Forget about the weather, there have been but two small talk subjects of note this past week, which have been – no prizes for guessing correctly – the Brexit and Euros 2016. Last Wednesday evening had thousands of football fans descend upon the fine public houses of the land to share witness to one of the most delightfully unexpected outcomes of the tournament – Ireland scoring to make it into the final 16. That on Sunday they failed to reach the next stage is beside the point; the collective jubilation felt after the goal score against Italy was such that it drove band-wagoners like me to watch the match against France. Although it’s not something I often do, it was worth joining my green-clad peers to get behind the team; there’s something magical about getting together with fellow fans in cheering on the boys in green, feeling the warmth of the atmosphere, the excitement and being swept along on the good cheer. Watching the match at a bar or pub is fantastic fun; it’s only a pity that some spectators can lose the run of themselves and hasten to leave their mark all around them as they stumble home. But that’s for another column, we’re here to discuss television! As well as the terrific show that the team gave us, our countrymen and women have been ratcheting up countless news stories about their good-humoured antics; it became worth tuning into the Six-One news bulletins for the latest update on what “the best fans in the world” were getting up to. It may be said that the constant coverage got a bit wearing after a while, but who on earth would trade the good news stories for the deplorable behaviour of the Russian and British fans earlier in the competition?
Indeed Britain has certainly had its fair share of negative news coverage lately. There was overwhelming dismay over the result of the Brexit referendum last Friday, from those subjects who had adamantly voted to Remain and the rest of Europe’s citizens. That it heralds a very uncertain time for the world’s economy and could indicate major instability for the rest of the EU is one thing, but the racist reactions to the result caught on camera are quite another. There was rolling commentary on most British news stations for the afternoon, broadcasting David Cameron’s resignation and including interviews and analysis, and thus Twitter was awash with aghast people complaining about the change in schedules, not because they were too horrified by the outcome to take any more, but because This Morning and Loose Women had been cancelled. It’s quite possible that the majority of the tweets were satirical in tone, dryly indicating that ‘the world really is ending now’ and calling out for the panellists’ (less-than) expert opinions on the whole hullabaloo but it’s still a frightening exposure of where some of the voters true priorities lie. Fox News, a US TV station known for its conservative and often unreliable news coverage insisted for a time that Britain had chosen to leave the UN, rather than the EU. Take what you like from that blunder, but remember, America is due to vote in its Presidential election in a matter of months. When potential voters are being fed misinformation in such a way is it any wonder why there is an all-too-good chance that Donald Trump may just clinch it?
If an impending apocalypse is now on your mind you may be willing to give Preacher a go. From the studio that brought you The Walking Dead, Preacher is also adapted from a comic book, and contains the over-the-top gore to go with it. While it’s shown on AMC in the US it’s broadcast on Amazon Prime here, a subscription service not unlike Netflix, that has (again, like Netflix) been churning out its own original shows, like the progressive Transparent and the well-received Mozart in the Jungle. Preacher stars Dominic Cooper as the aforementioned holy man, reformed bad boy Jesse Custer. He joins forces with a vampire named Cassidy (played with a trowled-on Irish accent, but nonetheless with an infectious wired energy by This Is England’s Joseph Gilgun) when it becomes apparent that there is much more to this world that meets the eye, and Irish actress Ruth Negga puts in a winning turn as tough Southern Belle Tulip O’Hare. It’s not at all for the faint hearted, and will take me a little while longer to get used to the gratuitous violence and very dark tone, but still it’s intriguing enough for me to keep going with it for another few episodes. With the real world being tipped on its axis, a bit of escapism into the grim world of demons and possession is actually quite welcome.
Aoife B. Burke
First published in The Tuam Herald on 29 06 16