Opinion

Monday 21 October 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'Irishness - off the top of my head'

'We have a fondness for the rasher sandwich and crisps and red lemonade'
'We have a fondness for the rasher sandwich and crisps and red lemonade'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Secrets and lies. Crisps and milk. Underage drinking. Don't tell my mother. Being afraid of what your mother thinks - when you're nearly 50. Being crap at GAA. And indeed all sport. A difficult thing in this country. Making the most of the bit of good weather. Imagine if it was like this all the time, we'd all be so much happier. Shame. Uncomfortable with confidence. Bless me father for I have sinned. A long cream doughnut. The first 99 of the summer, obviously. Upgrading to one with crushed Oreos on it for 2018.

A pint bottle of Bulmers with a half pint glass full of ice on a summer's day. A vague headache by tea-time. Maybe drink your way through it. A slight bitterness about all that time spent learning Irish. How did we all cram into that old red Audi to go to Galway in the summer? I think someone actually sat on the footwell in the middle.

The smell at Cuthbert's bakery in the morning scooping out the middle of hot loaves to make doughballs. People used to fix things before. A guy would come and fix the TV.

New Order at Connolly Hall. Madness in the City Hall. Trying to recreate vague memories of Irish summer holidays with your kids. Your relief when they pretend to like red lemonade. The guy who had a Chopper thought he was it. The first time you were allowed ride the Raleigh Twenty. You just stood on the pedals because you couldn't quite reach the seat. Who said Mass? Some people are taking the Communion in their hands now. Weird. A rasher sandwich. So and so's mother took to the bed. Gradually coming around to U2. That first sip of that first pint when you stop off between the church and the hotel while the bridal party is getting the pictures done. The J1: It was all true. They loved us. They'd even lend you their car.

Guys asleep on the street outside Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Made it this far and then missed Michael Jackson. Summers on building sites in London and being thankful to get out of there back to college just as the weather was turning. Who's in the House? Bombing around a Canary Island on scooters but the English lads were much better looking than us in fairness. Don't talk about things. Best kept to yourself. Remember the trendy priest who tried to get us involved with the folk Mass. Because Irish kids in the 1980s loved folk music? MT-USA. Those ZZ Top videos. Who the hell is Glenn Frey? Fab Vinny in a caravan up at Dunnes getting torn apart by screaming fans every time he tried to step outside. Channel Four was the place for sex scenes in those days. Foreign movies on a Friday. Everybody knew there was something off about Brother So-and-So. A Ford Granada Ghia was the ultimate.

Dying to get a pair of Adidas Roms. Tayto Spring Onion and Chocolate Goldgrain. Some people got hand-me-downs from America. Satin bomber jackets. Have ye got the multi-channel yet? Who Shot JR? TR Dallas. Derek Davis. Thelma Mansfield. Stop the lights. The Red Brick. The Mental Home. The Spastic Clinic. Down to Harbour View with the cubs. Ghost walks in the woods. Charlie Haughey packed out the Grand Parade and South Mall. Rise and Follow Charlie. Push Button A.

We never really talked about the guys who killed themselves. We didn't know many, if any, people with disabilities, and we were slightly scared of them, but it was OK because they were kept away from the rest of us. In the whole school of hundreds of guys we knew of, no one who was gay, though there were a few guys who were suspect all right and they suffered for it.

Mostly we were all the same, apart from the odd weirdo.

'Brendan O'Connor's Cutting Edge' returns to RTE 1 this Wednesday at 9.35 after the news

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