard, do check it out!  It’s made with love. <3

I would like to thank Sínead, who was very friendly, reasonable and generous with her time in giving me this interview.  

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It’s been 20 years since the X case ruling and in that time seven successive governments have not introduced legislation clarifying the legal position of abortion.  At the start of this year, the United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly introduced a bill that would provide for the ruling in the X case.  That bill has now been voted down twice, and people are getting angry, none more so than the Pro Choice movement which has recently seen a huge surge in public support.  From a small march of under 5,000 people just a few months ago to the massive march of 15,000 after the death of Savita Halappanavar, the debate has shifted up a gear.  With accusations of cowardice on the part of Fine Gael and particularly the Labour Party, mysterious automated anti abortion phone calls, Praveem Hallapanavar sticking it to a HSE led enquiry (and at time of writing, preparing to bring his case to the European court of human rights) a spasming media old and new following the story day by day there is a wick of change that has been ignited.  In the midst of all of this, a few speakers keep re-appearing – Breda O’Brien of the Iona Institute, William Binchy, David Quinn and Íde Nic Mhathúna (who was chastised on Indian Television) on the pro life side and Clare Daly, Ruth Coppinger, Sínead Redmond and Sínead Kennedy on the pro choice side.  Sínead Kennedy is a lecturer in Maynooth’s English Department and agreed to an interview with me.

I suppose I should begin by asking what you made of last night’s verdict [Clare Daly’s second attempt at passing legislation for the X case on Wednesday the 28th of November]?

“It was very disappointing – that was the first thing about it. It wasn’t maybe entirely unexpected as it became clear during the course of the day that Labour were not prepared to vote for it. But the fact is that this is the second time that it has gone before the Dail and it’s the second time it’s been voted down and literally 30 days earlier a woman had died. It seemed it should have been treated as a matter of some urgency and the fact that it wasn’t just shows what these politicians are.  Because being realistic, we are talking about another six months before we see legislation. And given the fact that a woman has died because of the lack of legal clarity, it just seemed disgraceful.”

I’ve been keeping up with the Labour Party and what they’ve had to say.  From what I’ve read, they’re saying that without the support of Fine Gael, the bill was going to be defeated anyway and if they had voted yes, the government would have collapsed and the wait would be even longer.  What would you say to that? Labour have also claimed that they are the only party to have included legislation for X in their manifestos in 2011.

“This is always the excuse for not doing anything: we can’t make it too radical or push too hard. I’m putting the emphasis on the Labour Party but there is an onus on Fine Gael too to vote for this. This government has a responsibility to act. But my fear would be that in the attempt to pacify the pro-choice elements of Labour and the anti-choice elements of Fine Gael you’d end up with some sort of compromise that means you have a very weak piece of legislation that would not provide an effective legal protection for women.”

We then moved to discussing Sínead’s involvement with choice advocacy through the years, starting with her memories of the original X Case in 1992.

“Well, I remember the X case. I was about 12 or so and I remember it really had an impact on me.  The fact that she was 14 seemed so close to my age and my sisters.  It was one of those things that had an impact on everyone our age. It was a huge story at the time, I suppose now many people don’t remember it. So when I was in college, the C case came about and I didn’t want to see this again and got involved in the campaign. Ever since then I’ve been campaigning on the issue. We campaigned for action on the C case and nothing happened and there was a referendum in 2002 to reverse the X decision which we campaigned against.  This year, the twentieth anniversary of X, we decided this couldn’t be allowed to continue, so we started up a campaign called Action on X.  Clare Daly in the United Left Alliance (and I am also a member of the United Left Alliance) brought forward a bill in April so we began to work on that.  And then there were those horrific Youth Defence posters over the summer to shame women and I was so inspired by the response of mainly young women who spontaneously organised.  Sínead Redmond organised a Facebook page entitled ‘Unlike Youth Defence I trust women to decide”, this amazing thing; and they had this protest outside the dail, it was all these young angry women saying who said we will not be shamed, we are proud and we are feminist, we believe in choice and our rights and we won’t be shamed by conservative elements like youth defence. That led to the March for Choice and we had begun to set up a campaign when sadly, Savita Halappanavar died.

The posters over the summer, showing torn pictures of both a sonogram picture and of a woman’s face came with the slogan ‘There is always a better option.’ Youth Defence, formed in 1992, are a controversial pro-life organisation operating in Ireland.  The posters over the summer were for many younger people their first encounter with Youth Defence.  I asked Sínead if she thought the story of Savita Halappanavar has become a game changer in this debate, like the X case was in 1992.

“That’s exactly how I’d put it. I think it has connected with people.  Too long and too often the debates on abortion get caught up in these legal arguments and medical arguments; abstract theoretical arguments.  I’m always struck that in these discussions women themselves are virtually absent; it’s like they’re just these disembodied wombs. So it’s like the women just become completely invisible. I think with the X case and Savita you’re presented with a case in all it’s complexity and all it’s human pain and tragedy and people respond in  a human way. Because then they realise that these things are not abstract moral decisions; they’re made by real people. Obviously these are extreme cases; in terms of rape or in terms of risk to a woman’s life. But I also think it just shines a light on the struggle that ordinary women go through every day in making these decisions. Sometimes they are difficult decisions and sometimes they’re not but they are always a valid decision.”

