The old coat hanger trick

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The Independent Online
CRIMINALS and the police notoriously have a great deal in common. They speak more or less the same language, for instance, display a blithe disregard for legal niceties and more or less the same taste in women. They drink in the same public houses. Also, they have in common the bent wire- hanger trick. This is a method of burglarising motorcars, very useful when you lack a vehicle to get you somewhere or, alternatively, possess one and can remember where you left it but have locked the keys in it.

Women, I notice, do this with some frequency. I know this for a fact, for I have been driven around by women for the last 30 years, being unwilling to drive myself. Bea locked the keys in the car the other night. We had been to the theatre to see Congreve's romp The Double Dealer and to dinner afterwards. The car was parked about 100 yards from Leinster House, the Dublin parliament buildings. We had no coat hanger on us, so rang the bell of friendly old Buswell's Hotel, where our parliamentarians disport themselves when (rarely, thank God) they are in session. The night porter is well able to recognise me.

'I have one behind the desk,' said he, producing it immediately. It was bent already into the requisite shape, resembling a fish- hook suitable for catching shark. Unfortunately, I am not good at this sort of operation; since I cannot drive motorcars, I rarely have occasion to break into them.

We were doing our best, however, when approached by a burly Civic Guard, no doubt charged with the defence of parliament and on the alert for miscreants who might be in the vicinity. 'Is that your car?' said he sternly.

'It's mine,' said Bea.

'Right,' he said. 'Would you ever hand me that yoke?' and, dexterously, intruded it through the window. 'It's a fiddly thing to do,' he apologised, as it took him about two minutes to complete the process. Are the police not wonderful, sometimes, we reflected as we drove away.

MICHAEL ALISON MP, having been treated to a screening of Red Hot Dutch in the House of Commons, complains: 'The worrying thing about this sort of programme is that you reach saturation level and the appetite grows for more explicit material.' No respectable pornographer would agree with him. Constant exposure to the more wholesome sort of exhibition is sufficient to keep the appetite slaked. This has certainly been my experience. I, for instance, have been exposed to transmissions from both Dail Eireann and the Commons for some years without developing any appetite for more explicit material, such as the broadcast of the proceedings of select committees, and most devoutly hope neither I nor anyone I hold dear will ever be tempted to such depravity.

The Dutch pornographic channel is another matter. I may inquire, out of sheer curiosity, at the television shop in Dalkey whether it is available in Ireland. Apparently, lesbian scenes feature quite often on it. This strikes me as a far more attractive proposition than halitosis-ridden politicians barking at one another.

I DO NOT suppose anyone wants a duck? I prefer them dead, myself, but this one is live. It is a fine creature, white, with an orange bill on it. I had never noticed one of this ilk before as I am ill-acquainted with the contents of barnyards and only recognise wild ducks by their multi-coloured plumage as they come in over the guns. This one makes a tremendous racket at sunrise, which is why he has to go.

The lady who collects pigs and goats in Kildare ('Would you like to see the new pig?'; 'Not particularly, thank you') has decided the duck is redundant. She got it into a cardboard box and delivered it to her stepmother, who has a pond. The offer was declined.

So far, the only serious offer is from Belfast. But can one, in all conscience, send an innocent duck to Belfast? On reflection, I do not see why not. As the late Colin Blakely remarked to me, when I asked him why he played Thorvald in A Doll's House with a Belfast accent, 'Sure, why shouldn't I? Isn't there a fiord in Belfast?' To this fiord, I think, we may safely despatch the duck.

I AM told by the Botanical Gardens here that there is rarely any such thing as a premature or early spring and that we should not therefore despair to see daffodils or the like appearing before the appointed hour. They come when they come. The climate is as benign as it always has been, neither warmer nor colder. Some species of daffodil, indeed, celebrate Christmas, as I do not.

Anyway, the sea is fairly calm and that angry persistence of waves and wind, which was beginning to bore me, has left off. I no longer have acres to cultivate but only a rock garden. I can bring myself to regret that some of the fuchsia has survived the winter, but I do not share the puzzlement of botanists at the near-universal human instinct to anticipate spring. When the windows cease rattling, you can turn off the central heating and some stirring in the blood tells you that you are about to embark on some lunatic enterprise. God send me lunacy.