Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Frustrated in Ballymount

If you're Irish and you were watching TV tonight, you may have seen me. I was sitting in the front row of the audience for Pat Kenny Tonight, on a show which was partly dedicated to a discussion of political correctness. But I didn't get to speak, and I feel deeply frustrated about it.

A researcher contacted me a couple of weeks ago, after reading one of my letters to the Irish Times, one on this very subject. He asked me if I would be interested in attending and willing to speak. Yes and yes, I said. I had been in the audience for another TV3 show not so long ago-- a debate on gay marriage. I got to speak (briefly) that night and, while it wasn't exactly a Burkean flight of oratory, it was nice to get my oar in.

This time, I didn't get to speak. It may have been partly my own stupidity. As I was signing the permission form at the reception, the girl (who said I have a nice name) gave me another document saying I didn't have to fill it in but I could if I wanted to. I could also tick the box saying I was willing to speak. Well, I thought, I'd already told them I was willing to speak, so that didn't apply to me. Partly I didn't want to go looking for someone to hand it to, in the crowded foyer. I'm awkward about things like that.

The upshot was I never got to speak. Whether that was because I didn't sign the form or whether (as my father thinks) it was because they had chosen their audience speakers already, it didn't happen. I did send an annoyed email to the researcher who'd contacted me. Doubtless he'll reply that I was told there was no guarantee I would get to speak. (Edit: Actually, he wrote a very nice response, telling me they usually had a question session at the end but didn't have time this week, and that he'd rethink the forms system.)

But, it was so frustrating! I had to listen to a torrent of political correctness all night, including a 'gender studies' lecturer claiming that there are many genders, and somebody else describing Milo Yiannoupolous (who I admire so much I would almost take a bullet for him) as a 'Nazi'. (I'm told this slur didn't make the air.)

Even the critics of political correctness were treating it partly as a joke and partly as a minor irritant. It's neither of those things. It's' incredibly serious.

I left the studio feeling extraordinarily frustrated. I got lost and couldn't find my bus-stop. I found another bus-stop eventually, but had to cross a tramline to get it, and tripped over a low fence. Yeah. That kind of day.

I do have some more promising news to share with readers. Last year I wrote a book about Catholic saints and, in late December, submitted it to the American publishers Angelico Press. I sent it to them because they are orthodox, and because they've published my friend Roger Buck's books. (I say friend, though I've only met him once, but we have corresponded.) I got a positive response and the aim is for it to be published in the autumn. I've read a lot of books about saints and I'm often disappointed by how dry they are. This one isn't dry. It's full of anecdotes. I've also tried to write about saints that get less attention-- indeed, some of them are saints I'd never heard of before my research. I hope some of my blog readers will buy it when it comes out. The working title is Inspiration from the Saints.


  1. That does sound frustrating, though you suggest that the media people were helpful and interested in your point of view, at least in principle?

    The book sounds exciting! Will look forward to updates on progress...

    1. Yes, the media people were very nice. I've been to two such recordings now, and at both there was an atmosphere of bonhomie which is good in itself, but which can make you forget that important subjects are being discussed.

      Thanks for being excited about the book. Right now I am at the stage of seeking permission for the material I've quoted. I'm still waiting for clearance to use four lines from a Betjeman poem-- there is a form to fill out which requires very precise information!

  2. When you're in the front row at least you can nod or shake your head noticeably when others make their point