Our weekly guide to gigs and shows: Stormzy, Boomtown Rats, Warpaint

That’s how Angela Gheorghiu, who had shared third prize, came to make her Irish début at a concert in Wexford in 1990. Progress, however, has been slow; it certainly hasn’t been for the want of talent, as the band’s third and latest album Future Politics appears to have cracked walls that previous albums (2011’s Feel it Break, 2013’s Olympia)could only dent. This new trio, featuring Cape Town saxophonist Chris Engel, Norwegian bassist Trygve Waldemar Fiske and Dublin drummer Matt Jacobson, promises both. We’ve been impressed by what we have heard so far – the singles 123, Alchemy, Underbelly, and When the Water is Hot highlight a songwriter who isn’t reluctant to lay bare thoughts that many prefer to hide. The McCarthy in question was Irish, James McCarthy. Since then, he has been quietly becoming one of the most respected pianists of his generation, “quietly” being the operative word – perfect for the echoing embrace of Triskel Christchurch’s sepulchral space. HIP-HOP Run the Jewels Run the Jewels The Limelight Belfast 8pm £31 (sold out) limelightbelfast.com Also Thurs, Olympia theatre Dublin 8pm €40 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie The week for great hip-hop continues with two sold out shows from fortysomething rappers Killer Mike, Atlanta’s Michael Render, and El-P, Brooklyn’s Jaime Meline (right). TCL ADVERTISEMENT CLASSICAL/OPERA Acis and Galatea National Opera House, Wexford 8pm €30/€27; touring until Thur, April 13th opera.ie Opera Theatre Company obviously has a soft spot for Handel’s Acis and Galatea. It’s a method which has kept them on the visitor list everywhere from BBC Radio One’s Essential Mix to London’s Fabric. ADVERTISEMENT WEDNESDAY 29.03 GRIME/HIP-HOP Stormzy Stormzy Olympia theatre Dublin €26.40 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie Michael Omari is creating a bit of a stir. What began four years ago as an experiment is now a hip-hop phenomenon – three albums down the line (the latest is RTJ3, which unexpectedly landed on Christmas Eve of last year, and which features the likes of Danny Brown and jazz fusion man of the moment, Kasami Washington) and the pair can do no wrong. The pastoral tale of beauty and the beast stars Susanna Fairbairn and Eamonn Mulhall as the lovers, with Edward Grint as the giant Polyphemus and Andrew Gavin as their friend Damon. As a live performer, Lynch has always been stepping up to the plate with a show which has seen rock festivals and clubs worldwide. The new 10-stop tour is a partnership …

Videos of the Week: Natalie Portman’s baby bump kicks along to James Blake

I’m either about to have a heart attack or Nick Berry is set to launch a TV comeback. JAMES BLAKE My Willing Heart ★★★ Polydor “When I see my willing heart, how will I know?” This track, from James Blake’s The Colour in Anything album, is over a year old. The New Wave greats will be supporting crappy old Phil Collins at the Aviva Statium in Dublin this summer, as part of his Not Dead Yet tour (aka Blondie’s But If We Were, We’d Be Spinning in Our Graves tour.) CLEAN BANDIT ft. ZARA LARSSON Symphony ★★★★ Atlantic “Your song is on repeat,” sings Zara Larsson, on the third single from Clean Bandit’s forthcoming So Good album. She gave birth just a few days after this was filmed. ADVERTISEMENT In it, a heavily pregnant Natalie Portman is filmed floating underwater. “I can give you a friend.” Co-written by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, this track from Blondie’s forthcoming Pollinator album echoes the band’s classic 1979 single Heart of Glass in it’s opening bars. It’s a moving image. PADDY HANNA Sunday Milkshake ★★★ Trout Records Debuting online earlier this week, Sunday Milkshake is an excellent solo single from Grand Pocket Orchestra frontman Paddy Hanna. “And I’m dancing to your heartbeat.” Okay, the heart references are getting spooky at this point. The Dublin singer-songwriter describes it as “a tale of realisation, of waking up on a dirty couch and realising some mistakes cannot be undone.” Granted, there are no easy answers in life, Paddy… but have you ever heard of something called Fabreeze? But the ethereal accompanying video, directed by Anna Rose Holmer, is brand new. At one point, her unborn kid can be seen kicking through the walls of her swollen stomach. BLONDIE Long Time ★★★★ BMG “I can give you a heartbeat,” sings Debbie Harry, picking up on an apparent cardio theme in this week’s singles.

