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Archive for September 2011

Farewell To Chaz

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Alas, the recession has claimed another victim. The Chaz Bar on Wexford’s quay front shut its doors recently. James Ryan, who has run the bar for the past nine years with his sister, Sandra said “It’s desperately difficult to make a living in the bar trade at the moment.” The decline in numbers is due to people being made unemployed and that has resulted in a decline in disposable income. Along with the closure of the main bar it also spells the death knell of a great music venue in Wexford, most notably because of the Back Door Sessions, run by the delightful Patricia Bird.

Trish rang me the Thursday before I flew to Birmingham and I could hear the sadness I her voice. It hit me too, having played there on numerous occasions I found the place utterly charming. And James and Sandra were very accommodating hosts, quick with a smile and a delicious pint. There have been so many bands that have passed through those side doors, I can’t begin to put a number on it but I had the pleasure of gracing the stage several times.

Personal favourite gig memory, one night we were playing with a great band, Dirty 10to1 and they truly were the A Team of bands. First of all there was a scuffle in the bar, quickly sorted by the huge bassist. Then the drummer fixed a lamp and an amp that blew simultaneously. Sadly there was no black van, but it was a great night and there was a drum solo floating around somewhere!

I cannot speak for any of the other acts / bands that have played The Back Door, but I can safely say it was one of my favourite venues in the country. And it will be a great loss to Wexford as a pub and a great little music venue. Much love to Trish for the chance and the gigs James and Sandra for the pints and the smiles!




Written by thepanch

September 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

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Having attended the launch of the Blackstairs Blues the previous tonight and wandering home at an ungodly hour, going out on the Saturday night was not an option. So this reviewer, along with the two ladies, found himself in Xtra Vision late that evening. Once again I plumped for Hobo With A Shotgun. Alas, I was shot down in flames and instead we both went for Hanna. Admittedly I let it pass me by in the cinema and upon viewing that was a huge mistake.

Directed by Joe Wright, yes but don’t worry guys there’s not a period love story a la Pride And Prejudice, anywhere to be seen here. The film opens up with Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) chasing, hunting and shooting a deer. However it doesn’t go as planned and the deer is still alive. A problem quickly rendered by Hanna, the problem is resolved by a swift, sweet release bullet to the struggling deer’s head. “Sorry, I missed your heart.” That is one cool cat….

Hanna is being trained and homeschooled in a secluded woodland area by her father Erik (Eric Bana, trained indeed in the deadly arts, hand to hand combat, gun skills and ninja training. “Always be ready… even when you’re sleeping.” He drills facts into her like a machine so she can rattle them off in the real world to appear normal. Why is this man training up his 16 year old daughter for these things I hear you say, well gather round and I shall regale.

Erik was an agent for the CIA, but his wife, Hanna’s mother was killed by Marissa (Cate Blanchett), a heartless intelligence agent. After the shooting Erik went rogue and took Hanna off with him. Hanna was created using altered DNA which gave her heightened senses and deadly reflexes, ultimately the “perfect soldier”, a fact that Marissa desperately wants and Erik desperately wants to protect.

The film starts off fast and keeps going. Ronan handles her action scenes brilliantly and let me assure you, probably because she’s from Carlow, but Saoirse is double hard and make no mistake about it, she will snap your neck, while not blinking an eye! Being ultimately a chase movie the settings change and has a distinct James Bond feel in some scenes. Wright has made an impressive little film here. Now if he could only persuade Hanna to do Emily Bronte: The Revenge, I would be very excited indeed!


4 / 5

Written by thepanch

September 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Film Reviews

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Sun, Sea, Sand…… and ham!!

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The Inbetweeners is for my money one of the funniest TV shows currently floating around the schedules at the moment. Granted you would be hard pressed to find it on it’s home station E4 as it plays second fiddle to Friends, Friends, Ugly Betty, Friends and…… oh, yeah Friends. Anyway, the show revolves around four losers, Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Jay (James Buckley). Will moves to a public school after his parents get divorced, a big shock as Will is quite middle class.

For three seasons (well two and a dodgy third), we saw the boys trudge through secondary school in monumentally embarrassing situations, most of which involve the opposite sex. So what do you do when your third series is a bit hit and miss and growing a bit samey-samey? You pack your heroes off on a foreign holiday and turn it into a film!

