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Found this in the Guardian, tucked away anonymously, page 29, Sept. 19th: Goodbye Elton John, though we never liked you all that much, You inspired Diana, even though you were hardly butch And it seemed to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, your hair never knowing what to cling to When the rain set in. And though we would have liked to love you, It would be a great big fib. Your talent burned out long before Your chutzpah ever did.
Eamonn McCann, 01 Oct 1997
It is a pity Bob Geldof isn?t in the presidential race because he shares responsibility for the way it?s being run.
Live Aid in 1985, more than any other single event, elevated altruism into the highest political virtue and generated the moral fog which still lingers around our politics.
Of course, most people involved in Live Aid were motivated by generosity. It?s its political effect I?m concerned with here.
At the moment when Thatcherism was in its highest ascendancy and even some conservatives were queasy about the unabashed celebration of greed all around, Live Aid came along with the implicit message that decency and light were not to be sought from the political system anyway, but rather from rock stars, entertainers and popular culture generally.
The priorities of the market might be ripping through working-class communities while indolent parasites were stashing unimaginable sums of money away ? but no need for political action on that account. Marble vaults might be filling with gold as the banks squeezed the Third World of all transferable wealth ? but no point discussing what political ideas might be needed to remedy the situation.
Tune in, turn on the big show from Wembley, feel the warmth of contentment vibing into your life. Weep from the joy of giving. Take a drum-stick skelp at democracy?s arse, toss in yer copper coin!
Was ever the morale of well-fed people so sweetly nourished?
As Dave Hill or Dave Widgery (I forget which) wrote at the time, Live Aid, more than any Tory Party manifesto, made the point that the suffering of human beings called not for collective political action, but for bureaucracy-busting action from thrusting individualists. The cool entrepreneur with no time for politics was the hero of the hour.
And was the political elite ever grateful!
Appropriate, really, given Geldof?s role, that this process should reach its apogee in Ireland. On an RTE discussion programme on September 22nd it was claimed that 98 percent of ?the Irish people? reckoned Mary Robinson?s presidency a ?success?.
This is an astonishing figure. If the usual three percent variation applies, a possible 101 percent of the people gave Mrs. Robinson the thumbs up. Only the late Nicolae Ceaucescu has notched up comparable success in Europe in recent years. A mere two percent of the populace don?t reckon Mrs. Robinson done good. That?s only double the number listening to Eamon Dunphy. Amazing.
Or not. It is, after all, impossible to adjudge Mrs. Robinson?s presidency a failure because there is no way of measuring its success, any more than you might weigh a shadow.
There was a letter in the papers thanking Mrs. Robinson for what her presidency had done for the travelling community. She had, it?s true, entertained a group of travellers in Aras an Uachtarain, which no previous president had ever done or thought of doing. So, fair play. That certainly indicated a new decent attitude.
But all the indications are that the position of travellers, and relations between travellers and settled people, grew worse, not better, in the course of Mrs. Robinson?s presidency.
Admirers of Mrs. Robinson seem deeply to resent attention being drawn to mundane materiality like this. Just as admirers of Mr. Geldof a decade ago tended towards outright anger if reminded that within a year of Live Aid raising #100 million, western finance houses had swallowed up that sum and more from the recipient countries without so much as a by-your-leave, or a burp.
The presidency, they are impatient to remind us, is symbolic. The president can?t effect practical change. It?s not the point.
Well alright. Here?s something symbolic a president could do, then. If Adi Roche promises to do it I?ll sing her praises for seven years. That wouldn?t benefit her in any way of course. It would only be symbolic. But I haven?t a vote. This is all I can do.
She could, as president, refuse to ?review? lines of armed men every time she enters or leaves the State. The purpose of this ritual is to endorse and validate the use of violence by the forces of the State. As I understand it, Ms. Roche is generally opposed to this sort of thing.
There is no law that the president must ?review? soldiers. It is not a requirement of the job. It?s only a custom. She could just say no.
Why not a line of community activists to bid the president hail or farewell? Or schoolchildren? Or senior citizens? Or any bunch of people not carrying guns?
How?s about it, Adi?
I?m sure the Catholic Times is wrong, suggesting that the late Princess of Wales had been a devotee of St. Teresa. Surely they mean St. Therese?
The tragic icon of the New Age would surely have been drawn to the sweet and delicate ?Little Flower? of Lisieux rather than the austerely ecstatic intellectual from Avila.
Then again, it?s possible the princess had a devotion to both. Although Therese and Teresa are commonly regarded as very different sorts of saints, they had some things intriguingly in common.
I once passed through Lisieux while en route for the Dordogne ? I?d asked for the Ardoyne and been given wrong directions ? and visited Therese?s home. The most interesting thing I discovered from the pamphlets and pious tracts on sale from trestle tables lining the pathway outside was that the ?Little Flower? had suffered terribly during her life from anal boils and lesions.
Using the techniques of the time, local medics treated the condition by the regular insertion of, literally, searing poultices. Therese never complained about the excruciating pain because at a certain pitch of intensity, offering the experience up to God in expiation of the sins of the world, the pain became indistinguishable from pleasure.
In contrast to Therese, Teresa of Avila was no perfumed petal. A formidable intellectual, she was named, in 1982, the first-ever female Doctor of the Church. A bit late in the day, but then the Catholic Church has never really gotten up to speed on the gender question, has it?
Just as there was more to Therese than a sweet nature, there was more to Teresa than a brilliant mind. Here we come to what they had in common.
Teresa was a visionary as well as a brain-box and in her diaries described visitations from Jesus.
?He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful, his face burning as if he were one of the highest angels. I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron?s point there seemed to be a fire. He appeared to me to be at times thrusting it into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails: when he drew it out he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.
?The pain was so great it made me moan. And yet so surpassing was the sweetness of the excessive pain that I could have no wish to be rid of it.?
Di, an enthusiast for colonic irrigation of course, might indeed have been devoted to both. n