Sunday, 14 February 2010

Dunnes Stores, The Irish Times, and the worm in Brian Cowen's head.

There is a little worm peeking out of Brian Cowen’s right ear. The next time you see him on telly, have a good look. You can see the head – about the size of a pixel – if you record it and put your DVD player on hold as you play it back. Scientists working for Britain's secret services developed this worm in a very secret laboratory somewhere in Wiltshire, England.

This worm has been created to bring about the downfall of our wonderful little land. It is designed to multiply prolifically and is genetically coded to eat inside the brains of our TDs, implanting them with information to destroy the country. The early stages of infection include talking utter gibberish, a bloated sense of importance, forming unsustainable economic policy based on credit and property tax breaks, and planning to transform the country to an imagined, Gaelic-speaking, paradise.  

Due to clever genetic engineering, and cleverly controlled mutations within the DNA cytosines, each minister is affected to a different extent and may present some, or all, of the above symptoms. So Eamon O’Cuiv might spout a different kind of gibberish to, say, Martin Cullen - but all will speak gibberish of one kind or another. 

When the worms accomplish their task in one TD (as with Charlie McCreevy – their first victim) they crawl to another.   Every Irish government minister is now infected with the worms, and they are crossing the floor to infect the opposition.  George Lee was the first casualty there.

The British will only be content when we are all back living in crannogs, speaking Gaelic, and all the multinationals have left because you cannot get Wi-Fi in crannogs and you can't have a Gaelic-speaking call centre. Or call center.

The only way for us to beat the Brits is to adapt a wholesome diet of cabbage and potatoes, as the worms cannot get the nutrients they require from these. That’s because cabbage and potatoes cannot grow in Britain, and that’s how they never thought of it.

The internet is great, but you don’t half read some rubbish on it. I’m one of the dwindling band of punters who gets a newspaper every day. But it’s getting more and more difficult.

I went to Tescos this morning for the Sunday Times and the Tribune, but for some reason the Tribune wasn’t there, and has not been for some time. I wonder if Tescos have now adapted a similar aggressive policy to stocking newspapers as “The Difference Is We’re Irish” Dunnes Stores?

Dunnes Stores recently changed their industry-standard payment method to newspapers from direct debit to monthy cheque.  As a result, The Irish Times stopped supplying their product, and you can't get it there anymore.

If Tescos have done the same with the Tribune - or for any other reason - it is only a matter of time before it becomes so difficult to get the newspaper of your choice that younger generation of waverers just won’t bother. Domestic news feeds will dry up, more journalists will be on the dole, and there will be fewer people to find real, verified, authenticated news items.

Then stories like the one above will be all we have left.

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Anna said...

One of the best papers in Ireland - and the English speaking world-The Irish Times. I don’t mind the Examiner at all either, or Sunday Times, Sunday Business Post or Tribune.
There is so much rubbish in the Independent, that I only read it about once in 4 yrs- if a headline catches my eye. I read the IT every day on the web- I don’t buy it ( 6000 down in my pay per annum). I only buy it on Saturday. Interestingly the Daily Mail is a snobby conservative middle class paper in England- which only mentions the working class at all, to have a snobby laugh. But the Irish version can run stories that are surprising, did they have some of the stuff on John O’Donoghue?
Mostly I rely on the IT. The country needs it. Because Irish people can believe such ridiculous nonsense- and - unlike other nations- it is all taken as truth - without one Fact ever produced as evidence,
Irish people hold these truths to be self- evident:
*The whole world hates the English- and they love us( no evidence ever given for either).
*Irish education is a world beater, the envy of Europe, especially the UK- it’s why multinationals flock here( now why do other countries then, not move to copy a system that can produce 25-40% drop out rates even at blue chip Irish universities, or a 20%+ drop out rate after Junior Cert, leaving plenty of young Irish with 3 years secondary education.)
* The British are laughing our current crisis. One idiot here said
( when talking to me and a foreign girl) that during the depression of the ‘80s that England closed its borders ( or was it door)”. When I said ‘What??!!”’ she clammed up. No I don’t remember a Berlin wall being built in border counties then-but I do remember 100,000s of Irish in Guernsey & England. IN fact most of the time ( apart from NI- a troubled part of the UK) most English believed the south of Ireland to be a far away country , of which they knew nothing. ETC, ETC…
We need to just solve out own problems by finding out, FIRSTLY, what is going on our own country.
And being an informed well read society is a key stone to all that.
You don’t GET serious comment in the Metro.
Once upon a time - when we were rich, a key book market was misery lit. And many stories deserved to be told. We sympathised and hoped we were past that.
It’s a different misery now, ordinary people screwed by white collar crooks. There’s a huge market in these new books, can’t think of a name, ‘Robbery lit?’
‘Celtic Bandit Lit?’
I am devouring them, with many others . Interestingly F O’T’s book is set to be published by Barnes & Noble, New York in March. Let’s see how many International financiers come here after that. Anna

Anonymous said...

