Skateboards, Tanks & Ecstasy Tablets

There are not many borders in Europe where the cops sell ecstasy. There are also not many countries in Europe currently boasting one hundred per-cent employment. In Transnistria they have it all sorted. The only problem is the country doesn’t officially exist.

Also, you don’t get to keep the pills. It’s a clever recycling initiative. Anyone thick enough to purchase drugs from the man with the gun in the uniform, will subsequently be greeted by another man with a gun in a uniform about ten miles down the road. The yokes are found, the bribe is paid, and the merchandise whisked back to the border for the next eejit’s misfortune.

It’s highly symbolic as the outsider’s entrance into this murky, but fascinating, little corner of Europe.

A breakaway, separatist territory in the east of Moldova, Transnistria is a thin sliver of land bordering Ukraine, separated from the rest of Moldova by the Dniester river. Michael Palin went there and had the craic, but he was from the BBC and had a big camera crew, so he only saw the marching bands and didn’t get offered any pills. He doesn’t look like the type anyway.

I didn’t have a big camera crew or the BBC. I had a Lada with a cracked window, a chain-smoking driver, and a very bad hangover. I also had Franko, and he needed to vomit. We were much more Monty Python than Michael Palin.

As the Lada rattled towards the border I had all sorts of pre-conceived ideas as to what it would be like inside this murky micro-nation. The EU has called Transnistria “a black hole in which illegal trade in arms, the trafficking in human beings and the laundering of criminal finance was carried on”. The locals are subject to a night-time curfew. Would we even get in?

To have any chance of crossing the border you need a Russian speaker. Without this essential element you wont get offered the chance to buy the pills in the first place. You’ll be shaken down, turned around, and sent back to wherever you came from. But we were sorted – our Lada-driving chain-smoker spoke both Moldovan and Russian.

As we approached the border our driver stopped. He turned around, fag in mouth, and demanded we hand him over our passports and stay in the car. The Department of Foreign Affairs would definitely frown upon sitting in a Lada with no passport on the border of a country that doesn’t exist. With a cracked window and a severe hangover…

But not for the first time the Paddy passport worked its charm. Even the border guards in this shady non-existent country thought being Irish was hilarious, and they didn’t even know about that whole IMF thing. A Spud-Head victory. We were in.

Despite being repeatedly urged by NATO to withdraw from Transnistria, after crossing the border our chain smoking driver laughed as he pointed at the imposing Russian army base visible from the road into Tiraspol, the capital city. The Russians have permanently positioned an old Soviet tank – complete with hammer and sickle – facing across the Dniester, a symbolic message in case those bloody Moldovans get notions of reclaiming land still internationally recognised as theirs.

I spent the previous few nights in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, and experienced the sparse aesthetic of Europe’s poorest per-capita country. So on my way into Tiraspol I expected more babushkas at bus stops and roads with no footpaths. Instead I got teenage skaters in baggy jeans and baseball caps, doing tricks in front of that Soviet tank.

But perhaps the most striking thing about Tiraspol is the huge billboards positioned all over the city, displaying the stern image of Putin’s watchful face – making sure the locals don’t get notions. Putin’s pissed on every lamppost in the city; firmly marked his territory in his strategic little enclave.

But despite the billboards, Transnistria is officially self-governed, with their own parliament, police and postal system.

They even designed their own flag and currency, and came up with a new national anthem. One can only imagine that particular meeting.

Fresh from months of war, bandaged and bedraggled in a bullet-riddled building, armed to the teeth with crayons and sketchpads. Pure Monty Python territory – a Credit Union poster competition for militant separatists. Accompanied on piano in the corner by a locked land-mine victim, bashing out the chords, trying to come up with a national anthem on the hoof. And if that went well, he’d probably have a lash at the Eurovision too.

But sadly for the piano-playing separatists, despite geographically being in Europe, Transnistria doesn’t qualify for the Eurovision. They don’t really qualify for anything. Transnistria’s political status remains up in the air. Internationally unrecognised, yet in effect an independent state. This sketchy political status has it’s definite benefits…..

It is widely alleged that the Russians now run all their dirty work through Transnistria. People trafficking, weapons and drugs, along with the disposal of nuclear waste. And why not; the place doesn’t even exist after all. It’s the perfect little set-up for keeping your hands clean. As long as you piss on all the lampposts.

