… well, the Irish Times.
Malcolm is on record for his weekly indulgence in Fintan O’Toole’s A history of Ireland in 100 objects — this week we were well into the the Fourteenth Century, with the Anglo-Norman period sliding gently into the time of the “Old English” (as they were in Malcolm’s school history books).
These wee mannikins (left) are one of the seventeen illustrations in the Waterford Charter Roll and are, O’Toole says they are:
the earliest image … of the medieval mayors of Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick.
Adding a neat analogy:
Eamonn McEneaney of Waterford City Museum calls the charter roll “the mediaeval equivalent of a PowerPoint presentation”, designed to “flatter the king, add weight to the legal arguments and keep those listening to the mayor’s presentation focused on the facts being elaborated”. As an exercise in verbal and visual persuasion, the roll is a brilliant early example of targeted advertising. It did the trick: the king restored Waterford’s shipping monopoly.
Extra kudos there for the “a” in what even the OED prefers as “medieval”. Doubles all round had the compositor managed “æ” (on a Mac key-board it’s option+apostrophe).
But that’s not all …
The daily dose of info-amusement comes on the main editorial page in the form of An Irishman’s Diary (except, of course, when it’s just as happily An Irishwoman’s Diary). This is always essential reading — Malcolm has a couple of acquaintances who start here, then knock off the Crosaire crossword, before proceeding to the “real” news.
Good as it consistently is, the Diary reaches a new level when Frank McNally has the by-line. As yesterday:
Here’s Malcolm’s 101, Q&A:
What are ye coin reading this tripe for?
Get ye onto that hotlink straightaway!
An’ sure enough, if ye had, ye’d have been enjoying something of a gentle brain-teaser as you tried to spot the source of many of them. Apart from the commonplaces, you’d have got:
23. Are ye right there, Michael?
25. Captain Boyle: An’ as it blowed an’ blowed, I ofen looked up at the sky an’ assed meself the question – what is the stars, what is the stars?
26. Joxer: Ah, that’s the question, that’s the question – what is the stars?
27. Boyle: An’ then, I’d have another look, an’ I’d ass meself – what is the moon?
28. Joxer: Ah, that’s the question – what is the moon, what is the moon?
As well as (by Malcolm’s quick count) three from Yeats, the same from De Valera, two from Percy French (you got the easier one above), one from Christy Brown (the predictable County Clare one) and many more. So, Frank, which version of How Are Things in Glocca Morra? runs in your head — Dick Haymes? the Broadway cast album? Petula Clark (the 1968 movie)? even Sonny Rollins (though that was pure instrumental genius)?
Ray Houghton’s goals feature strongly (and properly: UEFA 1988 — England 0, Ireland 1; 1994 World Cup — Ireland 1, Italy o). The Offaly goal in the dying seconds of the 1982 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is there, too, if you know where to find it. For Malcolm, though, the gem is either:
24. Is it about a bicycle?
69. How do Jacobs get the figs into the fig-rolls?
Somewhere in between is the essence of Dublin, and of Malcolm’s addiction, into its sixth decade, to the Irish Times.