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a savage eye on stories of brotherly rivalry

ONLY in Ireland would barring the queen from your pub be symptomatic, not of undiagnosed mental illness, but of deep-seated political feeling. John Stokes, owner of the Players Lounge in Fairview, appeared on Liveline this week to justify his displaying a huge banner at the front of the pub barring the British monarch.

"I just thought, in case she did want to come, that I'd save her the embarrassment of being refused on the door," he said.

But what had Queenie done to justify this barring? Had she snuck in a few cans? Used a fake ID? Glassed a bouncer? It was none of these things. It was the centuries of colonial injustice. Joe sighed. The queen, no doubt listening on the internet, started craving a pint, put on a false moustache and headed towards Fairview.

Later in the week, probably fleeing Royalist oppression, John Murray went to New York for St Patrick's Day. On Wednesday he walked around Central Park chatting and breaking into song. It was a nice idea, but it would have been improved if he'd hammed it up Sesame Street style and pretended to meet his guests by accident ("Why it's the Saw Doctors! As you're here, why not give us a tune?").

The day before, Tom Dunne arranged for a listener called David to give his father's ashes to a listener called Graham, who was going to scatter them at Cheltenham. David's father, Kevin, had loved Cheltenham and Graham was going there to race his horse, Bertie's Dream. Unfortunately, they hadn't figured out how Graham was going to do the illicit scattering. Tom suggested dropping the ashes down his trouser leg. Kevin was probably spinning in his urn.

"It's going to be great now if you manage to pull this off," said Tom, before Graham headed off to England with David's dad's ashes under one arm and a horse under another. "Strange isn't it?" Tom said accurately. "But it's good too," he added.

On Sunday, former-Minister Barry Andrews revealed that he had once produced a fanzine called Reggae Rhythm. "We actually had a Rastafarian cult in Blackrock College," he told Miriam O'Callaghan, clearly not realising that this revelation was threatening the nation's already tenuous grasp on reality.

Miriam Meets . . . is usually an hour of informative and sometimes deeply moving soul-searching involving closely connected interviewees. Andrews and his older brother, comedian David McSavage, prefer sharp digs to therapeutic backslaps, however ("No more state car Barry, no more state car," said David to his brother).

The roots of their fraternal strife go deep. As a child, over-achieving Barry was bullied by rebellious but insecure David. "He would make you cry . . . and then he'd hear Mum and Dad coming and he'd make you laugh," said Barry.

As an adult, David was clearly still threatened by Barry's success. He used to do a joke, he said, in which "Barry drives by in his state car and lowers the electric window and goes 'Yeah. Screw you, Dave, Dad loved me more. I'm a minister, you're a street performer.'"

But as they discussed David's alcoholism, Barry's election defeat and their differing experience of paternal expectation, it became clear that, though they didn't quite like one another, they've always been there for each other. So their prickly relationship is imperfect but also weirdly touching -- strange, but good, as Tom Dunne might say.

Liveline, weekdays, Radio 1; The John Murray Show, weekdays, Radio 1; Tom Dunne, weekdays, Newstalk; Miriam Meets, Sunday, RTE 1