The Communications Clinic
The Communications Clinic
January 12, 2021

Day 94 

Please consider this a public appeal. For tranquilizer darts. I need to purchase some, plus whatever gun propels them. I do not wish to do anything illegal and will take out a license if required, but I cannot live any more with Invader Cat‘s depredations. He has now taken to coming into my house, climbing the spiral staircase and invading my bedroom. This fat furry barrel has a hell of a turn of speed when I spot him and threaten death and destruction, Nothing is an obstacle to him getting out, including me. The bloody thing is going to break my hip and kill me.

Now, you’ll tell me that I must go around to my neighbours to ascertain if Invader Cat belongs to them and ask them politely to keep him indoors. To which I answer “Covid 19, level 5. I can’t be hobnobbing with neighbours.” And don’t be telling me to buy a smart cat flap that will respond only to the chip embedded in the neckbands fitted to my cats. I did that. Even though I buckled them on so tightly the cats’ eyes bulged slightly, the two of them nonetheless got their neckbands off within 36 hours. I found one of the bands up a tree.

The other advice I’ve taken involved dropping vinegar and other condiments around the entrance to the cat flap, which deterred Invader Cat not at all but irritated the two resident cats so much, they were twice as willing to fight with the intruder, which resulted in Dino having a permanently bifurcated ear and a fortune in veterinary bills, I don’t want any repetition. I just need tranquilizer darts and maybe a link to a training programme in how to shoot them. If I can put Invader Cat in a coma just before the end of the lockdown, I can then drive him to Leitrim and abandon him there. Nothing against Leitrim, but it’s far enough away to stop Invader Cat finding his way back to me.

Day 95 

A Pandemic verity: Volunteers do what you want – at a time that suits them. Professionals do what you want – at a time that suits you. With the exception of plumbers and electricians, who do exactly half what you want at a time that definitely doesn’t suit you.

Day 96 

Dictating using a smartphone is a wonderful time-saver, except when it comes to political communication. Smartphones, hate Irish politics and correct it as they go. The Taoiseach always emerges as the T-Shirt, the Tanaiste as The Tarnished Dead, Roisin Shortall as Rosheen Short Girl, Cillian de Gascun as Killing the Gas Gun and Robert Watt as Robert What? NPHET becomes Message Oireachtas become Iraq this. Sinn Fein emerges as Insane, no offence intended, and Josepha Madigan becomes Joseph is Magical. I have to be careful to proofread anything about politics before transmission. I don’t want The Tarnished Dead coming after me.

Day 97 

Today was Deplorables Day. The MAGA lads in varying outfits or degrees of painted near-nakedness, managed, without much opposition from the forces of law, to get into the Capitol building and create hell. Five human beings died as a result of a protest against non-existent voter fraud. The usual occupants of the building hid under desks as the vandals wandered around resenting the good furniture and looking for named lawmakers against whom to take unspecified robust actions. Journalists did their job, despite the face-painted yelling mob.

One gorgeous picture emerged, as the snappers continued to snap and transmit. It’s gorgeous not just because of the lighting and colour contrasts captured by the photographer, but because it sums up the futility of the entire event. Right in the centre is a man in a tan waistcoat, carrying the Confederate battle flag. All on his own, striding nowhere in particular, purpose unclear, he’s caught between gilded portraits of major figures from America’s democratic past, close to a white bust of one of them, the marble floor shining in the background. Mike Theiler, the photographer, works for Reuters, and when the glass broke and the morons invaded, did what he’s been doing for half a century. He took pictures. Did his job. Made a difference. At a time when many seventy year olds are feeling constrained by necessary passivity, it’s a heart lift to see a seventy year old professional getting on with it so effectively.

Day 98 

I didn’t see that 23 second skit on RTÉ suggesting God was a rapist. I find 6/1 enough of a challenge as the numbers in hospital and intensive care rise. But the Archbishop of Dublin did see it and reacted quickly, saying he was shocked that the producer/editor of RTÉ’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Show “didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking news report accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment. This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced by all people of goodwill. To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God and Our Blessed Mother Mary during the Christmas season is insulting to all Catholics and Christians.” RTÉ climbed down quickly and comprehensively with copious references to breaking their own rules about respect for religion. I was puzzled by the Archbishop’s singular concentration on blasphemy and how insulting it was to Catholics/Christians. No mention of the feelings or experience of real current rape victims. Male or female. No mention at all. Nada.

Day 99 

Brexit is beginning to bite. Today it seems DPD temporarily suspended deliveries in Ireland because of the new Brexit paperwork and how customers are not doing the bureaucratic right thing. Pictures are appearing of empty shelves, some of them in Marks&Spencer. M&S reveal one of the shortages is Percy Pig, who is apparently made in Germany. This is serious. Percy Pig, carefully microwaved for seven seconds, provides a warm gloopy blurt of flavor demanding the absolute attention of your taste buds. You didn’t know? Trust me. Not that you have a choice, now they’re scarce.

Day 100 

The back page of the Irish Examiner, today, says “demand for petrol and diesel has continued its sharp fall during the pandemic, with 2020 returning the lowest figure recorded in twenty years.” Thinking about not buying petrol in six weeks, it strikes me that I must have saved at least €500. For one brief fleeting moment, I consider saving this for buying tranquilizer darts to facilitate the comatose removal of a felonious feline. But I put that option aside in the interests of doing away with Henry, the smirking Hoover. Henry would have driven me to drink if I had alcohol in the house. He gives the impression he will roll effortlessly after you, responsive to your every tug, whereas in fact he gets trapped behind every chair, table and bed leg and sits there smirking one-eyed at you.

I’ll use petrol money to buy a grossly over-priced Dyson and turf Henry.