Saturday 16 December 2017

Mary Kenny: A Cavanman's tale

In worrisome old 2016, this is the book that really made me laugh

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

It's the story of the Cavan boy's picaresque adventures and it made me laugh more than anything else I read during 2016. I shrieked with merriment at some of John McEntee's stories as he went from apprentice on The Anglo-Celt newspaper to earning £100,000 a year as a London journalist when he "often woke up blinking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking the champagne-fuelled carousel had finally stopped…

"By then my marriage had ended, through my own fault in a blur of expenses, drink and sex. Only my robust Irish peasant constitution prevented a physical implosion. Mercifully," he adds, cheerily, "I was never afflicted with the genuinely horrendous curse of depression." Robust, yes!

John's memoir is called I'm Not One to Gossip, But..., and to me, it's a lot better than many a more pretentious tome garlanded with literary prizes. The title makes it seem as though it's just a bit of froth, and it does contain froth - his drinking sessions with Richard Harris, his hilarious times with Caroline Aherne, the day he was accused of killing Derek Nimmo - but behind the froth lies the narrative tradition of Thackeray and Damon Runyon.

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