You see. Brits. You can't trust them ;)

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anna. Yes, I suppose the good thing about The Times - even though it can be a bit staid and stuffy IMO - is that it's the best paper you can get here, as at least it's not owned by Tony O'Reilly. The fact that it's trust-run ensures some kind of editorial independence. Witness the decline of the once-respected London Times with the arrival of Rupert Murdoch! I think the Guardian is run on the same lines as the IT (a trust) in Britain.

Had a look for "Ship of Fools" in Easons... couldn't see it. Will pop over to Chapters on Parnell Street next week when I'm at work - excellent book shop. Glad you're still with us!

@ Anon. Looks like you were right all along, in view of the above revelations! ;-)

Anna said...

I am wondering now how well Da Bertie Buke is doing. I just find it hard to sympathise with him.
I think the book was written like the Mr Tayto book as a long advertisement.
( in Berties case , for a final pay-off job in Phoenix Park.)
I’d sooner see Mr Tayto in the Aras. He is also a better writer. AND he’s still flavour of the month.
If Berties book Is doing well, I’d like to think Irish people are not complete fools.
IE that readers aren’t reading it as Heat warming story of Drumcondra boy made good, but are poring over it forensically & Looking for Clues at the scene of the crime.
After all it couldn’t have come out at a worse time- everyone knew the economy had crashed partly due to him. So I WILL include it as part of that new - Guaranteed Irish - literary genre, Celtic Bandit Lit.
I’M Not actually sure WHAT the literary critics are calling it.
‘”Dick Lit*’” has been taken & has funny writers like Nick Hornby
( *I’m not being sexist- but some of the biggest crooks here were men)
‘Tricky Dick Lit’ maybe?
But like Riverdance, it could only come from here.
This new literary fusion: Part, (sorry I mean Mostly) crime/ comedy/ Wild west/True life/ should have a name that reflects its origin .
When the pantomime mask of the Celtic Tiger slipped, the bandits were there all along.
Celtic Bandit Lit. I intend it read it all. Anna

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, when looking for "Ship of Fools" in Easons today, I stumbled upon the "fantasy" section, and half expected B-B-Bertie The Bollix's book to be there. Give me Tolkien any day - at least his stuff is well written, however nonsense it may be!

Actually, Nick Hornby's "How to be Good" is quite funny. Maybe Bertie and his ilk could try it - though I doubt they'd be interested!

Anonymous said...

Dunnes Stores bring back the Irish Times.
Emm...interesting they are paying by cheque though!

The Gombeen Man said...

That's the thing, Anon. Because they changed their terms and conditions of payment, and unilaterally decided to pay by cheque at the end of each month, the IT weren't having it. There was a row before over Dunnes changing its returns policy.

Apparently the standard way of paying was by direct debit. I think Dunnes have a bit of a history of messing their suppliers around, if the rumours are to be believed.

Anonymous said...

PONYBOY says...
No pun intended but The Times they are a changing. If you can't get your fave paper at the shops any longer, it's because it's just another product that's not meeting its sales quota and in accordance with the system that we all operate under it gets dropped like all other non performers. But Soft and ere ye feel the need to hie yerselves off to that nearest nunnery HARK to the new Irish ON LINE Times. This is the way forward(this is not the latest FF election slogan). Download this wonderful publication on to your E-Readers (and believe me if you don't have them now-you will in the next 3 years) and enjoy the New Way. The screens are low glare and you flip pages with your thumb as in the paper days of yore BUT the wonderful thing is you get to read the IT without having to angst over the friggin planet (cos of all the wasted paper). Sure there are still the wankers (see GM's Worm piece) with their half baked BS desperately angling for E-readers but wasn't that always the way - I mean The National Enquirer is still printing on the ink and pater side of the press world. My advice to Dunnes Stores is not to bring back the IT but to start selling E-Readers bundled with a free one month sub to the IT. Stop resisting it. Remember how you thought people with mobiles were wankers back in the day. I rest my case. OH and speaking of cases (and this has nothing whatsoever to do with hardcopy Vs softcopy newspapers) I found two dozen Tallis (Australian vineyard) Viognier sitting on my doorstep upon my return from a battle with the Hobart city council today. THERE REALLY MUST BE A god. Ponyboy

Ella said...

Hi GM, The Tribune is definitely not for sale in Tescos, you can't buy it in Dunnes Stores either. You are correct, it's getting increasingly difficult to get the paper you want whilst shopping. Everybody loses out on this.

The Gombeen Man said...

@Ponyboy. Funny thing is, PB, the Times circulation is holding up quite well as these things go: 114,488 Jan-June 2009 (Indo is 152,204, while the Irish Mirror is 64,194). I think its readership is around the 350,000 mark.

This current impasse is down to our ruthless friends at Dunnes, who've been squeezing Irish suppliers for years... funny in view of their slogan, I think! But there you are.

You're right about the future of the printed medium. Though in terms of recycling, I think close on 80% of papers are recycled these days, even in Ireland.

The problem they have is no-one knows for sure where it's all going re technology. With so many emergent technologies, and others in the pipeline (such as electronic paper and foldable readers) they just don't know where to take it.

