Essential advice from Póilín on rugby and romance
Every year, around this time, myself and a few of the lads (we've been mates since the Senior Cup team of 1988) get together and follow the boys around the Six Nations. The Millennium Stadium, Twickers, Stade de Francais and Murrayfield – we haven't missed an Irish match in any of them for years. It's great craic, and of course, it's good culture also, particularly with Paris as we drink wine there.
I was terrified last year when I realised that Valentine's Day was a match day. The bird wouldn't appreciate an evening of pints outside on Baggot St if it was a home match, and I was worried that she'd find one of the away trips a bit, well, boisterous. But then the match was in Paris! Genius! I thought the IRFU might make that a permanent fixture, it was such a good idea. The perfect weekend for all!
All we had to do was get extra tickets for the girls, get there early so they could do some shopping, and fit in a bit of French grub at a bistro near Kitty's before going for pints after. Everyone worked out happy (though the Visa really felt it).
But this year, for the Valentine's weekend, we're playing Scotland. In Edinburgh. The girlfriend loved Trainspotting, but I don't think I can convince her that there's much romantic potential in a rugby weekend.
Of course, Valentine's Day is on Monday, but if I go on the weekend, I'll hardly be in good shape for romance myself come the day. But how could I miss the match? My friends and country need me!
This is a tricky one. I have to admit, I'm a great believer in romance, and I never underestimate the power of a dozen roses, a box of chocolates and a surprise weekend away to seduce. But then, this could be a big year for the boys also – even without Roy Keane, we should still beat Scotland and may go on to win the Championship. It would be a sorry state your relationship is in if your girlfriend would deprive the lads in green of your vociferous support on the sidelines.
If your trip to Paris was such a success, who not bring her? You'll need to stay somewhere a little more upmarket than your usual Edinburgh guest house. And you can fit in a nice meal just like last year – I expect you normally survive your Edinburgh weekend on battered Mars Bars, but there are actually some quite nice restaurants if you seek them out. And of course, there's no greater aphrodisiac than victory on the battle field, especially when it's at the hands of that young Ronan O'Gara (such a shame he has that awful accent).
It will require sacrifice and compromise on both sides, but all in all, you could have quite a fun weekend. Shoulder to shoulder, you'll answer Ireland's call!
(I replied to Gerry personally earlier this week so he'd have my advice in time to decide for the weekend.)
Hubbie and I have been planning a winter break, and expecting that it would be to somewhere nice and hot, I thought I'd put in a little preparation for my swimwear-wearing. A bit of time in the gym, obviously (and it's got so much quieter this year now that all the hoi-polloi are joining the Dunne's Stores gym in TK), but I thought this year I'd try and bit of a nip and a tuck, and even a quick little botox. (All on the QT, of course.) Nothing too radical, my breasts are still in quite good shape, thanks be to God, and I'd be reluctant to touch them while I still get a bit of enjoyment out of them. But a little smoothing of the tummy and the forehead wouldn't go astray on the beaches, I thought.
And then hubbie "surprised" me last week with a trip skiing! The same husband who has sworn for years that he'd never be seen dead in some lurid jump-suit falling down a beginners slope with a bunch of kids. I was disgusted, but he'd gone and done the deal (he was all chuffed that he'd managed to buy it all over the internet) so there wasn't much I could do about it. So now not only will I not get a chance to show of my new wares, as they'll be covered in all sorts of horrendous "practical" clothing, but I'm afraid that the extreme cold might cause some sort of adverse reaction. Wasn't there some celeb in the States who's forehead froze when she went skiing too soon after a botox? And what could a nasty fall do to my recently-restructured tummy?
According to a leading plastic surgeon friend of mine, if the temperature stays above minus twenty, and you keep yourself well wrapped up, your botox should be fine. Though it'd be best to avoid screaming when falling over, just in case your forehead freezes on contact with the snow. And your tummy should hold up, just avoid running into any trees. (Stick to the green slopes.)
As for showing off your new improvements, well that's what "aprés-piste" is for. (Aprés means after.) This is when you come down off the slopes, go to one of the classier resort bars, and strip off all that horrendous baggy gear to reveal your true, svelte self clothed in something "sporty", like a belly top and leggings. Everyone then consumes vast amounts of mulled wine, and even if you're not getting the requisite attention from "Hubbie", you can be assured of getting it from whoever else is around. (And there'll always be some darling continental waiters in the bars to provide that little extra.)
And of course, with al that fresh air, everyone's off to bed early (with whoever), so there'll be plenty of opportunity for some up-close "admiration".