Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on fiddly bottles, hats in bed and fury erupting in Dublin

Considering how big it is, how close it is and how strong are our family links to it, we don't get much news out of Ireland. Even the TV and online weather forecasts tend to ignore it, dwelling on anti-cyclones over Belfast, but not over Dublin. We are left with the impression that the Republic of Ireland is a rather quiet sort of place where cheery, contented, multi-cultural folk are up for the craic and rubbing along nicely.

Mayhem by the Liffey

And then out of the blue (or possibly the green), the centre of Dublin suddenly erupts in an orgy of violence. I was reminded of the footage from Ulster when the Troubles kicked off in 1969. Everyone could see what what was happening, but nobody had a clue why. And now, as back then, we are suddenly made aware that all is not sweetness across the water, that mass immigration is not going so well and there's a nasty whiff of far-right racism drifting across the Liffey. To misquote W B Yeats, a terrible ugliness is born.

I nodded off while wearing a woolly hiking hat (it's a long story) and enjoyed the best night's sleep I'd had for years. So as always when something unusual happens, I turned to Google and uncovered masses of evidence about the benefits of adding headgear to your bedgear, from preventing heat loss to making your hair lustrous; frankly, it's a little late for that. Am I preaching to the converted? Are we a nation of closet hat snoozers?