An Phoblacht 2 - 2022 small

14 January 1999 Edition

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Television: Rats and sinking ships

Rat (Channel 4)
Lost at Sea (C4)
In Memory of Stephen (BBC1)
World Darts Championship (BBC2)
Believe it or not rats are ``good lifers'', after the same things in life as ourselves - food, and an easy number - ``they are not our enemy but rather wish to live in peace and harmony'', so said the lady on Channel 4's hilarious yet horrifying ``Rat'' documentary based on the relationship between rat and man in New York.

This was one of those programmes where one knows that one will regret later on but can't help oneself.

Did you know that rats are very social animals and travel with family and in-laws when on the prowl (in your attic maybe)? Or that the word rat means ``gnawing animal'' (through your pipes perhaps)? Or that they spread disease because they can't control their bowels (under your sink I'll bet)? Or that one hundred and eighty four New Yorkers were bitten by the furry fellow last year (compared to 1,102 bitten by fellow humans)?

They tend to hang out in sewers as they provide a perfect environment - safe place in which to eat, breathe and travel - using the sewers as a highway uptown or downtown, depending where the tastiest garbage dumps are.

Practically everyone has a rodent tale, but none quite so chilling as those of Diana or Alex, narrated as the furry fellows scuttled about to classical music in this novel programme.

Alex could put up with the gnawing and scratching in the attic, but ``when I woke up with one on my stomach - I could feel his nails on my belly, I felt like Dick Whittington and knew I had to act''. After much effort he captured many Rolands and his colleagues in cages and released them into a restaurant, from where he was barred, on account of being too scruffy. The restaurant has since closed down.

Diana and Sabrina had their Bronx house party rudely interrupted when the little rodents couldn't resist the smell of the parmesan cheese on their lasagne and appeared on their hind legs in the sitting room, dipping into the goodies.

Diana took ``a swig of whiskey and a 2 by 4'' and took on the raiders, followed by traps, cages and knives, but all to no avail as they ``were here to conquer''. Diana abandoned her place of abode.

The bad news is ``as long as there's garbage there'll be rats, some as big as a house'', which is probably not too far from where you're currently sitting, but do not be afraid - as long as you carry a naggin of the hard stuff and a good hurley you'll be sorted.

I'm off to check under the bed.

A lot more chilling than the rodents was the opening sequence of ``Lost at Sea'' where the stricken sea vessel, ``The Mary Jane'' sank in seconds in the North Atlantic.

Filmed from the deck of a neighbouring vessel, what was striking was the complete bewilderment of the crew and the speed with which she went down, as did ``The Estonia'' in Europe's worst ever ferry disaster in the Baltic Sea, where only thirty four survived out of a total of nine hundred passengers and crew.

A ``Jim Dandy'' of a storm blew open the bow door, tilting the ship over into the freezing waters, where the sea ``resembled a human soup'' and ``death was a nice place to be''.

Subsequent controversy as to how the ship sank continues to this day.

Speaking of cover-up, it is now six years since an Israeli airliner crashed into a block of flats in Amsterdam, probably containing poison agents that comprise the deadly Sarin nerve gas. After much sickness among the locals and political pressure the Dutch government has agreed to a public inquiry, but don't hold your breath.

Likewise with the results of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Stephen Lawrence was stabbed by five racist hoods at a London bus stop five years ago. Stephen, as highlighted by his father Neville in ``In Memory of Stephen'', has since become the symbol of the fight for equailty and justice in the face of state corruption.

Unfortunately the behaviour and subsequent investigations into his murder mirror the efforts of the RUC in the wake of the deaths of Sean Downes, Aidan McAnespie, Bloody Sunday etc. because ``a black life is of less value than that of a white one''.

There are a number of striking similarities to be seen between the London Metropolitan Police and the RUC - a disdain for the black population and a complete failure to address their problems, follow up assaults and so on and a readiness to arrest a black person when desired.

The force is less than 4% black, despite the fact that they comprise 20% of the population, and only 10 out of 350 complaints have been substantiated in the last year. Unlike the RUC however the Met realise they have a problem, have apologized to the Lawrence family and have shown some willingness to reform.

The attitudes and views of the racist thugs is similar to that of loyalist killers.

Similar to the residents of the Garvaghy Road, Neville reminds the black populace ``to remain strong as the cops haven't learned anything''.

The World Darts Championships is fast following the route of snooker, devoid of any characters, with many contestants possessing similar personality as their boards, with the honourable exception of Andy ``The Viking'' Fordham, complete with Gargantuan beard, beerbelly and pony tail.

Victory was not to be his however although he had his moments.

Now who remembers Bill Werbeneuk?

By Sean O Donaile

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