Paddy O'Keeffe: Bernard-Shaw, Unions and Expectations of Irishness

July 29, 2020 00:54:03
Paddy O'Keeffe: Bernard-Shaw, Unions and Expectations of Irishness
The Plastic Podcasts
Paddy O'Keeffe: Bernard-Shaw, Unions and Expectations of Irishness
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Show Notes

Trade union activist, campaigner, playwright and performer, Paddy O’Keeffe has worn a number of hats since arriving in England in 1964. This is the full bells and whistles podcast, and is a fascinating talk with a man blessed with optimism and humanity.

Plus, John O’Donoghue raises Brian Behan onto The Plastic Pedestal

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:23 How you doing? I'm Doug Devani and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else. You can find us on www dot plastic, podcasts.com, trade unionists, campaigner, actor, and writer. Patty. O'Keefe made his way to England in 1964. And he's been here ever since. And Irish went abroad. He's lived in Norfolk, London, and Sussex being a leading member of the stock, the war campaign, and an advocate of various civil rights causes while his one man show Burnett shore invites, you has taught to such far-flung out drops as Liverpool and new Delhi is also the possessor of a fine, fine beard. I asked him about his pride in being Irish and his approach to George Burnett. Speaker 0 00:01:03 My purpose is not really to impersonate him, although some American people in the shore society in person. But I hate to say, look, I'm an actor I'm playing short. I'm not impersonating him on stage. I am being him. Speaker 1 00:01:19 What's the difference then? Do you think because obviously virtual being an actual real life individual that we've got, we, we got documentary evidence of the way he speaks and obviously this is writing and so forth. And so, so you have a sense of what is his thoughts and, um, his thoughts and way of communicating are. And so therefore it's not something that you create yourself, is it, there is an interpretation. Speaker 0 00:01:39 Yeah. Yeah. That's true. That's true. I mean, a lot of it is already there in the sense that I think I do look a bit like he had more hair on the top of his head than I do without question. And the accent I've got the XOP, he spoke with a sort of what they call a posh Dublin accent, rough, rough minds, all his life. Um, and, um, that's there. So I don't, I don't in a sense too much in the way of impersonating. I, I, you know, because that's creating an impression. I mean, what I do is having researched and I think begun thinking that I knew all about it because people brought up in Joplin where he was brought up. You assume that, you know all about people like Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw. Um, these people cause their spirits are around you all the time. And it wasn't till I started delving into it that I realized how little I knew you cited Speaker 1 00:02:38 Three individuals there, um, wild Shaw and Beckett there, and all three are essentially Irishman abroad. Does that enter into your interpretation and does that chime in with you? Speaker 0 00:02:49 Yes, yes. To both of those, I would say. Um, yeah, it does in my interpretation because in the, in the play I come on my 90th birthday and um, I I'm talking to them and then I stopped telling them how I first came to London. So I, uh, I am there as an Irishman arriving at 20 year old Irishman arriving in London. And, you know, not only could I not get a word published, I barely got word understood. And you know, the difficulty in, in, um, in being understood in a foreign country using language, but using it rather differently than that, of the nature Stu was a as part of the, part of the fun of the, uh, uh, well, part of it being, uh, in a sense in a foreign country, even with the same language you were in a foreign country, Speaker 1 00:03:39 It does, does not kind of outsider thing chime in with you. Speaker 0 00:03:43 It does, I think yes, because I've always felt myself to be somewhat of a tangent somewhat outside. Uh, you know, somebody said if you ever do get abroad, but to note that I've lived all my life abroad, you know, and, uh, yes, it does. Uh, it mostly I'm, I feel very lucky to be Irish. I mean, you know, they said something about being proud to be a Girish I'm neither proud or ashamed of it. I, um, I feel quite lucky on the basis that it could have been. It could have been anything, your accident accident of birth. Generally. I think it's a silly being proud of something that's quite accidental. You should be proud of what you've achieved or something you particularly dumb rather than just the accident of birth, but I'm really happy to be Irish and being Irish in, in, uh, in England, of course you can be more Irish than you would be. Speaker 0 00:04:41 And I certainly am that I would be in Dublin because in Dublin I'd be surrounded by others. I remember, um, it was, um, Oh, who's the guy that did the check show. His name escapes me now, the Irish, the demo. Um, and he said, when he was asked, what was the, what's the main thing he noticed when he came to London? He said suddenly for the first time in my life, I began to dominate dinner parties because in Dublin, everybody is fighting for air time, but, um, the, the English are reserved enough and polite enough to kind