When King Mongkut of Siam hired Jodie Foster to be his children's teacher, you wonder did he tell her in advance that he had 82 of them in all, with just the 32 wives, leaving her a class-size that made the most overcrowded in our education system seem manageable enough?
This was the question we were left to ponder on Saturday afternoon, rather than the title-winning-potential of Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, when Storm Dennis – named after Law and not Irwin, for some reason – put paid to RTÉ2’s live coverage of the teams’ season opener.
Late tuner-inners would, no doubt, have been left befuddled, wondering why they were watching Jodie, in 'Anna and the King', struggling to manage nearly seven dozen children in a Bangkok palace, rather than Bohs having a similarly testing challenge controlling Jack Byrne in Dalymount Park.
And then if you turned over to see the hurling clash of Limerick v Waterford on Eir Sport you’d have seen the February 8th drawn game between Dublin and Monaghan’s footballers instead, leaving those late tuner-inners wondering why a league game was being replayed.
Dennis, then, made a hames of our scheduled weekend viewing, leaving no love lost for the fella at the end of the week when love, of course, was very much in the air.
Naturally enough, when the Late Late Show people were deciding who to have on their love-discussing panel for their St Valentine's special, they chose Pat Spillane, as well as Mary O'Rourke and Sharon Higgins, Love Island's Maura's mammy.
It’ll take some of us quite a while to recover from hearing Pat discuss Viagra and its benefits, as nonchalantly as if he was analysing David Clifford’s two-footedness. And the image he put in our minds when he talked about the secret to a marriage’s success – “trust” – will be lodged for a while too.
“If I went to America and I went in to a big room and there was a thousand super-models inside in that room, naked, all trying to seduce me, and if there was a pint of beer at the end of the room, I would go for the pint of beer. That’s trust,” he said.
Sharon seemed impressed by Pat’s vow that he would use a blanket defence to thwart the thousand naked super-models’ efforts to woo him, but Mary was just kind of staring blankly at her shoes, like she wanted Scotty, or anyone, to beam her up.
The gist of the panel’s conclusions was that it’s important that couples are compatible, that they have shared interests, so it was for that reason that the First Dates people paired John and Kristin, because they’re both big into sport – and as we know, most relationships between couples where one party doesn’t get that sport is all that really matters are doomed.
John is a boxing compere and Kristin does flat track racing on her motorbike, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. They’re both in to tattoos too, John having ‘ADAPT’ and ‘ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME’ inscribed on his head.
All Kristin was really looking for in a man was, she said, one with “a proper nose”, while John was prepared to settle for anyone who wouldn’t leave him for his best mate, which his previous partner did. Kristen said she’d had no luck with men because they all wanted her to get on the back of her bike. “I’d get on the back of your bike,” winked John. Kirsten beamed. By now, you were almost buying a hat for the wedding.
It all went catastrophically wrong, though, when John was really disappointed with the size of the duck breast he had ordered, Kristin offering him a chunk of her pie by way of compensation. He accepted her offer, but also complained to his waiter about the duck, and ended up being served a larger portion while also keeping the original breast. At this point, there was enough on his plate to feed the entire restaurant.
Kristin was mortified. And you sensed from her barely concealed discomfort that it was over before it had even started. “I think you’re lovely . . . but,” she said ominously when it came to verdict time. “But you hope I’ll go away to a land where there’s more duck,” said a defeated John, completing her sentence. They said their farewells, Kristen got in to her taxi and left.
A shared love of sport, then, no matter how diverse those sporting passions might be – eg boxing compering and flat track motorbike racing – don’t, after all, guarantee compatibility.
“Have I learnt anything about meself,” said John. “Yeah – stop complaining in restaurants, you’re a twat. Shut your mouth and eat your duck.”
And with that, John headed home alone, and going by Roddy Doyle, one of Tommy Tiernan's guests on Saturday night, he wouldn't even have had the comfort of snuggling up with a romping good novel.
"Men my age don't want to read fiction generally," said Roddy, "they just want to read about Hitler, Stalin and Wayne Rooney. "
A still single John, then, is probably leafing through ‘Mein Kampf’, ‘Stalin’s Reign of Terror in the 1930s’, and ‘Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far’ as we speak. He should probably read a King Mongkut biography, though, for some tips. Thirty-two wives? All John wants is one.