Saturday 19 January 2019

Conversations with my mother

'I often think the mother would be great on Cutting Edge'
'I often think the mother would be great on Cutting Edge'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Obviously, I rang the mother every day during the great snow of 2018. In fact, some of the days, I might have even phoned her two or three times. To check in with her, obviously. We both maintained this fiction when I would ring. I would start by asking if they were getting on OK. But then we would get down to business.

We were both following everything across the airwaves so we would go through the various carry on. And strangely enough, we would agree on most things.

Sometimes it might take up to an hour to put the world to rights and put everyone back in their boxes. At the end, we would have a kind of 'Any Other Business' section, where we would both go through our files to make sure there was nothing else we needed to air, and then we'd sign off, until we had built up enough material again for another session.

I'm lucky to have the mother. At this stage of life I know I'm lucky to have a mother at all. I can't imagine life without her, such a part of the texture of my daily life is she. And indeed, I know today is not about the men, but I'm lucky to have my dad still as well. Not everyone gets to this stage with that kind of stability in their lives.

But more than that, I am lucky to have the mother I have.

If nothing else, she is very useful. You can check in with her at any time of day or night and she will give you a fairly straight steer on everything that's going on. She is like some kind of political and social think-tank operating out of a house in Cork.

Whatever time of day or night you'll get it all, a good old romp through everything from how Leo is getting on (suddenly looking very old. We think it's the hair in some way), across to metoo and what the celebrities are up to.

And now that she has the iPad and independent.ie to supplement her actual printed paper and her broadcast monitoring, she's more instantly up to date with everything, so she is operating a more real-time analysis service. She could actually put out twice-daily bulletins, an email directly to your desk or device telling you everything you need to know right now and what the common-sense steer is on it.

The thing is, not only is she up to date with stuff, she is actually generally several steps ahead of anyone else. The mother will tell you stuff in a casual aside that will often only become conventional wisdom among the media and chattering classes a week or two later. She will spot something on the edge of a story, a certain phrase, or a mood or a glance, or even an outfit or haircut, and she will discern something that won't become apparent to others for days.

Amazing instincts, that woman.

And she'll also remind you that there is nothing new in this world really. You'll tell some convoluted story about someone, and she won't be remotely surprised by it. She'll give you some two or three word old phrase or bit of a saying from Glengarriff that sums up the whole thing.

I often think the mother would be great on Cutting Edge, which returns to RTE1 this Wednesday at 9.35pm.

But even if we would have her on, she wouldn't do it. She is a behind-the-scenes operative.

Besides which, she would tell you that she is on it in a way.

She is there every week - in me - a receptacle for everything she ever taught me, about not going along with the herd, and asking awkward questions, and trusting your gut sometimes even when everyone else has gone in the other direction, and about casting a sceptical eye over all the bulls**t, and having a bit of old-fashioned common sense.

Brendan O'Connor's Cutting Edge returns Wednesday, 9.35pm on RTE 1

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