One thing for sure, is that the online model isn't working for them. Most of the papers revenue came from advertising, and internet advertising does not pay the same... Then you have cover price. I think that every single newspaper's online operations are loss-making at the minute... and at the end of the day, the reporters, newsdesk, subs, snappers, and contributors have to be paid. It's a tough business. Then again, if it goes completely digital, the cost of newsprint (second only to labour costs) can come out of the reckoning.

It's a hard one to call, and we'll just have to wait and see how it goes. But change it will.

@ Ella. I don't know what is going on with Tescos and the Tribune, Ella. And I don't think Dunnes are doing it either. So much for supporting Irish jobs, eh?? I noted that M&S had all the Sundays there last weekend... so it looks like Marks and Sparks or your local newsagent are your only choices if you want the Trib.

Anna said...

I worked a with free paper group in S Dublin & received a large and varied quantity of brand new books, audio books etc,
Belfast’s chain of 30 libraries had cut their funds, so I gave them 100’s of books worth €1000,s. A relative, who worked there, said 1 man, probably also a journalist, gave 4 boxes of new books. I dislike clutter, so I also give books away when I finish them.
I only buy books if the library is taking to long to source them. I read a wide variety- but nothing too freaky- all from bestseller lists- ones a library would normally buy for themselves. When I lived in Newry, I donated new books to their library. Dundalk library didn’t take donations. Why? - People gave them junk. OK, so only take those in mint condition.
Today I phoned Dun L Library with a new book query. They said they may/ may not buy it.
I said, if I buy it- would I be able to donate it when I finished it? They don’t take donations. No- he didn’t know why.
I phoned the ILAC library. Again as the book was new, they may/ may not buy it.
(NB- for once I can’t accuse the council of blindly ignoring the education of the masses in not automatically buying this, I DO realise that reading,’ The Waterfall Diet’ may NOT be an essential part of being an informed citizen. Again I enquired as to whether, if I bought my own, the library would accept it later as a donation? - No.
Why Not? “We don’t accept donations,’ she said.” As we simply don’t have the staff to process donated books.”
This belongs under silly things the council / does / doesn’t do with your money
(Not accepting free grit for snow was another one). But I suppose I’ll post it here.
Large supermarkets decide that quality papers aren’t profitable enough to stock.
And council libraries won’t accept brand new books.( or build enough libraries in working class areas). Will text speak be our language in 2020, and Metro & Irish Star the only papers?

Anonymous said...

Yes looks like it. Shiver to think.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anna. It's rather a strange policy on behalf of the libraries alright, Anna. And on the paper front, it ironic that the IT's readership figures are at a record high. That's Dunnes for you.

@ Anon. A life of HeraldMetro, The Star and textspeak... very shivery thoughts indeed, Anon. Let's hope the terrible day is averted somehow!

Anna said...

Great news . I knew IT circulation figures had increased- I didn’t realise the gap between them and the Indo had narrowed . I trust the IT- I don’t think they would knowingly mislead readers. Increased circulation must mean people want to know exactly what goes on . I’ve even started reading the Sunday Business Post, Tribune, Economist etc. These can feel like a spoonful of bran. On The other hand they are Good For Me-and the II is bad for my blood pressure.
I have a deep aversion to the II- I think it’s a waste of money to buy it more than once in 5 years. So I can’t quite say exactly what I dislike. Suffice to say you can’t trust a paper that less than 2 years ago had some journalists who were still cheering on the ‘boom’. ( see F O’T + DMW).
Dangerous writing at most- and sloppy at the least- not a word for the peasants who couldn’t afford a home. Also for many years they had a slogan near the mast head “Read by 99.99% of the ABC classes‘, or was it the top classes.*’
(*I’d prefer if a paper congratulated its journalists, eg,‘We have 5 award winning writers’- rather than congratulated the good taste of its readers).
Something like the hoarding ads for the Grange development on Stillorgan dual carriageway 5 yrs ago:” You won’t get any riff- raff in here ‘or maybe it was ‘Gracious superior living you deserve’-
you get the picture.
As Ireland is a divided country, Monopoly rules didn’t apply when T O’Reilly managed to buy the 2 main circulation papers on this isle- he also has the Belfast Telegraph. I don’t see the BT too often now- however it still seems OK.

Anna said...

I occasionally glance ever a newspaper item like ‘hospital gets new bit of equipment but no one can be bothered organizing a training session for staff to use it, so it’s staying in the box’ etc.
Similarly this ‘no donated books’- at a time when the country is borrowing 500 million Euros A WEEK is too ridiculous to let pass. And that borrowing will soon dry up. So I did write to both Dun L and Dublin library to suggest a policy change. Might as well give it a go.

The Gombeen Man said...

Nothing to lose in trying,Anna.

So much for me going on about the IT's readership being up. That's well and good, but it's circulation is down according to today's figures. Circulation is the number of papers sold, whereas readership is the number of people who read the publication. I suppose circulation is the most important one...