And that is exactly what the writers Damien Beesley, Iain Morris and Series 2 director Ben Palmer have done here. I know what you’re thinking. Oh, god it’ll be like Carry On Up the C*****, or Are You Being Served the Movie. Relax, dear reader your fears are unfounded. From the opening shot of Jay, in a compromising position with a webcam, a snorkel mask, latex glove and a packet of ham I laughed out loudly… Then I laughed again. This is just one of the hilarious set-ups they find themselves falling victim to in Magaluf.

That’s right, Jay’s granddad has died, and done left him an inheritance and he’s brought his mates on a foreign holiday. As suspected, there are women on the horizon. Well, in Simon’s case just the one, Carly Di Marco (the wagon). The boys fall in with four girls in the saddest nightclub in the city and they keep bumping into them throughout the movie.

Surprisingly, these recurring meetings give the film an unexpected emotional undercurrent that actually works really well, with Jay having the biggest character arc in the movie. They also make for some hilarious set pieces, my personal favourite being the rolled up €20 making an appearance from Jay’s body and being used as a drug accessory.

I was very, very weary when I heard about the film, the first thoughts that entered my head? “Cash in…. this is going to suck… worse than the third series….. they’re going abroad? Uuuuggghhh!!!” I eat my words. One of the funniest, laugh out loud films I have seen in the cinema in a long, long time. Far better than The Hangover 2, and demonstrates that all television shows do not have to fall apart when being transported to the big screen. Which reminds me, I’m still waiting to seek funding for my own TV spinoff, Glenroe: Blackie in Space! Keep your eyes peeled!!


4 / 5

Written by thepanch

September 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Auf Wiedersehen, Twat!!

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Brown Ale, Brian Johnson, Alan Shearer, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Nail. All things associated with and generally loved about Newcastle. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and in this case that love has been well and truly “bished” and “boshed” by Geordie Shore: Magaluf Madness. Reality television these days has lost its way somewhat. No longer a study in social interaction and human behaviour, it has morphed into a well oiled, structured machine, which in turn has a nasty habit of creating instant hate figures.

Any spoilt, snot nosed kid from My Super Sweet 16, the last four seasons of Big Brother and the twins of trouble, Jedward, however, they all pail in comparison to the cretins that inhabit MTV’s version of Newcastle. The show opens with a VT of the “stars”, a word that has as well lost all meaning. In these videos the tone of the show and their intelligence are shown.

“I’d never kiss a guy who didn’t have a six pack” – Charlotte-Letitia. The hyphen denotes an idiot before she oven opens her mouth, her parents must be rushing for copies of the show to throw around their neighbours coffee mornings. The guys do not fare much better. “I should have a degree in pulling birds.” – Gary. Come to the front of the queue, Gaz. No awards for “pulling birds” but I have several for being a twat, bring your polish.

The show follows our intrepid heroes as they have a week, sponsored by the licence fee I hasten to add, in Magaluf as they do what most people their age do on holidays I suppose. Drink, party, pull, drink, pull, party, drink, oh yes and a healthy dose of pettiness, backstabbing and regrettable drunken fumbles. All of which seem a tad fabricated. Case in point, Charlotte (I refuse to type a hyphen again) says she doesn’t “even like Gary”, despite mentioning his name in every second sentence, and slowly making his name her favourite word in the world.

This sorry back and forth drags for the entire two shows and they come off as morons. She says no, he persuades her, she relents, he shows no interest come the morning, she cries, and says “never again, he is a p****, that is it I will not be used ever again”…. until the following night. Jesus wept.

Jay, the most idiotic it has to be said spends every waking moment without a top on and talking nonsensical rubbish about “birds…drink and tan”. Yes, folks all the boys use spray tan extensively. Mind you, I can’t see where they find the time in the day spending five hours in the gym. If you thought Top Gun had some pretty strong homoerotic undercurrents, you clearly have not seen this show where both Gary and James repeatedly slap Jay on his bum, while wearing very little clothes. Shame Kenny Everett wasn’t around…..

