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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Michael O'Doherty: Spare me the honorary college titles. Just three letters matter to me, MOD . . . and the truth

I get the occasional letter from my old alma mater -- Trinity College -- where I spent a spectacularly mediocre four years in the mid-80s. And it seems that now, with the vague feeling that going to university isn't going to do you much good as there are no jobs to be had, they're keen to justify their existence.

This week I received a letter and it wasn't the contents, but the address label, that grabbed me. It was addressed to 'Michael O'Doherty, BA'. Bachelor of Arts, the lowest form of degree you can get, and there it was for all to smirk at in the lobby of my apartment block.

Proud

To be honest guys, I'm not terribly proud of my BA, and I don't want people to think that I'm one of these 'letter before/after their name' aficionados.

The type who buys an MA for 100 quid or so and puts it after their name, or accepts a doctorate from an obscure college and forever puts the letters 'Dr' before their name. If you want to know how to address me from now on, just check out the top of this page. Three letters, and the truth.

This grumpy old man hit a woman after noise kept him awake. Calm down, Frank ... before you get a proper smack

As environment correspondent for the Irish Times during the late 80s, he rose to prominence for his crusade against the way Dublin city's Georgian heritage was being destroyed by shambolic planning and greedy property developers.

He was ahead of his time, and has fought the good fight on behalf of our city for many years. But it seems his fighting tendencies have strayed a bit too much away from the pen...

Frank appeared in court this week as part of a case in which residents were objecting to the renewal of a licence for a hotel/nightclub, and during the course of his evidence he revealed that he was so beside himself with lack of sleep he complained to a female hotel worker and when she smirked at him, he put his hands around her head and shook her.

Cheap

Having suffered because of the loud music coming from the club in the wee hours, Frank finally snapped when confronted by this woman's indifference to his anger.

In fairness, he immediately apologised for his behaviour, and blamed it on the sleep depravation that the club in question had been causing him for years.

Indeed he subsequently wrote about the episode in his own newspaper, when he again apologised, but not before indulging in a lengthy rant about how Temple Bar had become a haven for noisy buskers, cheap hotels and pulsating late-night bars.

There are two things I can't understand.

Firstly, Frank's dogged insistence on living in Temple Bar.

Even when he first moved in there, during the mid-90s, it was -- how shall I put this -- a shithole.

And since then, year on year, it has become even shitholier.

Yet his article still talked about it as some kind of cultural quarter, and clings on to the existence of one or two little oases of calm -- a restored building here, a gallery there -- as though they are the real Temple Bar.

Which they never were.

More importantly, I can't understand how anyone, especially someone with the refinement of Frank McDonald, who has been schooled in the ways of old-world etiquette by that most formidable of teachers, the old lady of D'Olier Street herself -- The Irish Times -- could have let his restraint go to such a degree.

We've all been woken up by noisy neighbours. But I, even when woken up by a party at 3am, before a 7am flight, have never come close to physical violence.

Frank's noise-related anecdotes all seem to end by 2am, and as he works a five minute walk from his home (which is presumably why he is so reluctant to give it up), one would have thought he could still get a good six hours' sleep if he worked at it.. Which is perhaps a clue as to why old McDonald acted in such a way.

Much like his employers, he's a tiny bit anachronistic, and ill-prepared to deal with the slings and arrows of modern life.

Bongo

But it's hard to feel too sympathetic to someone who seems to have been moaning about one thing or another for most of his life. Property developers, planning offices, car users, discos, buskers... all have felt the sharp end of his ire, though he had confined it up till recently to a written form.

Frank seems to have been a grumpy old man even when he wasn't especially old.

So here's some advice for you -- yes Frank, the world has changed in the last 20 years, and probably for the worse. It's noisier, it stays up later, and it's full of pesky bongo players.

Just get over it, before someone gives you a proper smack.

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