George Hook's blog

Equality is a fine ambition, says George Hook, but recent events in society, sports and politics have proven that we’re still far from that noble goal

22/01/15 at 11:26 PM | 0 Comments

What is your understanding of the word equality? What do the terms 'equal status' and 'fair treatment for all' actually mean in Ireland in 2015? Does true equality exist here? Or do we pay lip–service to the notion that Irish society is all encompassing, all inclusive and fair?

All things being equal, the current generation of home buyers would not have to pay for the sins of the past. The financial regulator’s latest proposals to hike the minimum deposit needed to obtain a mortgage from 10% to 20% is a hammer blow for young people on the cusp of venturing into the property market.

Trying to save money, in today's economic climate, is a difficult struggle for most. Tax rates are extortionate, the cost of living is too high and the impact of Ireland's recovery has yet to translate into extra money in peoples pockets.

Qui est Charlie? George Hook reminds us that free speech must also include the right to not speak, no matter how important or historic the subject, and that the fight to do the right thing takes many forms.

15/01/15 at 11:36 PM | 0 Comments

The right to free speech stands as one of the immovable pillars of the Irish constitution. It is the platform through which citizens of this country are free to express themselves, however they see fit, and without fear of reprisal or recrimination.

The human brain provides for reason, argument, analysis and debate and where conflict comes as a matter of course, Ireland has remedies in legislation to deal with any issues that might arise.

Free speech ties most of Europe in a common bond of understanding and where democracy leads a state, a persons right to free expression is usually guaranteed.

I do not agree with what you say, sir, but I will defend to the end your right to say it.

For me, as a working journalist, an intrusion on free expression is akin to a personal assault. Save for breaches of defamation law, I could not imagine living in a country where a person’s right to free expression is tapered or diluted in any way.

Recovering from a stay in hospital, George Hook demands nothing less than total reform of the health service as hundreds wait on trolleys

09/01/15 at 12:08 AM | 0 Comments

“Dear sir I write this note to you to tell you of my plight. For at the time of writing I am not a pretty sight. My knee is all black and blue, my face a deathly grey. And I write this note to say why George is not at work today…”

The Dubliners with the late Ronnie Drew sang it best and Sick Note certainly applies to yours truly this week. It is a strange experience walking in the door of a hospital and handing oneself over, completely and entirely, into the hands of another person.

If one thinks about it properly, as I have countless times in recent weeks, the whole process could drive a person to distraction. To a sick patient, a surgeon is divinity on earth. He or she has the power of life in their skilled, steady hands, yet the only relevant measure of their worth for a patient is a few brief consultations before an operation.

The admonition to play fair doesn’t just apply to player and officials, says George Hook

01/01/15 at 09:33 PM | 0 Comments

The admonition to play fair doesn’t just apply to player and officials, says George Hook: what sort of example does it set for young members of sports teams when adults freely hurl abuse at not only the referee and the linesmen, but at them too?

In the run up to Christmas, the GAA launched a recruitment campaign to try and attract more referees into hurling and football across the country. During December, GAA President Liam O'Neill rallied the troops and issued a public plea aimed at boosting the numbers of volunteers in refereeing at all levels within the association.

The push to recruit new faces came amid increasing concerns at the dwindling numbers of referees in certain counties across the country, where the GAA had been struggling to replace retiring officials with younger volunteers.

The declining numbers must have been a cause for serious concern in the GAA, such was the enthusiasm which greeted their recruitment campaign.

Whether you think something is a sport or not is irrelevant, says George Hook: It’s all in the game.

01/01/15 at 09:14 PM | 0 Comments

You have to hand it to Barry Hearne, the sporting events promoter. The man sure knows how to sell a product and hype up the machine. There was a time, not so long ago, when darts was consigned to the outer reaches of the BBC television schedule; a bit–part pastime for beer swilling bar boffins with steady hands.

Now, the PDC World Championships take centre stage in the Sky Sports Christmas line-up. The big push is already on this year to attract the numbers in. It even has its own dedicated channel!

Hearne deserves a lot of credit for taking a mediocre sideshow on the sporting calendar and transforming it into a party time festival of large crowds, loud music, and exciting darts. It is amazing what one man with a clear and well thought out vision can achieve. Know your market, right?