The question of validity recurred in the course of our interview, when I asked for Sínead’s thoughts on the comments of Breda O’Brien, who was featured on the main evening news on the 18th of November stating that many pro-life activists felt ‘excluded’ from the marches and vigils held in the wake of Savita’s death.  I asked Sínead to comment on the implicit statement here, and one that has been circulating around since the story broke; that the pro-choice lobby are exploiting the death of Savita Halappanavar for their campaign.

“Should the anti-abortionists be excluded? Absolutely they should be excluded. I mean it’s their campaigns that have put women’s lives like Savita at risk and I certainly reject any claim that we’ve exploited this. I think we need to look at the facts here.  Praveem, Savita’s husband, contacted the pro choice group in Galway.  He told her story- He decided to tell her story, and the first people he told her story to was not to newspapers, but to Galway Pro choice- why?  Because he wanted to make sure that what happened to his wife would never happen again.  I think that we have to salute his courage and determination- it’s a very brave thing to do to not only have the Irish media but in many ways the entire world media spotlight shone on you at a time of grief- I mean the man has lost his wife, and he’s been this incredibly powerful and articulate advocate for her, determined that she will receive justice.  So I completely reject that. It’s just not true.”

I was curious to know what were some of the crazier things that Sínead has heard in nearly 20 years of involvement in pro-choice advocacy, and some of the stranger arguments against abortion.  We ended up discussing the philosophical nightmare of contemplating non-existence.  Sínead goes on to comment on the language used in debates about abortion.  The question of ‘valid decisions’ returns here.

“Sometimes I get quite nasty misogynistic comments. But the best one is ‘what if your mother had aborted you?’ I always think that that is the most stupid.  They always ask you this question and I find it slightly bizarre that the non-existent go around contemplating their own non-existence.  I find this bizarre.

I think you have to not expect everybody starts from ‘I believe and support free safe legal abortion’ but most people if you ask them ‘well if a woman’s life is at risk, then can she have an abortion?  Okay well what about her health?  What about if she’s been raped or in the case of fetal abnormalities?’ Once you break down these absolutes you start asking the question ‘what is a valid decision?’ One thing that really irritates me is the language that is used. This idea of women demanding abortions and abortion on demand – this word, ‘on demand’.  We never use this word for other medical procedures.  We never talk abou people demanding to have their tonsils out, but somehow it’s appropriate to use here.  The other thing I’ve heard about is the idea of the floodgates.  This is the other term I keep hearing. It’s interesting that this is the same term you often hear used in Racist discourse when they’re talking about immigrants and talking about floods of immigrants- There’s a correlation between sexist and racist discourses as well.  It’s important to pay attention to these kinds of questions as well.

When asked about the recent statements made by the council of Bishops and Archbishop of Dublin Diamuird Martin on the ethics of abortion, Sínead was critical of the church’s continued patronage of health and education.  We compared our experiences of catholic education- Separated by approximately 10 years, but both coloured by the church.

“Well, the idea that the Catholic church in Ireland can pontificate on any aspect of morality or can lecture anybody when we know the sort of horrific crimes they have been guilty of… If the church wants to make comments nobody can stop them, but what I object to is when the church begins to interfere in medical decisions and in the state.  I think that’s a problem.  I have no problem with what people choose to believe privately; I respect people who don’t agree with abortion – that’s their view and they’re entitled to it.  Where I have a problem is when they try to impose their view on me and on other people.  That’s the difficulty I have.  I mean, if the church wants to, within it’s own religion say these things that’s fine, but when it begins to impact on other people who don’t share these beliefs then there’s a problem. I think there’s also a failure within Ireland to separate church and state.  The fact that the church continue to play significant roles within health and education is a huge problem.  I think until we get the church out of our hospitals and out of our schools we are going to continue to be contaminated by their influence.

In reponse to comments I made about being taught a very pro-life favouring religious syllabus at school:

“We got the ones on contraception; all the things that were wrong with condoms and the pill.  And then you’d get the rythmn method- which was suitable only in marriage but it was apparently very very safe and [we were told] all these awful things that were going to happen if you used a condom or the pill.”

Finally, I asked Sínead two questions: did she think this government would legislate for the X case, and will there be access to free, safe, legal abortion in Ireland within the next ten years.

“I’d answer yes to both questions.  I think this government will legislate because we’re going to make them, and if we don’t, we’re going to bring them down.  If they do not act.  There’s a huge campaign building and I think they’re going to come under enormous pressure to act. bI would also answer yes to the second question because I do think things are changing.I think the anti abortionists realise that.  We need a twofold strategy; one is legislation for the X case.  Not that I think [legislation for the X case alone] is enough, but because once you have legislation for X, for the first time in the history of the irish state, the terms under which abortion is legal in this country will be laid out in law and that is highly significant.  I think that anti-abortionists realise that.  I don’t think that they’re wrong in saying that it will bring abortion to Ireland, but obviously it only brings abortion for highly restricted circumstances and obviously there’s a lot of things it won’t address.

