Overt leprechaunism or small- ism is to be avoided, I gather, the two gentlemen merely acting as 'ambassadors of goodwill' for Mr O'Neill, who is a large fellow himself. He has rounded up 19-year- old Noel Smith from Knocketaggart, Co Cavan, who is 3ft 9in, and thrilled at the prospect.
Mr O'Neill needs one more volunteer. He must be under 4ft, and must neither smoke nor drink. That may be the hard bit. Finding an Irishman under 4ft who does not smoke or drink cannot be as easy as it sounds. I, personally, have no objection to this sort of bad taste so long as it serves some useful purpose, in this case demonstrating to the unemployed that there is work out there if they care to seek it.
ATTENDED the first night of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell in a new production which has opened in Dublin, a city to which Jeffrey feels particularly drawn, possibly because of the presence here of as many loopers and inebriates as he can find in Soho.
The most moving line in the play, as well as the most familiar, is delivered by Maria Lennon, the delicious actress who plays Bernard's wives/mistress. It is: 'You make me sick.' Michael Heath, Stanley Reynolds and I spent a pleasant lunchtime some years ago collating instances of abuse which had been thrown at us by a series of beloveds. An illustration: 'You think you have friends, don't you? But they all despise you. You should hear what they say about you when your back is turned.' Another: 'Have you had a good look at yourself recently?' Too bad we three did not incorporate them in a play of our own, but Keith Waterhouse has done it for us. The last line of his play ('I had an erection last week. I was so amazed, I took a photograph of it') was, in fact, collected from Jeffrey by me and first reported here.
I met Bob Geldof that evening in the lobby of the Shelbourne Hotel. I was on my way to the play, he to chair a debate at Trinity, under the auspices of Amnesty International, on the question of whether repressive or corrupt regimes should get aid before they liberalise themselves.
I was in the course of giving him my opinion on this vexed subject when he interjected, 'You're the Jeffrey Bernard of Dublin, of course.' It is the one suggestion guaranteed to induce apoplexy. Mr Bernard and I have absolutely nothing in common, I explained sweetly, but a mutual loathing. I was not unduly dismayed to learn last year, for instance, that he had fallen over and injured himself outside the Coach and Horses after reading an article I had written about him in the London Evening Standard.
Met 'Sir Bob' again after the show. He is a kindly chap but appeared distressed by the standard of debate at the Trinity Hist Soc. I could have warned him. Those who speak there no longer read Grattan, Burke or Sheridan; indeed I doubt they read newspapers. We got on to the subject of Sean MacBride, co-founder of Amnesty and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize. Was his French accent bogus, Bob inquired. Not entirely, I answered. He was brought up in Paris, where his mother, Maud Gonne, had gone to escape her husband, one of the heroes of 1916, who was in the habit of beating her up.
I launched thereafter into some interminable anecdote about MacBride and his fondness for corrupt Africans, also recommending at length a book on Somalia by my late friend, Gerald Hanley. This was in spite of earnest entreaties, by others present, for me to shut up. Eventually, it dawned on me that they would rather hear Bob Geldof talking about Somalia than me talking about Somalia. So would I.
'AS REDUNDANT as the papal pudenda,' is a favourite simile of mine, brought to mind by the penile severance case in the States. I have never known so slight an incident to provoke so much conversation, most of it nervous.
I admire the capacity of Americans to make money out of private grief. I gather that the sexually impaired American has made a fortune out of merchandising since he became famous. I could do with a similar fortune myself, and was wondering if some lady might oblige me, for the apparatus in question has been redundant for some time and there is little prospect of its being called into employment in the near future. I would gladly part with it for a few hundred thousand.
'It wouldn't stand up in court]' shrieks a female friend.