- 13 Oct 20
A Portrait Of Yer Man As A Decent Chap
Like any right thinking person with even a modicum of taste, I’m an avid reader of Patrick Freyne’s conceits and entertainments in the paper of record. It should also be noted that he served his time down the Hot Press word mine too, where his talent was doubtlessly nurtured by excessive praise and the usual munificent remuneration. This collection of biographical essays certainly has plenty of the expected laughs, delivered through the prism of personal recollection. The figure of his father looms large, Mr Freyne, Snr. worked as an army ranger – one of those lads is married to my cousin, a lovely guy, who could kill you with his little finger – as well as grandparents, aunts and uncles as Freyne gets mystical and misty eyed about rural Cork.
If you’re ‘about’ the right age, Freyne’s memories will spark some of your own. I remember variants of the FCA loons he encounters – what the Jaysus was the story with those lads? His painfully accurate portrayal of the boredom, loneliness, and violence of growing up in a small town back in the days before these days also takes the Proustian biscuit, especially if you were one of those poor unfortunates who had no interest in the ball and the yard of grass. “Let’s face it, sport is just stupid. Nothing is created. No necessary tasks are completed. The costumes are no fun. The characters aren’t that interesting. At the end of a game of sports, as far as I can see, a bunch of grunting people are just more tired than they were earlier in the day.” Amen.
Freyne’s trips abroad with his mates, his time spent pushing Marx on pirate radio, and the joy of his part in the glorious career of the National Prayer Breakfast – the plan was to evolve into politically correct DIY millionaires who also solved crimes – are all related with gusto and skill. It is his very funny account of the madness of skydiving, which humans do “because we have no natural predators and have evolved into something ridiculous”, which prompts the largest belly laughs, however. What the hell was he thinking?
What comes across more than anything else in this very enjoyable volume is Freyne’s admirable humanity. It’s there in the way he addresses his own mental health issues and the delicate and very personal story of himself and his wife and children. The entry on his time working as a carer for intellectually disabled adults is genuinely moving, especially in its heart-breaking denouement, and his deep and abiding love for absent friends, his family, and the healing power of music will evoke warmth in anyone who isn’t totally sociopathic. Freyne seems a thoroughly decent and likeable fellow, the kind of man you would gladly welcome at your table, and listen to in rapt attention for hours.