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I’m grateful that most communication here in Ireland is carried out in English, compared to what I saw in France last month. There they dubbed everything into French, but I didn’t mention that I also saw a bit of a French remake of “Absolutely Fabulous”, with local actors and a feature film format. Back here, though, we have “The Muppet Show” with all the characters speaking Gaelic, but not the guest stars. At the moment we have Kermit The Frog talking (in Gaelic) to Charles Aznavour, who replies in English, describing how he can say anything to Miss Piggy in French and make her swoon. He goes on to prove it by reciting the phone number of the Paris garbage dump: “neuf trois deux un…”.

That’s it – TV’s going off, and it’s back to my book. I’m re-reading Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond. It came out in 1986 and I last read it over ten years ago. From what I remember, it’s been quite prophetic about some things, and thankfully wrong about others. Middle East Oil plays a huge part, almost foreshadowing the Gulf War, and it was clear even then, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, that the Communist Bloc economies could simply not continue as they were without something drastic happening. Clancy gets a lot of criticism in the USA for his slightly right-wing views, and has even tackled such questions as tax reform, once his long-standing character Jack Ryan became President. He knows his field, though, and it’s not wise to simply dismiss his work as fiction.

More ominously, Clancy later foresaw the use of an airliner in an attack on a public building. Or, what if terrorists read Tom Clancy novels too? In Debt Of Honor the main target was the Capitol building in Washington DC, and that may have been the target of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Tributes are pouring in for Maurice Gibb, the second of the Bee Gees to die. I know it’s in poor taste to criticise someone who has just died, and I won’t go quite as far as Denis Leary did in No Cure For Cancer after Andy Gibb died: “One down, three to go!” Now it’s “two down, two to go”, but it would have been enough for the band to break up, as long as the “music” stopped. “Here’s ten bucks, bring me the head of Barry Manilow. I want to drink beer out of his empty skull… you write the songs, we’ll drink the beer out of your empty head!”

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Written by brian t

January 12, 2003 at 5:10 pm

Posted in books, culture, humour, music

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