Friday 27 April 2018

À bientôt to Roger and Jimmy, two fine gentlemen

Radio

Darragh McManus
Darragh McManus
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

One of the few times I've been genuinely envious of another journalist was when a friend interviewed Roger Moore. Bond legend, cool customer, the definition of urbane gentleman - Roger was everything some men want to be, and all men should be.

Sadly, he died in May. But daughter Deborah popped up on Ryan Tubridy (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am), and was every bit as charming, intelligent and - well, just very nice. She chatted to stand-in Dave Fanning on the release of À Bientôt, Roger's posthumous memoir - described by Dave as "a lovely book of a lovely man". They talked Bond, Moore's work with Unicef, Moore's childhood and family life and "wonderful sense of humour".

It was marvellous. She was marvellous. And that voice… like honey. To mangle metaphors, apples don't fall far from the tree.

Another legend, Jimmy Magee, died this week. Gavin Jennings broke the news on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am).

Jimmy provided (literally) the soundtrack to many of my strongest sporting memories: his litany of Irish Olympic medallists as John Treacy crossed the line at the LA '84 marathon, and of course, "different class…different class!" as Maradona scored the greatest goal in history at Mexico '86.

Des Cahill shared fond memories of his late colleague, praising his skills, warmth and sense of mischief. Unlike Roger Moore, I did get to interview Jimmy, just prior to last summer's Olympics. He was gracious and generous… and we agreed that Carl Lewis' four golds in '84 would never be surpassed.

Someone described Liveline (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 2.45pm) as one of the most quintessentially Irish things going. Moaning, complaining, getting your spake in… and all on the national broadcaster.

Giving out about Ryanair is also a crucial part of the sociocultural tapestry. As is giving out about flights being cancelled.

So this week, we reached a sort of Maximum Irishness: people giving out on Liveline about Ryanair cancelling flights. On News at One (Radio 1, Mon-Fri), Ingrid Miley had given us some background stats: more than 350,000 passengers estimated to be affected; the airline offering bonuses of up to €12,000 if pilots give up their annual leave.

But it came to a logical conclusion - an inevitable conclusion - on Liveline. This is where we go, as a collective: to confess our sins, judge the unworthy, seek succour or redress, keen and lament, plead with the gods to favour us or destroy our enemies…

Am I reading too much into the significance of Liveline? Maybe a bit.

Moncrieff (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 2pm) interviewed Donegal politician Tim Jackson, about his hunger-strike outside the Dáil. He wants Leo Varadkar and others to watch video footage of an abortion before discussing a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

I feel, with contentious issues, someone like me should declare their biases. So: I think abortion should be legal in Ireland, for a number of reasons.

Therefore I don't side with Jackson, who equated a foetus-in-utero with a toddler. And, being a politician, you're automatically suspicious that it's grandstanding.

Still: Jackson is entitled to his say. Moncrieff is genuinely liberal in that he allows both sides to be heard. And only a mindless ideologue could deny there are two sides here.

Seán didn't give Jackson an easy ride. But he was reasonable and respectful: of the person, and of their right to a different view. Many of us accept the reality of abortion… and still think it should be allowed. Grown-ups don't deny reality. They face it, then do what they think is best in an imperfect world.

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