I just noticed I have spent most of this column chewing this show out for being terrible, and yet I still watch it. I know, I know the irony of it all, and a lot of it has been focused on the boys. Jealous much, James? Not really, I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could be that much of a twat. Now…. the girls.

Charoltte uses a hypen in her name, in my book that instantly makes me dislike you. Holly spends most of the show embarrassing herself and her poor boyfriend back home. But they have an “agreement.” Doubtful…. Sophie and Vicky seem the most sensible, and as such are singled out by the others. Obviously free speech and independent thought is not a trait welcomed by certain women in Newcastle. If you haven’t seen the show, please do. The show has finished now, but you could probably catch it on I beg of you, please do.

In the interim, any thoughts on what I write here, please feel free to mail me on I do welcome feedback, positive or negative. Bring it all on, dear readers. And next month I am starting a column next week entitled “Movies That Are Vastly Over-Rated”, first on the chopping block? Gone With The Wind. Because, “Frankly, I don’t give a damn… pet!”




Written by thepanch

September 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Colm Breen

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“His hands were gentle, and his hands were strong…”

 The day before Colm died, he asked me to bring him down to the oratory. That previous week, he had spent a lot of time down there. On this particular day, he was insistent. So I wheeled him down and told him I’d be back in a bit. A bit passed, and I went to get him. When I opened the door, he greeted me with a huge smile. A smile that indeed triggered a memory in my subconscious.

That memory took place when I was 13 years old and we had just moved into Hempfield Close. A warm Saturday greeted me as I awoke and I decided to go into Charlie Cullen’s for a magazine and some fizzy cola bottles. To reach Cullen’s, the Breen’s house was en route. I could hear a worn, bur contented voice singing “In Mountjoy Jail, one Monday morning. High upon the gallows tree…”

I followed the voice to discover a shirtless Colm in the garden. Complete with chair, newspaper and a few bottles. I stopped and listened a while and took the whole song in. He stopped, looked up and winked at me. “Grand song that, chap.” I said it surely was and went on to Cullen’s.

Upon recalling that memory I smiled back at Colm and asked how he got on. He replied, “I’m grand now.” Then I wheeled him back to the ward and as it was signing off time, I left him in the room and said, “Now Colm, I’ll leave you at it. And I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye, Colm.” He smiled at me and waved a hand. “Goodbye.” Sadly, I didn’t get to see Colm the enxt day but I got to say goodbye and that makes me smile. Sleep well, Colm….





Written by thepanch

September 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Did Ya Hear The One About?

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Why did John Lennon get shot four times? Because Yoko ducked… The first response I got upon telling someone I was a Beatles fan. Was I offended? No. Did I laugh? You bet your life I laughed. Lennon fan or not, that is a funny joke. Simple as. A joke that is funny. Amy Winehouse died recently. There were similar jokes flying around hours after she died. People were outraged, incensed, and angry. They took to the internet by god!

They blogged their little hearts out and tweeted their disgust. How could we upstanding citizens laugh and point at a dead celebrity? Who were we to criticise, what would we know? There in lies the crux. Amy Winehouse was a celebrity who sadly could not control her demons, and they eventually got the better of her. Those demons ended up making a mother and father bury their daughter at just 27. But don’t feel bad if you laughed at a joke, dear reader.

These same bloggers were nowhere to be found when we all collectively pointed and laughed at Amy looking worst for wear falling out of some nightclub with her clothes half off, make up smudged and legs giving way. No one blogged when Amy repeatedly fell down and could not get back up, because the vast majority of people had no sympathy. “Just another celebrity with a drug problem…. Why should I care…? Aw poor little junkie.”
The woman clearly needed help and the only one that tried to do that was her father Mitch. He literally shoved her into rehab numerous times and tried to see his baby daughter free of the demons that would eventually claim her life. Suddenly Amy was beyond help and the papers spread the word of her death. The same papers that published those worse for wear photos, and worse.

So if you have received, sent or laughed at an Amy Winehouse joke fear not. You won’t burn in hell or be scorned in public. You simply reacted to a joke that happened to be about Amy Winehouse. On the other hand, I would urge you to think of her mother and father who regardless of her demons have still suffered the loss of their child. Although I’m sure you probably have because after all, we are a good Christian country…….

Written by thepanch

September 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

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