Have you heard of the popular Irish colloqialism ‘away with the fairies’? It basically refers to an individual who may be a dreamer, a fantastist or fanciful. They are usually harmless, but you take all commentary with a pinch of salt. You might smile indulgently at their whimsical attitude. You really wouldn’t take their advice or even directions to the local Spar. You definitely shouldn’t give them a position of power. We shouldn’t have to smile indulgently at manical statements from someone with a seat in the government.
I am aware that being a politician must be be a very tricky business. You can’t please everyone and sometimes you can’t please anyone.
I have already angrily ranted about our government’s lack of productivity in creating an effective health system and the effect on our people. My father being directly affected (see A Disgusting State and Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia? to see my full wrath). I am too emotive to be objective on the topic, but reading about MRI reports being screwed up as a scandal with no comeback, how can emotions not rule? Communication errors are the reason my father still hasn’t been operated on.
So think of this and then imagine how it must feel when you look at the news and hear what Kerry TD, Danny Healy Rae is blathering about in the Dail or as a Dail representative to the media, our centre of state where problems should be fixed.
Just read this report. Danny Healy Rae on Kerry Roads. He is blaming dips in a Kerry road on fairies. This caricature in government has given me a good laugh at times and I love the sketches that Gift Grub can offer on him, but now, in all seriousness, give it a rest. I know I spend most weekends searching for fairies in Lough Boora and more recently The County Arms hotel in Birr (don’t forget Gillighan’s World of Our Sligo Highlights) but this is with and for the indulgences of a three year old and a one year old, and not the nonsense of a middle aged man with a seat in the Dail. I enjoy an old Pishogue as much as the next just not when life should be taken seriously. Watch this clip for Comedian Mario Rosenstock’s impression of TD Danny Healy-rae. A funny clip. I laughed heartedly at it. He just shouldn’t get to sit in the Dail and spout sh@## as he does all the time as you can watch Danny Healy-rae on climate change. Remind you of any insane world leader?
Why have we this joke figure present when our country is making decisions? Obviously, I agree with democracy but really can understand why people would vote for such absurdity. Clearly no one listens to him, if not for comedic reasons, as we see other politicians constantly laughing at his comments on God and the Little People, so why is he wasting a seat in Dublin?
Away with the Fairies? Not just Danny Healy Rae. The Dail itself and the people who put him there.
Let it be said, I don’t have a Healy Rae problem in general. It is just Danny as a representative of the Irish people in government.
Ireland. Get a grip. While our politicians see fairies, our Irish people can’t get operations.
Sick people can’t get funding for medicine. We are living in a nation that can eat steak for dinner, drink Prosecco for brunch but cannot have heart surgery in a reasonable wait period.
I respect people’s religion. I have a love of our sagas and traditional myths. I just think blaming fairies for bad roads and discounting climate control by quoting the Bible story of Noah’s Ark as historical proof is more than a bit ‘Irish’.
We love a laugh in Ireland. Not at our expense though.
The title of this piece would make my students sit up and listen. I teach boys, aged 12 and up (could be 20 +) so a potentially rude sounding topic is their cup of tea. They might say something like ‘sounds a bit dodge Miss’ and they would be right. So, what am I poking holes in? I had an experience the other day that made me wonder. Am I a pedant when it comes to bloopers in movies? I think not. I don’t look for blue cars turning into red cars, mirrors on a right wall appearing on the left of it etc. In fact when I do spot a blip (Hey Tony Soprano had no pizza and now he had a full one!) I get a surprise. So no. I am not a continuity error pedant. Yet something happened that I did not like. I found myself poking holes in a much loved flick from my childhood.
My children love the TV. Am I allowed say that? Is it socially acceptable? Should I fib and say they don’t? They do though. It is the truth.
