Skydiving in a skirt over Queensland

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The Independent Online
KLINKE'S mother's experiment in skydiving has passed off successfully. This intrepid lady from the Mississippi Delta, aged 63, finding herself at a loose end in Queensland, decided it would be a good idea to jump out of an aeroplane. Apparently this is a popular pastime among Australians and is advertised on television. Mrs Klinke had to give it a fling. Initially, the pilot had trouble recognising her as his client. Was it on account of her age, she asked him. 'No, lady,' said he. 'It was on account of your skirt. Most women prefer to jump in trousers.'

They went aloft in an aged Cessna. No boots could be found small enough to fit Mrs Klinke, so she was provided with twine to tie her shoes on securely. When she jumped, she was pleasantly surprised to find herself followed by a fellow with a camera, for the purpose of recording her descent. We await the photographic record with interest.

My supply of 150-proof rum cake is, at any rate, secured. Patricia Klinke most kindly sent me one of these articles at Christmas. Most of it was wolfed down by Mary Finnegan and Bea devoured the rest. It has a most interesting effect on blondes and I should be devastated to be deprived of further supplies. It has a beneficent effect on businessmen, also. Mrs Klinke feeds it to businessmen in the course of her charitable work, her son informs me. 'Before they know what's hit them,' says Klinke, 'they've signed over 10 per cent of their profits.'

WE celebrate a considerable triumph as the enlightened Mr Justice Costello, in the High Court, rules that the Office of Public Works, in commencing construction of an 'environmental centre' at Mullaghmore, in the Burren, a wonderfully wild place in Co Clare, had exceeded its statutory powers. They must now put it back the way they found it. The same goes for the monstrosities at our beloved Luggala, in Wicklow, and in the Boyne Valley.

I put this victory down to the planting, at dead of night, of a sacred seed at Luggala last summer. It was sent by Garech's wife, the Princess Purna, from India. It grows into a tree which resembles, I believe, the eucalyptus, and it is the Hindu belief that anything built over it is destined to swift destruction. In this matter, as in so many others, the Hindus are spot on. I must get a supply of these seeds. At the time of the planting I invoked 10,000 devils. They seem to have obliged me.

The OPW is a Victorian relic that considered itself to be above the planning regulations and was eager to get its hands on European money, no matter at what cost to our landscape. Its officials are incredibly arrogant, informing 150 of us at Wicklow, for instance, that 'democracy doesn't come into it' and 'I am not here to change my mind'. At the time, it seemed to us, despairingly, that what these people were doing was not strictly illegal, though surely contrary to natural justice. Through the valiant and unselfish behaviour of private citizens, these arrogant despoilers have been brought to heel. After Hubris comes Nemesis, and after Nemesis, Catharsis.

An interesting catharsis would be their entire abolition. Crown Privilege did not devolve to the Free State in 1922, resolved the judge. Apparently, the negotiators of the Treaty forgot to ask for it. Consequently, everything these people have done since then may be illegal. As their duties involve the building of prisons, police stations and housing for politicians, one could therefore theoretically decline to be taken to a place of detention on the grounds that it was an illegal construction, in violation of planning law, and our politicians could conceivably be evicted from their grandiose offices.

'Remember,' says my learned friend Roderick O'Connor, raising his glass, 'that these are the people who brought us our prisons and workhouses.' He speculates that the EC could ask for its money back, as it is contrary to EC law to spend its funds on a project contrary to the law of the state upon which they are lavished.

I WALK into Dalkey to get the papers (I cannot have them delivered because of a demarcation dispute between two newspaper-sellers), clutching two overdue videos for return to the shop, where they will mulct me of pounds 10 for having forgotten to return them. A small female child of angelic appearance, being dragged along by its mother, spots me. 'Oh look,' says the brat, 'an old man with videos]' Promptly, I bump into a lamp-post. I know children are necessary, and some of the small, blonde, female variety grow up to look like Bea or Mary Finnegan, but I should still like to dispense with them entirely, as in Bernard Shaw's fantasy (Back to Methuselah) until they are 18 or so.

Me, old? Good Lord, no. Not yet.

IN London I visit a restaurant in Motcomb Street that is frequented by Irish. The proprietor, who is well known to me, began his career in Billingsgate. Indeed, I remember him in the days when he was distinctly fishy. He is proud of the artwork that adorns his walls and indicates a full- length portrait depicting a reclining catamite smoking a joint. 'That's Bugatti,' says he.

'Bugatti?' say I. 'I didn't know he was that way inclined.'

'No,' says he, 'Bugatti was the artist. Now that Picasso over there, that's my insurance policy. It's insured for two million. It is a self-portrait.'

I examine it. The artist appears naked, except for one of those caps favoured by the Doges of Venice. It is as well it is so comprehensively insured. Paddy Picassos are very hard to come by. 'Philip is very proud of his collection,' says one of his regular customers. 'You should take a look around.' I will save it for a rainy day.