From Golfgate to Go-Betweens, journalists are sometimes a little too close to the action
Radio Nova journalist Ken Sweeney’s pivotal documentary, The Go-Betweens and the Irish Writers (Radio Nova, New Year’s Day, 9pm), got me thinking. There’s an eternal mystery as to how some bands are obviously so great, yet somehow manage to be known primarily for that greatness and not for disclosing with large quantities – or even very small amounts.
The Go-Betweens were one of the most influential bands of the late 20th century, and we learned from Sweeney’s work that they had a bridge named after them in their hometown of Brisbane – it was a the biggest tribute you can get, without actually selling millions of albums.
But perhaps the main thing that comes to mind is the legend of my late friend George Byrne, the controversial rock journalist and evangelist for The Go-Betweens. It is said that the band planned to play Trinity Ball when they discovered their bass player was not suitable.
Luckily, a George Byrne is in the building – he is also a musician who knows every note of every Go-Betweens music, and perhaps some notes that Go-Betweens themselves have forgotten.
Naturally, he knows the band personally, and so he’s limping on the sidelines, as if preparing to debut alongside some of his all-time heroes. Alas, under the influence of very strong coffee, somehow the bass player actually managed to get started.
Gavin Jennings presses O’Rourke about his presence at Oireachtas Golf Association dinner
This obviously brought me back to Golfgate and an interview on RTÉ’s This week with broadcaster Sean O’Rourke about his unfortunate involvement in that episode.
It occurred to me that O’Rourke and other news journalists had a relationship with politicians no different than that between George Byrne and The Go-Betweens.
inside This week interview, Gavin Jennings pressed O’Rourke about his presence at the Oireachtas Golf Association dinner, to which O’Rourke replied that he saw it as a way to “keep an eye on”, as a ” intelligence-gathering opportunity” – it’s funny, in and of itself, though it may not have been intended. It’s something a controversial rock journalist might joke, to account for some self-destructive prison break.
I have to add that both O’Rourke and Byrne are excellent journalists, it’s just that the rock and roll guy will have no trouble admitting that he just loves being a part of that circus, that The Go-Between and like-minded souls are his type. Everyone.
Although he can claim significantly more intelligence is gathered behind the scenes with the best of Brisbane, than in the banquet halls full of Fianna Fáilers and Fine Gaelers jubilantly post-shooting. 27 equal shots.
Video of the day
The post-Christmas era brings us another great musical documentary, with Ann Marie Kelly’s Music highlights (RTÉ1, December 28, 2:15 p.m.). This is one of those simple ideas that are often the best kind. Kelly sought out more musicians who sang in their own voice, instead of the traditional “American” accent we’re familiar with.
They include Damien Dempsey, John Spillane, Junior Brother, Lisa O’Neill and The Proclaimers. There are also odd cases like that of Shane MacGowan, who doesn’t sing in the exact same voice he uses in his speech, but whose vocals are related to his more ancient origins.
The examples selected in this show have all been successfully executed – perhaps there will be a darker version of this done about imposters who are inactive.
Olivia O’Leary keeps her own voice in Behind the veil: The story of the Irish nuns (BBC3, nightly, 10.45pm), late-night series. The idea did not appeal to me very much here, for I doubted the covetousness of the highly educated London community for the strangeness of Irish religious oppression. However, it has been done so successfully that it cannot be imagined in any other way.
Irish listeners were startled, in case O’Leary was taking a short cut, modifying the stories of these nuns in any way to suit the sensibilities of the kind of folk that “dinned” with Nigella Lawson.
But she gave it to them frankly and honestly. Maybe next time she can make an Irishman “explain” to them about the “intelligence gathering opportunity” that is Golfgate.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/radio/from-golfgate-to-the-go-betweens-journalists-are-sometimes-a-little-too-close-to-the-action-42266993.html From Golfgate to Go-Betweens, journalists are sometimes a little too close to the action