As the world becomes ever more divided and fractious there are few things left that can truly be said to be universal; the need to breathe and frequently consume nutrients; an increasing disdain for the ouevre of Johnny Depp as we learn more about his personal life and, an unfailing willingness to tune into The Late Late Toy Show every year. It consistently tops the list as Ireland's most watched televised event each year. We are gluttons for watching middle-aged RTÉ presenters in Christmas jumpers awkwardly negotiate the fine line between subtly and playfully mocking children on national television in a way that is enjoyable for all, and genuinely humiliating children on national television in a way that results in national disgrace. It is our life-blood, what we live for. Indeed it is such an institution that it has a genuinely bizarre and upsetting effect on something far seedier.
All that is to say that we are fast approaching the time when it becomes inevitable that our collective national attention will become narrowly-focused, to a laser-beam-like intensity, on the singular point that is The Late Late Toy Show. It is on the horizon. It is coming to the time when the RTÉ clothing department will start to turn their attentions toward the acquisition of as many embarrassing novelty Christmas jumpers as their budget will allow. It is coming to the time when Ryan Tubridy will contractually be obliged to attend singing and choreography lessons so that he may, with as much dignity as he can muster, stoically plough through performing a Disney musical number while dressed as a large frog or some such.
And now it is possible for you, you reading this now, to get right in amongst the process. Should you happen to know, or be, a precociously talented child then opportunity abounds for you to cement yourself into the national consciousness with a rousing performance on The Late Late Show, as applications to appear on this year's show are now open. Should the precocious child you know/happen to be, have a sort of endearingly quaint and unusual passion, then all the better. If not, never fear! There is still plenty of time to forcibly cultivate in your child a passion for collecting commemorative Irish stamps, or perhaps for making oil-paintings of Ireland's first president, Douglas Hyde, so as to cynically bolster your chances of them gaining admission to the show.
It is also worth noting that nowhere on the application page does it specify an age-ceiling for applicants. This begs the question as to whether somebody could be so talented in a particular field that it would make their age irrelevant. Could there be a sufficiently gifted, trombonist say, out there, who - despite being 50 - is so undeniably good at hooshing tunes through his brasss pipes, that the producers at RTÉ are left with no choice but to give this person air-time. I don't know, nor frankly do I think it a very realistic possibility, and as such, I think this article should perhaps wind down here.