Long before I lived and worked in Paris, my first exposure to French pop culture was Hexagone, the ’80s French textbook we used in our ’90s secondary school in Ireland. Mainland France is shaped like a hexagon, you see.

We studied French and German in first year, and then our school made us choose one or the other for the Junior Cert cycle. Neither French nor German was much help to us with the impossibly exotic Spanish students who flocked to our town every summer. It was the co-ed (i.e. girls and boys in the same building!) …


Poster for Dead of Night, 1945 English horror anthology film

So, how do you feel about England?

That may depend on what you consider to be England — for instance, the English football players taking the knee together to embody a shared modern multicultural community that values persons of colour, or the English football watchers abusing them for their [checks notes] Marxism. We outsiders reflexively think it’s the latter; we’d all prefer the former. …


All through my first year living in Paris, this was the song I heard everywhere.

Daytime radio, from what was blaring in shops and cafes, couldn’t play it often enough. All manner of TV shows — chat, politics, football — played it in full or in snippets, as a sort of signifier for ‘today’s pop culture’. Stand long enough on any street at any time and a group of girls, be they coming home from school or going out to bars, would pass you singing its key lyric, one fist raised in the air. …


In the late afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2002 I was in a record store in Pamplona, Spain. This wasn’t some quaint old joint in the touristy bull-running town centre, where earlier I had been enjoying tapas with my friends, but a brightly-lit premises jammed in between the ground-floor supermercado and laundrette of a modern apartment complex in the residential area out past the citadel. Walking back to our friends’ apartment, we had passed it by chance. I couldn’t resist.

Whenever I’m in a new city I like to find a record store or bookshop so I can treat myself…


This must be the dumbest, stoopidest record ever made. Let me explain to you why I love it.

For one thing, it kicks off with a crunching, blitzkrieg-ing glam guitar sound that doesn’t relent for the entire track. The riff is basically a lift from a Kiss single, but what transforms it — what this band bring to it — is the sheer thuggish attitude. And if that all reminds you of, say, ‘Holidays in the Sun’ by the Sex Pistols, apparently the guitar part here is played by none other than Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols themselves. (Whether…


Cover of Heartburn, comic novel by Nora Ephron

Learn new languages, hone new skills, tone new abs; a lot of us saw this pandemic lockdown as the opportunity we’d been waiting for all our lives. Time previously spent commuting and socialising was now in our gift. We would apply ourselves, improve ourselves, emerge from this better.

Another delusional pandemic scheme of ours was to read more, or perhaps even read at all. Already a regular consumer of books, I had designs on slashing through the to-be-read pile and finally getting around to some of the heftier, dustier tomes on my shelves.

Turns out that my time previously spent…


The Honeymoon Killers, cult 1970 true crime thriller directed by Leonard Kastle

Okay, I get why people are missing busy pubs, pounding nightclubs and heaving concert venues. I used to love and frequent all those social sardine-tins for years, often going to four loud, crowded concerts a week, before I came to love staying home watching football more.

What I don’t get is why anyone would miss what’s sweepingly referred to as the dating scene.

I don’t mean the more organic ways of meeting someone: the friend of a friend; the eyes meeting across a crowded bar; the fellow headbanger or raver in your local sweatbox. …


Poster for 1965 Indian movie Gumnaam

If this pandemic lockdown had happened ten or fifteen years ago, I like to think I’d have managed equally as well as I am now. Just as I have done for the last year, I would have been working online from home — in Paris, not Dublin. I would have been running and training as usual, though with the Seine and Eiffel Tower within my 5km loop.

And I would still have been listening to loads of music and inflicting it upon my friends. Since last March I’ve made regular Spotify playlists that I’ve shared on social media. Back in…


Poster for 1955 film noir crime thriller Kiss Me Deadly

Cloris Leachman, an Oscar-winning American actress best known for supporting roles, died a few weeks ago. Most news reports focused on her later career, from the 1970s on, when she won her Oscar (for The Last Picture Show) and popped up regularly on TV. However, I didn’t notice any mention of two important movies of hers. One is Herbie Goes Bananas, an unwanted ’80s sequel in what we would now call the VW-with-a-mind-of-its-own ‘franchise’ or ‘universe’ — important because, when I was small, this was the very first film I was brought to see at the cinema. (The second was…


A lot has happened since the last time I wrote about watching a celebrated Japanese movie, Akiro Kurosawa’s enthralling white-collar-crime drama The Bad Sleep Well. For one thing, I taught myself to juggle. Also, there’s been a catastrophic global pandemic and lockdown.

Among the high-profile consequences of the Covid crisis has been the postponement of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics to what will most likely be (if it goes ahead at all) a much-reduced and therefore economically disastrous 2021 edition; apparently the hit to the Japanese finances will be in billions. …

Aidan Curran

Writing about music, films and books of note to me. Other stuff (more music, running, Paris) online elsewhere if you Google hard enough. Tweets @aidancurran17

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