Thursday, November 12, 2009

There's only one rule: expediency. It's better than flea-ridden beds:

But first:
Two mentions in a few days: is Malcolm becoming a cyber-stalker?

Anne Marie Hourihane in the Irish Times on Monday was recounting her:
main memory of our 24-hour stay in the Berlin of November 1989 is of looking for people to interview, then interviewing them until their ears bled...

East Berlin itself looked very much as large tracts of Dublin had looked in the 1970s, and in some cases still did. There was nothing in East Berlin more shabby and derelict than, for example, Clanbrassil Street. And nowhere in East Berlin, bombed, bullet-ridden and crushed as it was, looked any worse than Lower Mount Street or Gardiner Street or Mountjoy Square or indeed O’Connell Street.
Yes, indeed.

Had fragrant Anne Marie dug a little further, or been a bit older, she would have appreciated her unconscious irony.

Back in 1964-5, Martin Ritt was making John Le Carré's great novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, into an exceptional movie (clip above) In the circumstances, permission to film in East Berlin was not possible. Where else to find grey, grim slums to match such the squalor? Answer: Dublin and the Smithfield area.

Soon after, down these mean streets Malcolm must go, who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The canvasser for the Irish Labour Party must be a complete man and a common man (cf: Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep).

And his trudgings (and the ward-heeling by Bob Mitchell) were rewarded. As he recalls the Corkonian (later turn-coat) Michael O'Leary was elected on the eleventh recount. It all seemed worth the effort at the time.

That said, it was a dispiriting moment. The deprivation of the wrong end of Dublin at that time amply testified to the dreary, dismal world de Valera had perpetuated over a quarter of a century. If it needed a shyster like Lemass to change things, hopefully for the better, so be it. The mess that is modern Dublin suburbia offends effete and delicate stomachs, such as Malcolm's. Yet what we have got is so much better than what we had.

"A rising tide lifts all boats" was an axiom Lemass borrowed from the Kennedys.

Even if not at the same rate.
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