Recently we have had a stab at the odd movie at the weekend that isn’t Frozen. Frozen viewing is a religion in our home as many others (it has hypnotic powers that I find unbelievable) but we are beginning to branch out. I got excited! So on this rainy weekend when the girls had taken turns in being poorly, I introduced The Aristocats. Imagine my excitement! Cute Disney classic from my youth! In the bracket of such Disney movies as The Sword and the Stone, The Black Cauldron or Robin Hood, this is a movie without the desperate underlying tragedies or eerieness of (loved yet paining) classics such as Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland or Pinochio. It is cute and funny, boasting excellent lesser characters
and catchy tunes without too many moments of tear inducing emotive drama. Ihadn’t seen it in years but could sing all the tunes at the drop of a hat. I was delighted to share it with my girls.
As we watched, I found something strange happening. It was still cute. Adorable even. I was singing along. Nothing seemed to have changed…but what was it? What was making me uneasy?
It was me! Cynical, thirty seven year old pedantic me with my big old teacher head on. I was poking holes in a Disney Classic.
What to do? Having read one of Suzie81speaks.com’s posts about Blogger Inspiration Ideas for Blogging, I realised this was a case for Blogging Therapy.So to cure myself of this horrid feeling, I will talk about it. I will point out the so-called ‘holes’. I will deal with them. I will then live by The First Commandment of the religion I follow which is Frozen and LET IT GO. These are not merely continuity errors (as with all films, there are tons of these here but they don’t bother me), but just observations of a movie made in a different generation being watched in 2017.
I can then continue to enjoy the cutest movie of all time.
Let the Hole poking commence… (definitely sounds dodgy now)
A Myriad of Accents. Disney of old does this. American Accents in the midst of Sherwood Forest, Camelot or even in the jungle which usually don’t bother me but on this occasion it was all I could hear. American male kittens born to a very French (Hungarian) Duchess (Adelaide). One of her kittens (the cutest little girl, Marie, white with a dinky pink bow) is clearly English. Duchess herself is Eva Gabor. Only thing more Hungarian would have been Zsa Zsa. Hmmm. Yet all her children sound as if they come from other different countries. This didn’t bother a younger me. It also wasn’t bothering my little girls. The only true French accent came from Maurice Chevalier in the opening song. Love that song!
The Single Mother. In 1988, I never once questioned where Duchess’ kittens came from. Who is the Daddy? As an older person, with thirty years of bad magazines, tabloids and chat shows under my belt, I now cannot help but wonder who fathered these precious and loved kittens? Duchess is a rocking single mother in an aristocratic world. I had never realised as a child. I hadn’t even questioned it! What sort of thought process did innocent me have back then? My girls however asked me several times. Where are the kittens’ Daddy? They weren’t satisfied until Thomas O’Malley (American Irish I assume (Phil Harris voiceover) rocked up.
Currency. Madame’s will talks in dollars. Surely francs wouldn’t have confused a nation? Why assume the American currency for a Parisian movie? Oh, the past!! You had little faith in the intelligence of humanity!
Credits. This isn’t really a hole but more an observation on the style of an older movie. As with Cinderella, my eldest girl couldn’t understand why there was so much writing before the movie began. It made me realise that my generation accepted credits at the start of a movie and lengthy intros just as we did with music back then (November Rain, Stairway to Heaven etc.) I found myself hurrying up the credits so my little ones wouldn’t lose interest before the pretty little film had begun. I didn’t like that feeling! We are now living in a ‘don’t want to wait’ world and this old movie was just a reminder of that. Watch the credits here for a lovely burst of Olde World Nostalgia. They are lovely to watch really, all orchestral soundtrack and different shades of colour themed to the film. See, I still love it really!
That’s it all. Not too bad really. I actually feel much better! These are not awful things but just changes to adapt to in this modern world.
The Aristocats is not where the holes should be poked. In fact, the interesting bloopers or questions lie with me. I have changed, as have the times and not the Disney classic. In some cases these are good changes, so be not afraid to rewatch those classic movies.
I will leave you with the best quote from the film and having exorcised my pedantic demons, can watch this charming (despite a villainous butler) tale again viewing the ‘holes’ as cute quirks to add to the rest of the adorable moments in this movie and take from it message to women who are happy in their independence.
