Okay, kid, another year gone by, another birthday clocked up, and how are we doin'? Well, it's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory (and precious little of either), a case of do or die, the world will always welcome lovers (then how come you need a marriage certificate in the chemist shop?), as time goes by.

Okay, kid, another year gone by, another birthday clocked up, and how are we doin'? Well, it's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory (and precious little of either), a case of do or die, the world will always welcome lovers (then how come you need a marriage certificate in the chemist shop?), as time goes by.


Stop messing, Bosco, what's the script.

Well, it's like this: was a time when I would have been out there with the best of them, giggling with anticipation as the next Labour Party leader stepped up to the business end of the coconut shy. Great spectator sport, the Labour Party. Four leaders in six years. (You've heard the one about the school leaver who was offered the position of Labour leader - said no thanks, he'd rather hang on and wait for a steady job.)


But I'm getting too old for that kind of thing. Politics is okay for the young and carefree but us adults have a duty to knuckle down to the serious business of life. As time goes by and the birthdayometer clicks ever faster you get to thinking those kind of thoughts - like, maybe it's time to pull everything together, accumulate the house, the mortgage, the missus, the car, the dog, the budgie, the slippers, the continental quilt. Time, in short, to start breeding the next generation - so they can grow up and have a chance to giggle at the Labour Party before settling down to accumulate the house etc. (Though if things keep going at the present rate it's probable that by the time the kids of today grow up the Labour Party will have run out of TDs who haven't been leader.)


So there I am, mulling things over, facing up to my responsibilities - and right before my very eyes the very fabric of society begins to rip wide open. There are a lot of things which could make one sceptical about the future of the race. The fact, for instance, that people are going around making Charlie Luciano jokes about our Taoiseach. About how Don Salvatore, capo di tutti capi - boss of all bosses - had to go to the mattresses to fight off a challenge from twenty-two capo regimes , led by Lugs McCreevy, the original scoffer they couldn't defuse.


Or one could point to the silence which has attended the decline of Mutt and Jeff, the Herald's legendary cartoon strip. Has no one noticed that the drawings are these days dreadful and the jokes non-existent? Must this travesty of a great institution go unremarked? (By the by, I suppose you've heard the latest herpes joke - whatever it is, the Herald has it.)


One could become depressed at the fact that since Prior's rolling devolution gathered no moss Thatcher will now hunt around for some other poor fool to pretend to be doing something political with the Northern war. Sliding devolution, perhaps. Maybe dribbling devolution.


One could even say that the readiness of the youth of today to latch onto the latest fad bodes ill for the race. I speak, of course, of leg warmers, which, since the success of the TV series Fame have replaced bobbers and PLO scarves as the thing to be seen in. Eighty percent of the women of this town are going around with legs which have the proportions of Popeye's arms. They're wearing them on top of jeans. They're even wearing them under long dresses. (Voice from the balcony: how can you substantiate this latter allegation? Well, this is known as investigative journalism.)


But such attacks on the sanity of the race are trivial compared to the way in which civilisation as we know it is being ripped asunder by the current wave of crime. Everyone's at it.


I was sitting at the bar in The Oasis, rattling the ice in the Jameson and thinking about what I'd teach the budgie to say - and in comes Fingers Kavanagh .and announces that he's going back to the game. When he clicked with a business deal a few years back Fingers retired from the burglary and mild extortion rackets and has since been a pillar of the community. Now, he announced, it's getting embarrassing to see the ease with which criminals are getting away with it these days.


"I don't need the money, but it's a matter of professional pride. I had to work at it - nowadays any idiot can rip off a bundle and he's free to walk around. Why shouldn't I benefit?"


Fingers instanced the case of'Ronson Riley, a familiar face on the Dublin business and social scene. Ronson is an artist. He builds up businesses to precisely the point where the insurance is worth more than the turnover then flick! it's bonfire time. He's so good at it that he can take out a six-thousand square foot premises in the middle of a block without even scorching the buildings on either side. And he keeps doing it, and everyone knows what he's doing, and he walks.


"And then you get some little gouger does a tobacconists because he needs the bread to score some heroin to keep his head from exploding - and he gets done, no bother. And the family that runs the heroin racket - and you know them and I know them and the cops know them they walk around like they have a letter of freedom in their pockets."


The way Fingers sees it - as far as the cops are concerned what's Done isn't done, if you get my meaning.


"I mean", he says, "if they could put a tight frame on Nicky Kelly you'd think they'd be able to put away people who've actually committed a crime, right?"


It took me several hours of pouring whiskey into his mouth and advice into his ear before I could convince Fingers to take it easy, let it be, stay on the straight and narrow. Trouble is, he's like an old snooker player who had to graft in his day and who now sees little punks pulling in the loot on TV. It just isn't fair.


You have to admit, the guy has a point. Everyone's at it. Even Mr. De Lorean has given a new meaning to the phrase "shooting up" the market.


And while the bent business people and organised criminals dine in the best restaurants the politicians are sending out special investigators to stop people ripping off social welfare. Sure, that kind of thing goes on - but face it, no matter what kind of scam a few people might be working nobody but nobody is getting rich on the dole.

Well, maybe I'll let another year go by before I start thinking of a name for the dog. Right now, pass the Jemmy, Mick - straight glass, lots of ice.