of listen. And if there's nothing interesting going on, the new will, uh, um, entertaining yourself and by entertaining them, um, that's Wogan, that's the name? I would say my memory. Yeah. Terry Wogan, indeed. You said that Speaker 1 00:05:32 Well, you've started when we discussed this, um, uh, before, um, you, you mentioned that you, you started acting, uh, as a direct result of being involved as a, as a campaigner Speaker 0 00:05:45 In the anti war movement. Um, and particularly a campaign that was running a breakthrough to gets OMA to guys released from Guantanamo Bay. It was a Olympian who was, uh, British. He wasn't actually, uh, uh, a British subject. He had applied for citizenship, but it hadn't been processed. And he was basically just captured and, uh, renditions to, um, uh, Guantanamo. And we had, um, we, we, we did as part of our campaign, we did, um, a stage, uh, rehearse reading of all, no bound to defend freedom, which is a salute with American soldiers, give each other, they say, I think autonomous honor-bound on the responses to defend freedom and they really do it without any sense of irony, quite how they're testing freedom by torturing individuals. It was a, uh, a rare speeding of a play, which was a collection of correspondence, speeches, um, letters between, um, detainees in Guantanamo and their, and their, um, uh, families, uh, representatives, politicians, and, uh, judges. And, uh, I got to play, um, Donald Rumsfeld, the American defense secretary, as well as Gexpro and a few other notable, a notable war criminals, Speaker 2 00:07:09 But going again, going back in that case to, um, the stop, the war coalition and your own personal activism and so forth, I mean, how long have you been politically? Speaker 0 00:07:18 I suppose I've always felt myself to be a left of center and then display on the Brown, um, efficiency, really a rational, quite rational grounds rather than emotional grounds to begin with it. I mean, that, wasn't a complaint of a very, uh, poor deprived background. Uh, my father, my father's side were, um, well, upwardly mobile, middle class working class, um, um, rave women. Really, my, my grandfather was a train driver. My father was actually at the runaway from home, I believe to join the rabbit cause his father was quite unromantic about the idea of probably biggest steam engines. And, uh, he, uh, ended up becoming chief inspector of the permanent way. So he has a kind of meteoric rise within that. Uh, my mother was a farmer's daughter from there. Um, and there were about this thick, but yeah, that was my I've always felt myself to be left the center and, uh, just seems to be the inequalities in a usable. Speaker 0 00:08:27 And it's also inefficient. And actually that time it was very much withdrawal was thing. I remember at one stage, he was honest. He was told with, during a debate, I said, but you know, some of the poor I'm really happy. Why are you trying to destroy the city happy because of their poverty? Anyway, my purpose is to make the poor better off. It's a question of efficiency. And, um, that, that appeals to me about Shaw is, um, is, is feeling that there is just such poverty is such a waste of human life, um, to, um, you know, he says the amount of woman who was born, or we'll never get the chill of poverty out of their bones, I'm going to spend their lives sort of scrimping and saving and trying just to make ends, meet and get through life rather than living it. And he said, even those that escape poverty are constantly haunted by the possibility of being thrown back into. It's just a waste of a waste of life. Speaker 2 00:09:35 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else as befits the side of an Irish railway man patio. Keith spent his early life traveling the country. I asked him about this childhood and how he ended up in England. You mentioned your, your, your parents and your, your dad working on the railway. So, um, let's, let's go back to your, your, your childhood and OD and you were born Speaker 0 00:10:04 Hello, Glenn County Kerry on the West coast of Ireland, um, which is noted for its, uh, uh, annual puck fair first weekend of August, where, uh, the goats get proud King, as I say, and everybody else asked the goat for three days, they go to is feasted and hampered. And to have the gypsies come in from all the West of Ireland, uh, there's a horse horse fair, uh, and I'm singing and dancing the pub sewed shut for three days. Um, most, a lot of the locals sort of put up the shutters and leave told, I think the great time has had that slogan from Logan. We went to Ray Ray in County Wicklow besides the own, who am I? When my dad worked, that's where I started school in the dozen patients enough for a few years, we moved down to cork for one year. Speaker 0 00:11:02 I believe I was told that it was for that, because that was going to go for the top job in order to get the top job, have to get the number two job, which was in court for the court. Although I believe, I mean, I've been back. They say, it's the biggest, it's the biggest village in Ireland. Cause everybody knows everybody else. Um, so that, and then we moved to Dublin and I was still at primary school when we moved to Dublin. Dublin is really my hometown. I sat the entrance exam, pursing speak, Christian brothers things. Speed is the speed