Wigmore - 16 May 1985 - Bruce Springsteen, PJ Mara, Cathal O Fiach, Bruce Arnold
PLEASANT TO note that the recently-declared support of odd-soxed sex-symbol Henry Mountcharles for an O'Malley-led mould-breaking SDP-type party has not prevented the Lord of Slane making generous, ecumenical gestures to ra-ra members of CJH's inner circle.
Staff at the Slane Castle nerveecentre of the Bruce-gig operation were recently in receipt of an impassioned telephoned plea from svelt FF press boss P.I. Mara asking would there be any chance, like, of a couple of backkstage passes for the Springsteen exxtravaganza on May 29. Identifying himself as an E-Str eet bandoleer from way back, P.J. made the pitch that, lookit, fella in his position couldn't easily mingle with the masses, but he'd die, just die, if he didn't get to bop to the live Brucie.
As controversy over Taoiseach Garret FitzHerbert's hugger-m ugger chit-chat with nuclear bombers, mad monetarists and Bilderberg bankers raged all around and hacks screamed in desperation for official FF reaction, P.J. waited fretfully on the open line between the fifth floor of Leinster House and the stately Boyne-side pile while his request was referred uppwards and upwards yet again for deciision by the good Lord himself.
Did Henry curl his perfectly-formed aristocratic lips into a snarl of: "Mara? No way!"?
He did not. Sources deep within the labyrinthine bowels of the castle commplex reveal that he smiled sweetly and .spoke soft: "P.J .... ah the poor lad." Or words to that effect. I can reveal that the passes are even now in the post.
What a wonderful example of alllparty amity to us all! Will Donie Casssidy now respond by allowing Paddy Cooney in for nothing to see Foster and Allen? Let's fervently hope so.
*" * *
AND HOW shapes the scene for all the other loose liggers in the land?
The same sensitively-placed Slane source reveals that there are precisely 609 freebie passes to the liggers' compound in the castle grounds availlable. To date, more than 2,000 requests for these desperately-coveted passes to paradise have been received, many from hacks who reckon "The River" is a recently-released movie, PR perrsons who labour under the delusion that Miami Steve is a bronzed beach-guard in a Florida resort, politicians who think Nebraska is no more than an American state and free-loaders, free-lancers, arm-chancers and varieegated rock-climbers of all shapes and outlandish sizes.
Over and above - some considerrable distance above - these freebie passes are the gold-embossed entranceedocuments to an inner sanctum where 150 favoured folk will be guests of The Boss's record company CBS. Disstribution of these is in the velvet-soft hands of the Lord Almighty in colluusion I mean cooperation with CBS Dublin rep Chris Roche. Many's the one who slagge.d off Chris and didn't deliver with the few pars in the showwbiz columns when he was a struggling publicist for struggling bands a few short years ago. Such people are now ruefully contemplating their appalling lack of foresight.
The inner sanctum will feature free booze (the fringe free-loaders will have to put the hand in the pocket, a manoeuvre most have not essayed for a month of Mass-less Sundays) and laid-on lunch!
And that's not all!
* * *
WITHIN THE inner sanctum there will be an even more elite area, a veritable Holy of Holies, where no more than a score of society's creme-de-la-creme will be personal guests of the noble Lord and will feast on venison and such and quaff the finest wines from Slane's fabled cellars. And it is ruumoured that in this opulent setting they might even be in the company of Big Brucie himself!
Is competition for places among this super-select company intense? By the Lord Harry, it is.
An even better-placed source - not a million miles from Lord Henry's left nostril tells me that among those invited - no word yet of the response - is Cardinal Tomas 0 Fiaich (RC).
* * *
AT THE FAI Cup Final in Dalymount a fortnight ago the only thing worse than the football was the weather. Decent, then, of F AI public relations man John Saunders to invite two RTE cameramen who had shivered throughout the ninety minutes atop gantries to bring the appallingly boring spectacle to the nation - to come into the hospitality room for a warming drop.
True to bad form, however, a F AI big-wig, alerted to what was being proposed, instructed Saunders to withhdraw this impertinent invitation forthhwith. When Saunders brought the cold and sodden pair to the bar nonetheless, he was told that under no circummstances would he be served. Departure of outraged Saunders and highly emmbarrassed R TE personnel ...
Of course, FAI bosses are now so used to bad form all around them it pro bably comes natural ....
* * *
ONE OF THE (possibly) most signiificant pieces of garda evidence voiced at the Kerry Babies Tribunal seems unnaccountably to have been missed by the media. This came during the eviddence of London University serologist Dr Patrick Lincoln last Thursday.