‘Christmas. A Very Peculiar History’ by Fiona Macdonald is a pocket sized, prettily packaged stocking filler essentially. A blue, red and white garland of colour, images of Santa and gilt edged designed, it is a busy looking piece. In fact, it is a history book, documenting every element of Christmas with the story behind it, often strange and sometimes sinister, to compare with the perceived serenity of the event itself.
This factfile is not fully for the doe-eyed Christmas lover, wishing to indulge in a cinnamon and ginger scented fantasy of a magical and fairy filled yuletide dream. It may be more for the pedant at Christmas, one who enjoys the mulled wine and tradition but would not blink at the grittiness that the origins of our Christmas may reveal.
My first impression of this little book was based on purely a visual element and was one of joy. As a lover of curios and old world books, see Aesthetically Irresistible Books for proof of this indulgence), I was enchanted by this little lovelie.An old world cover, vintage festive imagery and cover prints makes this a very festive feast for the eye.This version appears very Christmassy. I thought of all sorts of people who may love to possess such a dinky treasure. Five pages in however and these names in my head began to alter to completely different set of people! This is not a book for the faint hearted. It is not for the Christmas jumper wearing, Snowball drinking, tinsel loving all-singing, all -dancing number one Chrstmas fan. In fact, it may even even be best suited to the -gulp- Christmas cynic.
Later chapters present a more palatable information type rather than startling brute truths and returned me to the original expectation that I had held for the piece of non-fiction. Facts and truths of a festive nature. Likely this is because the book followed a chronological format and our past contains much more disturbing details than our recent past. Religion, violence, conflict- all too familiar themes of our human way of life. The book does not shield us from the real origins of Christmas. Yet it is a mind of information and is the result of extremely detailed study and clearly a work of love.
Overall, this book has the imperative ‘pick me up, put me down, pick me up again’ power that a little book of facts should. It taught me a tremendous amount about the Christmas season, a lot of which has managed to ply itself to my brain and which I retold knowingly as anecdote to- no doubt-rolling eyes and thoughts of ‘Know it all’…which is fine. Because I did know it all! I knew why mince pies were traditional and if they did include meat. I knew why Christmas was cancelled in 1644. I can identify the predecessors to our selection boxes- much candied or dried items. I know how the Sugar Plum fairy got her name.
It may be too late to gift this book this season but this is one that will not go out of date. An interesting read for many, a terrifically beautiful piece to peruse through its use of illustration and presentation, this little book will return to my coffee table every Christmas- even if just for decorative purposes! I may not encourage my Santa loving, Nativity acting eight year old niece to read it at night but there is many the person, young and old that would be enchanted by this little treasury of historical quirks.
As a Boolino friend I am occasionally sent books to review. I have recieved no payment, just a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank review. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own.
To start with, my babies aren’t coming to the wedding.
Just in case you thought this was a post about that kind of thing.
No. This is an adult only affair and I am glad. I love my babies but would they love a wedding? I don’t think so.
The invite arrived to our welcome. We were happy to be asked, glad to go.
Suddenly it is here and I am all over the place.
I know. We aren’t bringing children. This does not mean the organisation load is lessened.
It is an epic event. Organising the sitter. The food. The sleeps. The lifts. The cars. Pre planning. Pre shopping. Thinking ahead. I am the Thinker Ahead in our world. I am the Pre Planner. Work is busy, our evenings hectic and we are on the ‘eat (when we can), sleep (we wish), work (yup that always seems to be the case)’ hamster wheel and there is NO TIME for organising around Epic Events. I have squeezed in the planning into every spare minute of thought and action.
Sonething has got to give.
In this case it was my fashion.
Also our car’s cleanliness.
I almost bought a new dress. Emerald green. Knee length. Cap sleeves. 100 euro. Didn’t do it. Put it off.
Tried on my old dress.
It just looks horrible. My Two Babies in Two Years Belly is poking out nastily, almost asking people to think I am still pregnant. At least six months,they must mutter.
I have pulled out an oldie gown, so old it must be called ‘a frock’ that survived the Great Wardrobe Purge of pregnancy one. A silky purple and black affair, it is designed for the bigger booby. Didn’t look too ferocious on. Better than it used to.
It will do.
