The Rose of Tralee: in the modern world of televisualising, it’s a rarity. There are not many programmes that an entire household will actually sit down and watch together, on a TV, live, interrupted only by trips to the kettle and a bit of snarky tweeting.
As the fine sensible smart girls nudge, wink and “ah-shur-you-know-yourself-Daithi” their way through their stage appearance, a sizable chunk of the population will at least have a look out of curiosity. If nothing else, the event was one of those psychological Back To School milestones. “Do I remember the ‘88 one? Will I ever forget? I was covering my Busy At Maths 6 with wallpaper at the time.”
Only sport – and maybe the Eurovision and the Toy Show – has the potential to unify a population in one activity.
The one thing missing is punditry.
Pundit – the word comes from Sanskrit word Pandit which means a man who is learned and esteemed for his wisdom. Since then, the learnedness and wisdom has been diluted somewhat. A pundit is now any ex-sportsman sitting in tight shiny trousers on a couch stating the bleedin’ obvious and steadfastly avoiding a prediction. One could learn off the following paragraph and hold your own in any studio.
“As I say, at the end of the day, to be fair, if I’m being honest, the manager will be wanting to have won this. (At the end of the day.) Next week? Oooh … it’s a tough call. I’m going to stick me neck out and say it really could go either way.”
Despite this, punditry is still very popular. After Cork’s win in the hurling, people who were at the match ‘tore home’ for the Sunday Game so that they could turn to their friends and say “Didn’t I say that to you at the time?”
To add that extra edge to Roses this year, why not have a panel of ex-Roses (dressed in shiny grey trousers) engaging in good –natured banter with Mary Kennedy beforehand?
“What do you make of the Kansas challenge Geraldine?”
“Well as I said before, we’ve watched highlights of her in the earlier rounds. Scoring all round her. She’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of the day.”
It would be even better if we could unearth an Eamon Dunphy-style pundit to provide some provocative statements about the halcyon days when she was a Rose.
“The problem with these young Roses is that they’re not street Roses like we were. Describing their Irish roots for hours on end up against a wall or dancing a jig in the back-alleys until it got too dark. That’s the real beauty of the Rose Of Tralee. It’s gone too corporate for me. Now you have to be six feet tall to win. Where are the five-foot-one Roses? The Kerry ‘74s, the Abu Dhabi 99s?”
I’ll be watching but I really can’t say who’ll win. It could go thirty-two ways.