independent

Tuesday 29 July 2014

What was the highlight of Christmas week TV?

SHEA TOMKINS

Published 01/01/2013|11:11

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Sunday: PRE- CHRISTMAS drinks are sliding down a treat when the subject of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid spikes the conversation.

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One tippler shares his thoughts on James Coburn's performance in the film with the rest of us, before another stops him in his tracks. 'Didn't James Coburn used to read the news on RTE?' she asks. 'No, that was Don,' I remind her. Cue howls of laughter. The merriment of the festive season has electrified the air. Tuesday/Wednesday: In fairness to RTE they ticked most of the boxes when it came to the TV schedule for Christmas Day; the movies were well thought through. I usually enjoy Mrs Brown's Boys but on this big occasion Downton Abbey delivered in spades. Neither was the TV highlight over Christmas week, however, that accolade is awarded to The Girl, aired on BBC 2 on St. Stephen's night.

The made-for-TV film is based on interviews with actress Tippi Hedren (superbly played by Sienna Miller, pictured) and cast members from The Birds and Marnie, from which it is revealed how one of the greatest directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, made her life a misery. His obsession with her ran deeply and fiercely. Having viewed this disturbing insight into his mind, it becomes clear why Hitchcock requested that no one was to dig into his private life once death had become him. On this evidence the portly Briton has plenty of other skeletons rattling about in his closet, none of which can be dismissed as props.

If schooldays are the best days of our lives then thousands of students that have walked the corridors of the FCJ Convent in Bunclody will testify that their English teacher, Pat Connaughton, was the conjurer of magical memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.

It was with utter devastation that the news of Pat's death broke on Friday night, prompting a weekend of old school pals reconnecting to recall what this outstanding man had done for them during their teenage years.

As overseer of so many of the school's plays and musicals he was a beacon of creativity in a fog of academia, allowing those suited to the stage an opportunity to showcase talents that very often became submerged beneath the standard textbook. On a personal level I think the following story gives an example of Pat's generous and caring nature. The afternoon before I sat the Leaving Certificate English paper he called me to one side and asked if I could pop over to his house later that evening; it turned out that he was worried I hadn't learned enough quotes to see me safely through the exam. And he was right.

Selflessly, he spent hours going through what he thought would appear on the following day's paper and true to his word, events unfolded as he predicted. And what did he want for going above and beyond his duty in the role of teacher? Nothing, other than the satisfaction of seeing another student succeed. Rest in peace Pat, a great teacher and friend. He will be sadly missed.

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