On Saturday, Gareth took me on a tour of the finest pick-up joints in Cork. We spluttered together, evil Dublin and Limerick spies, watching the crowds that split girl/boy as neatly as if they were still under the thumb of the Christian Brothers and nuns. Cork men wear those Tin-Tin quiffs–bless–except for the brave types who go for bizarro boyband spikes. They orbited the gangs of women, who focused all of their very confident attention on each other, tossing hair and comparing tops. The women wore halternecks, straight-ironed hair, and tans, and they looked much better than we did ten years ago, when UCD girls shrouded ourselves in bulky sweaters and jeans for fear a provocative curve might show. They also looked better than Irish lads, who tend to wear beer bellies scarily young.
“She asked for a six-pack and he gave her the whole keg,” says Gar with a smirk.
The tan thing, though. This bothers me. Irish skin is clear and fair, but no longer good enough for local breeding purposes. My beautiful youngest sister never heads for a night on the town without tinting her skin. Our female TV presenters are orange, and so are the Aer Lingus flight attendants. At Irish dancing competitions, a subculture that has become as creepy as the junior beauty pageants of Jon-Benet Ramsey, fake tan is obligatory for seven-year-old girls. I asked Gareth, my one-man poll of Irish singles, if he liked fake tans. He shrugged. They looked fine, he supposed, but he didn’t know why they did it.
Last week I read that Accuvue is launching a new range of coloured contact lenses for daily wear in Ireland. All kinds of colours will be available, they said, but they expect the most popular choice to be Chestnut Brown. Brown eyes: double-dominant genes that are the default setting across 95% of the world. We Irish are a potato-faced lot, but from even the spuddiest faces shine jewel-coloured eyes. Yet our bias is pronounced. It is the _Brown-Eyed Girl_ that Van Morrison serenades.
Imagine a streaky Molly Bloom. Picture Jennifer Connelly with fake brown eyes and an orange tan, and weep. We have few enough natural resources as it is. Listen, lads, buy Irish. Don’t put out for these homegrown Donatella Versaces, and they’ll soon see sense.