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Sunday 4 December 2016

Country lads who were saved by Horslips

Published 11/04/2010 | 05:00

There is this tremendous rapport between Miriam O'Callaghan and John Waters. I can see this immediately as the three of us have our picture taken in RTE before Miriam Meets, which goes out this morning at 10 o'clock on Radio One.

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It is a rapport that has apparently grown out of those long nights hammering out the truth across the Prime Time table, and it might strike some as odd -- Waters, after all, is thought by some to be basically against women. In fact, the ability of Miriam to get beyond all that media babble and to make up her own mind about people goes at least some way towards explaining why she is the most popular woman in Ireland.

It's a theme that emerges during the programme, which usually features people related to each other by blood or friendship (though not necessarily both). I have known John Waters since we met in 1982 at the Lisdoonvarna Festival, the year of Jackson Browne. We hit it off immediately. He drove me around Clare that night in his Hiace, looking for the house where I was staying, and eventually finding it at about five in the morning. Oh, how we laughed.

I formed an impression of him then that hasn't changed to any noticeable extent in the lifetime I've known him since.

It seems an obvious point to make, this notion that a person may have a certain reputation, and be regarded in quite a different light by those who know him. But it's a point which seems elusive to many, not least to other journalists.

Maybe it's just the fact that John and I have had a lot of laughs over the years, but we also have a disturbing amount in common: we are both from towns in rural Ireland; our fathers both delivered the post for a time; our lives were saved by Horslips and by Hot Press, which turned us into creatures of the rock 'n' roll netherworld; at one point we actually lived in the same house and wrote vast feature articles together, foretelling the fall of various Irish institutions which have stubbornly and inexplicably remained in existence to this day; we both gave up the drink at 35; and we have both had a relationship with Sinead O'Connor -- apart from me, that is.

Moreover, we both have books out at the moment, and mine has Heaven in the title, while John's has God in the title. At this point it gets extremely disturbing, though I should state that the Heaven to which I refer relates to Italia '90, while the God to which John alludes is, well, God.

Miriam, unlike most of her peers, is in no way daunted by talk of the eternal verities. John has found that other journalists regard his interest in God with such distaste, it's almost as if he'd announced he'd taken up golf -- to which he might reply that Bob Dylan plays golf, to a handicap of 17. Oh, and Bob believes in God, too.

But Miriam is particularly interested in that lost world of Irish rock journalism, into which raw country lads like us were swept by the irresistible force of the big beat. And how we emerged in the fullness of time to become the urban sophisticates you see today.

Sunday Independent

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