But despite these dark allegations, the murky political set-up, and the very fact the state doesn’t officially exist, the quality of life for those baggy-jeaned skaters in front of that Soviet tank seemed so much higher than on the other side of the Dniestr river, on the grim streets of Chisinau. The conclusions drawn from this are confusing. How can the standard of living be higher in this shady banana republic, than in either of the two real countries that surround it?

Or maybe it’s all much simpler. Maybe that fag-smoking Lada-driver pulled a pure Palin on me too.

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World Vision? Corrupt Liars…

A man in an orange bib stopped me on O’Connell street in Limerick, and asked me to sign his petition. He told me it was for World Vision – I presumed it was to do with cataracts or glaucoma.  So I filled in his form, then I carried on with my life.

In the two weeks that followed, nothing seemed to change – either for me or those blind Africans – as a result of signing that petition. Until a girl called me from a Dublin landline number.

She said she was calling from World Vision, and she wanted to thank me for stopping and signing that petition. She told me it showed that I really cared.

She spoke with the kind of accent I imagine when I’m reading Ross O’Carroll Kelly. The patronising ‘up-speak’ that both irritates and intimidates culchies like me.

Then Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s sister told me about World Vision’s child sponsorship program.  I suddenly realised World Vision was nothing to do with African cataracts or glaucoma whatsoever.  This was simply a new approach to the charity mug, or “chug”.  Traditional “chugging” involves standing on the street wearing a brightly-coloured bib, attempting to extract credit card details from the passing public. 

It’s a job that requires limitless optimism, in the face of constant rejection. So World Vision have softened the blow a little, and made the chugging experience easier for everybody involved…

Instead of hassling you for money face-to-face on the street, they gently ask you to sign a petition for a vague – but seemingly worthy – cause.

Then when you’ve forgotten all about it, they ring you up and congratulate you for being a nice person.  And only then – when you’re completely off-guard – do they ask you for money.  It’s a little less personal than face-to-face chugging.  It’s chugging for the smartphone generation. And it’s another step towards our presumed final destination – where robots and computers will ring us up, and hassle us for cash.

I told Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s sister I didn’t want to sponsor her fictional child. I told her I didn’t have the money.  But she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

‘Surely even you could afford six euros a week?’ she said to me, in her D4 radio-presenter voice. My inner-culchie fumed, she’d hit a raw Midlands nerve. To make things worse, all those years of Catholic shame make it very difficult to hang up on starving children – fictional or not.  I was stuck.  Perhaps this is why Irish people are the fourth most generous in the world when it comes to charity – according to Global Humanitarian Assistance.

Then Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s sister began to make me feel guilty for stuff I’d never even heard about before.  Riddled with shame, I finally snapped and hung up the phone. I’d never experienced such a hardcore attempted chugging before, despite it being over the phone.

So I decided to find out who this World Vision outfit actually were, with their innovative – but aggressive – new chugging methods.

Turns out World Vision International are an American Evangelical Christian aid and advocacy organisation, founded by a Baptist Minister in 1950. Today they’re active in 90 countries with a revenue of $2.7 billion. They’re big players in the charity industry.

But the child sponsorship program that World Vision attempted to recruit me into has been mired with controversy.  In 2008 they were discovered to be misleading sponsors – telling them they were each sponsoring individual disadvantaged Ethiopian children. Yet upon travelling to Ethiopia, Australian TV reporter Andrew Geoghegan discovered the child he’d been sponsoring for years had never heard of him. 

In response to these allegations, World Vision said they take a ‘community approach’ to child sponsorship.  They said the money is not directly provided to the family of the individually sponsored child, as it would result in jealousy among other community members without children.   Yet on the phone to me, Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s sister was telling me I could sponsoring an  individual child –  that I could also write letters to – and receive letters from.

Even on their website – – ‘Sponsor a Child’ is on the banner at the top of the homepage.

So what do World Vision have to say about all this?   I put my accusations to a orange-bibbed foot-soldier the next time I was stopped by World Vision on O’Connell Street.  He played dumb, and told me he could arrange someone from head office to call me.

No need, says I.  I’ll call them myself, catch them off-guard.  I’d no interest in being plied with rehearsed corporate bullshit from an organisation that openly lies to potential donors.

So I called their head office in Dublin.  I played dumb, and inquired how I would go about sending and receiving letters from an African child, if I were to become a sponsor.  She told me I could send letters, pictures, birthday cards, and that I could even select whether I wanted to sponsor a boy or a girl, and I could chose whether my sponsored child was from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, or Swaziland. 

