How to avoid getting tongue-tied over Bill

by John Boland

WHAT DO you do when a man is down? You make money out of him, that’s what. It’s the American way, and everywhere you look stateside these days hucksters are cleaning up, which at least is more than Monica did. WHAT DO you do when a man is down? You make money out of him, that’s what. It’s the American way, and everywhere you look stateside these days hucksters are cleaning up, which at least is more than Monica did.

There’s the Los Angeles computer chain announcing that its prices are “dropping faster than the President’s pants.”

There’s the watch with the Pinocchio nose, there’s the Monica cookie (ten dollars a bite), and there are the mugs and the T-shirts and the ho-ho zippers. And let’s not forget the books. Thankfully we’re not like that in Ireland. When Charlie Haughey fell from grace, there weren’t three billion shysters trying to make a packet out of his misfortune by manufacturing Charlie T-shirts or Charlie beermats or Charlie-and-Ben moneyclips or Charlie pop-up books.

Okay, so no-one would have bought them anyway, but that’s not the point.

The point is that we Irish show a bit of respect for people when they’re down, and thus over the next couple of days we won’t be doing or saying anything that might cause the teensiest bit of embarrassment to our distinguished visitor. Still, embarrassing things can be said or done even when no insult or offence is intended, so a bit of discretion is advised if, by some chance, you do happen to bump into him on the streets of Belfast, Omagh, Armagh, Dublin or Ballybunion not very likely, I know, but it’s best to be prepared for every eventuality.

For instance, if you’re chatting to him about movies (a distinct possibility, as he’s a keen movie buff) don’t express your admiration for any of the following: Some Like It Hot, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Internal Affairs, Pretty Poison, The Interns, Unforgiven or Star Wars.

If you get on to the subject of jazz (and you might he’s sax-mad), best not to mention Miles Davis’s classic, Kind of Blue, and if you’re rapping about rock or pop, steer clear of Little Love Affairs and Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble

Books (the man’s a devoted reader) could be trouble, too. No matter what your enthusiasm for Kate O’Brien, don’t recommend That Lady to him, while talk of Lord of the Flies, might see an abrupt end to your conversation.

Neither should you over-indulge your fondness for idioms with which, as an American, he might be unfamiliar. Innocent phrases such as “all mouth and no trousers” might be taken up wrongly and create a slight, and quite unnecessary, chill.

And if you happen to encounter him on his way to the first hole at Ballybunion, do refrain from asking him about twosomes and foursomes. Such an enquiry would be not appropriate.

Previous post:

Next post: