Thursday 18 October 2018

Fat cats' gravy train keeps a-rollin'

Questions & Answers (RTE1). John Henry Foley -- Sculptor Of The Empire (TG4). Faoi Lan Cheoil .(TG4). Match Of The Day (BBC1)

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

As Shane Ross talked us through the fat-cat culture of FAS on Questions & Answers, in the mind's eye you could see him as the guy flagging down the gravy train. A very long gravy train, as it happens.

All through the week, that train just kept on a-comin', and Shane Ross kept on flagging it down. And just when it seemed to be reaching the end, apparently they'd stick on another few carriages, all first class of course -- it was during the preview of the morning's papers on Tonight With Vincent Browne that we learned that the FAS supremo would be getting about half-a-million for resigning. Oh, and by the way, he wouldn't be appearing before the Dail Committee on Thursday.

There was also something about fat cats going to Florida on the government jet, but also having business-class seats booked, just in case, at the last minute, the jet had to be used by Bertie or the President. At which point Shane Ross, still trying to flag down that goddamn train, with no end in sight, must have felt that his arms were about to fall off.

SO I should draw attention to a few people who are engaged in good work on our behalf. Two programmes in a row, in fact, on TG4, showed all the signs of work that was not just well done, but that needed to be done.

John Henry Foley -- Sculptor Of The Empire, was a Se Merry Doyle documentary about a man I had never heard of before -- John Henry Foley -- who was a Dubliner of the 19th century, and who was apparently the greatest sculptor of his time.

He is responsible for the Daniel O'Connell monument in Dublin, the Fr Mathew statue in Cork, and various other excellent public sculptures which were subsequently attacked by the IRA, on the grounds that they glorified Brits.

We were also brought to India, an allowable expense in this context -- they could hardly say, "he had a lot of statues in India as well, but in the current fiscal climate you'll have to take our word for it".

Then TG4 showed Faoi Lan Cheoil, which performed the important public service of bringing us inside the castle of Jeremy Irons in West Cork, to see him playing the fiddle. Or at least learning how to play it, in the diddley- aye style.

Irons was giving access-all-areas to his teacher, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, and he came across as a most engaging fellow. But while a trip to Miltown Malbay to the Willie Clancy Summer School was fair enough in the making of a traditional Irish music celebrity reality show, some would question the validity of a trip to New Mexico in that context.

O'Raghallaigh went there, to visit Irons on the set of the major motion picture Appaloosa. Yes, it might raise eyebrows in the offices of the Comptroller and Auditor General to see the words "New Mexico" on that itinerary, but it was justified on the grounds that it was actually very interesting to see Jeremy Irons relaxing in his trailer out there in the desert. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing a movie star relaxing in his trailer before.

And even though he was making a movie, crucially, he was still learning how to play the fiddle. He was nearing the end of the journey which would enable him to stand up at the Fiddle Fair Festival in Baltimore (Co Cork) with Martin Hayes and friends and play a few tunes. Money well spent there.

THE BBC itself has occasionally been accused of wasting other people's money in pursuit of warped ideals. And increasingly, there are complaints about Jacqui Oatley, the first female commentator on Match Of The Day. Some question her abilities, but there are many for whom her very gender is the problem.

One man writes: "I had watched about an hour of MOTD last Saturday night, and I was in that state of deep relaxation which comes to all men at this time. I was blissfully dozing off, in fact, when I was jolted awake by the high-pitched voice of a woman. It was Jacqui Oatley, given the last match to do, presumably because they think she can do the least damage there.

"But Jacqui Oatley herself is not the issue," he continues. "I believe that the voice of any woman, at that moment of supreme peace, is bound to have a profoundly upsetting on men. She may be commentating on Stoke v Everton but the only words that any man can hear, are "stop relaxing... stop relaxing... stop relaxing..."

Which means, of course, that there is something wrong with men. And well done to the BBC, for spotting that, and going after it.

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