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Chris de Burgh's letter to Peter Crawley

The Hot Press Newsdesk, 09 Sep 2009

Dear Mr. Crawley,

I rarely read reviews, but as yours was sitting on my kitchen table, and after 3 sold-out shows in the Gaiety Theatre, I thought I should have a look at it; after all, receiving a favourable review in the Irish Times is about as likely as...well, receiving a favourable review in the Irish Times!! I was not disappointed. How the fond memories came flooding back, more than thirty years of them; you must have a Lexicon of Handy Insults, because you managed to use many of the same ones that have been used so many times before, and still they make me smile at their continued lack of imagination. "Small man...shudder...warbly tenor...mawkish balladeer...cringe factor…squeaky clean...snigger...cheesy…etc..", yes, they were all there, as used by many of your colleagues before, such as Joe Breen, (who I note has been put out to pasture in the Wine section, and I am assured by friends in the Wine trade that he knows as much about wine as he did about music - precious little. I wonder what they have in mind for you in your dotage? Searing critiques of Primary School Christmas plays perhaps, or judging knife sharpening competitions in Sligo?).

Being a Theatre Critic and not a Music Critic, you must have strayed into the Gaiety by mistake last Monday night, possibly looking for the rear entrance to Neary's Pub, but you certainly arrived with the word "Prejudice" burned into your furrowed brow; how it must have galled you to hear the rapturous welcome I received at the start of the show; how you must have writhed at every standing ovation, how you must have cringed at every call of "Chris, we love you", how you must have felt isolated as the audience rose to their feet as one, singing, dancing and shouting out for more; how you must have growled to yourself as you left, surrounded by so many happy people, to make your curmudgeonly way to the safety of the street outside. You really should look up the word "Entertainment' again, you might be surprised to see that it is all about people having a GOOD TIME!! Your churlish review is an insult to all those who enjoyed their night out, and in these days of collapsing newspaper sales and an entire new generation on the way who will get their information online, you may be looking for another job sooner rather than later. Your pals in the pub must have loved your review, but it seems that you are universally loathed in the Theatre world; a leading Impresario has described you as " puffed up with his own self-importance," and a much loved and successful actress refers to you as "that loathsome little turd." Great accolades, to be sure.

And what of you and your future ambitions? Will you continue to be an occasional critic in a country with the population of Greater Manchester, or are you, like so many of your colleagues, about to write a book/play/film script/biography? If so, I would be delighted to attend the opening/launch/premiere. To have gone to the Gaiety with your mind made up is unprofessional of course, but to totally ignore what actually happened and launch a personal attack is so transparent that any reader can see that it was pointless even writing it, as you were the only person who attended the show that night who didn't ACTUALLY WANT TO BE THERE!! As I have always had a very positive attitude towards life, I have sympathy for your position, as it must be so poisonous to have to to lurk in the shadows, riffling through the garbage bins of despair and avoiding those who think that you are an irrelevance, an irritation to be ignored and laughed about. I would be very happy to meet with you and pursue these ideas further, but I suspect that you, like so many others of your kind, would lack the courage, like a dog that snarls and barks from a distance yet cowers and runs away at the first sight of reaction; anyway, the offer is there.

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