Saturday 16 February 2019

Michael O'Doherty: Van, have your old lady sort this silly shrub spat out, man

For those who wonder how the other half live, an ongoing court case should provide some useful insight.

In the real world, we worry about our jobs or businesses, taking home enough money to make ends meet or to honour our wage bills.

And when we have a spare second to ourselves, we hurl abuse at greedy, scam-artist politicians.

In a parallel universe, however, high atop a hill in Dalkey, a person goes to the High Court over the difference between a shrub and a tree.

The person in question is Mrs Van Morrison in one corner, and their equally well-heeled neighbours, Desmond and Mary Kavanagh in the other.


Van's missus, Michelle, has gone to court to object to the planning permission given to the Kavanaghs' new home, which she says will allow them to 'significantly overlook' her property.

She is also objecting to the fact that they didn't stick to previous permission, when they planted shrubs instead of trees, resulting in her property's privacy being further compromised.

Let me shed some context on this spat. A neighbouring house to the Morrisons is currently on sale, for €11.5m. One of the justifications for the prices in this area is the stunning views of Killiney Bay which are afforded to every house. It seems, ironically, that while the wealthy will pay a fortune for a view of the sea, none of them wants anyone to be able to see them.

I can understand the family's desire for privacy, especially for their children, from the prying eyes of the media. But this morbid fear of their elderly, millionaire neighbours snooping in at them seems faintly ridiculous.


What exactly are the Morrisons afraid they might see? Van sitting grumpily in a lounger for three hours, muttering under his breath about how someone ripped him off 40 years ago, before shuffling off in his brothel creepers to bang out another album before tea?

Judging by the demeanour he's been portraying for the past decades, I can't imagine that Sunday afternoons on the Morrison lawn are much of a spectator sport ...

Let's not forget, either, that extreme privacy can have major drawbacks.

One being the danger that, if no-one knows anything about your private life, they're liable to believe anything, no matter how far-fetched.

A point which Michelle and Van should know better than anyone, given the misinformation about the latter's paternal status earlier this year.

I used to be a huge fan of Van. I never missed a concert and tolerated his terminal grumpiness, his general air that he wanted to be anywhere except performing for his fans at that time. But recently his muse has waned and, far from mellowing in his old age, he seems to have become even more cantankerous.

Nowadays, in short, you couldn't pay me to sit through one of his gigs.

My suggestion? Sort it out like civilised human beings.

The prospect of pistols at dawn on Killiney Hill between two neighbouring OAPs to sort out a point of honour, with Madame George filling up the air and Van looking on perhaps dressed in one of those troubadour shirts he used to favour in the 60s?

Now that I'd pay to see...


We all have things we did in our youth that we're now embarrassed about, so I did feel a tinge of sympathy for Andrew Booth, the publisher of Ireland's porn mag Blue Ireland ("It's exactly the magazine Ireland needs," he lied). Andrew was revealed last weekend as previously being the editor of a college magazine which wrote articles spoofing Josef Fritzl and the Columbine massacre.

The mag in question was Trinity College's Piranha, a name which rang a none too distant bell in my mind. Yes, I was once that soldier. And as editor of Piranha during my time in TCD, I form part of a club which names some notable journalists and broadcasters amongst its ranks.

All of us, I'm sure, look back on our time in Piranha with a mixture of pride and embarrassment; I know that I certainly cringe when I think of some of the things we wrote, unfettered by the constraints of libel, and unencumbered by maturity or good taste.

The difference is that myself and previous editors, and I say this with due modesty, have gone on to bigger and better things. Of which the same most certainly cannot be said of Andrew, as he leers at pictures of Jenny from Waterford -- her chief goal in life is "a threesome with two lads" -- as a small stream of dribble oozes from the corner of his mouth.

It's alright to make mistakes, offend people and generally behave like a tit during your formative years.

The important thing to remember, once you've finished school and college, is to grow up.

A small matter which seems to have escaped Andrew Booth.

Relax kids, a mediocre Leaving Cert didn't do me any harm...

Is the Leaving Certificate the most important few days of your life, or an over-hyped irrelevance on the road to a happy and successful adulthood?

Well, let me share this thought.

When I sat mine, I got a stunningly mediocre 420 points or so. Not once in my life has it impeded me; not once have I used even the minutest bit of information that I crammed into my head in order to get those grades; and not once have I ever judged a job applicant on the number of points they obtained.

Is that the sounds of teenagers all around Ireland dropping their pens and walking out of exam halls? Ooops ...

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