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Queen hits bullseye but lacks 'The Power'

Declan Lynch sings the praises of honesty, England and darts at ChristmasChristmas At The Aras TV3

Published 01/01/2012 | 05:00

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Declan Lynch sings the praises of honesty, England and darts at ChristmasChristmas At The Aras TV3

THERE was a remarkable moment in Christmas At The Aras, when Vincent Browne suggested to Sabina Higgins that she had had "a deprived childhood", growing up on a farm in Mayo.

Now, if Sabina was like anyone else in politics or in showbusiness, she would gladly have accepted Browne's analysis and would perhaps have embellished it with a few disturbing anecdotes which suggested that if anything, he was understating the misery of it, and the great distance she has travelled.

But Sabina is different. Since she wasn't aware at the time that her childhood was deprived, in fact she found it "wonderful". At Christmas it was even "magical".

I can think of only one other well-known person who has gone against that ancient tradition of impoverishing one's background, and that is RTE's John Creedon.

Incredibly, in his Retro Roadtrip series, "Creedo" had no problem telling us that back in the Sixties, his father owned a Mercedes. And he didn't even make much of the fact that the Merc wasn't for show, that there were 12 children to be transported, which made a big car a necessity if you wanted to go anywhere.

Anyone else in showbusiness would have spent half-an-hour making sure we all knew that his father couldn't really afford it because they had absolutely no money and in fact he had won it in a raffle, which was the only bit of luck they ever had.

But no, "Creedo" just put it out there, making him the only honest man in public life -- now he is joined by Sabina with her wonderful and magical childhood, the only honest woman.

NOT that honesty is the only thing that matters, as the Queen would tell you.

Everywhere she goes, people are happy and gay. Everything she does, such as walking and talking at the same time, is greeted with admiration.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that she managed to make her visit to Ireland meaningful on a number of levels.

Remarkably too, Tommie Gorman's retrospective The Queen's Speech was quite decent.

Usually, such programmes have a 99 per cent chance of being a complete load of cock, but Gorman somehow got around that, perhaps because there was such a vein of truth running through it, an energy created by the public admission of something we have always known deep down -- that the gods have granted us one astonishing stroke of luck, the fact that we are situated next to England.

Though personally, I still find an alleged highlight of the trip to be the most excruciating -- that moment when the Queen said a few words in Irish, and President McAleese went "wow".

To be expressing amazement, even rapture, at what is no more than bog-standard protocol, is not right.

But then in relation to Official Ireland and its ownership of the Irish language, my war is not yet over.

Bearing in mind that about 25 per cent of public money spent on broadcasting goes to TG4, in future I am tempted simply to ignore everything that comes out of that station, as a form of affirmative action.

With a heavy heart, I continue to acknowledge its existence, only because of my compassion for the victims who must live under that regime, the programme-makers who have no desire to work through the medium of Irish, but who will go out of business if they don't submit to this institutionalised harassment.

Not only does the system discriminate against them, it desecrates the public-service ideal by making it far less likely that the average viewer will stumble across a good programme, because the average viewer never watches TG4.

I REALISE that this is a minority view, and I would not expect Tommie Gorman to go down that road with me.

He was perhaps more concerned with the fact that half-way through his fine programme, something of great importance was happening in the world -- to be precise, in the World Darts Championship.

Phil "The Power" Taylor was on the way out. The 15-time champion was losing to Dave Chisnall, and men were moving in large numbers from Buckingham Palace to the Alexandra Palace to bear witness to this moment of history, as it happened.

And to thank their god once more, for the darts at Christmas, for "The Power", and for England.

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