I have looked forward to this wedding. It is just now it is here, we are so tired from work and late nights with the little ones that I am nervous of staying out late!
How far the mighty have fallen.
Once a party girl, I loved the night life. Now I long for lie ins with my book. A glass of wine now makes me feel giggly and two induces a sickly feel. I can’t finish three.
Who am I? ?
Let us look at the positives. ..
The couple who are marrying are lovely. I want to celebrate their day.
The occasion is local. No big drive. Not far away should we be called on to return at haste.
We will have our dinner ‘handed to us’ as they say. No need to cook that particular meal…
Great craic to be had.
An Irish Wedding is a bit of a speciality of our culture. It can go on for a few days, especially if you are close to the wedding party. You might take out a small loan for the event ( Joke but only kind of as Ireland is ridiculously pricey) and you might not be right for a week afterwards healthwise, but this is how we roll. Gluttony in gold sparkles.
Food and alcohol are aplenty. Dancing is understood. Discos reign until 2:30 am. There might even be a few longhaulers hanging about in the late bar until the tired, weary bar folk beg for mercy.
It is a little while since I have been one of those people.
However, let us not lie. There are many times I was. In a younger, lesser responsibility filled world.
I am quite glad that is over for me! Can’t handle the pain and can’t afford the lack of sleep.
So haste to the wedding shall we say, on Saturday.
Saturday will be grand. The wedding day itself is not the problem. Really..
It is the next morning. Babies. Dodgy heads. Tiredness. Sore feet. Dora the Explorer. No guarantee of a midday nap.
I would like to invite you to do the same…should you wish!
Betsy. My first reason to smile today is because my second born is passing a huge milestone. Betsy is happy in the crèche. Betsy is my beautiful, smart, chuckling cherub, only eight months in this world and taking it over day by day with her charm. She started her induction this week as she will join the big crèche with her sister at the end of August when I return to teaching. Gigi found settling very tough but I am happy to say that Betsy is enjoying her time, largely due to a proud sister who has been acting as her protector and bodyguard! It is a weight off.
Weight Watchers. Iam sticking like glue to these classes as I find them vital to my losses. The people are enthusiastic. Lively. Honest. I always leave wanting to do better next week. I am on the no count programme (hate new smartpoints programme) and I think it is a million times better. I will wear the dress again!
Success. Mr Paper is doing magic without cigarettes. It has been so hard for him to quit and I am desperately proud of him to keep fighting. I know he can do it this time. It is brilliant.
London Baby! It is official. I am travelling with an old college friend to meet another old college friend in Finchley, London…this weekend no less. We will have time to catch up and have fun in London town. I can’t wait because I can relax about the trip finally. I can relax because I know the babies will be fine with their dad and nannas.
Shiny, happy people. Really, I mean healthy, happy family but who can resist dropping an R.E.M song title when appropriate? We are all doing well. Eggshells!we can deal with. Why is Everyone Crying? Not so easy. Thank God but recently we have slightly less crying. The evil teeth or whatever gremlin is causing her tears is hibernating and we can enjoy life again.
Have you five reasons to be happy today? I find sometimes they are hard to feel when the day is difficult. Today I can see the sun.
Easter was always about Lent ending to me. As as child, Lent was an insufferable length of time that stretched to infinity. I didn’t enjoy going to school. I didn’t eat sweets at school anyway. I just loved some timeout over the weekend with a book and a bar of chocolate.
I still do.
Suddenly Lent came along and stopped you in your tracks. Sacrifice? I may as well have given up happiness!
Easter started with Pancake Tuesday. It was fine.It just had that aura of the ‘beginning of the end’ about it as I attempted flipping pancakes.We were ten miles away from adventurous at all times in my house so the pancakes were basic with honey, lemon and sugar. I only add the good stuff now. Nutella. Strawberries. The pancakes seemed to cause arguments. We never had a decent frying pan for them, just the one pan from all year (a pan for all seasons) and inevitably they stuck.
I once called it Pancake Tuesday in front of my Granny. She wasn’t impressed. It was Shrove Tuesday. The Lord didn’t eat pancakes.