Razor-sharp, affectionate take on founding of national theatre

If that line brings the house down at the actual national theatre, nearly 13 years since the debut of Corn Exchange’s marvellous creation, it’s because it is now about the play and the building. You should see it, for his sake, and for Ireland. “We wanted to say something,” protests Willy, with touching simplicity, when everything has gone horribly wrong. Today, at this close proximity, director Annie Ryan’s production is razor-sharp, yet it seems surprisingly fresher and more affectionate towards its inspiration. Dublin By Lamplight Abbey Theatre, Dublin ***** “It is not about the plays, it’s about the building!” So insists Willy Hayes, cofounder and resident playwright of the Irish National Theatre of Ireland, as he tries desperately to guard its future against a calamitous opening night in 1904. Karen Egan’s aristocratic, suffragette nationalist, a surrogate Maud Gonne, pokes wry fun at political postures without sneering at them. Michael West’s witty and nimble alternative history of the founding of the Abbey, developed with its original ensemble, was first staged in parallel with the national theatre’s own blighted centenary, by a company on the outside looking in. ADVERTISEMENT It’s cheering too to see how the collaboration has developed. The cast narrate their actions, like Joycean fugitives, conceive of reality in poetic or theatrical terms, burst periodically into song, and are embraced, throughout, by Conor Linehan’s deft piano, essentially another character. Whether these fantastic actors briskly summon up a squeaking trolley, a spooked horse, a street riot, or an unpleasant squelch on the cobblestones, just as the Yeatsian playwright and his company struggle to create a mythic play “for Ireland”, the delight of the show is to see people building up their world right in front of you. The show, nonetheless, warmly interweaves art and life. Play within the play The nation, West recognises, is a similar kind of performance, a frantic improvisation where high ideals meet scant resources, similarly prone to triumph or collapse. Of the original cast, the brilliant Louis Lovett is somehow even more dexterous as William, joyfully stepping in and out of the play (no mobile phone interruption has ever been as generously handled). Paul Reid excels as the precious actor, a Wildean throwback tiptoeing through dear dirty Dublin, and new recruits Colin Campbell, Gus McDonagh and the exceptional Caitríona Ennis all step sprightly along Corn Exchange’s trail. The play within the play, The Wooing of Emer, an …

Life on the road with U2: ‘There were supermodels everywhere’

I can’t tell you what it is, you have to say yes or no.’” Doyle said yes and soon found herself going for an interview in her mother’s clothes for a job as as assistant to Ann Louise Kelly, who was running the day-to-day business in the U2 office for Principle Management and Paul McGuinness. “The Late Late is the flagship Irish show, it’s bigger than all of us. “Put those two jobs together – I was the last one to bed and the first one up in the morning. My best friend’s dad died and it hit me, I actually missed home a bit.” With that, she was back on the U2 Zoo TV tour as an assistant tour manager and band assistant. I repped great indie labels so I had One Little Indian, XL, Beggar’s Banquet, Jive – but you were competing with the majors at the time so every week we’d battle out the playlist, which was blood, sweat and lots of tears.” Back to the band In 1998, she was offered a promotion looking after UK and Ireland talent relations, but Paul McGuinness came looking for her once more. She’s currently working with Finbar Furey, who she says has legendary status at age 70 but is more than what he’s given credit for. Doyle did a course in the Gaiety and it soon became apparent, she wasn’t going to get to Tinseltown. My point is the goodwill and the vibe of that person’s tribe, will engage or tweet so they’ll get the flipside that the older generation won’t give them. She contacted the only two bands she knew: Crowded House and INXS. Doyle says her time working for the couple was inspirational but as one person looking after everything, she lacked support. It started in a stadium in Rome and went all over, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US included. I was writing up my resignation letter before I’d even signed my contract.” Doyle booked what was expected of her and then began to put her stamp on things bringing in more emerging and contemporary acts on the show including Villagers (“Conor said it was one of his favourite TV performances ever. “I chose to come back to Ireland. I met a fellah, found out I was pregnant (son Ned is now 19). When himself and Christy Duignam performed on The Late Late for his …