Dr Lincoln had been brought over by the gardai to give expert testimony Which, they hoped, would cast doubt on the evidence of forensic scientist Dr Louise McKenna that the baby found murdered at Cahirciveen had been blood group A and, thus, could not possibly have been the child of O-group Jeremiah Locke and Ms Hayes. The gardai's last-ditch contention has been either that the Cahirciveen baby was really blood group 0 and that the A group finding resulted from bacterial contamination or that it was indeed group A, but even so the child of Ms Hayes - and an A-group man with whom she had had sex within hours of conceiving the Abbeydorney baby with Mr Locke.
However, Dr Lincoln's evidence was that there was no indication from a blood sample from Ms Hayes that she had carried an A group foetus last year and that, as regards the blood-change theory, his only reservation about Dr McKenna's finding centred on whether the test had been repeated several times to check the result. Counsel for the Tribunal Michael Moriarty chipped in that Dr McKenna had tested the sample four times.
Worse (for the gardai) was to come.
Asked to comment on the "superrfecundation" (twins with different fathers) theory, Dr Lincoln laughed aloud and replied: "It's so exceedingly rare that one rules it out."
At this point a senior uniformed guard sitting on the public benches raised his hand to cover his eyes and breathed a heart-felt: "Oh, Jesus!"
* * *
HOWEVER, ALL is not necessarily lost.
Consider the case of Lady Christabel Ampthill.
Way back in the twenties Lady Ampthill, of Kinvara, Co Clare, sought the annulment of her marriage on the grounds of non-consummation. While the case was proceeding Lord Ampthill upped and died. It then emerged that Lady Ampthill was pregnant. Neverrtheless, she insisted, the child she was carrying was Lord Ampthill's and legitimate heir to the loot.
Demanding that the matter be tried by her peers, the case went eventually to the House of Lords where she exxplained the seeming contradiction by claiming that her impregnation had to do with manoeuvres undertaken with a warm, deep sponge she had picked up in a bathroom from which Lord Ampthill had just emerged. British press reports of the case referred freequently to "Iiunnish deeds".
Should not Superintendent John Courtney be pondering the possible relevance of this case? Is it not at least as likely as some other garda theories?
* * *
THEN THERE'S the case - reported some time ago by super-hack Sam Smyth in the Sunday World - of a Belfast man who claimed he had been kidnapped by an all-female squad of visiting Martians, taken on a heavenly joy-ride in their flying saucer and subbjected to all manner of indignities before being deposited back on the road to - I kid you not - Nutt's Corner.
Has the possibility of extratrial intervention in the Kerry case been fully checked out? What efforts were made by gardai to question Martians?
WHIZ-KID Dun Laoghaire businesssman Pat Moylett, who has the sole agency for the distribution of Germannmanufactured R3 condoms in Ireland and the UK, seems all set to make a mint following the passage of his TD Barry Desmond's Family Planning Amendment. And good on both of them!
In an interview with the stylish Kathryn Holmquist in The Irish Times (May 10) Pat explains that he sells directly through the post, thus cutting out middle-persons and boostting his own profit. Good thinking!
However, he does not explain that about four years ago he invited the Well Woman Centre to involve itself in across-the-counter sales of the R3. At the time the Well Woman herself, Anne Connolly, was not ill-disposed to the suggestion but decided to have the merchandise. tested before putting it on sale. Batches of R3 condoms were distributed to a flutter of females, supporters of the centre, who were urged to complete the test procedures as speedily as possible. Idealists to a woman, the sisters spared themselves not at all. One tells me in tones of dreamy reminiscence that, imbued with vibrant ... yes, vibrant dedicaation she successfully tested two dozen R3s in ten days, flat. And while the items were effective in functional terms, aesthetically they left someething to be desired. Somewhat deficient in the tactile department.
No doubt the Well Woman had enncountered a rogue batch, entirely unnrepresentative of the R3 condom geneerally, and we can put down to ignorant racism the suggestion by Auberon Waugh in Private Eye that a recent increase in the incidence of illegitiimate births in the UK has to do with the import by post of unsatisfying condoms from Ireland.
* * *
THE GLAMOUR FA Cup Final this weekend between Manchester United and Everton has meant a bonanza for ticket touts with ground tickets going for around £75 and stand seats for upwards of £200. The professional touts are past masters at obtaining tickets for sale from the most unlikely sources.
Players from the teams who have won through to the final are allowed to buy thirty tickets each. To ensure that these do not fall into the touts' hands the FA insists on being supplied with the names and addresses of the friends and relatives on whose behalf the players purchase their quotas.
