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belfast/ dublin child

So, last night, whilst recovering from our appalling hangovers (more about that later. Possibly), P and I found ourselves watching Parkinson, on which Dara O'Briain was a guest. He was very funny, and we were feeling quite proud of One of Our Own (tm) winning over The British with his roguish wit, and then smarmy old Parky said something along the lines of "so, growing up in Ireland, you must have been strongly affected by the Troubles." I mean, for fuck's sake! He's from Cork and Dublin, and like the vast majority of us, unless he has immediate family up there, he wouldn't have been affected by it at all. I found it really annoying that O'Briain was expected to have some great view about a "struggle" that really should be affecting people in Britain just as much as it does here. He did point this out, more or less, and went on to talk about playing gigs up there, but P suggested that he should have said "I dunno, it's your country." Sadly, he didn't. How on earth can an adult like Michael Parkinson think that Dublin is a warzone? I mean, seriously, doesn't he read the papers? Does he know anything about the political situation in the North, in what is technically part of his own country?

But then of course, Parky responded to one of O'Briain's anecdotes about meeting a snotty surfer in Australia who turned out to have a strong Irish accent by going "ah, he had an Irish brogue!" Oh, fuck off.

Another part of the interview which was quite strange was later, when O'Briain was talking about his granny who played an active role in the War of Independence (pointing out, I should add, that this was over 80 years ago). He told one of the sort of stories (soldiers coming in and flinging the dinner around the room looking for hiding rebels) which almost everyone in the country probably has in their family - my great-grandparents had people hiding in their house for weeks on end, my great-grandfather had a gun put to his head by the anti-Treaty forces for hours in front of his family while their cousin, a British army officer, was lurking upstairs. These stories of war-in-the-home are completely normal here, the sort of things that just happened to one's grandparents when they were kids, and perhaps we forget that Britain hasn't had armed combat on the streets for several hundred years - hideous bombing, yes, which is much worse and killed much more people, but no German soldiers actually running through the streets and shoving guns in your granny's face. Parkinson seemed amazed and enthralled by what was apparently an exotic subject, and it was another reminder that however similar middle class Dubliners may be to their British counterparts, there are still odd differences.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2005 01:51 pm (UTC)
On a similar level this is exactly like any interview with any well-known Jewish person.

"Now when did your family come to England?"

"And what happened to them during the second world war?"

"So most Jewish families started off in the East-End, did yours?"

"You're descended from a line of tailors/rabbis/Jewish butchers etc., you were never tempted to join this trade?"*

*This last one usually requires the answer of "Yes, but that was 150 years ago and my family are now very mixed trades."
Feb. 20th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
"so, growing up in Ireland, you must have been strongly affected by the Troubles."

Does anyone answer, "Yes, I have been very affected - by extreme feelings of ANNOYANCE because I get asked stupid ass questions about it all the time by a lot of twits."

Feb. 20th, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC)
We were watching this too, and, leaving aside Parky's odd lack of knowledge about Irish geography, though DÓB was wonderfully funny, especially talking about surfing and things like bullets in his granny's Christmas pudding. Possibly the funniest living Irishman. He went to the same school as I did, you know... (Although years after I'd left.)
Feb. 20th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)
:shakes head:

So in other words, I the Yank am more qualified, in this case, than this git of a broadcaster? Yeefuckinhaw.
Feb. 21st, 2005 11:58 am (UTC)
I got so fed up when I moved to the UK that I started telling some of the more nosy people that, no actually, I'm not a Catholic or a Protestant, I'm Jewish. Followed by a little bit of information about the Dublin Jewish community to persuade them that there are indeed Irish Jews - by the time I'd get to "well, the first president of Israel was from Dublin" they were absolutely convinced I was Jewish (as long as they weren't themselves, of course).

Amazingly, all questions about Norn Iron dried up at that point, because obviously everyone wears a little label and the Jews don't get touched.

And my granny's favourite story was how to piss off the nuns when you were late for school in Limerick: "I was out walking with a British officer!"
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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