in which furniture was born. It goes, you would, we would have known that at the time I never went to the street. I went, I went to the, uh, DeLaSalle brothers. It was often a choice between the Christian brothers who worked like muscular. Crispin's leave in corporate publishing of the visual arts at the other end of the spectrum who, uh, sort of missed with your mind, or that was the way it was put in the DeLaSalle brothers were somewhere in between believing in a liberal education. It wouldn't be only education. They are purely educational order of brothers. So I think I was quite lucky to have a liberal education. We used to write lots of essays on the values of a liberal education. And then Speaker 2 00:12:14 You went on to study medicine. Yes, Speaker 0 00:12:17 I studied medicine. Yes. I don't know. I had to sort of belief that I had a vocation. I mean, it was assumed actually because I was the eldest and that I would have a vocation for the priesthood, which everybody seems to have a vocation on my behalf. I felt I had, I did have a vocation to the priesthood, but I, I felt I had a vocation for bedtime. I regard myself as a potential, uh, um, who was the guy, the Belgian, uh, guy who was out administering in the, in the Congo. Speaker 2 00:12:49 I remember that at some point that's almost a, a, an evangelical approach to, to medicine. Speaker 0 00:12:54 Yeah. I think it was that Albert Schweitzer, his man, Albert Schweitzer, after a couple of years getting, getting through my pre-med and then getting on the first MBA, I realized it wasn't, I really wasn't cut out for it. It wasn't, uh, uh, I mean, it's a science. Um, it requires like an acquaintance of mine has done a PhD some years ago. Um, the, the choice of Bed-Stuy and looking at the Myers-Briggs personality type and my particular type, which is the NFP is apparently the one least likely to succeed and the most likely to drop out. Um, but, um, I, I know that I maybe would have, uh, it would have helped them might've chosen to do something else. Speaker 2 00:13:44 So was education particularly big with the Oakey family? Speaker 0 00:13:48 I think learning is, uh, uh, but it's prized and all, and just the idea of learning. Um, so, uh, that was one of the things somebody wants to ask me about why is it that the Irish are, you know, so many literary people coming from Ireland, you know, from other the Anglo, Anglo, Irish from the native Irish population. And I said, well, Hey, it's cheap talk is cheap. And we were very, very, or we liked, we like to talk a lot. Uh, and also there is a, um, a value was different learning and storytelling they are considered to be, um, which are admired. And so I think education is taken quite seriously. I mean, Celtic tiger note, whatever tiger woods is, there is probably one of the highest educated, um, um, populations in, uh, in Europe. I used to come every two years that I was in a university. Speaker 0 00:14:50 I would come and work in the County factors during the summer in, um, in Lincolnshire and the Norfolk. Um, and, um, decided on this particular summer that I wasn't going to go back to taking my recent, that I would say, uh, I'd mentioned English woman. And, uh, I was, uh, decided that it was time to, um, to stay away from home. I mean, it's an interesting thing, but I never felt that I, I came to it because I'd rather stayed in England rather than returning to Ireland. One of the things I'm working on at the moment is a play about the William Dunbar. It was a brilliant, uh, portrait artist and a bit of dialogue that occurred to me on the yesterday was that I would come on stage and, um, talk to the audience as if they were a sitter for my thing. And I would say, is this the first time you've had your portrait done and wonderful what a wonderful to have a new experience, something new, something novel. And I realized that appeals to me. Great. You know, I remember thinking, you know, when does the last time you did something for the first time? It's quite, it's quite challenging to do that, um, to give yourself, you know, the chunks to do things for the first time. Speaker 1 00:16:14 Sorry. Do you think you had that freedom to kind of land on your feet or, or, or, or just go without a plan, but with a sense of direction, do you think that was easier because you were in a foreign country? I'm just wondering if there was a, if, if, if you were relieved to the weight of expectation by being an Irishman Speaker 0 00:16:31 Relieved of the weight, a weight of expectation. Yes, actually, well, that's true, I suppose, but when there's no expectation from your family because you're abroad. I mean, although every time I went home, my mother would say, why wouldn't you do something like that here? It would be so much appreciated, you know, rather than appreciating what I'd actually done. The fact that I was doing it in England, um, to some extent to be, um, and I was wasting myself by doing it in England. Not really, no, no, it's never, it was never a, uh, no, actually even the idea of retiring to Ireland never occurred to me either. I mean, the unbelieving friend, daughters in Dublin, and I'll go there for Christmas, uh, humbly Irish Christmas. I feel I'm coming home when I'm coming back from that. Speaker 1 00:17:31 When we talk about, say for example, you're moving from, uh, was it