Last Sunday Michael Carwood reeported for the Sunday Press from Old Trafford on the build-up to the final. Describing the scene on Tuesday of last week he wrote: "Most of the players would arrive at Old Trafford that day to collect their tickets ... It seemed that Stapleton had been put in charge of tickets. (Gordon) Strachan, (Gary) Bailey and (Paul) McGrath took some out of their brown enveelopes and gave the remainder to Stapleeton to mind."
* * *
THE GUTTER Fleet Street press is at it again, using dishonest misrepresenntation to traduce the splendid leader of the great Fianna Fail Party, This we loIave come to expect and no longer waste energy complaining about, But when they seek to involve Wigmore himself in their dastardly machinaations it is time to shout stop!
This is from last week's Sunday People and about it, let me tell you, much more will be heard!
* * *
SIXTY-TWO years ago almost to the day Francis Sheehy-Skeffington wrote in an 0 bituary note that "The school of Irish democratic Nationalists that includes Wolfe Tone, Fintan Lalor and Michael Davitt has lost its ablest conntemporary representative." He was writing about Frederick Ryan, who had died aged 39 the previous month.
Ryan's isn't a name to conjure with in Irish history. Few people have heard of him. And that, I suspect, is because his views sit very awkwardly indeed within any substantial drift of opinion in Ireland today,
He was a member of the IRSP founded by Connolly in 1896. He was the first secretary of the AbbeyTheatre. He was joint editor of both Dana in 1904-1905 and of the National Demoocrat in 1907. He was the first national secretary of the Socialist Party of Ireland, founded in 1909. He was a playwright, an actor and a journalist.
Most of all, he was a rationalist, a fierce opponent of sentimental naationalist idealism and religious obscuurantism. He wrote brilliantly well. His polemical exchanges with Arthur Grifffiths are startling in thier contempoorary relevance. Nobody concerned to understand the development of social and political thinking in Ireland in the first two decades of this century will fail to have his or her understanding enriched by a reading of his works.
When he died Jim Larkin wrote in The Irish Worker: "A man and a jour nalist. Wi could have afforded to lose a hundred of the alleged journalists who pollute the atmosphere if Fred had been left a while longer . , , ,"
Two pamphlets containing selecctions from his writing have been pubblished by the Labour History Workkshop. Sinn Fein and Reaction costs £1.20, Socialism, Democracy and the Church, £1.50. You can get them by writing to Manus O'Riordan at 10, Glasanaon Park, Finglas West, Dublin 11.
* * *
LAST THURSDAY morning there was a horrendous traffic jam outside the Magill office in Merrion Row. There were three reasons for it.
First, cars were parked illegally on both sides of the street. One of these cars belonged to Wigmore.
Second, road works at the junction of Merrion Rowand Hume Street have been slowing traffic 'along the street for some weeks.
Third, about a dozen Gardamotorrcyclists had drawn up in'foy;TIation in the middle of the south side of Stephen's Green opposite the Shelbourne Hotel, forcing drivers who had intennded to turn right along the west side of the Green to divert via Merrion Row, thus doubling the volume of traffic. The gardai were awaiting the emerrgence from the Shelbourne of the West German ambassador. Each of the motor cycles had a German flag attached to its radio aerial. This was the day after VE Day.
Of course, given that the Republic remained neutral during World War Two, and that West Germany is now a partner of the Republic's in the EEC, and that its ambassador is entitled anyway to be treated with due pomp and appropriate ceremony, it wouldb e wrong to make a big deal of any of this. Except that two nights previously another ambassador in Dublin had been treated with hostility and conntempt. Diplomats from nine of the ten EEC countries had boycotted a recepption to mark the victory over fascism held at the Russian Embassy in Orwell Road. Only Ireland itself was represennted.
Russian ambassador Nesterenko @treated with hostility and contempt.
The diplomatic gathering which decided on the boycott was presided over by the Italian ambassador Dr Lorenzo Tozzoli. Italy was on the fascist side during the war. That a gathering so constituted should deterrmine to deliver a calculated snub to the people who bore the brunt of the struggle against Hitlerism speaks volumes about the deranged vicioussness of the western powers in their pursuit of the Cold War. We should be terrified of these people, and alert for the slightest hint that any Irish governnment might consider involvement with them, under any circumstances or at any time however far distant in the future, in an arrangement for "deefence".
* * *
A SMALL POINT misplaced can make a big difference.
A passage in my piece about World War Two in the last issue read, as printed, that "in November 1942 there were 266 German and German-allied divisions facing the Red Army; there were 125 Nazi divisions deployed on all other battle-fronts combined."
