I took it wholly seriously until this:
Somebody with a knowledge of his country’s turbulent modern history observed that Irish republicans negotiating with British leaders – Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera in 1921 and their present day counterparts Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness – were never as confrontational as Alex Salmond is right now.
At which point, I had one of those flushing-red, blood-up-the-neck flashbacks.
A little learning is a dang’rous thing
As a TCD undergrad I had to write the occasional essay.
Those were the early 1960s. Times obviously moved quicker for Philip Larkin in Hull than they did for us in Dublin. Many of us were definitely behind the times:
Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.
On the basis of a casual remark, lobbed across the Fabian’s corner in O’Neill’s in Suffolk Street, which was a lot more daicent and less touristy than it is now, I generated a couple of thousand words.
My conceit on what was wrong with W.B.Yeats’s poetry and philosophy amounted to Yeats being virginal until his fifties.
O.K. I know. Olivia Shakespeare and others.
We all know that now.
They just didn’t feature in the texts available to TCD undergrads of my era.
Perversely my essay was graded as a “First”.
Obviously the lecturer had taken leave of his senses, or been taken in by my dexterous use of partial quotation, or was half-stoned himself . Or couldn’t be arsed.
Now — ho-hum — in this context, that cognomen raises a question in itself.
One of those great Irish patriots (and it certainly was not the sainted and uxorious spouse of Sinéad Bean de Valera, who in any case stayed well away from the London political action) earned himself something of a reputation around London during the treaty negotiations of October to December 1921. Hence my thought on where the “Better Together” campaign may have missed a “trick”.
There wasn’t a Moya Llewelyn Davies or a Hazel Lavery or a Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart (a.k.a, Lady Londonderry) to do the softening-up — or lying-down.