Norfolk through to London and then eventually to Brighton and so on, there's a, there's a kind of sigh itinerant aspect to you. You you're, you're, you're shifting around and going kind of where circumstances will take you and so on. Um, what was your sense of sort of where you were going, um, over the course of Speaker 2 00:17:50 Those, those years? Speaker 0 00:17:52 I suppose the thing that developed for me was my, my career itself, I think, got into it. I then became, I was always been a, uh, a union member and, uh, active in the union. And I had an opportunity when, uh, personnel, as we called it then. So so-called human resources was being computerized. I was assigned to the personnel department, uh, and got involved in, um, dealing at a strategic level, not just what the computer could do, but, uh, asking questions like, well, why are we doing this anyway? And, uh, was very much involved in the, in the politics of, um, uh, of, of an organization and the strategy of a, of an organization. That's the, uh, the level of human resources, which led me to, um, uh, and also with my union activism community to be involved as a full-time job as a full-time union rep within the finance, uh, business, which again, a lot of people thought was an extraordinary career move to make, but it is it very well with what I wanted to do. Speaker 0 00:19:02 One of the things that well, because it wouldn't be, it's certainly, there's nothing to career progression going on to something like that. I mean, for me, it was because I, uh, I, I wanted to be involved in it. I, I found that in my, you know, I found that there were union members, people with people that become active in the union and I was as the full-time union rep, part of my job was training them. And I feel that what I did was I did, they didn't need encouragement. They needed confidence building to know that they could do these sorts of things, and you'd get people who were quite young and who would get involved in representing, um, uh, union members within their company, um, uh, you know, re representing them in dispute in grievances, the direct cases with the company, negotiating pay and conditions on, uh, equal opportunities, which was a big thing. Then we're talking about the early eighties. Um, and, um, and then they would go back to do their day job, which was check invoices. These people have got so much more potential than is being asked of them in the job, which got me involved in the idea of development for training. Um, and as a result of that, I, I went into management development and became the management development manager for the lumber group of companies out of that with banks Speaker 2 00:20:39 As a, as a union activist and official where you considered for want of a better term bullshit. Yes, I think I was. Speaker 0 00:20:48 Yes, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I remember, uh, uh, because of my grade, I was entitled to a lunch in the executive dining room. We often had arguments over lunch, uh, particularly this was the time when, uh, uh, the GLC and Ken Livingston was there and there was trouble in Ireland. And, uh, uh, and also I represented, you know, I was, I would, I would put things like I would leave the executive dining room with a membership union membership form. Speaker 2 00:21:23 Cause there's two things on that that reread spring to mind, particularly with regards to, to this podcast. And this interview in the first ride, I suppose, really is, is that at that time, the late seventies and the early eighties, the IRA campaign in, in Britain was pretty much, Speaker 0 00:21:37 Yeah. Speaker 2 00:21:39 We have a, uh, bullshit Irish and handing out, handing out leaflets. And so on. I mean, were you treated with suspicion? Speaker 0 00:21:46 I don't think, I mean, there were a number of people who had to be in the bonus about it, who would kind of argue with the, wants to hold me directly responsible for every, um, initiative that came out of the GLC or every, a trustee at the IRA, uh, in the North. But there were a few, a few people like that. Well, I, I would, uh, I would argue, uh, but I, wouldn't just sort of, I mean, I wasn't, uh, uh, you know, I w I wouldn't necessarily defend, uh, what, uh, uh, what had happened, although generally I would, I would defend it. I would defend ed Livingston whom I admired greatly and still admire. Um, um, but, um, yes, it was, I suppose it was part of the persona of being a bit of a bit of a rebel. Um, yeah. Um, uh, not quite, I quite, I quite enjoyed it. I mean, it certainly didn't seem onerous. It just went with the territory, you know, if you're, you're on the left and you were Irish and on the left and you believe in things like United Ireland, um, then you're likely to get, um, uh, to get into, into arguments and discussions, not always friendly. Speaker 2 00:23:09 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the RFDS, bruh. We all come from somewhere else. You can find us on www.plasticpodcasts.com. This is the section of the podcast that I call the plastic pedestal, where I asked one of my guests to talk about a member of the diaspora who's been of either cultural or personal significance to them. Patio keeps contribution will come in another podcast. But in the meantime, here's John, O'Donohue talking about Brian Bian. So the bins