George Hook's blog

On the sports field, like in most things, self praise is no praise, says George Hook

11/04/14 at 08:25 AM | 0 Comments

There is a Room 101 in my head and I am running out of space. It's been a while since I last watched an episode and I've been told that Frank Skinner presents the current edition of the TV show. For those who haven't seen it, the idea is very simple. People come on and air their grievances - things that really get up their noses - and they explain why they feel their gripes are worthy of a place on the conveyor belt.

The mark of a true leader is someone who shows character when things aren't going well, says George Hook

04/04/14 at 09:12 AM | 0 Comments

A visibly shook Enda Kenny gave the graveside oration at the funeral of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden (pictured) last week. An Taoiseach struggled for composure as he described his former colleague's battle with motor neurone disease and the courage with which she faced her awful fate.

Her family and friends spoke of their admiration for the bravery Nicky displayed right up until the end. Her commitment to fight in the face of hopelessness, her determination to work on until her body gave out, it must have been so difficult. In the most horrific of circumstances, the Athlone TD revealed her true self to the world. Her dignity and courage was nothing short of remarkable.

I thought of my old friend Colm Murray. The former broadcaster displayed the same grit and determination after his shock diagnosis and while there could be no cure for him, Colm willingly offered himself forward for research and analysis so that one day, others might be saved.

As Shakespeare knew, words, in any form and at any stage, make a mark, says George Hook. And with his own words, Martin Callinan sealed his fate

28/03/14 at 09:15 AM | 0 Comments

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest wordsmiths the world has ever known. His plays, sonnets and soliloquies have wrapped the literary world in wonder for many, many years.

Shakespeare's gift with words was extraordinary. He could blow a stagnant plot to smithereens with the gentle slide of a question mark. He could transform a villain to the shrines of heroism with one simple sentence. Still, to this day, the world marvels at his prose and continues to learn from his literary craftsmanship.

Words poured from his brain like sprinkling trinkets from a fountain. Shakespeare had an incredible gift for narrative arrangement and a deep understanding of the potential of language. He pushed boundaries, he was a perfectionist and he chose every word with the delicacy and care of a man crossing a minefield. 

Ruby Walsh is a brave athlete who has based his career on his love of horses, says George Hook, so why is he receiving death threats from animal rights campaigners?

21/03/14 at 09:35 AM | 0 Comments

They ought to know better, the Humanimals. Rallying a cause is one thing, but singling out one of Ireland's greatest ever sportsmen and berating him for speaking perfect sense is idiotic in the extreme. Then again, I expect nothing less from these bile spewing fantasists.

Humanimals, I call them. I got the idea watching television with my three-year-old granddaughter recently. She is addicted to a cartoon show called Pyjanimals; animals dressed in pyjamas.  Humanimals is a variation of that; humans who place more value on animals than they do their own kind.

Humanimals cannot be reasoned with. The force of their vigour and the deafening shriek at which they argue their cause gives little chance for reasonable debate. I have always believed that the most ignorant people in society shout the loudest. In this case, my theory has been proven correct.

Scientology, like Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and every other major religion, asks its followers to take a leap of faith, says George Hook

14/03/14 at 09:29 AM | 0 Comments

Sunday night at the Oscars and everything is going splendidly. Everyone is hitting their lines, the hostess Ellen Degeneres is keeping the show ticking over nicely, the winners are happy and the losers gracious in defeat. Then, out of nowhere, Mr Saturday Night Fever opens his chiseled jaw and spoils the party.

I never really understood the fascination with John Travolta. Sure, he could dance and shake his tush in a pair of outrageous white flares, but... well let's just say I never found him the most engaging of interviewees and leave it at that.

Anyway. Up steps Travolta, teeth flashing, smile stuck in second gear and a glazed look that seemed to suggest he was on another planet, when disaster strikes. Bad enough that he looked about as interested as a vegetarian at a barbecue, but he couldn't even remember the name of the artist he was supposed to be introducing.

Just how far is the Russian president willing to go in his pursuit of Ukraine and beyond, asks George Hook

07/03/14 at 10:09 AM | 0 Comments

Human beings naturally fear the unknown. A shadow lurking in the back garden changes from menacing intruder to a swaying tree branch in the blink of a porch light. A stranger approaching in a dark lane turns from potential danger to next door neighbour in a matter of strides. The unfamiliar can often be threatening until it is shown in a more familiar light.

Where people are concerned, the potential for menace often coincides with a lack of familiarity.  The more two people get to know each other, the less likely it is that one will feel threatened by the other.

Think back to your childhood and the school yard bully. Think of how that bully cast a shadow over everyone else; even the bigger, stronger pupils. Bullies are often so effective in their intimidation because of a combination of physical strength and psychological instability.

It isn't that a bully can beat me up, it is that he is more likely to do so.

"Time has the ability to catch out even the best liar," says George Hook, "I know this because I was one."

28/02/14 at 09:18 AM | 0 Comments

Is it ever okay to tell a lie? Of course it is, because everybody does it. People lie every day without even realising it. Politicians lie, teachers lie, lawyers lie, even priests lie. Lying is so common place that it has almost become part of our subconscious.  

Like most things in life, lying becomes easier with practice. The more a person lies the more they believe the falsity of what they are saying. A good liar will actually convince themselves that what they are saying is the truth, no matter how far removed from the reality of what really happened.  Thus, good liars are very difficult to spot.

Climate change is a global responsibility and we all have a duty to protect the next generation from potential disaster, says George Hook

21/02/14 at 08:01 AM | 0 Comments

The quandary of coincidence; easy to suggest, difficult to prove. Coincidence relies on the coming together of incident, time and place in exactly the right order at an appropriate moment. A coincidence ventured in unusual circumstances can just as easily be dismissed as embraced, depending on its relative merits. At its most basic level, however, coincidence is an excitable justification for an unusual sequence of events.

Scientists often use coincidence to dismiss emerging or unproven scientific theories. Often, senior medical professionals will turn up their noses at a new treatment until they are shown the evidential factors and root causes behind its success. A one-off therapy to relieve a serious ailment can often be attributed to coincidence or other external factors. In the medical profession, in particular, scepticism over any new breakthrough has become a necessity to guard against mediocrity or even malpractice.

Cowardice travels in many forms, says George Hook, but I have yet to find a match for the low life cretiny of the internet troll

14/02/14 at 10:20 AM | 0 Comments

Any man that has my measure, come and meet me, face to face.

Then, with tools of our displeasure, let us roll about the place.

Do not distract us, one and all, our fate it rests on other's arms.

For who shall stand and who should fall, is left to draw on other's charms.

Through word or fist, or knife or draw, the world will show us in our shame,

And we shall leave from whence we came, our heads held high with our good name.

 

My father always told me that a man's last stand is a reflection of his character. When all reasonable options expire, he said, face your tormentor and trust the plant of your foot.

Despite the assertions of Panti Bliss, Ireland has a record of fairness in debating contentious issues, says George Hook

07/02/14 at 09:34 AM | 0 Comments

Going to court in Ireland on the issue of libel is a risky business. Irish juries have awarded millions of euro where they felt the injured party’s good name had been damaged.

Despite the huge awards the legal costs can dwarf the damages. It is a principle of law that the costs of both the plaintiff and defendant are borne by the loser. For an individual it can be ruinous and seriously damaging to the balance sheet of a company.

In the last week, RTE paid an €85,000 libel settlement to journalist John Waters and the Catholic think-tank, the Iona Institute. The state broadcaster was slated for what was seen as a hasty action.

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