Generation X Factor: Reeling in the Years


It’s October 25th, 2023 and I’m curled up with a glass of red wine and a Potential Life Partner (PLP) watching 3D Reeling in the Years. Brian Cowen’s epic nasal congestion interview of 2010 is clogging up the surround sound, and sexy PLP, who has been absent-mindedly  playing Snake Fourth Dimension on his iphone 32 looks up and gasps. “That’s Biffo from Fair City!”, he shouts with excitement, “he looks so young and sober there!”

I sigh. “He used to be a politician, honey”

He is incredulous. “No way! Are you joking me?”

“He was the Taioseach.”

“Are you serious?” I nod, remembering that I love him for his culinary expertise, but not his intellect.

Now they are showing old news clips of the thirty-three miners who were trapped underground in Chilie for 69 days, as they emerge to embrace their loved ones. The images ignite a flash of recognition in me. I had completely forgotten about those poor guys! I wonder what they’re up to now and how many of them are still miners. The old RTE format is so quaint – before the six-one news begins they show a series of 2D images of people pausing as they go about their daily business to observe the Angelus. The Newsroom backdrop is completely flat and Sharon Ní Bheolain has blonde hair, which she wears in loose shoulder-length curls. Though it suits her, I prefer her as a mature brunette.

And then -oh the memories – the old X Factor theme music comes on. PLP perks up. “Aw, d’you remember?” he sighs as a close-up of a young Simon Cowell’s gritty stare fills up the screen. I nod; “Yeah that was a golden year, wasn’t it?” I cosy up to PLP and giggle “You’re wearing Simon Cowell’s aftershaveright now, aren’t you?” He smiles sheepishly. “Is it the one I got you for Christmas last year?” I ask.

Simon Cowell in 2010

He nods; “Yeah, it’s his XY Factor range. It says on the bottle that it’s genetically proven to make you smell like a popstar for at least eight hours.” I look at him fondly. I can smell the success in our future.

We begin to smell burning.

“Shit!”, PLP exclaims, rushing out to the kitchen to take out of the oven the chicken that we purchased earlier as part of Tesco’s Mary Byrne-patented €10 meal deal.

PLP manages to work his magic though and serves me up a second glass of wine with my burnt chicken and side of mashed potato. He puts his arm round me. It’s almost time for Fair City, when Biffo the barman will finally have to face up to the trouble he has got himself in to; having borrowed more for a late license than he can afford to pay back. “I’m dying to know how he’s going to get himself out of this mess”, muses PLP as he sings along to the Fair City theme tune.

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