I think that there is momentum building to have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and I think that it is going to become a major political issue within the next year.”

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Niamh ‘Serious journalist face’ Keoghan

Bank Holiday Tuesday: I wish for Christmas to leave me alone.

In last week’s Bank Holiday Tuesday, I tackled one of the big issues- how Christmas needs to fuck off and leave me alone for at least another two weeks.  

The Student Standard is Maynooth’s independent news source and for some unearthly reason have given me a weekly column.   

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I wish for Christmas to leave me alone.

HUMBUG.

Look, it’s not that I don’t love Christmas, guys.  I love it the way I love music festivals.  I love the whole four day ceremony of it – the little traditions everyone has.

For festivals there’s tent packing, hat buying, and running around Tesco Clare Hall with your best friend and a trolley filling it with what I now know to be horrible alcopops.  There’s learning new swear words as you set up your tent, the pitiful look of solidarity when you announce you’re off to use the loo, there’s wailing in your sodden tent after Florence and the Machine because your wellies are leaking and your coat’s soaked through.  Then through your own ingenuity you fashion a new one out of a bin liner and then rip it off hulk style during Muse.  I love festivals.

For Christmas there’s my mother’s best friend’s visit the day before Christmas Eve to drop off our presents.  There are 2 cards in the post from my aunties in Belfast and Wales which once always contained strange, exotic money.  There’s the Christmas eve morning fry up in my grandmothers house and then the one and only mass that I attend all year round, just so I can hear a choir belt out ‘O Holy Night’.  I love Christmas.

HOWEVER, it’s only the latter that I am now expected to enjoy spread out over ten weeks of adverts, music, films and fattening food.  Nobody has ever asked me to spend two and a half months squatting in a field in Kildare living out of a pink tent just so I can listen to Gossip/Twin Headed Wolf/Get wasted and have a moon painted on my face.  Of course not!  We have all sanely agreed that ‘Festival season’ lasts from May-August and that nobody really gets pepped up for their chosen weekend until the week before.  You NEVER have a pre-flatlake buzz that lasts eight weeks.  A thing I like about festivals is that they are 3 days of concentrated fun.

Now people tell me (often while rolling their eyes, as is their wont when talking to a self-identified “feminist” with inverted commas) that it’s just a marketing strategy- The companies and shops just want people to get spending!  It’s harmless!  You don’t have to opt in!  Well yes I do have to opt in because at every turn I see my friends playing the music, watching the films and putting up the decorations that should only belong between the 17th of December and the 6th of January.  When I take umbrage with this I am told I’m a scrooge, but I’m honestly not.  I just want us all to… chill.  Relax.  Save up all the Christmas cheer for another three weeks, then let it all out in a three day electric picnic secret garden BURST of happiness.

Much as I love him, I want Michael Caine-Scrooge is a strictly post December 8th affair

Much as I love him, I want Michael Caine-Scrooge is a strictly post December 8th affair

Can you imagine what a nightmare it is having kids in town right now?  Seeing the lights, the music, thinking Christmas must be TOMORROW! My mother, who once queued for five hours just so my brothers and I could see ‘the best Santa’ in Switzers, says it’s a nightmare.  Kids just don’t understand that it is actually still a month away.  They’ll look at you, puzzled when you explain this and go “but why are the decorations up? That’s SILLY.”  Yes, hypothetical child.  That is silly.  One of the few saving graces of RTÉ, in my opinion is their refusal to play any Christmas music until the 8th of December (the other is their refusal to get ‘glamour’ weather girls and instead stick with meteorologists. I am a big Evelyn Cusack/Jean Byrne fan).  I take the same issue with all this pre-Christmas buzz that I had when girls in my year at school organized a ‘pre debs’ night out in January.  HOW, I asked, through a mouthful of crisps probably, “HOW can you have a PRE-Debs? Debs is a DEBUT. It’s your DEBUT.  EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT IT UNTIL NEXT SEPTEMBER RAAAWRRGH”.  I just can’t deal with out of season festivities.

So I’m sorry guys, Christmas can – to use the most refined and parliamentary of language – fuck right off until it’s actually time for it.  You don’t have to opt into the capitalist system, man- You don’t have to buy stupid ornaments and selection boxes half price!  You don’t have to do anything just because it’s there!  DON’T PLAY INTO WHAT THE MAN WANTS.  PUT THAT MARKS AND SPENCER CHRISTMAS LOG DOWN NOW.  I MEAN IT.  This is a corporate fat cat party that I am checking out of in the same way I checked out of big massive fuck off music festivals like Oxegen after the ‘sobbing panic attack in a bin bag’ episode of 2010.

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Niamh ‘I wear stupid jumpers all year around’ Keoghan