When she was finished her speil, I promptly dropped my dumb-act, and put to her World Vision’s stated fact that they don’t engage in ‘direct benefit’ to individual children – as was their response to the Aussie TV reporter Andrew Geoghegan’s 2008 controversy.  Yet on the phone, and on their website, they’re still telling people it’s all about establishing an ongoing personal relationship with a specific individual child.

She claimed she’d never heard of Andrew Geoghegan, or his 2008 Ethiopian case.  She started stuttering and stammering, and eventually asked if she could take my name and number and get somebody to call me back.

My main question remains the same.  If I had agreed to World Vision’s requests and become a child sponsor, would I have ended-up writing letters to a fictional child? And would my fictional child have responded?

A few days later I was walking the streets of Limerick again.  A young guy with a ponytail stopped me, and asked me to sign a petition for World Vision.  I gave him a fake name, but my real phone number.

Now I’m waiting for Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s sister to call me again…

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The Tipperary Street Preacher

A friend of mine has an aunt who is an Irish nun in a silent order in the French Alps. She came back to Ireland last month after eighteen unbroken years away. Arriving in Dublin airport for the first time since 1998, she said the immediate thing she noticed was the phones.

At first she thought it was because people were arranging logistics in an airport terminal, but then she got down to Offaly and realised it was everywhere, everybody – all the time. People moving like zombies, bumping into each other, our focus forever fixed downwards toward little pieces of plastic in our claws.

It’s only eighteen years, but if you stepped through a time-warp from 1998 Ireland – with it’s 32p stamps, phone-boxes and video-rental stores – into 2016 Ireland, where we walk around silently hunched over like primates, you’d be forgiven for thinking evolution had stopped. Or possibly taken a few steps backwards.

And smartphones are about to become absolutely unavoidable. I don’t have a smartphone, I threw it in the sea on Inis Oirr, it was annoying the life out of me. So for the past two years, I’ve operated on a phone that’s so old it’s in danger of becoming retro-fied by Hipsters. But like Hipsters, my brick phone is about to become obsolete, because the bandwidth used by GSM phones – aka old brick phones – is to be decommissioned, to make more bandwidth space for smartphones. I haven’t a fucking notion what any of that bandwidth jargon actually means, except that I will be forced into using a smartphone again. It’s either that or go full hermit.

I tried to raise these concerns about the degeneration of society due to the proliferation of technology with a born-again preacher on O’Connell Street in Limerick during the week.   From Newport, Co. Tipperary – the same town as my father, he knew my whole bloodline – all the menswear mafia.  The preacher was screaming at innocent bystanders, frantically describing the bleakest, most violent apocalyptic scenarios imaginable. Stories of demons and damnation and raptures – stuff that sounded like it was scripted by Mel Gibson after a feed of pints.  At the same time, he was trying to give people leaflets with his phone-number scrawled on every one of them.

When he took a break from screaming violent imagery at children on the street, I asked him where he stood on smartphones. He showed me a fancy piece of kit that he kept strapped to his hip like a concealed weapon.  The type of phone-holster you’d have seen at a line-dancing event in the Midlands, in 1998.

In fact, his whole operation was quite 1998.  His microphone looked like it was robbed from a Brendan Grace gig, and he didn’t even have a website.  But then, either did Jesus…

We covered a lot in our conversation – from the effect multinational corporations have had on regional towns in Ireland – specifically Newport – to how everyone is going to hell. Everyone except him, and a few other people he knows.

I told him I’d a very good friend who was ordained a priest recently, and I wanted to check if he was okay on the grand scale of things – with all this talk of judgement and rapture. But the preacher said my friend was going to hell too. In fact, he told me that on judgement day, my priest friend was even worse off than me. Which is not a great place in the heaven queue for anyone to be – particularly a professional priest. Something about misrepresenting the cross, the gomey religion-busker said.

Following this startling revelation, I used my soon-to-be obsolete brick phone to ring Fr. Mike. I advised him to split from the mob immediately – and go freelance. I told him to forget about those six years he spent in Maynooth, forget about his ordination last summer, forget about mass, confession, communion – all of it; and get himself a shitty little microphone, an amp, a few leaflets and go out screaming and roaring on the street instead. Mike said he’d have to get back to me on that – he was just about to do a baptism.

