'Prince of pessimism' | 

Comment: RTE's Science Correspondent George turning into the Grim Leeper

Lee obsessing about Covid-19 can make The Grim Reaper appear as cuddly as Thelma Mansfield.

RTÉ’s George Lee seems to revel in reporting the grim news about coronavirus

By Roy Curtis

For decades, the Halloween horror movie franchise was regarded as the last word in October TV terror.

Then, last week, George Lee appeared on Six One News in full-on, scare-the-bejaysus-out-of-the-nation mode.

And, all across a petrified land, children, many convulsing into tears as the bespectacled bogeyman prophesised the imminent end of days, ran to the bosom of their mothers.

Cats jumped behind their owners' couches and meowed urgent will and testaments to their solicitors for each of the nine lives George warned were hanging by the flimsiest feline thread.

Lee obsessing about Covid-19 can make The Grim Reaper appear as cuddly as Thelma Mansfield.

As far as the Montrose Science Correspondent is concerned, coronavirus is Lionel Messi and we are bumbling Harry Maguires: The latter thinking they can stop the former is, in Lee's world of extreme fright, an act of lunacy.


The dodgy football metaphors don't end there.

George is the Irish equivalent of those frenzied Brazilian soccer commentators when Neymar scores a goal: An uncontainable exhalation of hysterical streams of conscious.

Except, with the national broadcaster's prince of pessimism, it is not a drawn out chorus of GOOOOAAAALLLLL, but a ceaseless blizzard of LOCKDOWNNNNNNNNNNN.

George can seem even more enthusiastic than Nphet to shunt the nation into an endless existential limbo.

It would be no surprise to discover that Lee has life-sized posters of Tony Holohan on his bedroom wall.

If, sometime in the next century, there is a post-Covid fancy dress ball in RTÉ, the smart money is on George dressing up as Sam McConkey or Luke O'Neill or Cillian de Gascun.

He can seem as philosophically wedded to the great minds of Nphet as Donald Trump is to orange make-up.

We have nicknamed Lee Apoca-lips - because every syllable he utters warns us the end of the world is nigh.

Or Armagh-geddon, as each time he discusses the number of cases in Northern Ireland he begins to twitch and tremble while turning a whiter shade of pale.

Mild lockdowns no more satisfy George's craving to hermetically seal every living Irish man and woman in some subterranean nuclear bunker than a half of bitter would have sated Brendan Behan on a night on the tiles.

He is an advocate not of Level Four or Level Five. Rather, like a music geek who misses 1980s' jazz-funk, he craves Level 42.

If George had his way the shutters would come down on every business in the land, the nation would turn off the lights and crawl into a black hole until some distant afternoon in 2074.

One of these days, he is going to decline to join Catriona Perry on the Six One sofa until RTÉ costume him in full Dustin Hoffman' Outbreak hazmat suit.


And don't dare suggest to Lee that we must live with Covid.

Don't make George angry, you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

When Marty Morrissey mentioned how the GAA championship proceeding might help the nation's mental health, he immediately went into Lee's little black book.

A shrill, hyperbolic human panic alarm, Lee offers alternates for what the letters RTE stand for in this time of wrinkled normality and shattered nerve-endings.

Reporter Traumatising Elderly; Radiate Terror Everywhere; Revere The Epidemic; Ruin The Evening.

To him, the coronavirus is more catastrophic than an amalgam of bubonic plague, the Black Death, that deadly nuclear payload dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay and repeated listening to the Ray D'Arcy Show.

Don't mention pubs, restaurants, off licenses or house parties, to George. He is the Elliot Ness of this new age of prohibition.

But, then, Covid hasn't creased the financial cloth of Lee's handsome RTÉ salary and pension.

Rather it seems to have convinced the man who quit the Dáil after just nine months as a TD that the gods have gifted him an unexpected second chance to impose his will on the nation.

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