herald

Monday 11 December 2017

The O-Zone: It’s a head rush

The joys of headshops, feeling sorry for FitzPatrick and dealing with amateur drinkers on St Patrick’s Day

Monday

Sicnere aplogieos, raedres, but OZnoe's a litlte mexid up tadoy. As The Vreve's Rihcrad Ashcfrot ocne snag, the drgus dno't wrok. Or myabe tehy wrok olny too wlel. Folloniwg a wkenened vsiit to the lacol haedsohp -- okay, sevreal lacol haedsohps -- my brian is somwehat scrabmled tihs fnie Mandoy monring. I konw excatly waht it is I wnat to say, but somheow the wrods jsut aern't coimng out rihgt.

Incitendally, reuglar redaers and detoved fnas wlil duotbless be arawe taht I've pllued this mxiing up the mlddie ltteers in the wrods tcirk bofere. Reudce, ruese, reyccle . . .

Tuesday

Morning train east. I've two important interviews today, the first of which is with Labour TD Pat Rabbitte in Leinster House. The last time I interviewed Rabbitte was back in the mid-90s, when he was Minister with Responsibility for Drugs, and I was about to stand for election on a cannabis legalisation ticket. Needless to say, we didn't exactly hit it off.

If he remembers that frosty encounter, he doesn't show it today. As he poses for photographs in front of Leinster House, a school tour of giggling females emerge from the building and ambush him. Rabbitte laughs loudly as the girls crowd around him and gets into the shot. He doesn't flinch at their squealed threats of, "we're gonna put this picture up on Facebook!"

Predictably enough, once the interview gets started, he's utterly scathing about the Cowen government. I ask him to rate them on a scale of one to 10. "Em . . . two," he says. "It's a god-awful Government -- the worst Government we've seen since Independence. It's worse than the Haughey Government, the short-lived government of 1982."

After that, I head across town to meet Booker-winning author Roddy Doyle. His terrific new novel, The Dead Republic, is the final book in his trilogy, The Last Roundup (preceded by 1999's A Star Called Henry and 2004's Oh, Play That Thing!).

Following a provocative article on Julian Gough's website last month, there's been a serious debate in literary circles about the fact that, rather than tackling contemporary issues, most of Ireland's 'serious' novelists seem to be writing books set in the past (Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea, Colm Toibin's Brooklyn, Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin, etc). Having just finished a trilogy that encompasses the entire history of the 20th century, what's Doyle's take on it?

"I find myself in agreement and disagreement, really," he says, shrugging. "Like with a lot of things. I think life would be a lot more bearable if people would accept that there are actually several answers to different questions. But between writing Oh, Play That Thing! and this book, I wrote Paula Spencer, which was set very deliberately in 2004/2005, and was her response to the Celtic Tiger. So I do write about the present as well."

Wednesday

Paddy's Day. Which should really be renamed 'Amateur Drinkers' Day'. As local performance poet Steve Murray comments as we vainly struggle against a still tide of green-clothed, drunken humanity on Quay Street, "It's a day to celebrate being Irish all over the world -- but a day to rue being Irish if you actually live here."

Thursday

Busted! Or should that just be 'bust'? More than a year after his suspect financial activities were first revealed, banker Sean FitzPatrick is finally arrested at his home at 6.30am.

Congratulations to the Garda and other relevant authorities on their swift and decisive actions in this matter. You're definitely sending out the right message.

Friday

Midday phone call from Britain's greatest living poet, John Cooper Clarke. "Alright, kid! You doin' okay?"

Of all the characters I've interviewed over the years, JCC's one of my all-time favourites. We first met in Salthill's Setanta Nightclub (now The Oslo) way back in 1992, and have been intermittently in touch ever since.

He's calling today to discuss a live show we'll be doing together in Dublin's Tripod on May 1 as part of the Mindfield Festival. Called Mavericks: Living on the Edge, it's essentially yours truly publicly interviewing JCC, novelist DBC Pierre and dandy Sebastian Horsley. Tickets are priced €30 and are available from Ticketmaster. (No, you can't go on the guestlist!)

OZone seems to be making a habit lately of informing people that they're mentioned in former NME journalist Nick Kent's memoir, Apathy for the Devil. Last week I gave BP Fallon a ring to tell him he was namechecked. On Tuesday, I told Roddy Doyle that Kent quoted approvingly from The Commitments in the book. He was delighted ("I'm obviously finally becoming cool!").

When I tell JCC that Kent has also mentioned him, he already knows. "I ain't read it yet," he admits, "but there's a review of it in this month's Q, and they used an old photograph of me with Nick, Billy Connolly and Tom Waits. I were fookin' well chuffed. I've always wanted to meet Tom Waits -- and now I know that I did! Can't remember 'owt about it though."

Saturday

It's reported today that Sean FitzPatrick kissed his awaiting son on the cheek when he was released from Bray Garda Station at 2pm yesterday afternoon. It's such a vulnerably human gesture that OZone actually feels a little sorry for the guy.

I feel less sorry for Pope Ratburger, however, who publishes an open letter to the Irish people today apologising for his employees' rampant sexual abuse of children. Regrettably, it's not a letter of resignation. Nor is there a cheque enclosed.

Sunday

Oh siht! I thnik I'm haivng a flabhsack . . .

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