In times like these, Mary Harney could do worse than listen to The Ray D'Arcy Show. Although Ray had little sympathy for 'Bloody Mary' on Tuesday, she might well enjoy the sheer triviality of the show. Sometimes I tune in to Ray when I want to be 19 again (which is often, these days) and it always seems to work.
Whether it's the 'Odd One Out' quiz looking for contestants that like wearing slippers (on Tuesday, incidentally), or Jenny sharing her contempt for Cheryl Cole (ditto), it's amazing how wonderfully empty one feels after listening in.
Considering how sex-obsessed the show is, maybe that feeling is the radio equivalent of la petite mort. Embarrassing sex seems to be the show's metier. On Wednesday, a texter reported that on his first night with his girlfriend she turned around and "looked at his manhood" only to remark, "that's cute". This was gravy for Ray and Jenny, who bounced off each other in their usual fumbling way.
Ray loves ruminating on all matters Mars and Venus. How about the 'news' on Tuesday that Stephen Fry, in an interview with gay magazine Attitude, reckoned women only had sex with men to preserve their relationships; if they actually liked sex they would be found cruising around Hampstead Heath and such places looking for sex. It was surely obvious to all that Fry, an extremely clever individual, had had his quotes taken out of context or was simply having a laugh. But Ray was slightly flummoxed. If Fry tuned into the show every once in a while, Ray said, he would understand the differences between the sexes. And I think he meant it.
When Quentin Fottrell joined the gang the next day some semblance of maturity was introduced, which is important. Fottrell is a great foil to the sniggering child in all of us and Ray's amateur psychological musings are often given gravitas by Fottrell.
But just when we thought we had exhausted all the sex a dreary Wednesday morning can handle, über-solicitor Gerald Kean came on the phone to clear up the Neil Prendeville onanism controversy. Or at least to bat for him.
If ever there was a story made for The Ray D'Arcy Show, this was it. Kean was in fire-fighting mode. "He remembers absolutely nothing about the flight," he reiterated, "and has apologised profusely. He has done a lot of work for charity, blah, blah, blah." This was an extremely serious matter, apparently. For Prendeville, the passengers and the Cork marketing body from whose shindig the lot of them were returning, maybe... but the rest of us?
Kean kept emphasising the Nurofen Plus (ah, if only it had been Solpadeine) and the drink. The damned drink has been responsible for so much entertainment this year.
In fairness to D'Arcy, he seemed a little reluctant to make moral hay of a clearly stupid event. Kean kept saying Prendeville remembered nothing of the flight. And he had a neck injury, which we all know is usually curable by a load of Nurofen Plus and pints. "Is that an excuse or a reason," asked Ray, clearly tiring of Kean's party line. "Can you excuse someone's behaviour from drink?" "No. No..." said Kean, "that's a matter for the guards."
As are Bertie Ahern's parking habits, according to Ronan Casey, guesting with Hector on his awesome 'Medium Sized Town, Fairly Big Story' slot. After a dodgy start, Hector Ó hEochagáin seems to be finding his feet on 2FM. He's shouting less and having more of the craic, making it one of the few shows that actually pointedly celebrates the maddening predicament it is to be Irish these days.
Even his negative stories attempt to unearth the unique Irishness that underpins them. That's why the slot that trawls through the regional papers, while not original (Murph does a sporting version on Off the Ball on Newstalk), provides endless laughs. None was funnier than Bertie's alleged penchant for parking his taxpayer-funded limo on the footpath outside St Luke's.
According to the Northside People, Bertie's constituents have had enough and will not take it anymore. Well, said Hector, they will because the car is driven by a cop. Hence no tickets.