Arts and Culture

The Showband Must Go On

The man shook his head, sighed, and then nodded resignedly, as if trying to decide which expression of disgust best suited the occasion. "Where would you get it, Brendan?", he asked. "My God. Where would you? Coast to Coast." He made a noise like he'd just discovered a fly in his drink. "Bbwatttshhh!!!!"

Sunday Tribulations

There has been room in the Irish Sunday newspaper market, for a long time, for what is called a quality paper. The English quality papers accentuated, rather than filled, that gap: their coverage of Irish news was scanty and sporadic; their interest in Irish cultural affairs was confined to reviewing occasional Irish books and paying an annual, wide-eyed visit to Dublin for the Theatre Festival. Then, three months ago, the Sunday Tribune made its appearance.

The I Hate Christmas Page

It begins before summer has really ended. It won't be long now 'til Christmas. As though the day that's in it isn't enough. Then the commercial hustle starts - only so many shopping days left to Christmas. As though shopping was something desirable and in short supply. Shopping stinks. The fewer days left for it the better.

Hitting the bottle and when the bottle hits back

Considering the large part that drinking plays in our lives there is precious little training for it. Youngsters usually begin by sneaking a drink out of sight of their elders and from there stagger into the mainstream of pub life. It's a little like the way in which we find out about sex - no one actually says anything about it, it sort of grows on you.

Predictions for 1981

January :

It's very cold. The Pope denounces the Twentieth Century. Ronald Reagan fails senility test; Garret FitzGerald condemns Charlie Haughey's seed, breed and generation; Ben Dunne launches new Sunday newspaper; RTE Controller of Programmes bans Robert Kee's multi-million pound series on Ireland because of references to Cromwell, the penal laws, Catholic emancipation and the famine, which could be interpreted as inflammatory; 200,000 out of work; Johnny Logan changes his name to Jim Hand.

Brian Friel "Talking to ourselves"

Brian Friel, born 1929, has been an important writer on the Irish scene for the last twenty years. The success, in Ireland, London and especially on Broadway of his 1965 play, Philadelphia Here I Come helped establish him as an Irish playwright. Since then he has had further success, at home and abroad, with plays like Lovers, Freedom of the City, Volunteers, Living Quarters and the recent Faith Healer.


Showdown at Sachs

This place is a fucking kip." Large Lily, of Belfast extraction, punctured the social souffle of the charity poker finals held in Sach's Hotel, Dublin on the night of Sunday February 24. "You're a bunch of fucking phoneys," she said into the audible silence from her six opponents around the table. "I'm fucking freezing," she continued, shuffling her monopoly money, shaking her incredible bulk, wristling her solid gold bracelet. She looked over her lorgnette, tossed off another glass of brandy, and joined in the play.

Send in the Clowns

A review of Irish comedians and the comedy machine:

So, anyway, I was walking down Grafion Street, minding me own business, and I see this guy walking along in front of me and there's a match sticking out of his ear. A match. Sticking out of his ear. So, I tapped him on the shoulder and I said to him, I said, if you don't mind me asking, like, could you tell me what you're doing? I'm listening to the match, says he. Listening to the match!

James T. Farrell's Exile Twice Over

One day in the Horseshoe Bar in the Shelbourne Hotel the late James T. Farrell and myself (having been introduced by Dave Hanly, then a winged Mercury or Ariel of the Tourist Board) were treating our drink as gentlemen should: he on brandy, myself on a native but no less health-giving fluid. He was then seventy and had just told me that back in the USA his doctor had warned him off spirits.