But despite his dark predictions for my soul, I respect that man’s right to believe whatever ridiculous Mel Gibson-style apocalyptic scenarios he wants.  I respect him even more for going out on the street, screaming and roaring about it. Because that gomey preacher from Tipperary encapsulates a lot we’ve lost – since that nun left Dublin airport the last time, in 1998, and went to the silent order in the Alps.

Like the nun, the preacher seemed unmolested by social media, and he wasn’t surgically attached to his phone – despite it being holstered to his hip. He was standing outside on a real street in the real world with his face up – not down, trying his best to make connections with real people, in real life. 

The rest of us think we’ve become globally connected, when in fact those digital connections we collect are about as real as the preacher’s stories of rapture.

I could see myself at that sort of thing in later life. Standing out on the street with a shitty little microphone and a load of leaflets, screaming at passersby. A sort of Aldi home-brand Jesus. 

Until they take me away in the van.

And for that inevitability, I blame the smartphones.

@LarkinNicky – twitter
Too Shall Pass, written & directed by Nicky Larkin, produced by Gary Hoctor and Miriam Smyth at Hello Camera, and starring Peter Campion, Denise McCormack and Gary Lydon, will screen at The Belfast Film Festival on Saturday 17th April. Tickets are available here –
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Smiling Blonde Girls Don’t Come For Free


This month it emerged yet again that Irish charity bosses are making a fortune.  And why wouldn’t they – we are the fourth most generous country in the world, according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance. It may be morally reprehensible for a charity worker to get a six-figure income, but at least it’s morally reprehensible for a good cause.

We’re shyster gangsters in every other department in this country – from finance to politics – so why not in charity circles too? And like all effective predators, they’ve identified a weakness, and made a successful business exploiting it. Our weakness?

Paddies have a mortal fear of looking tight. Whether it’s paying for other people’s pints, stuffing fivers in baskets for priests, or frantically filling Trocaire boxes – we must always be seen to be loaded. Even when we have no money whatsoever, we insist on paying for everything. It must be a colonial hangover.

So this post-colonial superficially altruistic disposition of ours makes it all the more difficult when a smiling blonde girl with a clipboard tells you that you can save a load of starving Africans. All you have to do is give her your account number and sort code. Already terrified of looking tight, you invariably end-up trying to save those hungry Africans. You and Bob Gelfof. Grinning through greeted teeth at that blonde girl with the clipboard.  The acceptable  face of the charity shakedown.

But you’re not Bob Geldof. No. You’re not even Dickie Rock. You’re not saving Africans at all. The grim reality is that hardly any of the money you gave to the smiling blonde girl with the clipboard is going to those Africans – the ones you thought you were now in the business of saving, along with Bob Geldof. It turns out you’re not really a messiah at all. You’re just a pawn – easily extorted by your post-colonial superficial altruism. That, and the smiling blonde girl.

So where does your money go? Well for a start, all those smiling blonde girls don’t come for free. A friend of mine once worked the streets as a charity mugger with one of the more high-profile charity companies, with his bib and his biro and his sincere and noble need for your sort code and account number. He was part of a mobile team of about six fellow chuggers, who would travel to a different town across the Midlands every couple of days, to extort the naive locals.

He told me the chuggers were treated like rock-stars by the company.  The charity never accommodated their ‘talent’ in anything less a four star hotel – with a pool – every night. And having just been hired a few weeks previously, he was earning six-hundred euros a week. Entry level, no qualifications necessary. The only requirement was a canine-like ignorance of rejection, and boundless levels of optimism.  Again, very much like a dog.

But a dog earning 600 euros per week and staying in fancy hotels every night.  And that was just the bottom rung of the greasy ladder. So imagine what they pay themselves further up the slippery chain?  What opulent hotels do they occupy?  Fionnuala O’Donovan of Enable Ireland earns over 145,000 per year.  Dee Ahearn of Barretstown earns 142,000.

Charities justify paying such high wages by saying they have to pay the market rate to get top quality personnel.

Schizophrenically, we’ve no problem with our private sector CEOs accruing vast personal fortunes, and they’re doing nothing altruistic whatsoever. But somehow the concept of public-sector CEO’s earning six-figure incomes – still mere fractions of their private sector contemporaries – incenses us absolutely.  Despite the fact they are working to raise money for charity.

