There was really nothing to match the particular quirkiness of dinner time in an Irish household in the 80s. It was a time when spaghetti bolognese was the very pinnacle of cuisine-based daring and you were urged to eat every single thing on your plate lest the poor children in Africa psychically know food was going to waste via some Catholic church-based mind link (probably), and weep even more tears of suffering.
And then, of course, there were the ads on the radio for liver fluke. The wireless was constantly tuned to RTÉ Radio 1 at ear-bleed levels in McDermott HQ. This meant every main meal was a welter of fluke-based terror, and appetite would die instantly as a solemn, disembodied voice would lecture in the ad break – mid extended weather forecast – as to the dangers of rhynchosporium, bovine fasciolosis, septic mange mites and other horrible things involving the bowels, arses and intestines of sheep and cows.
Jesus, what to do to fix this dire prognosis! Apparently something along the lines of a dose of Triple A Golden Maverick, ably advertised on TV to a soundtrack of the theme tune to spaghetti western Il Pistolero Dell Ave Maria and starring Harry from Fair City, and all would be well again. Ok, so it’s actually a milk-replacement product for calves but hey – I had to get it in here somehow.
And why dinner time? Easy: the farmers were all in post-milking to listen to the weather news, and ever tuned to the art of market segmentation, the fine bucks at Peter Owens and their ilk block-booked all the ad space for dinner time to catch them at their tay. Well I mean, how better to get into their brains as they supped than by planting the idea of the exact right brand for their particular sporocyst, eh?
What, you thought it was just a fluke? Never.
(by Kirstie McDermott)