Gig Guide: Stormzy, Boomtown Rats, Warpaint, Marc Copland and more

Byrne went on to a long and successful career with Altan, but these days he’s ploughing a number of his own furrows. Nobu is fast developing a name for himself on the western circuit with appearances at The Bunker in Brooklyn, Smart Bar in Chicago, Berghain in Berlin and Dekmantel in Amsterdam. FOLK ART Clang Sayne Clang Sayne tour Fumbally Stables, Dublin (Friday 24th); Black Gate Cultural Centre, Galway, (Saturday 25th) and Gulpd Café, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork (Sunday 26th); clangsayne.com Wexford composer/ musician/ poet Laura Hyland’s soundscapes explore a rugged, somewhat austere terrain criss-crossed by contemporary folk, avant-pop, improvisation and acoustic abstraction. Ronan Phelan, who has previously found rich theatre in similar situations of confinement and surveillance, directs the Irish premiere of a play that puts passion under the microscope, and modern medicine under similar scrutiny, while artfully reflecting on the theatre itself. Her solo album, Guth Ar Fán, is a touchstone for many singers in search of the essence of what it means to sing sean nós. Expect a rake of influences from the north-east, not least from Tommy Peoples, John Doherty, Con Cassidy and Danny Meehan. Ironically, such a state of affairs could be due to Christine and the Queens, an outfit that has clearly benefited from Austra’s often mesmeric electro-pop delights. They finish a short Irish tour this week in support of their startling new release, The Round Soul of the World. Copland trained as a horn player, playing with Chico Hamilton and others in the late 60s – when he made a mid- course correction. PUNK/POP Boomtown Rats Boomtown Rats Mandela Hall Belfast 8pm £32 mandelahall.com Also Sat, Olympia Theatre Dublin 7pm €40 ticketmaster.ie There was a time, of course, when Bob Geldof’s crew couldn’t get a gig in Ireland, let alone airplay, particularly after the band’s commercial appeal all but disappeared from the early 1980s onwards. ART Futures, Series 3, Episode 1 RHA Gallagher Gallery, 15 Ely Place, Dublin rhagallery.ie First in a new instalment of three annual shows highlighting artists who are becoming established in their careers (Futures, an art odyssey, first appeared in 2001). From Duke Ellington to Frank Sinatra, it was the default sound of popular music, and there is still nothing to compare to a well-drilled horn section in full voice, but the economics of the music business have changed and nowadays, the phone calls alone can ruin the average …

The Catch review: Great hair, frisky action – Rhimes’ escapist caper returns

Nothing is allowed to settle. Even violence has no consequence. But with the con artist’s flight, the show is more joyfully aware of something that Alice, long indifferent to marriage, never quite admits – nothing compares to the thrill of the chase. Private investigator Alice, who in Mireille Enos’s performance wears a beaming smile like a shield, discovered that her fiancé, Christopher, was actually the man her agency had been targeting for years, Mr X. “For a day.” Instead, we are promised, a relationship of ceaseless flirtation that can go on indefinitely. In a rare moment together in bed, Alice briefly fantasises about married life, dreamily wondering about grocery shopping. Maybe that’s what the lovers want – their sex scenes, usually glimpsed in elliptical flashback, preserve the passion of a torrid encounter. Now Krause will run cons for the FBI with his comedic sidekick, played by John Simms, while Enos briskly regrows her business, beginning with a mystery involving her shiftless brother. To keep this formula going, and supposedly to preserve their cover, Ben and Alice also have to keep running around. Its cast is unfussily diverse, its main characters are comfortably middle-aged and everyone is allowed to have ergonomic desk supports, laughter lines and brows that occasionally crease. The Catch (Sky Atlantic, Tuesday, 10pm) is a diaphanous show about a tenacious private investigator and a charming conman, told with zest, endlessly splitting or swooshing screens and – this cannot be stressed enough – really, really great hair. “That would be fun,” agrees Ben. More humiliatingly, though, it had been a long con. The question facing its second series is something similar: will they settle into dull routine or can they keep the magic alive? It’s a nice idea, but as episodic capers begin to stack up, it doesn’t seem so easy to keep things fresh. Played by Peter Krause, whose fixed smirk is the only facial expression still available to him, both men are thought to be quite the catch. ADVERTISEMENT Comfortably middle-aged Nobody was ever going to confuse The Catch with The Wire, but even under its LA sunshine there was at least a wisp of realism about it. Krause is stabbed in a prison shower, guns are pulled at the slightest provocation, dead bodies seems only a slight inconvenience. All chases eventually become exhausting. Call it what you want – caper, heist, con job – it’s really …