We then had Ash Wednesday. I counted the days on the calendar miserably. I also couldn’t eat meat that day. I didn’t like fish then either. Recently, my mother said she knew why I was adverse to fish then but fine with it now. We only cooked strong smelling cod. What a turn off. These days I make prawns. Lemon sole. Salmon. Pasta and pizza were not even given a thought of in our house back in the day. Where would you even get it?! Fancy foreign food, my Dad called it. So I ate Birds Eye potato waffles with peas in the holes and pretended they were windows in a tower block, like in the film ‘Rear Window’. As I said to another blogger recently, it isn’t very sacrificial when Captain Birds Eye is beaming at you!
Oh yes. Don’t forget the blob of ashes on the head. You must have it or people would think you weren’t at mass. When my Gran was very elderly, we would bring it to her.
One year I tried giving up bread. Everyone in school was appalled. That wasn’t sacrifice. This was when the mention of an Atkins diet would have everyone in tears laughing. Ham sandwiches were my go to. Big sacrifice for me! I definitely justified it as I munched on a Kit Kat.
When you did give up sweets, every bit of a treat you were given was put into an old tin and in my case, put under the bed. This was the big reward. Easter Sunday would dawn and I would be in that tin like a cat on cream.
There was one occasion when you could break Lent. St Patrick’s Day. I had no idea how that was allowed but I asked no questions and had a good old feast from the tin that day.
The Sunday before Easter would creep up on you like a spider in the night. You wouldn’t see it coming, then boom. You were at mass in your Sunday best, cramped into a pew with all the latecomers pushing into space that didn’t exist and you suddenly realised. Palm Sunday. Extra long mass. Sweat breaks out on your brow. I always felt nauseated by the end of this one due to crowds and heat. The blessed palm would sit on your fireplace for the remainder of the year reminding you of that mass.
It was kept for luck.
Holy Thursday meant holidays and time off. It also marked the start of a lot of masses. The Sunday dress would be earning its money that week.
Good Friday was tough but it was so near the goal. We secretly called it Fishy Friday. It had the air of waiting about it as a heavy silence slumped over the streets. Nothing opened. No shops. No pubs. No alcohol on this day. It didn’t matter to me but now I see pubs fighting to resist this. I think they are desperately greedy to even try. Give the beer a break! More waffles and peas for me. Why didn’t I ever think of a grilled cheese?!
Light began to dawn Easter Saturday. We often ate chicken that day. That day was good. No mass either.
Easter Sunday would be a trip to my other Granny. I loved going to her home. My uncle lived there too, next door with his family . His family kept sheep.
Can you guess the next part?
Yes, I would have spent the last visits playing with lambs. Once I named one Taz after the cartoon Tasmanian devil. We turned up. He was gone from his field. Like the others before, I was told his mother had knocked him into a ditch and he drowned.
Was that better than the truth?
I eventually copped that the sacrificial lamb on our table was indeed my old friend.
Nightmare more than celebration.
I had refused lamb before due to what it was. There was no way I would succomb now. I had no such reservations with pigs. Chickens. Cows. My mother even told me that it was beef once. Another lie! To trick me. I made a speech about lies, ten commandments etc. She stuck to the fib. Lamb was a luxury. I wasn’t going to be allowed cock my nose up to it.
I objected strongly to the mint sauce also. It had a very strong, unpleasant smell. To this day if I enter a restaurant and there is mint sauce on the menu, I can smell it from the door and am repulsed. I was a pain in the ass really.
So the chocolate egg was the best bit. Scratchy Sunday dress, another mass, lies about dinner, forced to eat a pet, being nauseated by mint sauce; it all ended. The egg came then. Cadbury’s. Chocolatey deliciousness! What has it to do with Easter ? My more severe Granny questioned it. I didn’t care. This was a good way to celebrate!
The Easter Bunny never came near us until the Celtic Tiger and media introduced him. We welcome you bunny with open arms!
What a great guy!
