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Gardener's seed of truth bucks power

Declan Lynch praises the hardy souls who rock the nation and plant doubts


ONE more time, I would like to say how happy I was with Hardy Bucks. With all this 50-year-old stuff out there, it is only right to acknowledge that something made last year managed to capture the very soul of Ireland.

Indeed, anyone who has lived in this country at any time during the past 5,000 years would probably identify with the hardy bucks and their demented efforts to kill the day in a town in Ireland. And then, somehow, to get through the drunken and cruel night. And to stay alive, technically at least, so that eventually maybe one of them -- the smart one --might escape to America.

It makes us all happy, in a strange way, when we see our ancient way of life being enacted so faithfully, allowing us to discern a vein of humour buried deep within these very, very desperate scenes. And contrary to popular belief, it also makes us happy just to see good work being done in Ireland -- what makes us unhappy is when the good is not recognised, or is confused with the bad, as happens all the time.

AT least in this century a hardy buck, if he has a bit of talent and he is lucky, can get himself on TV and in the papers quite early in life. Looking at The Philip Lynott Archive, I was mildly surprised that they found anything in that archive before 1977 or thereabouts, because the deal back then went something like this: if you were any good at anything, but especially "rock" music, there would be no question of the national media recognising this in any meaningful sense. They just didn't think that any of that stuff mattered, next to the really important things that the Minister for Transport and Power might have said about, well, transport and power.

They really didn't know any better. And a lot of them still don't. It is a theme I have explored in these pages and I was pleased to see Alan Titchmarsh joining me with his supposedly controversial statement that "gardening is more important than politics".

When asked if gardening was more important than BBC2's Newsnight, Titchmarsh said: "Much more important. Tomorrow Newsnight will have different stories and priorities... Gardening has a consistent point of view. And that is, that a piece of ground should be cherished."

The pol corrs will not understand this, but it is true. Certainly politics has a superficial importance, but the ultimate triviality of the culture is exposed quite easily. And we know this, not just because these are the sort of people who proclaim that the silly season starts when the TDs leave town for the summer. We also see it when a politician clearly has a drink problem, and the majority of correspondents tend to ignore it until he is actually raving drunk on the radio, making the spurious argument that until then it is a "personal" or a health matter. In truth, an issue such as alcoholism is just too serious for them to address. They don't know how to do it, so they retreat to the romper room that is Leinster House, putting on the grave expression, pretending that they are concerned only with "matters of public interest".

WHICH bring us somehow back to The Philip Lynott Archive. At the time of the Jailbreak album, circa 1976, Thin Lizzy were making some of the greatest music in human history. They had left Ireland almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, and even when they came back in triumph with a devastatingly powerful live show, their activities would have been regarded by that media as somewhat irrelevant next to the important measures being taken by our friend, the Minister for Transport and Power, or any other Minister you care to recall.

Last Monday night, watching Lizzy doing The Boys Are Back in Town at the height of that magical period, I couldn't help wondering who was the Minister for Transport and Power back then? What was he doing? What was he saying? And even at the time, how could anyone have thought that it mattered a damn?

Sunday Indo Living