Suzanne Doyle on her ‘bonkers, mad, brilliant’ life in the U2 orbit

When music comes on people switch over to Graham Norton, they go out to make tea or get a glass of wine. At one point off tour, my mam found me sleepwalking hanging over the bannisters with an imaginary walkie-talkie directing people, so that was my mental state.” Still in her mid-20s, Doyle has headhunted by MTV Europe to work in their talent artist relations department and moved to London. After a week, I adored it and felt like It was where I belonged.” Tour assistant She never repeated her Leaving Cert after that. While minding her own business and repeating her Leaving Cert in 1987, Suzanne Doyle was plucked from anonymity and taken on tour with the band, a role which kicked off a lifetime working in the music industry, often in the orbit of one of the biggest bands in the world. It was bonkers, mad, brilliant, but it was a hardcore few years. Doyle says her time working for the couple was inspirational but as one person looking after everything, she lacked support. My best friend’s dad died and it hit me, I actually missed home a bit.” With that, she was back on the U2 Zoo TV tour as an assistant tour manager and band assistant. What followed was a few years of touring after Doyle has offered a tour assistant job. “ I was given a notebook and a pen. “There was one band I worked with, called the Screaming Jets and their statement was “rock out with your cock out”. Perhaps her most challenging role since, was filling in on The Late Late Show booking the live acts for RTÉ. I answered the phone, made the coffee, did the usual things. ADVERTISEMENT She had scrupulously saved enough money to buy a house in Dalkey, but there was another life calling. It’s so quiet, there’s no noise or music – I was terrified by programming the show. “I would love to raise him where he should be and introduce him to a new audience. It started in a stadium in Rome and went all over, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US included. “Anything MTV did back in the day had to go through that department, whether it was ad sales, marketing events or tour support. I wasn’t going to be the blue-eyed Jessica Lange.” She decamped to Australia with her boyfriend, but the country …

Deep excavation of a betrayal where victims blamed themselves

“Them days, if the doctor said the moon was made of green cheese, you’d believe the doctor. The evidence against Primodos was inconclusive. “I still smoke,” she says, quietly. Ramsay is one of hundreds of British women who had been prescribed Primodos, a hormonal pregnancy test drug introduced in the late 1950s and finally removed in 1978, which has been associated with birth defects. Whistle blowers, such as Dr Gal or Schering employee Dr Ulrich Moebius, are either undermined or discredited. Nothing is quite as galling as communication between the UK regulator, Dr William Inman, and the pharmaceutical company in 1975, in which Inman determined a “five-to-one risk” of birth defects, and sent the company a letter that resembled a tip-off more than a charge. Internal reports about the drug’s lack of testing issue dark warnings – “We’re defenceless”; “likely guilty of a breach in duty”; “dynamite in the hands of the claimants” – and still there is little culpability. Primodos, which contained similar components to the contraceptive pill but in much stronger doses, was intended to induce menstruation in the absence of pregnancy. If you wonder why anyone would take a prescription pill to determine pregnancy, it says a lot about how primitive the previous methods had been – the most reliable test in the 1950s was to inject female frogs with the patient’s urine to see if it produced eggs. ADVERTISEMENT Robin Hayes, whose son was born with a heart defect from which he died in childhood, tries to rein in his cynicism as he describes how medical experts dropped out of the case, one by one, when research grants posed conflicts of interest. Ramsay had her own doubts. This scandal, now more than half a century old, may still be unravelling: the UK drugs regulator is reviewing the new evidence on Primodos and is expected to report back later this year. She can be precise about the moment, because no one would ever forget such awful circumstances. Jason Farrell’s documentary is not inclined to harbour doubts. (Inman destroyed the material on which his investigation was based “to prevent individual claims” that could be based on it.) The patterns are depressingly familiar. Unearthing documents from Britain and Germany, some of them prepared for the legal battle that never happened, the evidence presented is damning. But Primodos was not withdrawn until 1978, and a legal case against the drug’s …

William O’Rourke: ‘I’m not bothered by the success of others’

