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Nudes Of The World

How the Sunday Independent is boosting the tourism industry by convincing English readers that Ireland is populated exclusively by amiable drunkards, rock stars, men who drive fast cars and women wearing little or no clothing.

Barry Glendenning, 22 Oct 2003

When I first came to London, I relied on The Irish Times for regular fixes of news from the auld sod. It’s always been the paper of choice at home, so I suppose my reasons for buying it were more to do with sticking with the devil I knew than any particular desire to struggle through its staggeringly long headlines and

occasionally incomprehensible comment pieces about feminism and its role in the demise of the corncrake.

Sadly, since the Old Lady of D’Olier Street found herself in the straitened circumstances that saw her go knocking on the poorhouse door, she is no longer available in London and has even been forced to start charging a subscription fee for her once-free online edition. As I’m far too stingy to even consider paying this stipend, I now rely exclusively on the Sunday Independent to keep me abreast of the affairs of the nation.

Which is not a problem, I hasten to add, except the upshot is that my two flatmates, both twentysomething Englishmen who found reading The Irish Times to be too much of a grind, have now become devotees of the Sindo, after developing something of an obsession with certain aspects of its content which they can regularly be found poring over long after the day of publication. Alone. In their bedrooms.

Each week, the routine is the same: I tip out to the shop and buy a copy, at which point they immediately steal a section each and begin reading. Soon, their silence is broken by the inevitable interrogation: What’s Lillie’s Bordello? Why is that bloke writing about sandwiches again? Who’s Ray Burke? Have you ever been in Renards? Why do so many of these journalists have the same surname? Are Eddie Irvine and Van Morrison really next-door neighbours? Who’s Conrad Gallagher? Why does that picture of Joe Elliott’s ex-wife appear so often? Are those girls not cold standing around outside without their clothes on? Have you ever shagged an Assets model?

And so on. And so forth. Neither of them has ever visited Ireland, but both are anxious to do so as soon as possible, having formed some rose-tinted vision of a land peopled exclusively by amiable drunkards, lovely girls, rock stars and men who drive fast cars; a place where corruption is not only excused but encouraged and everybody is far too busy trying to pull The Corrs in a nightclub VIP room to do ordinary, mundane things like work for a living. Heat magazine, basically, but with more shamrock, ponies and porter.

If only.

It’s no secret that for years, the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Independent has got a bad rap, which its services to the Irish tourism industry, as witnessed weekly in my living room, would suggest it does not deserve. Rather than embark on a literary pub crawl or trudge around the rock’n’roll trail, for example, nothing less than the unofficial Sunday Independent Tour of Dublin will suffice for my cohabitants when they eventually get around to visiting Dublin.

They want to rub shoulders with Colin Farrell in Renards, break bread with Bono in the Clarence, shoot the breeze with Eamon Dunphy in the Horseshoe bar and then wrap up their evening by lurching up Dawson Street towards Lillies for a champagne nightcap. They are sad, sad men, but getting the opportunity to put places to the names they have become so familiar with through the medium of the Sunday Independent will make them happy. Or quite possibly suicidal. Either way, closure will have been achieved and I might finally get to read my paper in peace.

Of course no such soiree would be complete without female companionship, so it’s no surprise that my cohorts have their hearts set on ditching yours truly and hooking up with the newspaper’s 03 Team for the evening in question. For the benefit of those of you who may be unfamiliar with the life’s work of this bevy of very attractive ladies, I should explain that there are several of them, who tackle assorted facets of a different cultural brief in the Sindo each week – fashion, sex, booze culture, lifestyles of the rich and famous… whatever. Their articles are invariably accompanied by a very large group photo which regular readers of this column may recall I took a very cheap shot at a couple of issues ago, by using my extensive vocabulary to remark that they habitually dressed like, em, twats.

Well bedad if they haven’t since flung this childish insult back in my face by refusing to wear clothes altogether, choosing instead to complete their briefs in little more than their briefs, posing all snuggled up to each other in the buff.

This highly laudable excursion down the avenue of soft-porn-being-passed-off-as-news (most notably in the softly-lit, topless shot featuring a pouting, sultry beauty that accompanied one article purporting to be about breast cancer) appears to have gathered frightening momentum, and any Sunday soon I fully expect the Sindo to dispense with most of its articles and just publish the invariably excellent sport section along with the other good bits, followed by page after page of coloured photographs of the 03 Lovelies soaping each other’s breasts in a hot-tub. A Maxim for the pseudo-liberal wannabe generation, if you will. Which lest you get the wrong impression, this columnist is hugely in favour of.

Finally, in case you’re wondering, it should go without saying that I have never shagged an Assets model. However, I’ve had a few pints with one on several occasions, but we haven’t yet taken things to the next level. Obviously if I was gay I’d jump his bones in a heartbeat, but I imagine his girlfriend might be quick to put a stop to my gallop.

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