Tag Archives: World Cup

DCI Banks: A New ‘Tec On The Block.

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks. (Image: onenationmagazine.com)

It’s another new season on TV. The summer detritus has blown away like gas from a fibre diet. With the exception of Sherlock, there was nothing on TV worth investing valuable time. Even the World Cup wasn’t all it should have been.

So what is there to look forward to, now that the autumn schedule is almost in full swing? For sci-fi geeks like me, the return of Fringe and Stargate Universe has pride of place. For more down-to-earth entertainment, crime fans, like me, have two new series to look forward to. Mark Billingham’s creation Tom Thorne comes to Sky next month. I’m especially looking forward to this because I’ve read all of Billingham’s novels, and the casting of David Morrissey (he of The Next Doctor) is inspired.

Image: inspectorbanks.com

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks in a new two-part story for ITV called Aftermath. It’s based on the twelfth book of author Peter Robinson’s series featuring Banks. I’ve read the first book only, so I’m not familiar with him as I would be with Thorne. But it’s a solid enough start. Banks, like most TV detectives nowadays, comes with his own quirks and demons. He’s a divorced father of two (his ex-wife is pregnant by her new husband), he’s a devoted fan of Jazz music, and he sees his victims watching him as he searches for justice.

This is a twisted story, with enough going on to make come back and watch the second part next Monday. Tompkinson is a good actor; he has that drawn and haunted look that served him well when he played a conflicted Catholic parish priest in Ballykissangel. Provided it gets good reviews and the network are satisfied with the finished product, I can see DCI Banks becoming a regular fixture on our schedules.

To be honest, though, ever since John Thaw and Inspector Morse solved their final case and retired to the Great Police Station Up In The Sky, there has been a dearth of quality TV detective shows. I’m hoping that Banks and Thorne can address this.

On This Day…20 September

Monday, 20 September 2010

After what was a great weekend for Irish sport (Katie Taylor winning her third consecutive World Amateur Boxing title; Cork coming out on top to win their first All-Ireland championship in 20 years; the u-17s doing us proud in Trinidad & Tobago by reaching the World Cup quarter-finals – only to lose to Japan; Dimitar Berbatov scoring a hat-trick for Manchester United against Liverpool), I warmly welcome you to Monday, and another week of On This Day.

And so let’s get the show on the road, starting with this day in…

1519 – Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.

1633 – Galileo Galilei is tried before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for teaching that the Earth orbits the Sun. The CDF obviously thought the world revolved around them.

1857 – The Indian Rebellion of 1857 ends with the recapture of Delhi by troops loyal to the East India Company.

1881 – Chester A. Arthur is inaugurated as the 21st President of the United States following the assassination of James Garfield. Being the 21st, Chester got the key to the door of the White House.

1946 – The first Cannes Film Festival is held.

1967 – The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched at John Brown  & Company, Clydebank, Scotland. It is operated by the Cunard Line.

1973 – Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in The Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Houston Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

2000 – The British MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building is attacked by a Russian-built Mark 22 anti-tank missile. Where’s James Bond when you need him?

The beautiful Sophia Loren celebrates her 76th birthday today.

Sophia Loren: Age is but a number.

Also celebrating birthdays today are:

George R. R. Martin, American author of A Game of Thrones, is 62.

Gary Cole, American actor and star of The Brady Bunch, is 54.

Alannah Currie, New Zealander musician and singer with The Thompson Twins is 53.

My first ever live concert was The Thompson Twins, at the SFX Hall in Dublin. So sue me!

An Aardvark in South Africa: The Attack of the Vuvuzelas – Part Two

So many matches, so little time.

The “necessary documentation” I got from Acquisitions allowed me to teleport directly to Johannesburg for the opening ceremony. Us Higher Beings are not allowed to play willy-nilly with the laws of time and physics; Universal Travel Displacement Visas are required by all who wish to journey between dimensions. If this all sounds too Sapphire and Steel for you people, let me just say one thing: we took over from those clowns after the Thames Waterloo debacle. What was that? I hear you ask. Just one of those momentary lapses of reason that had to be sorted out. Trust me, you never ever want to see Napoleon Bonaparte dressed as a drag queen in Westminster Abbey. Your eyes would water. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was in South Africa.

The opening ceremony and the first game: the hosts, the mighty Bafana Bafana against Mexico, the country that decided it was a good idea to put a worm at the bottom of a bottle of Tequila. As opening ceremonies go, the South Africans matched that of the Olympiad of Ancient Greece. (I was around at the first one. I offered to give the poor marathon runners a ride on my Honda 50, but I was told that was against the spirit of the games. I was chased out of Athens by men in skirts, wielding spears and such.) There was colour, there was music, there was the sense of international camaraderie, of how sport would transcend politics, and there were vuvuzelas.

Love them or hate them, but you can't ignore themThere were lots and lots of vuvuzelas. During the ceremony I sent Jimbo a text. It’s mad here. All these horns going off. I can hardly hear myself think.

He replied back. They sound like mosquitoes. I’ve turned the sound down. By the way, what have you done with my Facebook account?

Nothing that I can’t undo when I come back, I texted back.

Bring me back a stick of rock, he replied.