But I am well aware of the limitations of writers and if one is addicted to metaphor, prose residing in the neighbourhood of belles lettres, it is difficult, if not impossible, to go cold turkey and write otherwise. The examples of writers of announced stature who write, allegedly, superior crime novels under pseudonyms, is a matter of judgment. Not the mob of crime writers out there. I must admit, I am a bit surprised so many have such a low threshold for feeling belittled by my passing remark I am not bothered by the success of others. Though, given the literate audience involved, I would have thought that such a description – “fatal lack of talent” – would alert the reader (since it is a mixture of direct statement and hyperbole) to the realisation that I might be aware of its provoking ambiguities. As one of the respondents (Barbara Nadel) pointed out, I, too, categorise writing as either fiction or nonfiction and, secondarily, whether it is good or bad. Though in our age it is mainly Arts and Entertainment. The real cause of literary success, if one wants to go there, is contained in my remarks about telling the culture what it wants to hear. No one writes down. But, I contend, writers who publish are always writing at the top of their form. In fact, it’s one of my few good traits. It proves the central point of my article on Michael that there is an active and vibrant and cohesive literary community across the pond, but not in the USA. Let us be reasonable here. The chief reaction to perceived literary rebuke by an unfamous author in the States is not to be bothered. The novel I have just completed has a crime in it – adultery, though most people no longer consider adultery a crime. I am too old and have published too much to be thought ignorant enough not to be aware of the objections put forward by the miffed 13 Let us be reasonable here. At my university I am part of a College of Arts and Letters. I am too old and have published too much to be thought ignorant enough not to be aware of the objections put forward by the miffed 13. As an old friend said to me long ago, the non-crime writer Irini Spanidou, “Genius is a gift and talent …

How much does a TV licence cost in other countries?

A similar proposal for Ireland was indefinitely deferred by the Government last year. In Spain, it is financed by a levy on private broadcasters and telecommunications companies. In other countries, such as Cyprus, public broadcasting is funded directly from general taxation. In recent years, many countries have shifted from a television licence to an overarching content charge in reaction to the shift towards digital and away from traditional television. Doubling the licence fee from €160 to €320 per annum, would make it one of the highest broadcasting charges in the world. Finland abolished its television licence in 2013, replacing it with a ring-fenced progressive tax, ranging from €50 to €140, depending on income, which is applied to all adults, with very low-income earners exempted. Scandinavian countries tend to have higher fees, with Denmark charging €335. Italy, Greece, Romania and Portugal all apply the charges via household electricity bills. Around two-thirds of European countries use television licences to fund public service broadcasting, although the practice is much rarer in other parts of the world. In The UK, where the licence is also required for users of the BBC’s online iPlayer service, it is €170, while in France it is €136 and in Germany it is €215. RTÉ director-general Dee Forbes said today that she believed a doubling of Ireland’s television licence fee was justified, although she later clarified that the broadcaster was not officially seeking such a move. INM’s digital media strategy has yet to pay dividends RTÉ plans up to 250 redundancies and eyes licence fee reform RTÉ seeks €75m for 8.64 acres of its Montrose campus In some cases, licence revenue is supplemented by advertising, as in Ireland. Across the EU, the cost of a licence ranges from €53 in Poland to €335 in Austria.

‘Back then if the doctor said the moon was made of green cheese, you’d believe them’