So it seems the charity industry is as shady and underhand a world as it’s counterparts in business, politics and pretty much every other greasy walk of life. But at least those morally reprehensible executives taking home six-figure incomes from their charities are doing something for the world, however well compensated for their trouble they may be.  And anyway, no matter how much these morally reprehensible charity bosses earn, it won’t stop us giving our account details and sort codes to the smiling blonde girls, armed with their clipboards and optimism out there on the streets.

Now if we could only get over this mortal fear of looking tight…

Too Shall Pass, written & directed by Nicky Larkin, produced by Gary Hoctor and Miriam Smyth at Hello Camera, and starring Peter Campion, Denise McCormack and Gary Lydon, will screen at The Belfast Film Festival on Saturday 17th April. Tickets are available here –

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Joe Junky & Joe Public


Have you ever seen a gaunt, sweaty soul open up his arm, and plunge a syringe deep into a collapsed vein?

It’s one of the most bleak and desperate acts you’ll ever see, and it happens all over Dublin city centre, every single day.

Dublin is unique from many other western European capitals.  We don’t have what are known as ‘supervised injection centres’.  Or in junky parlance, ‘shooting rooms.’

But this week, cabinet approved plans for ‘shooting rooms’ in our capital.  However, the first supervised injection centre will not be opened in Dublin until late 2017.

The move, which is being pushed by Labour Minister for Drugs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin – but also supported by Fine Gael – is aimed at reducing drug deaths and infection from serious diseases caused by drug users sharing needles.

In Europe they call this harm reduction.  They’ve been at it for years.  They worked out that Joe Public doesn’t want to witness Joe Junky plunging a needle into his track-marked arm.  And Joe Junky doesn’t want to run the risk of getting arrested – by plunging that needle into his scarred arm – out on the street.

So they came to a compromise.   You could say everyone’s a winner.  Joe Junky has a designated place to go – out of the public view – to get on with his grim business.  And as a result, Joe Public isn’t exposed to bleak scenes of intravenous drug use on their city centre streets on a daily basis.

And then there’s the added incentive that drug-related deaths plummet, as there are paramedics on site in these injecting centres – in case of overdoses.

But can the plain people of Ireland tolerate such a liberal notion of supervised injection centres?  Can we stomach the idea of ‘shooting rooms’?

Why should we provide rooms for junkies to inject their heroin without fear of recrimination?  Why should we pay for addicts to remain safely addicted?

But if you have a problem with the concept of supervised injection centres, queue in any pharmacy and watch those same junkies gulp down their vials of state-sponsored, patriotically green methadone.  10,000 registered addicts receive the heroin substitute in the state.  Who’s paying for that?  You are.

So the Irish government is already the drug dealer, on a massive scale.

And that makes you the unwitting enabler in the junky’s grim life of an endless cycle of drug-abuse – whether that’s heroin itself, or the methadone you bought them.  Or in most cases, both.

But this flawed tactic of using methadone as a maintenance-based alternative is just killing time.  Abstinence-based recovery is the only viable option for addicts of any flavour.

There are an estimated 20,000 heroin addicts in Ireland; 13,000 in Dublin. Yet there are only 38 beds for heroin detox.  So therefore it’s much easier for the government to hand them the vials of green medicine and keep them placidly addicted, rather than get down to the serious business of detox, and tackle the roots of the problem.

But it’s a complex issue.  We are a nation of extremists.  A nation of self-medicators.  In no other European city exists such a proliferation of pharmacies, pubs and bookies.  Try and find a pharmacy in any French, German or Dutch town and you’ve your work cut out.  Throw a stone here and you can’t miss a chemist.  No wonder we took to the heroin like ducks to water, when it was first introduced to Dublin by the scumbag Dunne family in the 1980’s.

So what’s the solution?  For a different perspective, take a spin up the M1 to Belfast.  The plague of sweaty zombies that float around O’Connell Street in Dublin are non-existent.  Why?

Because heroin dealers get shot dead by paramilitaries – on both sides of the divide – for ‘crimes against the community.’  Addicts get punishment beatings or knee-cappings for ‘anti-social behaviour’.  It’s vigilante justice, but it keeps the streets relatively free from heroin.

However, I can’t see Fine Gael going for this Northern-style approach.  So the ‘shooting rooms’ it is then…

A prime example of how these supervised injection centres operate is Frankfurt.  In Frankfurt 8,000 syringes are exchanged daily in these centres, which has dramatically decreased the prevalence of HIV among intravenous drug users in the past five years.

