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Derval O'Rourke
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As someone who has, on occasion, found himself in the midst of an online spat, I take great pleasure in watching other people engage in a bout of virtual fisticuffs.

It’s entertainment on a nuclear level, ‘close the curtains, dim the lights’ kinda fun.

And if the people in question happen to be famous? Pass me the popcorn, baby.

Whether Derval O’Rourke or Paul Kimmage can be classed as famous is up for debate, but they both have enough Twitter followers to ensure that, should words be had, folk like me will be right there on the bleachers, cheering them on.

The skirmish in question occurred over the weekend when eir Sports announced the longlist for its ‘Sports Book of the Year’ award. The list contained twenty books, all written by men, all about men.

Derval voiced her disapproval with a “sigh” and a roll-eyes emoticon. To which journalist, Paul Kimmage replied, “It’s not a cookery contest, try writing a sports book”, a reference to O’Rourke’s recent foray into the world of cook-bookery. Miaow indeed.

Inevitably, Kimmage’s tweet received many replies, very few of them complimentary. He was accused of rampant sexism and of ignoring a serious societal issue. He was called names, unfollowed by disgruntled twitterers and outed as a generally rotten sort.

What most people failed to notice however, was that he was highlighting something arguably more pertinent than a handful of sports books being overlooked at awards time.

Derval O’Rourke is one of, if not the, greatest Irish sprinter of all time, male or female. She has won medals at World and European level in a discipline which traditionally favours those from warmer, more exotic, climes.

Since her retirement, she has forged a career as a pundit on RTÉ, offering the kind of insight and analysis which can come only come from having been there and done that.

In that time she also released two cook books, despite never working professionally as a chef, a nutritionist or, in fact, in any facet of the food industry. Both books, Food For The Fast Lane and The Fit Foodie, trade on her status as a successful athlete, and come with advice on how “to get organised so that good food and exercise are a seamless part of your life.”

O’Rourke is just the latest high-profile figure to declare herself an expert on all things food-related, to use her celebrity to tap into this lucrative market and make a financial killing.

Failed musicians, former glamour models, faded reality TV stars, they’re all joining the foodie revolution right now, clambering aboard the gravy train and riding the fecker for all its worth.

Donal Skehan was probably the first to capitalise on this emerging trend, seamlessly morphing from dewy-eyed, squeaky clean, pop singer to peppy masterchef in the time it takes to boil an egg.

And look at him now, he’s everywhere, no seriously, he’s everywhere; I’ve tried to avoid him, stopped buying the Irish Times, banished RTÉ One in my house, but still he haunts me, that horrendous nasally tone following me wherever I go, it’s accompanying smiley face never far behind.

Speaking of not far behind, how about Roz Purcell?

Recognising that being a model only gets you so far in life, Roz furtively joined the foodie ranks, steadily building her profile via the vegan route before striking gold with her own TV show. Bravo.

Rosanna Davison? Food blogger and nutritional therapist is, I believe, her official title these days.

Not for these people a degree in culinary arts and years of slaving away in a hot, cramped kitchen. No, they bypassed all that nonsense, and came straight in at the top, at the glamorous end of the business where it’s all cupcakes and smiles.

Do I sound bitter yet? Well imagine how someone with said degree and ten years experience feels?

Purcell et al represent a section of Irish society who will literally do anything to ensure they don’t have to work for a living. Whether it means becoming a foodie, a writer or a fashion designer they will jump from one fad to the next, reinventing themselves depending on whatever’s required.

With health and nutrition the current trend these socialites have flocked to the kitchen like flies to the proverbial shit. A couple of years ago they were writers, children’s authors, aspiring musicians (anyone remember Amanda Brunker’s ‘performance’ at Oxygen?), and in another couple of years they will be something else.

But while I choke on my own bile at the mere mention of Donal Skehan’s name, my anger is, for the most part, misplaced.

These people are simply doing whatever it takes to survive, they’re hustling opportunists, scrappers, fighters, the last survivors in an industry which chews up and spits out their contemporaries as a matter of course.

The blame lies at the doorstep of those who hire them, the television executives, lifestyle editors and marketing men who believe that a familiar, rather pretty face, trumps hard work and expertise.

Instead of hating the players, I should be hating the game.

The fact is, we no longer live in a meritocracy. We no longer live in a just society. Talent, dedication, they mean nothing. Apparently all it takes to reach the top is a good sense of timing.

The best you can hope for is that your profession of choice doesn’t become too chic, that it doesn’t get adopted by the nation’s trendsetters. Because if it does, if Roz and co suddenly decide that block-laying or accountancy is where it’s at, you my friend, are going to be out of a job.

An offer you can refuse

I have, thus far, avoided all talk of the US election in this column. It’s boring, everyone is tired of it; Trump is a headcase, Clinton wins by default, let’s move on.

But one unique attempt to garner votes for the former First Lady caught my eye this week. Madonna, remember her? So desperate is she for Hillary to win that she’s taken to offering sexual favours to those willing to vote for her.

“If you vote for Hillary Clinton, I will give you a blow job, OK?” she told the crowd at a gig in New York. “And I’m good, I’m good. I take my time and I have a lot of eye contact.”

Wow, that’s a lot of fellatio for Madge to work through over the Christmas period, a lot of swing voters who’ll be expecting due recompense for switching their allegiance at the last moment. She may be touching sixty, but come on, it’s Madonna for feck’s sake!

The most disappointing thing about this, apart from the fact I wasn’t at the gig obviously, is that our own politicians don’t have such fervent backers.

I can’t be the only one who, come voting time, has assessed the available candidates and thought “I really can’t be bothered.”

But if an ageing Irish rocker (choose your fancy here) was on hand to provide extra motivation, I’d be more than willing to cast my vote in whichever direction they desired.

Not only would this make elections a whole lot more fun, it would also ensure a 100 per cent turn-out each and every time.Read more at:long formal dresses

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