Her new-born baby, Gary Lee, had died, having come into the world with such serious malformations that his mother could neither hold him nor take a photograph – even the flash would cause him pain –   and a doctor was attempting to console her. Jason Farrell’s documentary is not inclined to harbour doubts. Whistle blowers, such as Dr Gal or Schering employee Dr Ulrich Moebius, are either undermined or discredited. Prompted by an unusual number of spina bifada cases, in 1967 the London paediatrician Dr Isabel Gal researched hormonal pregnancy tests and published dire findings. Nothing is quite as galling as communication between the UK regulator, Dr William Inman, and the pharmaceutical company in 1975, in which Inman determined a “five-to-one risk” of birth defects, and sent the company a letter that resembled a tip-off more than a charge. If you wonder why anyone would take a prescription pill to determine pregnancy, it says a lot about how primitive the previous methods had been – the most reliable test in the 1950s was to inject female frogs with the patient’s urine to see if it produced eggs. “Them days, if the doctor said the moon was made of green cheese, you’d believe the doctor. (Inman destroyed the material on which his investigation was based “to prevent individual claims” that could be based on it.) The patterns are depressingly familiar. Primodos, which contained similar components to the contraceptive pill but in much stronger doses, was intended to induce menstruation in the absence of pregnancy. As the case grew shaky, legal aid was removed, and the claimants could no longer afford to maintain it. Internal reports about the drug’s lack of testing issue dark warnings – “We’re defenceless”; “likely guilty of a breach in duty”; “dynamite in the hands of the claimants” – and still there is little culpability. It’s not hard to feel for the claimants, still waiting for answers, and in Lynda Ramsay’s case, still smoking.  Farrell lays out his findings: that the drug was never tested; that the company was told it was negligent; that the regulator warned of risks; and a similar case in the US resulted in a huge settlement. Unearthing documents from Britain and Germany, some of them prepared for the legal battle that never happened, the evidence presented is damning. This scandal, now more than half a century old, may still be unravelling: the …

In defence of genre: Michael Collins on why he turned to crime

In so doing, I take my cue from Kafka’s masterful ambiguous crime novel, The Trial, which begins with the indictment: “Someone must have been spreading slander about Josef K., for one morning he was arrested, though he had done nothing wrong.” Michael Collins is the author of 10 works of fiction. One, The Keepers of Truth, was shortlsted for the Man Booker Prize and the Impac Prize. ADVERTISEMENT I’ve never claimed that I slummed it in coming to the crime genre, or that in subtly shifting to a more existential, post-modern open-endedness, I was too smart or talented to continue in the genre. I don’t cry foul or make excuses that my readership has diminished because “I’ve grown older” or “I’m a white male”. I lost faith in the procedural as a way of accessing Truth. ADVERTISEMENT As a writer, and I say this having worked with all sorts of writers, I see all genres as equal, and believe that a writer can achieve greatness and an audience within the parameters of any genre. I make no quarrel with my fellow writers. I write of crimes that go unacknowledged, unpunished, crimes which barely register. The psychological shift that I had to negotiate in moving from novels set in Ireland to America was just how central murder was to the American experience I would start by defending Prof O’Rourke in his argument that much of the political invective that informed early 21st-century literature is no longer tolerated. Michael Collins: a genius student but a classic outsider ‘Untalented’ crime writers respond to their No 1 critic William O’Rourke returns to the scene of the crime In fact, I would argue that in relying on narrative tropes that require plot elements, genre writers can focus on more existential issues. The opening of the novel begins: “Nobody jumped to their death in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 as they had in the Crash of 1929, and though the losses were equal, there was no run on the banks or the chaotic dissolution of so many lives.” In following through on an open-ended thesis, I am cognisant that I risk alienating my readership. I’ve never claimed I slummed it in coming to the crime genre, or that in subtly shifting to a more existential, post-modern open-endedness, I was too smart or talented to continue in the genre My decisions are conscious. I contend that I …

Piers Morgan meets Nigel Farage? ‘Oh God, it’s too much’

But no, George is asking about Zippy’s actual wife, a real life German woman at whom Zippy chants “two World Wars and one World Cup” during football matches (seriously), and who has, over the years, put up with reported infidelities and more disturbingly, I’m sure, the sheer existence of Nigel Farage as a marital reality. He had a testicle removed after a cancer diagnosis. The UKIP banner he affixed to the back of a little aeroplane got tangled up in that aeroplane causing it to crash and him to break loads of his bones. So he doesn’t mind this line of questioning half as much as he minds when George/Morgan starts reciting the racist and homophobic things that members of his political party have said over years. It’s like a crap version of Don’t You Want Me Baby by The Human League. In the age of Trump, being anything short of an actual sex pest looks statesmanlike. And so we meet Zippy/Farage’s parents, who are, apparently, Babs Windsor from the Carry On films and the Major from Fawlty Towers. “You all laughed at me,” he gobble-gobbles. “Only because you’re never in Brussels, Piers,” I yell through my liberal tears. Having UKIPs own words repeated back to him is an example of the kind of lefty media bias that Zippy/Farage regularly fulminates against, so he flaps his muppety head in rage. Anyway, the programme ends with Farage exulting in having all of his eurosceptical dreams come true with Brexit. “You’re not laughing now.” ADVERTISEMENT Tattooed on her arm At one point Morgan replaces the image of Farage’s face with the image of a woman who has had Farage’s face tattooed on her arm. Sadly, I am mistaken. In the ensuing darkness, I begin penning an apology to Zippy and George and the creators of Rainbow. “She was a bilingual bund broker,” explains Zippy. It is, in fact, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (Tuesday, TV3) a programme in which Morgan, a fully engorged Trump apologist, interviews professional human impersonator and donkeyman of the apocalypse Nigel Farage. At this point, both Farage and Morgan’s man-suits burst with smugness and their spores of self-regard disperse across the land, contaminating the crops and blotting out the sun. It’s great, and just what I need to hear after watching Zippy and George divide the world between them. ADVERTISEMENT At an obscure hour Also in the darkness, and …