Ze Germans have come to the grim realisation that they can’t eradicate the problem.  So they’ve made it safer for all concerned – civilian and junky alike.  And while some people feel this progressive approach to the problem is only encouraging addiction, it certainly keeps the streets of Frankfurt free from dirty needles discarded by those pale-faced, sweaty zombies.

Needle exchange programs already operate in Dublin’s inner city.  At the Merchant’s Quay Project there is a drop-in centre where drug users can exchange their needles, and receive medical care and obtain advice on safer drug use.

The centre receives over 200 visitors each day, and around 4,000 individual drug users a year.  But there are 13,000 heroin addicts in Dublin alone.  So the majority still don’t get any such help.

And of these 13,000 heroin addicts in Dublin, it is estimated that less than 20% of users who complete a treatment programme will remain drug-free for life afterwards.  That’s a very depressing statistic.

While some would argue we bare no responsibility for these addicts, we certainly do have a responsibility for our civilians.  Some people might call it admitting defeat; others might say it’s encouraging addiction.  But adopting a European-style harm-reduction policy would at least mean our streets would be free from the fragile army of gaunt sweaty ghosts, hustling civilians for ‘spare change’ to get that ‘hostel’.

The problem is not going to go away.  Heroin will always find it’s way to our streets.  So Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is right.  A more European, harm-reduction approach is needed.

It’s just a pity we’ve to wait another two years for it to happen.

a short clip from our new film ‘Too Shall Pass’ – a grim story of shady individuals selling clean drug-free urine samples to heroin addicts



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The Queen of Ireland & Gerry Adams


Last night I walked into my local supermarket. Serving me was a six-foot man in drag, complete with a staff name-tag. I have to admit, I admired his balls.

Because it’s an act of extreme courage to go to work in a supermarket (or anywhere for that matter) dressed as a woman. When you are not already a woman.

And particularly if you are a six-foot man.

However, I must be honest and admit I was grossly offended by the whole situation. The man had made absolutely no effort whatsoever. He hadn’t even shaved…

With the centenary on the horizon, we can’t be seen to tolerate such a lazy standard of transvestism in this country. If our men don’t look good dressed as ladies, then what’s it all been for?

So I decided to go back into the supermarket tonight. I had some questions. I wanted to know about the abuse, the bullying, the prejudice, the discrimination this brave soul must’ve endured. I wanted to know whether his employees in this nationwide supermarket chain were progressive enough to allow gender fluidity among their staff?

But on the way to the shop I got flustered by pronouns. I didn’t know whether to call him her or what? I know they’ve added ‘Mx’ in the Oxford English Dictionary along with ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’, but how do you even pronounce ‘Mx’?

And would complementing him on his courageous stance be offensive in the first place? Should I pretend not to notice? Would that be the politically correct action to take?  We’ve entered a whole new era of tolerance and acceptance, but we haven’t been tooled-up with the protocols…

I’m familiar with all the terms – gender fluidity, gender non-binary – I think I’ve a fair grasp on what they all mean. I still wouldn’t fancy a question to come up on the Leaving Cert about it though.

So all these questions – these delicate issues to navigated like a ballet dancer in horseshoes – had me in a ball of nerves by the time I reached the sliding door of the supermarket. But he wasn’t working. So it was all a complete waste of time.

But the experience got me thinking. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Cross-dressing was considered a mental illness in the 1960’s. And let’s not forget it was illegal to be gay in this country as recently as 1993. I’m not implying the cashier in the supermarket is gay; many straight men dabble in a spot of transvestism – I’m just illustrating that our status as one of the world’s more progressive societies is quite a recent development.

So therefore it in the spirit of Monty Python, it would be politically and patriotically appropriate – particularly with the centenary approaching – that we retain a small dose of traditional ingrained Paddy backwardness, amid all this newfound progressiveness and tolerance. A new form of sexism perhaps?

We only want good-looking trannies working in our supermarkets!

Enda Kenny will make the announcement at a press-conference, with Joan to his left, and Noonan to his right, nudging Leo out of the way – edging his way into frame, the old pro.

Gerry, Mary Lou and Pearse will then swiftly issue a counter-statement, denouncing the government’s decision in the strongest possible terms – as it clearly involves the re-introduction of a monarchy system in the Freestate. All this talk of that film The Queen of Ireland in the past week has made Gerry and the lads nervous.