or a famous family, Speaker 3 00:23:46 Uh, Brian being a playwright, sorry, random being playwright and the memorized Borstal boy, his memoir, um, tragically died early of diabetes. I think it's saved, but also alcoholism. Um, whose brother Dominic was a famous musician and songwriter wrote a great songs like the Patriot game. Uh, and Brian then was, uh, as he told me, I was famous before any of them, John, um, I was involved in the shell strike of, uh, doing 51. I think it was, he said that he was down there on the South bank. And, uh, you said you organized the go slow, uh, for the builders. Then they're building the, the buildings for the festival of Britain. I think it was, he said, John, it really was a goal slower. We had fellows there walking with the wheelbarrow, uh, Hilton told John Hill and toll, uh, as slow as they could possibly move, uh, while still being in locomotion. Speaker 3 00:24:48 So Brian was just, uh, an amazing force of nature. I remember saying two months, our plan I'm really fed up my, uh, this job I've got in and everything like that. This was, I don't know, what's the matter with you, John? He says, you've got to find family here. You have a wonderful wife, four great children, a lovely house. What is wrong with you? So I thought to myself, then God binds really like Zorba the Patty. He's kind of like this, it <inaudible>, it doesn't do to be moaning around Brighton around Brian, because he, he, he was, well, he knew Doug, so he's a marvelous. And he put me, we, we, we, we had this festival going on and Brian had this, uh, this play in the festival, uh, and at the start of the play it opens with Mr. Porter loo, um, Mr. Portillo, I think he disguise Mr. Speaker 3 00:25:39 Portillo in Flagrante delicto with the PM over his desk in the very first moments of the play. So a friend of Brian's who was a journalist phoned up the conservative central office, uh, posing as a loyal member, that conservative association, uh, to denounce this dastardly fellow beard. So the chapel on the other end of the line who has been recorded, uh, said, well, who is this chair? Well, we'll cut off his grant. Brian, wasn't getting a grant. Uh, we'll do this. We'll do we'll we'll we'll destroy the fellow. So of course, Brian was able to make great capital out of this and had two columns in the independent, uh, in the Bryant vessel for 1995. Uh, got great houses is, um, playing was, it was a hero of the festival that year. And he caught, he turned out for us in the, in the flaw. Speaker 3 00:26:24 I think it was a great idea. He said, uh, he didn't ask me, was he going to get paid? He was paid. He didn't ask me, was it going to be a contract? There was no contract. Um, he just really took to it. And, uh, he came in, he came in and performed, shall we say at the bugle? I said, Oh, Mr. BN, will you be, uh, when you'd be reading from your books, Mr. Bear, I shouldn't be speaking example. Right. John? He said, and I really got the horrors when he said that though. Cause I just didn't know what the heck he was going to say. But luckily in the bugle, um, he started off, uh, fulminating against the Irish football team. Sadly of course, Jack Charles has just died, but, uh, Brian's line on. That was uh, Oh, I think Jack Charlton is a marvelous fellow. Speaker 3 00:27:06 I've already let some of our boys play. So he was, he was slightly against the, the historic character of the team then, uh, of course what I did was while the cleverly, because the bugle was absolutely rammed, honestly, it was rammed when Ben was there. Um, so I choked him off after 10 minutes and said, uh, well thank you very much. Uh, Mr. Ben, uh, Mr. Ben will be, uh, uh, talking to you again, ladies and gentlemen, after a short interval circles, everyone looked daggers at me, but they will have to got to the bar and get another drink. So we did rather well for the bugle that they, I think, uh, myself and Brian, would it be in ism? Ah, why don't you say I'd like to characterize, Brian's kind of being as him from the other brother's beard. I think Brian is an exponent of Brian ism, uh, and Brian isn't differ slightly well. Speaker 3 00:27:56 Um, it was John Cole, the BBC's political correspondent who said that they, uh, owed more to Groucho than to Carl Marx in their politics. And I think Brian, um, was the real, uh, chief exponent of this because I think Brendan was pretty serious about his republicanism and Dominic was a pretty serious, uh, Irish, Republican as well. But Brian got more into, um, left-wing revolutionary politics in this country. And he suddenly, I think, developed the notion that actually it was quite farcical and it basically come down to his association with, uh, an Irishman, Jerry Haley, I think his name was, and the workers revolutionary party and Jerry, he had, uh, supporters in the red gray family. And, uh, Brian used to have mean stitches about his tales of Jerry Healey and the, shall we say the interactions he had with the red graves, a complete juxtaposition, this very old gust, English theatrical dentisty and the short butty Dubliner, uh, who was very unprepossessing according to Brian. Speaker 3 00:29:04 Uh, I think he was actually jealous of Jerry Haley, but we'll probably go no further than Doug, cause I might be laying you open to libel. So we'll have to draw a bit of a veil over that, but