Things you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
1. Chinese torture
2. Five years in a Soviet gulag circa 1949
3. Sitting through an entire Oireachtas committee meeting.
Every Friday, the schedule of committee meetings for the following week is published. The committees roughly group themselves along the lines of Government Departments - justice, communications, arts, finance, foreign affairs, etc.
As you flick through the diary, you think, well, that one looks vaguely interesting. And then you start thinking that it might be worth covering. And in a moment of headrush madness you go ahead and volunteer to go down to the committee rooms for a morning or an afternoon.
On the face of it, many of the issues are important - and some have the potential to be absorbing. Sure, they discuss legislation. But so much more. The usual format is this. A person or group - civil servants, experts, lobbyists, industry representatives etc - come in and make a presentation. That is always fine.
The problem only starts when the TDs start asking questions. Their problem is that as politicians, they have been hard-wired to make statements, and very long ones at that. And ergo, we get a long series of pronouncements from every teedee and stentorian senatorian that meander on forever. And then they just add a question mark at the end.
It wouldn't be so bad if this only afflicted one or two but, tragically, it's a contagious condition for the political class.
It is always a mistake to cover them. When you are stuck in there you have an Epiphany moment, when you realise the monumental blunder you have made. It usually comes just after you realise that at least half a dozen TDs and Senators have still to ask questions. It usually comes just before you lose the will to live.