Iron will, a raw nerve and all that jazz
RADIO REVIEW: BE IT DUTY, honour or toughness, the robustly male values of military service can appear anachronistic in a civilian society in which the ability to tweet has become a life skill.
But, judging by The John Murray Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays), a stint in the forces yields at least one skill that can be parlayed in today’s more empathetic, metrosexual world. To paraphrase the old recruitment slogan, join the army, see the world and learn to iron.
This hitherto unheralded martial virtue came to light on Wednesday, as Murray launched his “All Ireland Ironing Men” contest. Prompted by Senator Martin McAleese’s weekend bombshell on CountryWide (RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday) that his housekeeping skills were rusty, Murray wanted to know whether all Irish males were as helpless in the face of an ironing board. A few good men stepped up to the challenge.
Ciaran, from Dublin, said he learned to wield an iron when in An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil, as he attempted to put creases into the heavy wool uniform, a revelation that only added to the popular reputation of the Irish Army Reserve as a less-than-elite combat unit.
Martin, from Cork, then told of how his prowess came from his time as a squaddie in the British army, where a sharply pressed uniform was an asset that could even help you avoid arduous tasks. Murray tried to press his guests on this common theme, with little success, Martin being more interested in telling how he combined ironing and babysitting duties for his grandchildren.
It was a typically sombre and heavyweight item from the perennially chuckling Murray, who continues to revel in his self-appointed role as the jester in RTÉ Radio 1’s morning schedule, to mixed effect. But for all the flippancy in this instance, Wednesday’s sequence gave a peek at people’s lives from a novel angle.
The entrants all referred to the relaxation of ironing. Paul, an Aer Lingus flight attendant, even took his linen on overnight trips abroad, the better to indulge his pastime. With so much to get agitated about these days, promoting the Zen-like qualities of the humble iron was not as silly as it seemed.
Callers on Tuesday’s Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) sounded as if they could do with a soothing pile of wrinkly laundry, so worked up were they about the plight of Joe Purcell, the unemployed actor recently convicted of shoplifting. It was easy to share the sense of outrage – not always the case with grievances aired on Joe Duffy’s programme.
Purcell told how, faced with an unforeseen glitch in social-welfare payments, he stole bread and cornflakes for his children’s breakfast. He was caught by a shop manager, arrested and locked up in a Garda cell, before his eventual sentence of community service. Articulate and thoughtful, Purcell sounded chastened by his experience, particularly the realisation that his actions had made him a thief, no matter if that was not how he saw himself.