Has your day been disrupted? Your carefully laid plans ripped up and thrown away? Hours of preparation gone to waste? Mine was. So why am I smiling? Not at all crotchety (which is today’s theme for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)? It’s all thanks to Colonel Gaddafi.
Sure, he may have made life misery for Libyans, presided over a despotic regime of fear and sudden death, invaded neighbouring states, encouraged assassination and mass murder overseas, bombed planes, supplied semtex and weapons to the IRA, protected the killer of police officer Yvonne Fletcher and inflicted repeated noxious gas attacks on journalist visitors to his tent through constant and noisy farting.
But he wasn’t all bad.
In his last act I think he went some small way towards making up for his many and various crimes, especially those against Ireland. And I am personally grateful.
Here’s how. The other day I was due to encounter a man both much loved and much loathed. He’s variously known as “the Pride of Kincasslagh”, “wee Daniel” and the nemesis of all that is pure and decent in music. He’s one of the world’s leading pushing of that pernicious aural drug – Country and Irish music. (Worse – far worse – than the worst Country ‘n’ Western.)
His name’s Daniel O’Donnell. He represents the worst in music – bland, simpering, shiny cheeked, mild, dripping in sentimentality. I can’t call him fake – because I fear he’s genuine. He’s also alarmingly, horribly popular. Coach loads of women – not all grannies – flock to his mother’s home in Donegal each year for a huge tea party. He’s the slightly more mobile version of a miraculously moving holy statue.
For years I lived in fear of accidentally hearing one of his songs on the radio – the anguish that would ensue. The tiny, hidden fear that some day – some awful awful day – he might do a cover version of a song I liked and thereby kill forever any love I had for the tune and replace it with poison.
This is the man about whom this joke was told:
You unexpectedly find yourself in a room with Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Daniel O’Donnell – and you’ve got a loaded gun! But you only have two bullets. What do you do?
Answer: Shoot Daniel twice. Just to be sure.
You could argue that I left Ireland to escape the all-pervasive Country ‘n’ Irish dirgery and it’s most successful well-scrubbed crooner. So imagine my horror to find that he had somehow tracked me down and was coming in to my workplace – where I would have to deal with him. And worse – play his music. I’ll say that again in case you missed the stark pit-of-the-stomach nausea of that. AND PLAY HIS MUSIC.
Until Colonel Gaddafi – who I now realise has been overly maligned and under-appreciated – stepped in to sacrifice his own life to save me from that appalling prospect. (Okay, I should also give credit to NATO and the gunmen on the ground.)
In managing to get himself captured, wounded and killed, he gave me the perfect excuse – indeed, the obligation – to cancel D O’D’s appearance and devote the time to Libya instead.
If you think people in Libya were happy that Gaddafi was dead, it was nothing compared to my joy. All of a sudden the air felt fresher, nature greener, my step springier, my spine straighter, the birds chirpier. I no longer felt sick. I had been saved.
Some of you may feel I’m being unfair. Even unkind. Especially as I’ve never met Mr O’Donnell. That’ll be because you’re unfamiliar with the D O’D contagion. So I can forgive you.
I also refer you to how some parliamentary sketch writers and political cartoonists shun contact with their subject to avoid compromising the strength of their vitriol in print. Simon Hoggart in his amusing book A Long Lunch, quotes Guardian sketch writer Norman Shrapnel. Bon viveur Hoggart says he once asked Shrapnel why he was so terse with politicians on those occasions he came face-to-face with them.
‘Because,’ he said in a voice that always reminded me of Eeyore on his birthday, ‘I am afraid that if I got to know them, it would spoil the purity of my hatred.’
So it is with me. I don’t want sob stories about him helping sick children in Romania or cups of tea to undermine my resolve. I want to – and now can – remain happy in my hating.
This was a blog post for the Loose Blogger’s Consortium on the topic of crotchety. The other members will have something far more sensible to say and you can read it at their blogs listed down the right hand side of the screen, under the LBC title.