Everyone in the stadium was full of the joy of life; but there was sadness there, too. The country’s patriarch, Nelson Mandela, was due to attend the ceremony but his great-granddaughter was tragically killed in a car accident days previously. South Africa mourned with him, as did I. It was hoped he would be around for the closing ceremony. But onto the match itself. The host nation wanted desperately to put on a good show for their many supporters and when Siphiwe Tshabalala buried the ball in the 55th minute, I could feel a continent uproot itself with cheering. The vuvuzelas made their presence felt. Unfortunately, a win was beyond the South Africans because Rafael Marquez equalised with ten minutes to go. A shame, really, but football is like that. It’s a funny old game; a game of two halves; a game were 22 men chase after a ball and if they don’t get it, they cry like babies. Sorry, that’s the French who do that.

I called HOH after the game, making sure he still wanted me to put that bet on. “Oh indeed,” he replied. “The word in the England camp is that Stevie Gerrard is chomping at the bit and Lampard is raring to have a go at the Yanks.”

“Fine,” I said. “It’s your gronag.”

The next match on the list was France against Uruguay. I decided to give that one a miss. My toenails needed a make-over. Besides, my own contacts said that the French didn’t give a merde.

Back in Ireland, the lads of Apres Match got together and petitioned FIFA to include the Republic’s soccer team in this year’s tournament. This is what they came up with.

An Aardvark in South Africa: The Attack of the Vuvuzelas – Part One

The World Is Watching.

Aardvarks don't need passports.

My initial request was greeted by a look of apprehension.  It’s not often a High Aardvark asks for an extended leave of absence. When one does, he is required to attend a face-to-face with the Highest of Highest: the Supreme Concordant – the being who oversees our duties on Earth. I was hoping to catch HOH on a good day. Seeing that it wasn’t a Monday, I reckoned my chances were good of a favourable conclusion. But I still had to put my case forward as well as I could. I was asking for a lot.

“Let me see,” HOH said. “You want to take leave, is that correct?”

“It is, Boss.”

“To go to South Africa.”

“It’s nice at this time of year. Not too warm, not too cold.”

“But you haven’t finished with Jimbo yet. Are you sure he can carry on without you?”

“Jimbo has been busy with other projects, Boss. I think it’s a safe time to leave him be. I have spies keeping an eye on him.”

“Spies?” HOH opened his eye wide. He didn’t know (or at least I hope he didn’t know) that we referred to him as The Great Eyeball whenever he wasn’t around around. “And who would these spies be, Alpha?”

Alpha, that’s me. You know me as Allie – Allie the Aardvark; but when I’m not on duty, when I come back  to The Centre for debriefing, I’m called Alpha. It’s fun being the first. I get the best gigs. But don’t mention Omega if you happen to find your way here. It’s a bit like asking for ketchup in a five star restaurant: you get that look.

“They wouldn’t be spies if I told you who they were, Boss. I’d be giving away their identities.”

“I am the Supreme Concordant, Alpha. You cannot hide anything from me.” He knows how to throw his weight around, does HOH. I was going to have to fudge this somehow.

“I call them the Book of Faces. They are a canny lot. If Jimbo goes offside, he will be poked, liked, walled, friended and tagged until he steps back in line.”

“And what if he doesn’t?”

“The ultimate in torture.”

“Tell me more.”

I sat up in my chair. It was time for endgame. “He will be blocked, hidden and unfriended.”

“That sounds horrible.” I had HOH rattling. Good, I thought. He’s coming around. “And your convinced this will work?”

“Yes, it will.”

He looked down at my list of requests, his eye rapidly blinking. “You wish to be released from the Union Bond. Why is that?”

The Union Bond is shared between High Aardvarks and their clients. It means that only the client can hear what we are saying. To everyone else we are mute. Some Aardvarks, myself included, like to have a little fun with this. As long as we don’t go too far, it’s generally overlooked. Even HOH likes to have a laugh now and again.

“Because I technically won’t be on a mission. It’s my downtime, Boss, and I want to let my hair down.”

“You don’t have any hair, Alpha.”

“I meant that metaphorically. I want to chill the beans, let off some steam, hang loose.”

“You’ve been in Dublin too long, I fear. Maybe you do need a holiday. Your request is granted.” He rubber-stamped my application form.


“What about my other requirements?” I asked.

“Ah yes,” he said. “I can see no problem with granting you the necessary documents. I’ll ask Pi in Acquisitions to send them down to you.”

“You’re very good, Boss.”

“How long will you be gone for?”

“No more than six weeks.”

“For a football match?”

“64 football matches,” I replied.

He sighed. “Thank the Universal Overseer it’s not the Cricket World Cup you’re going to, Alpha. You’d be gone for four years.” He stood up. “I suppose you’ll be heading away soon.”

“Soon enough.”

He rummaged through his waistcoat and pulled out his wallet. He handed me 500 gronags. “Put this on England for me, will you? To win. I reckon they’ve a good chance this time. Rooney’s on fire.”

I took his money “No problem, Boss. Say hello to the good lady for me.”

And that was that. I was off to South Africa to see the World Cup. Who was I going to support? Certainly not France, that’s for sure.