Mick Wallace will not be allowed to make any public comment on the issue whatsoever, as his is the exact ‘lazy-transvestite’ look we are trying to avoid in the first place, with the introduction of this new form of politically Pythonesque sexism.

Random spot checks will be undertaken in supermarkets up and down the country, to make damn sure our transvestites are making the effort.

So trannies of Ireland, have some pride. Don’t get complacent. Have a shave. 

Do it for your country – there’s a centenary approaching.

short clip from our new film ‘Too Shall Pass’

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The Consequences Of Having A Cigarette

*This piece was originally written in June*

Finding oneself at an Irish wedding – retired from alcohol – can be an alarming affair. So when a friend came around taking cigarette orders on her iphone, I handed her a tenner. It’s almost a decade since I was a full-time smoker, so I thought I’d be grand…plus I needed something to do with my hands, now that I’d no pints to be playing with.

Fast-forward seven days, and I was sitting in the studio trying to do some work – but not getting anything done. All I could think about was smoking fags. I was running outside every twenty minutes for a cigarette. Those sneaky little smokes were cackling and wheezing at me – after one short week.

My pulse was gone mental, my heart was beating like a fucked clock, and my lungs felt full-up. Seven short days and I was back to where I started, when I first quit smoking back in January 2006. The quick clutch of cigarettes truly terrifies me.

After exactly one week, I knew the smokes had to go.  So on the Sunday night I had one for the road, then a long hot shower to get rid of the rancid nicotine smell. While I felt good about my decision to quit – again – I also dreaded the ginger-rage Monday’s withdrawals would surely bring…

But I got through that first day okay – if a little more stressed and short tempered than usual. Until that night, lying awake, twisting and turning with my crazed pulse and carcinogenic lungs. I began to wonder how people are still alive after decades of this carnage? After nine years off them, I smoked for a single week, and I was convinced I was about to have a heart attack. While lying down.

To make things worse, some new guy had moved into the gaff, and he was smoking inside. The smell of cigarettes was driving me fucking demented…

But not quite as demented as the two cigarettes I left in a pack laying on my bedside table. An amateur mistake while in the throes of nicotine withdrawal! Lying there looking at me, somewhere between a tease and a torment. As I twisted and turned with my rushing pulse, and frantic heart-rate, I wrestled with what to do.

An hour later my stubbornness got the better of me and I ripped those cigarettes up and threw them out the window – thinking now I’d surely relax.

But still no sleep…

Three days later – by Wednesday – the withdrawal-rage had calmed and I knew I was just-about in the clear. Apart from the physical, temper-inducing cravings, I didn’t suffer from any psychological withdrawal this time – having not been a full-time smoker for almost a decade. I flicked a switch in my head, and became a non-smoker again. I’ve had a decade’s practice, so I don’t feel the need to sit on my hands, bite my nails, or stuff my face with sweets.

But hurdles lay ahead. Another social function – this one slightly different to a wedding…

One week off the smokes and I was back down the country again, this time for my best mate’s ordination.

My plan was to have a week off the smokes before gracing the ordination. That’d surely give me enough breathing space not to be tempted into handing over another tenner, and starting the whole horrible nicotine-addiction process again?

Another motivating factor was I didn’t want my parents to see me smoking at the afters of the ordination. Especially considering I officially quit a decade ago, and they’re both also reformed smokers/cured whoores.

So I thought I’d gotten away with the whole dirty operation – that nobody’d be any the wiser as to my one sneaky week back on the smokes in Belfast.  But then a mate posted a picture on Facebook of me handing a tenner over at the wedding for twenty Marlboro Lights, and I was caught rotten…

Caught rotten!!

Caught rotten!!

This lead me to consider the question – which is more dangerous, social media or social smoking?

I don’t know the answer.  I suppose it depends on how much your parents know. But it certainly seems easier to give up the smokes…

And like I said the last time – it won’t happen again.


On Wednesday night this week while working late in the studio, a mate of mine offered me a cigarette. It was the end of a long days work, so I reasoned what’s the harm – one won’t kill me.  Plus I needed a break.  So we went outside for a smoke.

Within about five minutes I started to feel nauseous. After another five minutes I had my head down the toilet, spewing the contents of my stomach down the loo.  So I can safely say; that’s the end of my smoking career, for once and for all!!

And like I said the last time – it won’t happen again!

short clip from our new film ‘Too Shall Pass’

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