Friday, January 16, 2009

New Idea

So, I'm going to start paying more attention to this blog from today onwards.

The first thing I'm going to do is throw up all my old columns for Totally Dublin. Please read and enjoy, I'll probably write more from time to time. It goes without saying that if you are a newspaper or magazine and you enjoy paying people for writing things down, then I'm your man.

This is the first column I wrote. At the time I was still figuring out what I was going to write about. Totally Dublin is/was kind of a mishmash of different things, some terrific, others the opposite of that, but generally it wasn't a massively serious magazine. Unless you were doing a feature piece, in which case the more serious and politically focused the better. The point I'm trying to make is that dry political commentary was not what I felt they wanted me for, so I decided to write a humorous column. Eventually it became my take on the wry and faintly ridiculous columns that Jon Ronson & Tim Dowling did for the Guardian, but it took a few months before I found myself going that way.

Columns are strange things. Stephen Fry wrote a blessay on his wonderful site about them, which lays it out better than I can, but since this is my site, here we go: To write a column requires a strange combination of ego and neediness (one might reflect that those are the same thing), and while it's gratifying to see your collection of thoughts, peeves and miscellanery in print, it's not quite respectable journalism and it's difficult to escape the feeling that what you are doing is a waste of everyone's time. This makes you crave validation, so if you have a tendency towards one end of the political seesaw, your columns tend in that direction. Whereas I just tried to be funny.

Have to go and make a webpage, but here's Column The First:

November 2006 (I think)

There are three simple formats to successful opinion pieces and columns. The Columnist can either say: ‘I Have Noticed Something Is Terribly Wrong ’ (mobile phones, immigrants, sex, wicker baskets, that kind of thing), or they can talk about the fabulous Reiki session that they had while chatting to an authentic member of some ethnic group or other as they waited for their skinny Frappuchino. Both of these can be measured on the Stokesometer or the Ingle Index, depending on whether we’re talking outrage or pajama-based social commentary. Alternatively, the columnist can take the view that these bloody peasants are never going to learn anything unless I spell it out in plain academic language that any fool with a PhD could understand – the O’Toole Graph of Improbable Wooliness.

Fortunately for the unprepared columnist, there is a fourth way. You can take pot shots at all your competitors and rest happy in the knowledge that you are following in the hallowed footsteps of lazy, smart-arsed students and free mag writers the world over. It should come as no surprise how low this column is aiming. For the sake of completeness, however, I think it’s important to at least attempt to write that sort of thing so that at parties I can pretend to be a male pigtailed single parent with a U2 fixation and a compulsion to appear on Questions & Answers. You never know when you’ll be at one of those parties.

Recently, I found the hot-button issue that unites these disparate areas of the human mind: Bono And The Amazing Disappearing Trousers. Lets take the angles one at a time. First of all, it’s an outrage, a disgrace and indeed a perversion of justice akin to the Salem witch trials that a delicate flower such as multimillionaire businessman and novelty glasses wearer Bono, should have his only pair of trousers stolen. That it is a conspiracy reaching to the highest levels of government is without doubt to all right-on thinking folk, as can be seen by this petty attempt to make such a clearly struggling artist pay tax. That he has not been offered any legal aid is truly the last indignity.

But what of the woolly undercurrent? Isn’t it true that the abducted trousers in question are in fact black and that a Stetson hat was also part of the haul? Clearly we can see a postcolonial reference to the American immigrant experience, so obvious that it barely merits mention, and yet I will talk about it for at least six paragraphs. At some point I will reference a play in the Gate and indeed the entire works of James Joyce.

On the other hand: Isn’t it just amazing how there are all these new people in Dublin these days? I was talking to my best friend the osteopath as we necked mojito’s in my favourite lifestyle bar. The bar staff were absolutely stuffed with simply gorgeous foreigners who all had fabulous stories to tell that I have now forgotten. I got to thinking about how things are just great, except sometimes when they are bad, which is always a downer.

Having exhausted all those possibilities, all future columns will centre on the exciting world of home staging, with special emphasis on plush furnishing.

Eoin Cunningham

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a freelance writer/journalist/researcher/editor. I write about education and ideas I've had for the Irish Times. I also research, write and edit for writers, publications and websites. Here I put things that tend not to fit anywhere else. Enjoy.

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