I think your re your listeners will probably be able to, to fathom some of what I'm hinting at there. And with regards to the, how do you think he influenced you? Well, he was, he was fearless Doug as you'll know, uh, he was a man for great schemes. Um, what Brighton had this, uh, campaign going on, uh, trying to attract tourists, I suppose that Brighton was the place to be, uh, Brian of course, made that, uh, slogan his own. Uh he's he's he wanted Brighton to be the place to pee because you said, he said there weren't enough public toilets down here. Uh, and the ones they were were in a complete state and he was right. Speaker 3 00:29:55 And that was a great campaign. And I loved that. He also course was ahead of his time. He got into great power pension of power, but perhaps his biggest coup was, um, uh, his SIPP campaign. Uh, you remember that dog Sid stood for shut it down. He wanted to replace the house of parliament. What does he said to switch under, uh, Baltimore everything, uh, be decided by a reasonably honest computer. Uh, and I love the qualification of reasonably honest there. So I think, uh, first and foremost, it was the fearlessness of Brian I took to, um, and secondly, it was the, the mischief, uh, everything he did politically had this weft of mischief in it. He was, he was serious about his politics, but what made him so engaging and so attractive, but particularly in an every other level was the humor. Speaker 2 00:30:51 <inaudible> John O'Donohue there. And if you want to hear more of what John has to say, why not check out our interview with him on www.plasticpodcasts.com. Now back to our interview with patio Keith and I asked Patty if he found any advantages to being an outsider. Speaker 0 00:31:15 I, I think, I think it helps. I never, uh, I also thought that the show felt it helps, you know, because being Irish, you know, one of the things that is peculiar peculiar is the English, uh, and being Irish, it's difficult. You're, you're difficult for the English to place you anywhere in the, in the social structure. So it's quite freeing in that. Uh, and that, and also, uh, you can comments quite objective, you know, it's interesting this old, this is the way you do things here, you know, rather than this is the way we do things here. And that can be quite interesting arguments. Speaker 0 00:32:05 Yes, yes, absolutely. And, uh, uh, I mean, I suppose the thing is that being the outsider, I certainly found that when I worked with organizations that the person coming into an organization, would it be the one who is most conscious of the culture of the organization, people who are within the organization, it's like the water they swim in, they don't see it anymore. It's just there. Um, and that's why, you know, that's a, an opportunity for, uh, uh, organization to benefit from new people coming in and asking the blindingly obvious question, like why do we do that? Which wouldn't occur to the people who were doing it. Um, and that was one of the things that I enjoyed about, um, you know, training consultancy and stuff. When I became a freelance. And, uh, with, with organizations asking the, the naive question, which you can do as an outsider, the insider is talk to it or won't do it because, Oh, I'm going to look stupid if I ask a question like that, because I should know, um, and make assumptions, whereas the outsider can ask the question and it doesn't matter if it seems naive. Speaker 0 00:33:17 In fact, often the naive question is the question that really needs to be asked and answered by the other people within the organization Speaker 1 00:33:26 That takes us through to your own political activism and campaigns like the, uh, free Omer, the haze, uh, campaign is, is, is that for you a progression from, uh, union work and, uh, and that kind of, uh, that kind of training work that you did. Speaker 0 00:33:40 I don't know whether it's a progression of, I start Nate. I see it all all as a one. I mean, when you, when you find, when you see injustice or unfairness, there'll be a natural inclination to want to do something about it, but point it out, try to correct. I mean, that would do that in the role as a, as a union rep, you know, helping people stand up for their rights, et cetera. And, um, you know, I mean, quite involved in say the, um, the Palestinian solidarity campaign, because you know, where there is oppression, uh, if you remain silent, then you are aiding the oppressor, you know, you have to stand up, uh, able to, uh, to think about, uh, uh, about, uh, about unfairness and oppression in the sense you have about Speaker 1 00:34:33 Natural moving from, from, uh, union politics into, um, more causes than anything. I'll do this one again. Speaker 0 00:34:40 I think it ran alongside yes. I mean, the thing that I found in my three and a half years or so as the full-time union rep, uh, and I went on to be elected to the national executive committee of the union. I had a couple more years of that, but I felt that I was doing in my day job while I do weekend, which was campaigning, um, uh, raising issues, uh, you know, involved in local campaigns and national campaigns with DND and, uh, uh, local, uh, local saving the lodge land because the council to, uh, uh, uh, posh houses on a piece of land of outstanding natural beauty, which we want to