19 January 2010


Oyez and all that,

Durrell School's Irish Film Season recommences Tuesday 2 February (7.30pm sharp)

  • Kick-off with the
    "Gripping drama The Field, set in County Kerry in the 1950s and featuring Richard Harris, Sean Bean, Brenda Fricker, Tom Berenger, John Hurt, in a story fuelled by the passion for land.

    This is definitely one not to be missed."

    The season will continue on subsequent Tuesdays with:

  • 9 February ~ The General – true-life story of a Dublin gangland boss who steals a king’s ransom in Old Master paintings – stars Brendan Gleeson
  • 16 February ~ My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Fiona Shaw) based on the true-life story of Christy Brown.
  • 23 February ~ Angela’s Ashes (directed by Alan Parker); true-life story of destitution and childhood in Limerick by the late Frank McCourt
  • 2 March ~ The Nephew – off-the-wall zany story of an Irish-American nephew returning to a remote Irish island, with startling repercussions – stars Pierce Brosnan.

    Admission: for the remaining 5 films, a special price of 30 euros is available.

    Admission to each film is 10 euros, to include a glass of wine.

    Ack - fool me. Last time I turned up I only had €100 but I handed it over for change because I was told that €50 would guarantee me the rest of the film season once it re-started in 2010. Hey ho, but it's in a good cause.

    The Brown autobiog ~ The fillum I'm interested in is the Christy Brown, which I've probably seen more than any other movie and never a penny spent on a ticket, begorrah. Til now.

    I got to know Christy quite well in the 1970s because, as Secker & Warburg's publicity manager, it was my job to plug and hug and get him reviewed and/or interviewed and get the darned books off the shelves and into the punters' pockets. Not easy.

    Obviously, I wasn't around in 1954 to flog the original masterpiece, My Left Foot, but it was my job to co-ordinate the PR for:

  • Down All The Days (1970)
  • Come Softly to My Wake (Poems, 1971)
  • Background Music: Poems(1973)
  • A Shadow on Summer (1974)
  • Of Snails And Skylarks (1978)

    For me, the other hero after Christy's mum was the unsung venerable David Farrer, Secker's editorial director and Christy's editor with whom I made many travels to see Christy and the Browns.

    'Twixt you and me, David wrestled every word of the prolific Christy into saleable life. I didn't see the original autobiography but I saw all the others and Brown was an astounding producer of words.

    Lordy, most able-bodied scribblers don't churn out what Christy did in first drafts, and here's another comparison.

    Christy would now and then get a little naughty with the drink (Guinness thru a straw) and then proceed to kick the place around.

    I recall one Irish bobby who'd turned up to do the usual quietening turning to me and confiding that Bruce Lee in his prime couldn't have wreaked such destruction on that tough old Irish furniture.

    What I didn't realise until I was putting this blog post together was that there'd been a TV sketch show, In Living Color, featuring Jim Carrey as a Kickboxing expert who could only move his left foot.

    The sketch was known as My Left Foot of Fury and it was probably greeted with a mixture of tastless mirth and shock.

    I'm sure if we'd seen it we'd have mocked its mildness and Christy himself, as he kicked the TV screen in, would have given me hell for being such a $#@! useless meedja whore that I couldn't even fix for him to play hisself. Actually, very good point: I did get Saul Bellow to play 'The Pedestrian' in 'The Blonde and the Bassplayer'.

    Wife Mary: The movie consists of flashbacks moving through his life until it ends with Brown and wife Mary Carr sharing a bottle of champagne.

    The closing caption talks of their marriage in 1972, giving the impression that they lived happily ever after.

    I got to know Mary and was always amazed at how she could understand everything he said.

    My Left Ear: The trick with talking to him was to not look at his mouth but just listen to the sounds and make a best guess at what he was impatiently trying to get across.

    The story went that Christy met Mary at some loud party when she sat down next to him on the sofa and proceeded to converse sans problem, understanding every garbled word thru the din. Nice story, not sure how true it is.

    Also about Mary, I was aware of other stories but perhaps because I was a pal or because it was known I worked for his publishers, I was rarely asked about the more controversial aspects.

    The only time it reared its head was when some toad from the more gutterly press had come over on the same flight to cover the launch and was heard asking me some inappropriate questions. I acted indignant and silent and the next thing I saw was the reptile being very efficiently bundled out the back door for a communal duffing over, ne'er to slink back in.

    Mary died in 2006 but we didn't really keep in touch once it was established that, having left Secker, I had no contacts or say in tracing extra royalties or monies due.

    Et voilà! Talk about the Shrinking World Syndrome.

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