So now Easter has a whole new element of fun for children. Egg hunts and preparations. Arts and crafts of all kinds. Mine was religious and lamby but also full of sweet pleasures. I hope I don’t seem blasphemous. We all felt the same as children. Easter was interesting. Difficult. Definitely a marker for Spring. A paradoxical celebration. As it should be perhaps.
I look forward to being a Mum at Easter. The girls don’t get it yet. Gigi made some crafts but next year she will know why we made them!
‘Father Ted’. An Irish comedy institution. Wonderful satire and just a good giggle. On Sunday last, Ireland lost a great comedian and gentleman, star of the nineties Irish hit show ‘Father Ted’ Frank Kelly. Kelly was 77 years old when he passed, after a time of illness. In an interesting twist, he passed away on the 18th anniversary of the passing of his co star, Dermot Morgan who played the protagonist Fr Ted himself.
This may not mean a lot to you in another country. You may never have heard of these comedians or this show. Just believe me when I say that this comedy is not just popular beyond belief in Ireland, but was intrinsic in mirroring our quirky culture to us in a humorous way. Like most successful shows, it made three series only and one special. People may have been insulted in 1995 when the show first aired. Appalled Irish citizens, in disbelief at the blasphemous path this ‘comedy’ was taking. No one had dared take a pop at the priests before and if so, not to this level. Were we allowed laugh? Was it OK to tune in weekly? Should you even mention to the neighbours that you caught ten minutes? Yes, the catholic church has taken many hits in the last twenty years as corruptions are exposed, cover ups revealed and awful tragedies are grieved. Rightly, the Vatican must answer. Yet I do believe that staunchly catholic Ireland was laughing at ‘Father Ted’ before the church was under scrutiny, and as a culture, we felt ‘allowed’ to do so. Originally it was the young who knew the show. Now I would find it impossible to find an Irish person who can’t quote the show at the drop of a hat, identifying situation similiarities in the everyday or who hasn’t nicknmaed a colleague or friend after the show all because of the extreme popularity (and I say genius) of ‘Father Ted’.
I was fifteen when Ted first arrived on our screens. Most certainly it was frowned upon as it was a no holds barred comedic set up of an Irish parochial house, the people living there and Irish catholicism in general. The jokes were risky at the time ( Father Ted being noticeably aroused by attractive writer Polly Clarkson) and it was hardly surprising it wasn’t aired on an Irish TV channels, but a British one. This show was hysterical to us. We always spent the next day at school talking about it. Did you see the bit where Mrs Doyle fell out the window…wasn’t it gas when Jack threw the bottle at the telly. ..God, wasn’t it brilliant when Ted kicked Bishop Brennan up the arse!
Remember, we were the age where ‘Friends’ and ‘My So Called Life’ were taking over TV. ‘X-Files’. ‘ER’ . A golden age! I believe however that Fr Ted by far boasts the most longevity in remaining part of our lives and even filtering our vernacular.
Ted Crilly was placed on Craggy Island, remote, western and free of opportunities for excitement or fun with two priests considered dead losses. Fr Jack is old, alcoholic, sleazy and hates nuns. Hates people too.
Fr Dougal doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. As Ted quips, ‘ how exactly did you become a priest Dougal was it like collect ten packets of crisps?’.Dougal is played by Ardal O’Hanlon who portrays this young priest as a young boy, innocent and harmless. He is more interested in jam and films and seems oblivious to his position in life. Ted was clearly punished with this placement. This is funny to us as we know it happens in real life. Occasionally Ted has to defend charity bound money that was ‘only resting’ in his account, giving us some idea of the previous scandal he was punished for. Priests don’t get fired. They get punished. Anyone who has seen ‘Spotlight’ will painfully learn how far and wrongly that policy went. Ted is a gentle comedy that addresses these truths making us laugh.
Jack is one of the most iconic fictional characters of my time.’Drink.Feck. Girls’. This catchhrase was so inappropriate and immoral in the nineties, from the mouth of a priest, we giggled in horrified fashion delighted with the naughtiness of it all. Flashbacks into Jack’s past nod to the Christian Brothers’ schools and the revelations of cruelty and violence there. We see him leer at women. We see him shout and roar.