Joe Joyce on Echoland, 2017’s Dublin: One City One Book choice

The tympanum over the entrance had (and still has) the British royal coat of arms on it and the photo would be a breach of neutrality, he decided. Other than the Shannon family, nobody was killed but that was a matter of luck. The picture appeared in the newspaper with the coat of arms scratched out and what looked like a crude hole in the tympanum. The other end of the farmhouse was largely undamaged: five male family members asleep there were uninjured. This year’s festival, which runs during April, offers an opportunity for readers to engage with the book, and the city, through music, readings, walks and interviews. Among the operators of the black market were some detectives based in Dublin Castle: a superintendent sent in to clean it up was shot dead in somewhat murky circumstances some years after the war. ADVERTISEMENT Fuel shortages increased over time, stopping all buses after nine at night and turning the city into a mass of cyclists and walkers. Behind the nostalgic glow, however, there was a harsh reality, exemplified at its worst by the bombing of the North Strand by German aircraft which killed 28 people in May 1941. 2017 Dublin: One City One Book Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, launching the 2017 Dublin: One City One Book programme of events today in Pearse Street Library, said: “Echoland brings the reader back to the Dublin of the 1940s and I know it will prove to be a popular choice with bookclubs and the city’s many readers. He lost that one but he won another over a photograph of a public meeting in College Green which showed the Bank of Ireland building in the background. Putting yourself back into a period like the Emergency quickly dispels any sepia-toned images and rids you of the fallacious assumption that the past was always a simpler time than the present. Frank Aiken, the minister in charge of censorship, was not above fighting traditional battles with older enemies that had nothing to do with the country’s neutral status. The first few days of 1941 (which form the background of Echobeat, the second book in the Echoland series) saw up to a dozen bombing incidents by German aircraft over the east coast from Enniscorthy up to Dundalk, inland to the Curragh, and including bombs on South Circular Road and Terenure in Dublin. As I was writing …

William O’Rourke returns to the scene of the crime

As an old friend said to me long ago, the non-crime writer Irini Spanidou, “Genius is a gift and talent is a curse”. The examples of writers of announced stature who write, allegedly, superior crime novels under pseudonyms, is a matter of judgment. Let us be reasonable here. At my university I am part of a College of Arts and Letters. I worked in New York City publishing when I was in graduate school way back when and proof-read and copy-edited quite a few. The real cause of literary success, if one wants to go there, is contained in my remarks about telling the culture what it wants to hear. I published a novel titled Criminal Tendencies; there is a crime in it. The chief reaction to perceived literary rebuke by an unfamous author in the States is not to be bothered. William O’Rourke is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Notre Dame But, I contend, writers who publish are always writing at the top of their form. Not the mob of crime writers out there. And, in Oates’ case, it was revealed pre-publication. My remark – “He doesn’t possess the fatal lack of talent required” – is the sentence, actually the phrase, everyone seems to object to. No one writes down. In any case, there are a number of counter-examples. I am too old and have published too much to be thought ignorant enough not to be aware of the objections put forward by the miffed 13 Let us be reasonable here. And, I must admit, I am a bit surprised so many have such a low threshold for feeling belittled by my passing remark. Neglect has always been the preferred weapon of choice here. I am pleased that my “aside” prompted so many, in the main, thoughtful responses – and surprised that there are so many self-described “crime writers” at the ready. I am too old and have published too much to be thought ignorant enough not to be aware of the objections put forward by the miffed 13. All published in different genres under pen names and those books went nowhere, until the actual celebrity author was revealed. This particular notion – fatal lack – is a perennial hobby-horse of mine, though I have never written about it. It proves the central point of my article on Michael that there is an active and …

