My looks and my money have gone

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The Independent Online
Mugged in Dublin. An unfortunate and deeply humiliating, as well as expensive, experience. I was never assaulted or robbed in four years in New York. 'No one attacks you, Stan,' I was told, 'because you look too goddam mean.' Have I lost my looks? I fear so.

Three of my assailants were children, led by an adult Fagin-like creature claiming to be a police officer. I could tell immediately that he was not, as he did not adopt that deferential attitude one has come to expect from the force. Besides, he had in his hand one of those plastic cups which our itinerants use for begging, but are not on issue, I think, even to plainclothes cops.

It had been a pleasant evening up to that point, as everyone inevitably recounts when detailing some similarly unhappy experience. A Japanese dinner with one of my favourite blondes. She, having more sense than myself, had spotted these vermin on the pavement, trawling among a crowd of Welsh rugby supporters, but I had put her in a taxi home and was alone (thank God) when set upon. Appeals for help to the surrounding Welsh were unavailing.

They took no notice as I was pinned to a motorcar by the three children - the eldest a pretty girl of about 12 - while Fagin butted me in the face and the girl expertly rifled pounds 120 from my trouser pocket. Then came the indignity of trying to gain admission to my favourite hotel to summon aid: the bouncers (there to bar entrance to unruly fans), were reluctant to allow me in, for I was covered in blood.

Oh well; an everyday story of modern urban life. Could happen anywhere. One feels a little ill afterwards from the shock and the indignity. There is only one word for it and that is 'drat'. Drat them all. Drat the police for being nowhere in evidence. Drat the government for its non-provision of condign punishment (cf W S Gilbert). Drat the Welsh. Drat ourselves who allow these children to be trained up by Fagins. Drat the law that does not allow a respectable gentleman such as myself to carry a gun. Drat the police assumption, now widespread, that it is our own fault if we are assaulted by footpads when emerging from a restaurant after dinner. Above all, drat me.

THE Jeffrey Bernard show is coming off here after only half its planned run. I suspected it might. For a start, it is English and there was a perhaps justified suspicion here that we are well enough provided with our own drunks and mad women without paying to see actors impersonate the London variety. There is also the reluctance of Dublin critics to countenance any production that might portray London as in any way more sophisticated and metropolitan than our own dear capital. Locking yourself in a pub toilet or setting yourself on fire while in bed undoubtedly strike these gentlemen as instances of metropolitan sophistication which we cannot hope to emulate. Hence the thumbs down.

I hope they are kinder to Siobhan O'Casey's production of her father's masterpiece, The Plough and the Stars, which is to be given to us next week. Drunks and gunmen figure in this play; the drunks are treated sympathetically, the gunmen are not. In the prevailing political climate, however, I fear that it will be slated. Drunks are out, but gunmen are in.

THE MUGGING had one beneficial effect: word travels fast in this town and I got a sympathetic phone call from another of my favourite blondes, from whom I had not heard in a while. If being beaten up by savage children is the price I have to pay for hearing from her, then I will gladly pay it.

ATTENDED an exhibition of Michael Farrell's artworks at the Taylor Gallery. Many of these are on the theme of James Joyce's tie, Joyce having famously told off an artist, who was trying to trap his soul on canvas, to concentrate on getting his tie right. I suppose it was a good joke at the time, but it strikes me as a bit stale at the moment, like the report of Edna O'Brien's unveiling a plaque at one of Joyce's squats in London, fresh from her 'interview' with Gerry Adams and heckled by Joyce's grandson. (Very well: I would have bought him a bottle of champagne if I had been present.)

There was a good bullfight disembowelment scene in Farrell's show, which I might have bought if I had had a chequebook on me, but fortunately I had not.

Missing from the show was a sculpture depicting a certain Irish bishop and his inamorata in an act of passion. It had been locked up somewhere, lest it be seized by the Gardai on grounds of obscenity (highly unlikely these days), but word went around that canvases, etchings and posters based upon it were available for viewing around the corner in the basement of a pub.

Anthony Cronin, an eminent critic, novelist and former cultural adviser to C J Haughey, accompanied me through the gale-swept streets for a preview of these artefacts. We got through the security only with some difficulty. The pictures were presented to us. 'That,' said I, summoning up all my critical sense, 'is not how babies are made.'

'Let's get out of here before the rest of them arrive,' said Cronin.

Oh God, oh Dublin. I long for London or New York, if only for a week. If you are going to be mugged, you might at least choose your venue.

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