The blonde's bombshell

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I am supposed to have appeared on a television programme last night, transmitted from Dublin to London, Prague and Johannesburg, in celebration of the new year. You will know better than I do whether I did so or not. It was to have revolved around a party thrown by my friend Klinke, the Southern aristocrat, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford and master of stupendous gaffes which leave him unembarrassed but me with egg on my face.

Mary and Brighid may have been present. I hope so. Did I point to a certain ornament on the wall? I had intended to. It is the arse of a roe deer, which Klinke finds comical, or at least amusing. When Klinke points out that he has been stood up by upwards of 60 women during his brief stay in this country, I murmur that his sense of humour may have something to do with it; Irish women are not cavalier about offers of entertainment, but they might draw the line at being romanced beneath the rear end of a female animal.

It is a family heirloom, Klinke protests. If so, say I, the line may yet die out.

A GENTLEMAN in Kilburn has wagered pounds 16,000, in four separate bets, that the monarchy will be abolished by the year 2000. The bookmakers, in agitation, have dropped the odds from 100-1 against to 4-1. 'This man may know something we don't,' a spokesman says. I would doubt it. This Kilburn punter is probably an Irish republican, putting his money where his mouth is. You cannot go into a pub in that insalubrious north London suburb without being presented with a plastic bucket by someone soliciting funds for 'the struggle'.

If this gentleman will kindly get in touch with me, I will gladly relieve him of another pounds 16,000.

WE HEAR sad stories about this time of year, and the saddest has been retailed to me by Oliver Caffrey. He tells me that a friend of his, seated in Bewley's cafe and innocently consulting his newspaper, was asked in dulcet tones by a stupendous Nordic blonde if she might join him. Instantly, he lost interest in reading about the Major-Reynolds 'peace' initiative and engaged her in polite conversation, in the course of which her presence in Dublin, marital status (none) and so on were fully explained to him.

'I like this city very much,' breathed she in conclusion, 'and I like you. Would you care to call on me at four this afternoon? There will be nobody there.' This friend of Oliver's said he could indeed manage that favour. 'So what happened?' said I, falling for it. 'She was being perfectly truthful,' Oliver said. 'There was nobody there.'

I am used to this phenomenon myself, having run entirely out of blondes who can be trusted to be there when I need them. I think I could do with a new one. Oliver threw a party at his mansion in Kildare last week in order to introduce us to the cellist Caroline Dale, who is said to be the Nigel Kennedy of her instrument. This did not put me off in the least, nor should it have. I had been some hours at the dinner table, greatly enjoying the company of the voluptuous ladies to either side of me, and wondering when the recital might commence, before discovering that the lady to the right was our recitalist.

Brahms, whom I can take or leave, was performed about midnight, but it is acceptable to wander off at these functions and, besides, she had already performed Bach. Later, she got up a jam session with the pianist ffrench-Davis, consisting, so far as I can remember, of Cole Porter, the Beatles and the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'. I abandoned it about 5am and came down at luncheon to find it resumed. Some gentlemen were got up for the hunt, but not me, and not Oliver (the weather was filthy). We order these things well in Ireland.

I was driven thereafter over the hills to a theatrical entertainment at Leixlip Castle, distressing my hosts when I declined dinner afterwards, pleading exhaustion. There is too much to do in this damn country, and not enough energy to do it with.

I AM thought to be slightly peculiar because I put flowers up on the mantlepiece. I was, as a matter of fact, accused of sexual disorientation by one of our senior politicians when I turned up in the Unicorn Restaurant last week bearing an armload of them bought from a pavement flower- seller in Baggot Street. 'Who are they for?' said he. 'For myself,' said I. This brought forth snorts of sarcasm.

'You would be surprised,' I said, 'the effect it has on women. The same goes for employing a cleaning lady and wearing ironed shirts. It makes women think that you might not be a complete savage.' 'So why are you still living alone?' said he. Good question, but Mary says that with any luck I should get myself a new blonde pretty soon. I do hope so. The Unicorn is as good a place as any other to go looking for one. It is inhabited by politicians, diplomats, journalists and actresses in about equal measure. Somewhere among them, or maybe just down the road, burdened by pounds 15-worth of blossom, I must surely find the girl of my dreams. Then I will be in trouble again for sure. She will probably turn out to be a barrister.