preserve. So, yeah, I, um, I think that was, uh, a way of, uh, a way of being, I don't see it, particularly as the progression it's been there. That's been there all the time there, you know, you got a lot of Irish were involved in June in politics, definitely politics. Uh, generally I think there, uh, as a, as a community they're disproportionately represented within, within the, um, um, the left wing left wing group, Speaker 1 00:36:01 That's also part of the evangelical thing then to a certain extent. I mean, I use evangelical probably wrongly, but it seems appropriate, which is that you're almost trying to change the country that you've moved to for the better. Are you a political missionary? Speaker 0 00:36:14 Yeah. Well, I know when we, when you interviewed me earlier, I was talking about having, uh, five aunts and uncles who are all missionaries for, for nuns and priests and all in what the, regardless of the foreign mission. Although, um, I, uh, my uncle father Peter was in Hobart in Tasmania, which is not exactly third world, but it was a sort of a family joke when he was, when he was ordained. He put down Tasmania from the believing that it was in Africa. Now it sounds as if it should be an Africa really, but the others, I mean, I had to do us to where missionaries in Nigeria, um, one then, uh, nowhere near leg, uh, another who was a missionary in Kenya and then one who was in Blackburn in Lancashire. And it was always, I mean, we thought it, we thought it, your, that is the real foreign mission to be backward in languages because the others are dealing with, uh, with Africans who are mostly pagans. Speaker 0 00:37:17 Whereas the, you know, in Blackburn, you were coming across English, Protestants. I mean, how, how, how foreign could that be? That was definitely the foreign mission. Also. I think there is a kind of element to the Irish diaspora in terms of what used to be the, the religion. I think it's now, um, um, uh, AIDS and, um, uh, medicine, cell phones and an organization like that. It just seems to me that they see the Irish seem to be, um, disproportionately represented in those sorts of organizations as well. You know, you often hear people spoken about the what's going on in, uh, in, uh, Oh, in Qatar or wherever, you know, the middle East or Africa, and it's an Irish voice. That's there, you know, representing the people who are doing, um, doing good humanitarian work out there. Um, so I think that, uh, I think that's true. I think that's, Speaker 1 00:38:11 Perhaps it's no surprise that it's a, it was an Irishman based in London who, who kicked off and was the driving force behind bandaid and live aid. Speaker 0 00:38:18 Absolutely. Yeah. Give us your money. Good book that was killed off yesterday. Speaker 1 00:38:26 I haven't had blue blood money in years. I tell you I kind of plum little cash against me. Speaker 0 00:38:31 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I was going to Speaker 1 00:38:36 Ask, what is it that makes you angry may not be the right term to use by as opposed to, well, what is, what is it that stimulates you to go something like that needs protesting, dealing with and so on? Speaker 0 00:38:48 Uh, well, I think there's the sense of unfairness. I mean, you know, what, what is happening on a daily basis for the Palestinian people in their own Homeland? I mean, there's a connection between that and the Irish experience, you know, the Irish have a, uh, sort of, uh, I mean, okay, it's going back centuries now, but the cultural experience of being refugees in their own land of being hunted and, and, uh, until them brutalized in their own land, you know, Roger Kaseman felt that when he exposed the Belgian Congo and then South America, um, and, uh, you know, while it's not, maybe not the same, I mean, it's quite, it was quite harsh and, uh, uh, in, out it as well, this idea that, uh, um, that displacement, um, being colonized or as it be attempt being colonized. I mean, I know when I'm, when I'm, <inaudible>, you know, um, um, uh, onto your path that, or, um, like, um, um, uh, the Zionists or, uh, or, you know, promoting Indian freedom and stuff, you'll have a conversation with a Palestinian, uh, when they find out you're Irish, you know, you'll get hugged. Speaker 0 00:40:12 I mean, there is that connection that they, they, they knew it and we know it. Um, and it's no accident that the government divided, although I don't think they do enough. Uh, I've been at the forefront of, um, uh, of promoting Palestinian understanding rights. Uh, you know, you come the Yukon sort of, it's still, uh, well, if you believe in human rights at all, then they are universal and everybody has the right. I know one of the things I used to do was we had a wonderful woman whose name escapes me now, who has this idea of reciting how old, the United nations charter of human rights, each of the elements in it. And then I got number three or five, I think, I can't remember which one it was. I liked the precise it's now in our edit, right. But what I call, I got dinner on task. Speaker 0 00:41:15 I'm small Dharma on both cheer, HSA on fares and the Irish translation. It just everybody, it says every single person, which is stressed, no exception, every single person has the right to personal security to freedom, freedom of expression, those sorts of things. And, uh, I