What do Victoria’s Secret models, Hozier, hosiery, George Hook’s undercarriage and the lovely Ingrid’s laundry all have in common?

11/12/14 at 11:49 PM | 0 Comments

I am probably the last person in the country who would be invited to a Victoria’s Secret fashion show. I appreciate feminine beauty in all of its forms, of course, but I am a married man in my mid seventies. What in god’s name would I be doing at a lingerie fashion show?

Unless I was planning on investing in the trade, or setting up a new knickers range, I would have absolutely no business gawking at a bunch of twentysomethings parading around in their underwear.  

In fact, were I to turn up at such an undie extravaganza, you would be well within your rights to point me in the direction of the nearest Spec Savers or call the police and have me arrested.

This is George Hook we are talking about. I am a grandfather several times over, for crying out loud. I thought Victoria's Secret was something the former queen of England kept to herself on her deathbed at the turn of the 20th century.

There’s more to Christmas than gifts and food, says George Hook, but even the spiritual side of the season must give in to change and financial pressure

05/12/14 at 12:05 AM | 0 Comments

The smell of Christmas whistles through the air this week. I can almost taste the festive mood as families flock to Santa's grotto and consumers bustle to fill their bags with the magical ingredients for a perfect day. Social invitations fly through my letter box and the urgency of preparation creeps up behind us all.

I often think that the build up to December 25th is more enjoyable than the day itself. It certainly lasts longer and I find that the anticipation of the day is almost always better than the reality that unfolds. Still, even with this knowledge, I look forward to what is to come.

There was a time when Christmas was but a blip on my radar. So consumed was I with keeping my head above water that the thoughts of Santa Claus and presents was but another financial obstacle to be negotiated; another cheque that had to be bluffed.

Katie Taylor’s astonishing devotion, discipline and dedication are ideals to which we can all aspire

28/11/14 at 02:12 AM | 0 Comments

Katie Taylor’s astonishing devotion, discipline and dedication are ideals to which we can all aspire, says George Hook, who counts the boxing world champion among the finest athletes Ireland has ever seen.

The margin between success and failure at elite level sport can be measured by the width of a strand of hair. Pádraig Harrington once described the key to his success on the golf course as 95% perspiration, 5% inspiration. The three-time major winner, as one of the most dogged and disciplined in his field, was suitably well qualified to comment.

So, when the scope for genius is reduced to a mere fraction of the overall performance, we can safely deduce that those that are willing to put the work and time into the pursuit of excellence will be better placed to take advantage of whatever inherent talent they possessed at the outset.

There is a line across which, even at the height of fervour, decent people must not go, says George Hook. When peaceful protests become violent, that line has definitely been crossed.

20/11/14 at 11:58 PM | 0 Comments

The borderline is an invisible line between right and wrong; an undocumented barrier to anarchy and an important marker between respect and intolerance.

It’s a wavering line that serves as a hidden separation between two frustrated parties and it provides a subconscious division between what society deems to be acceptable and what it does not. Without such a borderline, society's morals would be fudged into confusion and lawlessness.

The defining characteristics of this line in any one individual are determined by a number of factors, including education, integrity, empathy and the subjective power of conscience.

Where the latter is concerned, a show of restraint in the face of overwhelming anger and frustration might allow two sides to engage in a meaningful and productive debate that may not have otherwise been possible.

We are becoming a nation of softies, spoiled and cossted by modern conveniences and ruined by the ‘quick fix’, says a highly evolved George Hook.

14/11/14 at 12:04 AM | 0 Comments

In tandem with the advances in toilet paper over the years, we have all been getting softer with time. Time was, when I was a lad, I could walk into a cubicle in a public house and wipe my backside with the front page of the Irish Express and I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

Today, my delicate posterior wouldn't survive two aggressive scrubs with such coarse material without an inevitable outbreak of piles.

No, today's George Hook is pampered with lotions and oils to protect his sensitive buttocks from the horrors of rash and abrasion. I demand a certain standard of tissue on my derrière and I refuse to suffer an inferior product.

My younger self would consider the present day Hook a snob and a wimp. But today, I am as rational and reasonable as the next alpha male. Society has universally shifted its standard of living from basic necessity to spoiled pomposity in a matter of decades and we are all the softer for it.

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