In his retirement, he drinks excessively, even downing the floor polish when nothing else suffices. Jack is an unpleasant, selfish human with no mercy in him. There is nothing funny about this on paper! Frank Kelly brought Jack to life with comedy and we find him hilarious to watch and imagine.Fr Jack on the loose, unsupervised falling into an AA meeting by accident, having his glasses stolen by crows or shoving the Holy Stone of Clonrickert into a Bishop’s butt to shut him up are funny to watch time and time again.
I defy anyone not to laugh at Jack on a roundabout on his chair, open mouthed in delight or telling Mrs Doyle what she can do with her cup of tea. ‘What do you say to a cup Father?’.
Many years ago I did a college diploma in journalism. The graduation ceremony was unusual, unlike my others. We were in a lecture hall in Dublin. Normal. We were called up and given our diplomas. Average. We were made pose as a group on stage smiling at our proud families like the last scene in a children’s nativity. Weird! This strange arrangement afforded me the chance to see who had been sitting behind myself and my family all the time. Frank Kelly. Beside myself, I was almost pointing and shouting to my sister, ‘Behind you, look behind you Father Jack!’. I spent the rest of the ceremony staring whilst trying not to get caught. A distinguished, well spoken gentlemen, proudly smiling with his graduate, it proved what a marvellous comic actor this man was to morph from Phileas Fogg into Jack Hackett for screen.
Recently I blogged about tea. Happily I found a blogging friend, blogging friendKatystuff was interested in what I had to say and I intrigued her with my definitions of ‘tea’. We had a good online chat and she then blogged her versions of tea in the US and her impressions of tea from her Irish genes. This was great! In my fumbling attempts to explain I had directed her to Fr Ted and Mrs Doyle ( the character, housekeeper to the priests) as giving excellent parodies of social occasions in Ireland involving tea! Little was I to know that I would blog about the show so quickly after due to the sad passing of Frank Kelly.
So to Mrs Doyle. Smiling, yet harried.Stooping, craggy and prune faced, yet full of energy.
This character satirises the traditional stereotyped Irish woman. The Mammy. The housekeeper. The working woman. She is expected to wear skirts. She is expected to cook and clean. She blatantly laughs at the good of a female lawyer arriving to the house from Corless, Corless and Sweeney. She is appalled by women who act outside their stereotype. Mrs Doyle can be found on the kitchen or scrubbing. Hyperbole is used beautifully to highlight the point as Mrs Doyle makes tea, sandwiches, and cleans but takes her role to the next level. She loves the milkman. She is obsessed with a country singer called Eoin McLove (thinly disguised Daniel O’Donnell). She also works on the roof. Digs holes in the garden. Baths Dougal McGuire.
Playing up a sexist Ireland is vital to the comedy of this show. From Mrs Doyle to parodying yearly actual Irish event ( not a pageant seemingly) ‘The Rose of Tralee’ with their own ‘Lovely Girls Competition’, we watched our attitudes on screen and laughed at ourselves.
I like to think we are much less sexist here now. I recently watched reruns of the US Celebrity Apprentice from 2012 and was bewildered at attitudes and comments that we would shun here now as unequal and sexist. Trump and his family (looking suspiciously like Twilight’s Volturi) barely bat an eye.
Maybe Ireland is progressing past its peers? After all we have had two female presidents in the last twenty years! This is a topic for again however as I don’t want to shake temperaments pre a US election! Who knows what’s coming down the line!
Lenton sacrifices also get the Ted treatment. The boys are challenged by their dreaded enemies, the priests on Rugged Island, led by Fr Dick Byrne, to a glorified ‘giving things up’ competition. The temptations of alcohol, cigarettes and, um, rollerblading pose an impossibility to give up and the big guns are called in. Boot camp style nun Sister Assumpta!! The tactics employed by the sister are questionable…and hysterical.
The lasting image however from the lenten episode is that of that of John from ‘John and Mary’, shop owners in a ‘behind closed doors’ mutually violent relationship that is always glossed over as marvellous in public, smoking in front of a fasting Ted. The words ‘lovely fags’ (slang for cigarettes) pop up on screen as he thoroughly enjoys the tobacco intake. On many occasions have I seen someone desperately trying to quit the habit with the same look on their face.
