Martin Amis’s work can be understood as a series of riffs on the base elements of male friendship: rivalry, companionship, sublimated desire. The bullshit quotient is in some ways an index of the bullshit quotient of male friendships, or maybe just the bullshit quotient of men.
Deeply Catholic, though also feminist and liberal, President Mary McAleese built bridges between the denominations. Her commitment was impressive and her story is an inspiring one, even if its large cast of popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns sometimes overwhelms.
In a media mire of tragedy porn and toothrotsweet sentimentality designed to blunt both our senses and our judgement, revisiting Jenny Diski’s essays, with their wonderful jokes and deftly contained anger, is both a pleasurable experience and a salutary exercise.
Kevin Boyle’s authority within People’s Democracy and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association authority derived essentially from his calm, measured delivery. Others certainly had charisma to burn, but as one contemporary observer put it ‘this guy had analysis’.
If what passes for political satire has as its chief effect the buttressing of the belief that all politics is mired in deceit, then shameless, unconcealed mendacity can come to seem, however perversely, refreshingly honest ‑ with results that by now are too depressingly clear.
In December 1920 the Catholic bishop of Cork said violence in the city had ‘become like a devil’s competition in feats of murder and arson’ between the IRA and Crown forces. Shortly afterwards a large gang of men destroyed the printing presses of the ‘Examiner’, which had printed his pastoral.
The problem for many of the ‘improvers’ of 19th century Ireland was that they saw too much ‘nature’ – wild, uncivilised, uncouth. An unwillingness to face the implications of expropriation meant that ‘improvement’ was more often tendentious, moral scold than economic remedy.