Thursday 18 July 2019

Leo and Matt take off for Elton's 'Rocketman'

Leo Varadkar and partner Matt
Leo Varadkar and partner Matt
Rita Talty
New book... Emily Hourican
Leading lady... Hazel Clifford
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

It's official. Leo Varadkar does things differently. That's probably why he is Taoiseach. That's why most of us love him. Take a casual chat your diarist had with our great leader last Thursday afternoon.

I had asked him what he was up to socially. "I was going to go to Mumford & Sons this weekend [at Malahide Castle] but something's come up. So I have to give it a miss. I will," he added, "be at the Light House tonight watching Rocketman."

When I pointed out that the subject of Rocketman, Sir Elton John, played an amazing show the previous night (Wednesday - indeed two nice young fellas by the name of Bono and The Edge were backstage at the show to meet Sir Elton) in the 3Arena for Aiken Promotions, and was indeed playing another show at the 3 Arena the next night (Thursday), An T's reply was possibly illustrative of his busy workload running the show at the Government:

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"Is he in town? I didn't even know he was on." And then: "State banquet for the Dutch king and queen last night. A lot going on. Five weeks to summer recess."

I found this especially intriguing. So, I asked An T to ponder the almost imponderable question. You and Matt are going to sit in a cinema in Smithfield watching a movie about Elton John when the man himself is playing two miles down the road on Dublin Quay? "I guess so. It's a busy week and I won't be finished until 8pm tonight," Leo told me. "I think a nice soft cinema seat will do for me tonight."

The FG boss added that he thinks the next concert he will attend is "Jenny Green [with the RTE Symphony Orchestra at the Iveagh Gardens on July 7]. "...if I am in town that weekend. She is supposed to be really good live."

So - as a matter of some fact - is Elton John. I don't know whether Frances Fitzgerald has ever sung I'm Still Standing or even Frannie & The (Government) Jets, but the former Tanaiste was spotted celebrating with family and friends in the InterContinental recently after she won an election to represent the Dublin European constituency. And why not? Meanwhile, Francis Brennan was also in the same five-star hotel in Ballsbridge, this time last week for coffee.


How Daithi drives Rita round bend in the West

Rita Talty

If the former New Jersey Rose doesn't have enough on (looking after Micheal Og and picking up after her TV star husband), Daithi O Se has just added to his wife's work commitments.

"Rita's main job this summer," joked Daithi, "is to drive me around as I'm sick of driving all winter." He commutes from home in Galway to Cork to record Today with Maura Derrane. After the show wrapped recently, Daithi says he's gone "Grizzly Adams. At home and in the garden, I don't even want to put on long pants or shave. I shaved for an event at the weekend and it almost killed me."


Daithi added that they are flying out to Rita's family in New Jersey in two weeks. "So I'm looking forward to that and some hot weather." Will he keep the Grizzly Adams look for the Rose of Tralee? "That's not for two months. I'll shave and sort myself out for the Rose. Rita says grey beard makes me look old, I say mature!" See pic below: I'll commission a high-end INM readers' poll to ascertain precisely what the nation thinks: old or mature?


Magic at Solomon for 'Outsider' beano

New book... Emily Hourican

Mentalist - oh, I've met a few of them in my 30 years at the Sindo! - and magician Keith Barry was in 37 on Dawson Street last Sunday night before attending David Blaine at the Bord Gais Theatre. The real magic, however, was at the soiree to launch Emily Hourican's fourth novel The Outsider last Wednesday night at Tara Murphy's Solomon Gallery. The book is, the author told me, "a tale of two families whose lives become deeply tangled, with fall-out for all of them. It's the consequences of not listening to the instinct that says 'stop, wait'."

There was no stopping glam arty types and assorted members of the D4 beau monde who pitched up to help Emily celebrate. Among them were: Minister Josepha Madigan, gadabout entrepreneur Jay Bourke, Brian Montague (Woollen Mills, Winding Stair) Suzanne McDougall (founder of the Solomon gallery, now on the board of the National Gallery), to say nothing of John Masterson, Emma Kelly and Sophie White. The latter's long-awaited debut novel is out in the autumn.

An (opening) night to remember

Leading lady... Hazel Clifford

Called to the bar? Chief among those celebrating in the Gate theatre's luvvie-friendly bar after a fabulous opening night last Wednesday was Micheal Martin. The Fianna Fail leader enjoyed the premiere of The Snapper and chatted to the show's leading lady Hazel Clifford - the latter, who plays Sharon, was with her mother, Michelle.

Others at the beano included Tara Flynn with her Californian husband Carl Austin, actress/comedian Deirdre O'Kane, RTE's Evelyn O'Rourke and Fair City's Kate Gilmore, to say nothing of Dave O'Keeffe, general manager of Ireland's most famous hotel, the Dean. (Presumably there was no playground equipment at the Gate on Wednesday? Joke). Bell X1's Paul Noonan, wearing a Lou Reed-esque black leather jacket, also attended the opening night.

Director Selina Cartmell told your diarist that The Snapper was "one of the first Irish novels I ever read and the first Irish film I ever saw. The Gate is the perfect fit for this story.

"The Snapper offers an account of life in Ireland in the late 1980s as it really was; scatological and unsentimental. I find Roddy Doyle's sympathetic warmth in depicting unexceptional lives incredibly moving. The Gate also has another interesting connection to this story: the theatre is right next door to the Rotunda hospital where Sharon's baby - The Snapper - is born."

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