‘Fr Ted’ made the nineties unforgettable by placing many of its memorable moments in front of us. Like I said before, placing a mirror to our culture, showing us the truth but making us laugh. In the nineties, Ireland had a spate of wins with Eurovision, we were getting cocky with our talents! Linda Martin, Niamh Kavanagh and Eimear Quinn brought us three outright wins. The funny part is that along with kudos and glory part of the prize is getting to host the competition the following year. By win three, the Irish bank balance was looking dodgy and the organisers were getting itchy. It became widely thought that we deliberately sent our lesser powerful songs as we almost tried to lose the game. We just hadn’t the funds! The same thing happens in Ted. Ted and Dougal’s terrible but extremely memorable ballad ‘My Lovely Horse’ is brought to Eurovision much to their delight. Carefully chosen due to its awfulness, it gains ‘nul points’ across the board. Years later, many a busy Saturday night in Dublin,Cork or Galway, the lyrics to the wonderful ‘My Lovely Horse’ can be heard belted out across a joyful crowd. I have often given a bar or two of it myself.
My lovely horse Listen to the wonderful tune and watch the video somewhat inspired by country Irish band Foster and Allen!
Ireland’s teens were hooked! We were to see ourselves reflected however, in all our arrogant,somewhat over privileged, hormone raging, video gaming obsessed states through the character of Fr Damo. Fr Damo, bad influence on Dougal encourages rebelliousness and cheek, just wants to play games and even does the odd bit of smoking and stealing. Right on trend he puts the big question of the time to Dougal: ‘Oasis or Blur?’. It was so accurate. You just weren’t allowed listen to both in our nineties school, one or the other, as the feud between the bands found its way to the playground. The pop version of choosing between Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Your entire street credit rate depended on your answer …and who you were talking to!
The show also addressed the idea of censorship by the church in the most comical fashion with long lasting effects. ‘The Da Vinci Code’ film wasn’t to air until 2006. I remember I was travelling at the time and watched it in a Lima cinema. Everyone recalls the controversial aspects of the film and the reaction of the Vatican. I don’t remember a priest actually picketing an Omniplex, yet their side and opinions were clear- and often addressed from the pulpit. ‘Fr Ted’ managed to predict the reaction however with the arrival in the Craggy Island cinema of blue movie ‘The Passion of St Tibulus’.
Ted and Dougal are ordered by the authoritarian somewhat Stalinesque Bishop Len Brennan to picket the cinema and oppose the film .
Naturally they have to see it first to know what the problem is. They then take to the picket. Jack doesn’t bat an eye as he barrels past them to have a look at the potentially raunchy blockbuster. The whole plot is a brilliant send up of censorship and the power of the church to stop people from reading or watching unsuitable material. Harry Potter novels and Dan Brown’s famous thriller were to get this treatment in their course. I love that these books and novels came after the creators of the comedy showed us and were based on previous banned books and films such as Edna O Brien’s magnificent offerings.
In Ireland, when strikes are mentioned, tempers flaring and contentious issues may be raised, someone is sure to say, ‘Down with that sort of thing!’ and get the cautious reply, ‘Careful now…’ with the exact motions and gestures of Ted and Dougal. They are assured to win a wry laugh!
In truth, this hit was a stroke of genius from comedy writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews.
The casting magic team of Morgan, O’Hanlon, McLynn and the marvellous Kelly (alongside many, many other smaller roles by excellent actors)never miss a beat. We learned to laugh at ourselves. This generation can have faith without fear. We now have a voice that Ireland was indeed missing. ‘Fr Ted’ has played a key role in giving us this freedom. Immorality, blasphemy and anarchy may now be available to us- but look at us! Now that we are ‘allowed’ chose, we really have chosen wisely. Ireland is now wonderfully more open minded. Look at our recent track record.We may not be perfect. Like Bus Eireann however, we are getting there! All by ourselves! Thank you Ted, Jack and Dougal.