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27
Sat, Feb

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Yeah, I know; I’m just looking at it. That’s a hell of a big elephant in the room, isn’t it?  

But I’m guessing that you’re as electioned-out as I am – a lot more so, seeing as you were actually living with it – so I’m going to ignore it just for the moment.  It’s not going to go away of course, not this elephant - not this one -- but we can leave it until we’ve taken a few deep breaths and are a bit more ready for it.

Instead, I’m going to be a bit of a Contrary Mary (just for a change, like) and stick up for an Irish film that has been getting the most unmerciful pasting here these past couple of days.  

Opening Stateside on December 11th is a movie called ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and it stars Jamie Dornan, Emily Blunt, Jon Hamm and Christopher Walken.  It’s a romantic comedy that’s set in County Mayo, Ireland.  
Well, it’s a version of County Mayo.  Judging by the trailer – which is all that the mocking social media commentators are doing also, by the way – it is a Mayo that is probably in the same charming dimension as ‘The Quiet Man’.  In other words, if it didn’t exist then maybe it should have; maybe I would have liked it too.  And tell me seriously, just at what point in our Rise and Fall from Celtic Tiger greatness, did we get too sophisticated for such basic tasty fare?

Look, maybe you’re more in the mood for Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ or Bergman’s ‘Seventh Seal’.  Fair play and off with you.  I’ll even lend you the discs if you like, since I’ve been known to wallow in a bit of doom and gloom myself.  But after nine months of a concentrated diet of Covid news, more Covid news and extra news of coming Covid misery (and that’s before we even touch the American election) I’m in the mood for something happy, maybe a bit corny, with a beginning, a middle and an end -- an essential ingredient being a happy ending.  If it’s a wee bit ‘Oirish’ in the bargain, I really don’t care.  

It’s got Jamie Dornan, who female friends tell me is very easy on the eye – and they asked me to underline very; it has Emily Blunt, who I’m telling you is simply beautiful and who’s talent I’ve admired since ‘The Adjustment Bureau’.  And it’s got Christopher Walken, who everybody likes.  

I don’t know how Jon Hamm wandered onto the set but that’s OK too – just kidding, Mr. Hamm!

Anyway, the Irish accents have been getting a battering over here.  People have been calling radio shows, for crying out loud, which will probably tell you that cabin fever is thriving in many a home.  I mean, even Jamie Dornan has been getting a ribbing over his accent and he IS Irish!  I guess the actor had never made it as far as Mayo before. (Actually, Walken’s accent is pretty good, judging from the trailer. He looks great, too.)

And I have to admit that some of this is pretty funny:  the Irish actress Hannah Mamalis did a clip of herself as the lovely Emily telling the equally lovely Jaime that even though she would obviously like to have his babies, as an Irish farming woman she ‘can only give birth to potatoes’.

In this strange new world where every single word you write – even calling an actress ‘lovely’ – can cause offence to the Perpetually Offended, I hope that we can at least agree that the trailer’s opening shots of Mayo are as gorgeous as the county itself.  No, I’m not affiliated with the tourist board, but the reality is that it’s only half an hour up the road from me and yet strictly speaking I can’t travel from Oranmore in Galway to see it at the moment.  Strange days indeed that the next time I actually DO see Mayo may be on the big screen – IF cinemas open again in December.

But do you know what?  Even if ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ turns out to be the most outrageous load of ould gob and begorrah Paddywhackery, I intend to enjoy every minute of it.  *****

And so, to that elephant in the room.  

I think it’s probably unlikely that Donald Trump has spent a lot of time with the works of Dylan Thomas (unlike former President Carter, who I discovered whilst doing a piece from Wales, was quite the authority on him); but God knows he has decided ‘do not go gentle into that good night’.

it is one of those things about having a monthly column:  I’m writing this on the 14th of November so by the time you (hopefully) are reading it in December, all of this is sadly out-of-date. But it does appear that he’s gone – quietly and with the dignified statesmanship that was his style.

Well no, of course it wasn’t; and that was one of the reasons that he didn’t bug me as much as he seems to have bothered everyone else within a two-hundred-mile radius of me.  What you saw was what you were going to get or get tweeted at you at an alarming rate. It wasn’t the way a normal politician behaved and since I have less and less time for that species of career conmen/women, I found that all to the good.

I’ve never been shy about getting stuck into our own crew of chancers here in Ireland; but I don’t live in the States, so I’ve always steered clear of commenting on American politics. It’s just too easy to miss a lot of nuances.  But I’ll come right out and say that if I were living there, I imagine that I would have voted for Trump.  In fact, I’m pretty sure of it.  

Not that he would ever be on my dream list of people to have dinner with.  I’ve never been a fan of his kind of blustering, pseudo-macho alpha male posturing.  And yet it seems to me that you can dislike the man whilst liking what he is doing.  And it further appears that 72 million Americans also liked what he was doing; well, either that or the protest vote against President Kamala Harris – my apologies, Joe Biden – were astronomical.

Watching from this remove, I was often in awe of how Trump – on a DAILY basis - got his job (and his tweets) done whilst simultaneously putting up with a biased media, twisted and hate-filled communications and a universally hostile group of ‘celebrities’ who really lost the run of themselves and felt that their opinion mattered to the person in the street.  

Listen, all of you from silly little girls like Jennifer Lawrence all the way through to curmudgeonly old geezers like Robert de Niro, who many decades ago was my favourite actor: you are very good at memorizing other people’s words.  Stick to that. No one I know could give a damn about your opinions.  On anything other than acting.  

And on that cheerful note, I will wish you all – yes, even those of you who don’t like me – a warm and loving Christmas. It’s been a tough old year.  Let’s make next year a better one.
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