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A Different View

Extreme ironing could put the passion into pressing

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There is a fledgling sport known as extreme ironing where people take ironing boards, clothes and irons to perilous places – top of mountains, ski slopes, into a white water raft – and risk life and limb as, at the same time, they take the creases out of their tee-shirts.

According to the Extreme Ironing Bureau, extreme ironing is “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”.

I mention this against the backdrop of recent comments from the self-styled Domestic Goddess, Kirstie Allsopp – presenter of Location, Location, Location – who opened a can of worms by claiming that women secretly love doing the ironing because it keeps them sane.

If positive mental health was a side-effect of ironing your clothes, I’d be a lot saner than I am now – because by default rather than any design on my part, I’m the principal ironing board operator in our house.

That said, the closest I’ve come to extreme ironing is trying to do shirt collars while watching football on the telly. It may not equate to scaling the Alps but it can still hurt when you burn your hand while not concentrating on the hazardous task at hand. 

Kirstie – or to give her her proper title, the Honourable Kirstie Allsopp – believes that women secretly love doing chores like ironing and many find it soothing to do mundane tasks around the house.

“I’m absolutely convinced that those repetitive tasks that one does every day, organising and regularising one’s home, and keeping it tidy, is enormously therapeutic. I know it is for me, and I have many, many working mum friends who feel the same,” she said recently.

Let’s hope she’s more authentic than that other Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson, who was happy to bake all the Christmas cake you could imagine when the cameras were rolling – but then hired the caterers in to do the real thing when Yuletide actually came over the horizon.

The truth of the matter is that nobody likes ironing; it is boring, repetitive and never-ending. But if it isn’t done, then clothes multiply like rampant rabbits and take over the downstairs of your house.

That’s why it would be good if extreme ironing was more than a niche sport … if it actually made it onto the list for the Olympics, for example.

Because then it would be seen as a manly pursuit, a dangerous hobby, a challenge as opposed to a chore.

Purists of the sport claim that it was started in 1997 in the English city of Leicester by resident Phil Shaw in his back garden. With ironing on the agenda but preferring the idea of an evening out rock climbing, he decided to combine the two activities into a new extreme sport.

In June 1999, Shaw, who uses the nickname ‘Steam’, embarked on an international tour to promote the activity across the US, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

An encounter with German tourists in New Zealand led to the formation of Extreme Ironing International, and the German Extreme Ironing Section or GEIS.

According to Wikipedia, some locations where such extreme ironing have taken place include the side of a mountain; a forest; in a canoe; while skiing or snowboarding; in the middle of a street; underwater; whilst parachuting, and under the ice cover of a lake.

As extreme ironing has branched off, the conditions can gain in extreme activity – variations now include ironing and bungee jumping which really would have to be seen to be believed.

In March 2008, a team of 72 divers simultaneously ironing underwater set a new world’s record for number of people ironing underwater at once – which sort of defeats the purpose in that the whole point of ironing is to do it when the clothes are dry.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Let ordinary mortals underline how extraordinary Olympians are

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A wit suggested on Twitter that – in order for the rest of us to realise how difficult Olympic Games disciplines are, and how talented the elite athletes who contest them are too – you’d need to tee it up by asking an ordinary, unfit, uncoordinated member of the public to give it a go first.

Take gymnastics as an example; these ultra-flexible competitors who fling themselves from two parallel bars or form a crucifix on the rings eight or ten feet off the ground, or who vault into the clouds, or spin ten different ways through the air from a standing start and land like a stone on soft sand.

And yet, experts that we become after an hour or two watching the telly, we wince when they get it just the smallest bit wrong – ‘marks gone there; not a solid landing that time’ kind of thing.

The reality is that, if we were doing it, we’d be lucky to just hang onto the rings for ten seconds without ripping our arms from their sockets, never mind extending them to make rock-solid right angles with our bodies.

Even the floor routine would be a hundred steps too far, unless it becomes a thing to embrace a little bit of dad-dancing and maybe breaking into a helicopter spin, just as a final nod to our disco days.

How about taking a shot at dressage – or as comedian Laura Lexx put it in her Twitter suggestion, getting on a horse and trying to make her dance like a sexy crab on ants?

Or the pole vault, where you give someone a massive length of Wavin pipe and persuade them to use that to try and jump over a bar that’s roughly the height of the roof on their own house.

White-water rafting – where the best you could hope for was not to drown, followed by not getting knocked-out by those gates you’re supposed to sally through as though you’re ambling over a stile on a relaxing country walk.

Instead, we tut and sigh when they glance off these gates as though they’d failed to reverse-park a small car into two adjoining parking spots.

Read the full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Grandparents may well be the greatest gift of all

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

My mother-in-law is the greatest grandmother on earth, although she’s the only one who doesn’t know it. Not because she’s modest – although she always was – but because she has dementia and struggles to know her own family, never mind their children.

Yet she was there, every step of the way – not just for our two, but for every single one of her 19 grandchildren; minding them, nurturing, entertaining, caring for them, for well over three decades from oldest to youngest.

Kay wasn’t alone for the most of that journey, because Tom in turn was the best grandfather – doing all of those things too, and also instilling a love of simple things into another generation . . . birds, flowers, cats, songs about townlands.

He also embraced things unfamiliar to his world – Thomas the Tank Engine, the Teletubbies, even PlayStation although that remained largely a mystery, as did the fact that anyone would watch soccer when there was a chance to enjoy hurling.

“You’ve been watching this for hours and there isn’t even one score. If this was hurling, you’d have seen 50 of them,” he’d tell the Liverpool fans, enthralled by another scoreless classic.

The beauty of it was that the Kay and Tom got to meet, enjoy and educate every single one of those 17 grandchildren, and there will be no more – because even science can’t produce surprises like that at this stage.

They also got to know a few of their great-grandchildren, although dementia for one of them, followed too quickly by death for the other, didn’t really allow them to pass on the great gifts they had already imbued in their grandchildren.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

No great rush to mend the error of your ways!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was St Augustine who famously petitioned in prayer: ‘God, make me good – but just not yet’. It’s a sentiment that one Sister Mary Joseph took to whole new levels, because after spending her first 61 years as a high-living heiress, she spent the last three decades as a cloistered nun.

And she closed one chapter to open another one back in 1989 with a party for 800 of her closest friends at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco – so many guests that the hostess carried a helium balloon all night, with the words “Here I Am” so that people could find her amid the throng.

The next day the former Ann Russell Miller flew to Chicago and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a novitiate, spending the rest of her life as Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity.

Or as one of her 28 grandchildren put it: “It was like The Great Gatsby turned into The Sound of Music.”

Her recent obituary in the Times painted quite the colourful picture of a lover of the high life turned Holy Roller.

“She smoked, drank champagne, played cards, spent five hours a day on the telephone and, as an expert scuba diver and enthusiastic skier, travelled around the world.

“She had a season ticket to the opera, was a high-society patron of many charitable causes and drove her sports car at such reckless speeds that, according to her son Mark, ‘people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on an imaginary brake’.”

Because if ever a life could be described as a tale of two-thirds of high living and one-third of contemplation, this was it; the mother of ten who enjoyed the casual company of celebrity friends like Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope opted for an order which allowed her one visitor a month – and even then no touching given the two rows of iron bars between them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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