Arts Council out of tune with needs of opera world

The heavy-hitting contenders appear to be an alliance of Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company – Fergus Sheil is artistic director of both – and a partnership between Kilkenny Arts Festival director Eugene Downes and Wexford Festival Opera.  As part of the process the council is currently providing answers to questions from potential applicants to clarify any issues that were not fully dealt with in the March workshop. The group, which began as a student ensemble in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, presented reimaginings of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on the occasion of the work’s centenary in 2013 and plunged audiences into darkness for a series of blackout concerts combining new works and classics. All questions and answers are being made public and can be viewed on the council’s websiteat artscouncil.ie. Chamber music The Kirkos Ensemble (pictured) has never been short of ambition. “The Sept-May opera ‘season’ division is used as the standard national and international practice in terms of repertoire planning frameworks and the presenting and marketing [of] repertoire to audiences,” ” the council says. Welsh National Opera’s forthcoming season will run from September to June; in 2013-14, it ran from August to July. It is currently giving what you might call relatively straight chamber music programmes in the Bewley’s Café Theatre in the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin city centre, if you can call a programme of Webern, Georg Friedrich Haas, Seán Ó Dálaigh and Breffni O’Byrne relatively straight.  The decision to open last Saturday’s programme with Webern’s Five Movements, Opus 5, proved unwise. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden will run from September to July, as will the Bavarian State Opera, with the last month devoted to the Munich Opera Festival.  ADVERTISEMENT The three-month, June to August dead spot that the Arts Council suggests is anything but an international norm, especially if you consider that beyond the work of year-round companies, it’s the summer months that see the likes of the festivals in Bayreuth, Salzburg and Glyndebourne in full swing. Opera in summertime – everyone wants it. Yet the council goes on to say: “The call prioritises the presentation of the principal main-scale productions to be done during the standard Sept-May season, when experience and practice indicates the largest local audiences are available for regularly produced opera, theatre, concerts etc.” When it comes to opera, the council does not appear to know what is best …

Ectoplasm, seances and paranormal people: the art of Susan MacWilliam

Interest in the paranormal flourished into the 20th century, paralleling the growing campaigns for women’s suffrage. The formidable Duplessis, for example, was born in 1912. Certainly her trial was at best anachronistic and pointless. Subsequently, Goligher was discredited by other psychical investigators. She had gained fame as a medium, and then some notoriety for manufacturing ectoplasm using such materials as cheesecloth and egg white, and for the use of other props in séances. Opting for the unusual medium of plasticine, she fabricated “three bas relief sculptures of theatre and cinema curtains”. Between 1914 and 1920, a lecturer in mechanical engineering, Dr William Jackson Crawford, investigated Goligher’s séances. In a transitional phase between painting and lens-based imagery, she had acquired a video camera. He was convinced her abilities were genuine and he devised an elaborate scientific theory to explain her apparent levitation and production of ectoplasm. The installation was called simply Curtains. Dermo Optics Another three-screen video recreates an experiment created in the USSR in the 1960s to test an apparent example of Dermo Optics there. In flickering black-and-white footage, a stream of ectoplasm issues from the mouth of a medium, Helen Duncan; a “teleplasm” unsteadily spells out the name Flammarion as it reportedly appeared on the wall of a séance cabinet in Winnipeg in 1931, evidently a reference to French astronomer and psychical researcher Camille Flammarion; an installation creates an approximation of the experience of viewing the stage act of New York mystic Kuda Bux in the 1930s and 1940s as he set about reading a newspaper and writing – while blindfolded. The latter became something of a celebrity on regular visits to New York in the 1930s as a guest of the American Society for Psychical Research. In carefully staged experiments, women mediums were subject to a range of controls and restraints, including screens, being bound with ropes and otherwise confined. Happening to see a documentary about séances and spirit photography, she was fascinated. As with many others, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the unfailingly logical fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes, found solace in the promise of spiritualism in the face of the horrors, and personal bereavements, of the Great War. It seems fair to say that what fascinates MacWilliam most are the related ideas of unacknowledged histories, as in the case of women and minority groups in patriarchal societies, and emotional truth: that is, the importance of …