The figure of 266 divisions facing the Russians is correct. The number of divisions on other fronts was 12.5. Twelve point five. I make the correcction for the benefit of the diplomats who passed up on the vodka last week.
* * *
FlANNA FAIL strategy in the local government elections continues to beewilder the Wigmore Think Tank. The party leadership has piled pressure on Dublin TDs to go for Corpo seats on June 20, apparently in the belief that the better-known the candidate the more votes he or she is likely to attract.
Surely this cannot be correct? I'd have thought that the more electors knew about Fianna Fail candidates the less likely they 'd be to give them a preference. Had I been advising CJH I'd have urged the selection of obscure nonentities. I am confident that the swing to Fianna Fail in constituencies where this traditional strategy has been adopted will be higher than the national average. Great things are exxpected in Dun Laoghaire.
However, elements in the party leadership are hell-bent on ruination and bitterness is palpable against TDs who have resisted invitations to spend the next month tramping the streets making outlandish promises to voters in the hope of being able to sit on the Corpo for four years stitching up the occasional planning application, nippping over to Mauritius to discuss bin collections, arranging grants for the mistress's cousin and so endlessly on.
One victim of this bitterness is the irreproachable Gerry Brady, TD for Dublin South East. One of the most far-seeing members of the Oireachtas, optician Gerry has not wilted in his refusal to stand. The party leadership has publicly averred that his reasons are well understood and accepted, no bitterness on this one, Gerry held in continuing high regard. So much so that Ger may not entirely have divessted himself of hopes that, come CPs expected triumph in the next Dail election, he will be able to continue the great work put in train during his six-week stint as Minister for Educaation in late 1982. I've got news for him
I put the possibility of Ger being appointed Minister for Education to a senior party figure.
"Ger Brady? You've got more chance."
And, boy, do I have ideas for sex education I
* * *
GARDA COMMISSIONER Larry Wren said in Bundoran last month that crime in the Republic is not going up, it's going down. Right?
And Justice Minister Michael Nooonan agrees. Official statistics show that crime decreased by 2.6% last year. The Minister was reported saying so on page six of The Irish Times on May 8.
But is any editor avid for AB readers going to allow a minor complication like that stand in the way of a feature that flogs papers to the right sorts?
Page seven of the same unabashed Irish Times carried the Crime Watch column beginning "As public concern grows over the crime problem in Dublin .... "
As the man "said, comment is free, facts are to be fudged and the daily booster-shot of law-and-order hysteria is essential for maintaining the readerrship profile.
* * *
COUPLE OF quickies.
Which member of the Oireachtas, despied in dishevelled state last Saturrday in the vicinity of the Magill office, replied when asked whether he "had just been to the Trinity Ball: "Trinity's full of pimple-faced Catholics from the North side of the river these days.
Wouldn't be seen near it"? .
And which leading Fianna Failer, in Belfast last week to observe the non-workings of British justice, stopped off on the way home to buy a microowave oven at a price Which, although extremely attractive by Southern stanndards, was nonetheless substantially greater than that which would have permitted him to bring the item legally across the border?
The answers are ... But better that I think it over between now and the next issue. More fun that way.
* * *
THIS ISSUE'S Wigmore Man of the Month is tabby-bowed Indo trenddsetter, bon viveur and political analyst Bruce Arnold.
Brucie wins against stiff competiition on the ground that his entry @his column of Saturday May II - is likely to endure as a classic example, indeed the apogee, of traditional Indoospeak. So struck were the judges who "considered the award over a desperate rake of pints in O'Donoghue's that it has been decided to link the presentaation to a unique, definitely once-off Magill Competition!
Pay attention. This is perfectly' serious. In a moment you will read a paragraph from Bruce's prize-winning entry. All you have to do is write down what you think it means. Send your suggestions to Wigmore at the Magill address. The deviser of the most plausible explanation will receive a year's subscription to Magill magazine absolutely free, gratis and for the price of the postage stamp! Exciting, eh?
Here's the paragraph. It comes near the beginning of a piece headed "A mid-term crisis for the Coalition".
"The construction of inevitability is derived from a form of fatalism, and is concerned primarily with money. There is a shortage of it. Everybody needs it. No one is getting enough of it, including the Government, whose whole policy is based on recognising realities about it. "
Well, I didn't say it would be an easy competition. Such a staggeringly valuable prize is not easily earned.
Mr Arnold himself is eligible to enter, although, having won my muchhcoveted Man of the Month Award, he might well, and understandably, feel that all afterwards is resistable ennui. As he might say himself.