Garth Brooks saga: A bit too early, a bit too late
Comedy, they say, is tragedy plus time. But with the Garth Brooks gigs, we find ourselves in some strange new territory. By running rival documentaries at a time when many viewers were still in mourning for all they had lost , RTE and TV3 were not allowing these folks much time between the tragedy and the comedy. Some day, some way, they will be able to laugh at it all, but that's certainly not certain - I am borrowing a line there, from Kirsty Wark, who opened up Newsnight on Wednesday by declaring that some aspect of the Ukraine story was "certainly not certain."
Certainly for Garth Brooks fans, it is not certain that the time for laughing has yet come. In five years time, perhaps, a reconstruction of these terrible events may bring them closure, but for now, any images of Owen Keegan "doing his job" may be just too upsetting.
Nor does it work for those who saw it all as a comedy in the first place. For them these programmes were just a repeat, or two repeats happening at the same time, far too soon after the original outpouring of eejitry.
With a bit of imagination, RTE and TV3 could have turned this into a great five-day TV jamboree, inviting some of our greatest living artistes into the studio to play just two types of music - country, and western.
It could have been at once a consolation and a celebration. And yes, I realise that TV3 don't really have a studio, as such, that could accommodate the needs of a resurgent Big Tom and the Mainliners, but whatever they could throw together in that line, I for one would have watched it.
I feel that the concentration of this story in the hands of the news and current affair departments has also hindered our search for a higher truth here. With their fetish for "balance", their certainty that certain things are not certain, they have not paid enough attention to the essential absurdity from which all the rest of it flows.
The "residents", and by extension Owen Keegan, who had taken their concerns into account, were entirely in the wrong here. There is no "balance" to be considered, only this : in every big city, in every country in the world, there are these big buildings in which big events are held, and that is how cities work. In England, for example, for a hundred years there have been football grounds situated in the heart of many cities, in which more games and other events are held every year t han will ever be held in Croke Park, and if "residents" don't like it, either they can put up with it because this is a city, after all, or they can reside somewhere else - in a small town, perhaps, or maybe in the countryside, where they can object to the farmer spreading his slurry, and see how far it gets them.
I think too of the Aviva stadium, which has a north stand with far fewer seats than any other part of the stadium, "to reflect its proximity to the residential properties at that end of the ground."
Now, my friends, I have seen a fair few football matches, played in a fair few grounds, all around the world. And I can't recall ever seeing a stadium with this lop-sided look to reflect its proximity to anything.
So we must conclude, that either there is no such thing as a "resident", with "legitimate concerns", in any other city on earth, or that they just have some other way, entirely beyond the understanding of Paddy, of dealing with these matters. What can it be, I wonder ? How do they do it?
We could have done with some reflection on these great matters, along with those five nights of the saddest country music known to humanity. But again, perhaps it was all too soon....and also too late. Some will say we just have too many planning regulations now, where once we had none. But if we don't rightly accept that big events happen in big cities, all the time, it is more accurate to say that no matter what kind of planning we have, it will probably be the wrong kind.
In fact, it will certainly be the wrong kind.
Tomorrow Never Came (RTE1)
Garth Brooks: What Went Wrong? (TV3)