Archive for May 21st, 2008

Dinde dinde dinde-dinde

Lord help me, I slumped in front of the tail end of the semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest last night. I’m in Spain at the minute, so I can supply an outsider’s perspective on Dustin’s failure to get plucked. The Spanish TV presenter took things rather seriously: more Marty Whelan than Terry Wogan, but more John Bowman than Marty Whelan. He wasn’t too impressed by Dustin’s appearance. When it became clear at the end that the turkey wasn’t going through, he observed that the Irish were going to eat him for Christmas. It was the best he could do with the material he’d been given. Turkeys aren’t funny, see.

Imagine an Andalusian dog. Not in the Dalí-Buñuel sense, but a puppet dog like Rolf from the Muppets. Only he doesn’t play the piano: his main selling point is that he tells jokes in an Andalusian accent. In Spain, people from Andalusia are recognised as being funny, and a lot of the time they are. But they aren’t funny to anyone who doesn’t understand Spanish.

So imagine pitching the following to an Irish audience: an puppet dog who tells jokes in Spanish with an Andalusian accent. The likely response would be: I like dogs, but I’m not voting for that crap, I haven’t a clue what he’s going on about. A puppet dog would at least get some sort of lunatic dog lover vote. The lunatic turkey lover vote is non-existent.

Even though the Eurovision is not to be taken seriously, I think we should take seriously the fact that it is not to be taken seriously. To put a turkey in just shows contempt, or maybe a deeply-held conviction that people in other countries were just going to roll about the place laughing at how funny the whole thing was  (none did, which ought to reveal someting).

Tip Offs

The Great Game is back in vogue:

Like Arbuthnot, Nairac believed in melding into the background in order to get closer to the enemy. He picked up a Belfast accent, dressed in an old cap, carried a stick, joined in the craic, knew every word of the IRA songs. The night he died, he was claiming to be Danny McAlevey from Belfast, and he sang the republican anthem, The Broad Black Brimmer. No one knows who tipped off the crowd that he was a Brit, but his end was as miserable as his exploits were daring. He was beaten horribly by his assailants, driven, half-dead, to a field by a river, tortured, and shot with a rusty pistol. A Catholic, he died with a prayer on his lips.

‘No one knows who tipped off the crowd that he was a Brit’? I’m guessing the crowd didn’t need tipping off.

I reckon I could do a far better job than Ampleforth-educated Nairac at pretending to be IRA-supporting Danny McAlevey from Belfast, but I still wouldn’t fancy my chances making a single patron in a South Armagh pub believe me.

The Ultras by Eoin MacNamee is a superb fictionalised account of Nairac’s machinations in Northern Ireland, by the way.

Another thing: was there such a thing as ‘the craic’ -as a discrete, specifically Irish activity- in the 70s?

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May 2008