think that it's also quite interesting that Irish is I think possibly the only language that has a separate method of counting for things, as opposed to people that when you count things you say, and Dorothy Calgary, one, two, three, four, five, when you count people, you say it's a separate system of counting. So there is something in the, in the Irish psyche that values the individual individuality greatly. Um, and, um, I think that comes through in, you know, come through in what we, what we do and what our priorities are, particularly, uh, NTA at the moment I'm learning some of his poems by heart. Speaker 0 00:42:27 There were some that I already know already, but I am learning some of the ones that feel particularly with old age, um, with, um, um, uh, Oh, anger, I suppose, passion, passion, and all that. Um, and, uh, I'm also, uh, researching, uh, his father through my mentors, uh, a woman say about, about him because he's a pretty fascinating character, Neil Toby, and wrote a wonderful book that was published a year or two ago, or mad, bad, and dangerous to know where he did. Um, um, he did an exposition of three famous Irish and the father of three famous Irish, uh, James Joyce's father, uh, Oscar Wilde father, and will about the eight and each of the fathers were quite exceptional. Uh, I mean, I, I gave them as Christmas presents to some of the older male friends in my older male members, particularly those who are fathers, other male friends, because I think it's a fascinating, um, study, uh, and what has taken me, uh, what has particularly captivated me as John Butler, the fact that the, uh, uh, was, uh, a man who gave up, uh, uh, a promising career in law, uh, to become an artist because he found himself in the court and what he was doing rather than paying attention to what was going on was doing sketches of the judge or the jury witnesses, the lawyers, and, um, decided to take up our life much to the showground of his wife and often occasionally to his children. Speaker 0 00:44:15 And he never, he never really made much money out of it because he wasn't particularly good at the business side. Uh, but he is regard to know is probably the best portrait pages that are ever produced. Uh, what happened was when he was in his seventies, early seventies, uh, he was in Dublin, not doing very well, but having a gallery and in Stephen's green, you know, um, sort of genteel poverty, he wasn't making money, but his friends have grown to decide, you know, he'd never been to Italy. And as an artist, you really have to spend some time in history. So they got him, give him a load of money and said, you know, go and have a holiday in Italy and, uh, you know, see all the other great works of art will be wonderful. He took the money and then decided that what he would do was go to New York. So he got a one way ticket to New York and actually never came back. And that's the part that I want to deal within the play. Oh, he managed to, uh, uh, in, in, uh, in my, uh, call him Tobin a rendition of that. He calls them the, uh, the Playboy of West 57th street or whatever you settled in New York and, and had a wonderful time, again, not making much money, but, um, becoming, uh, a real, um, uh, center for artistic and political artistic, more than political cushion. Speaker 2 00:45:40 It's hardly surprising that resonates with you. I mean, you're also a man who's I decided to stay in the country. And, and, and also there's that dichotomy between your having started off as a scientist as a, as a, as a, as it would be doctor, um, and finally moving into. Speaker 0 00:45:56 Yes, yes. Yes. That's very true. There is a lot, uh, that rings bells for me, which was the, one of the reasons that I found the thing, the idea of doing a play about him. So attractive. Speaker 2 00:46:09 <inaudible> you all listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. I asked patio Keith about his beloved George Bernard Shaw and other Irish. Speaker 0 00:46:26 What happens is like, come on as, as myself and say something about Shaw and why he's important, et cetera. We'll say something about why I've become fascinated with him and how I would really, really love to get him in the psychiatrist chair to ask him some questions about his childhood, because he had the most bizarre childhood. Then you said things like, you know, if you've got skeletons in the cupboard, you can either acknowledge them or teach them to dump. Is he, is he denying this? What is he, what is he doing? You know, he, he, he managed somehow. It seems to me to, um, not to be a particularly reliable narrator who he's on time to it. And one of the things that he said, I said, you said that when he comes on the show, he said, nevermind about all of this analysis. He said, the purpose of life is not the discovery or self is to create yourself. Speaker 0 00:47:23 So you become the person you need to be in order to do what you came here to do. And he believed that, and he did create themselves in this way to, uh, to achieve what he wants to achieve. Do you believe that of you? Yes. I think I do. I do, because in my study in a previous life, I studied psychology and I was very taken by, um, which Kelly's, uh, theory is an American psychologist who I think nudge in the sixties, uh, and talked about, you said personality, just fundamentally. We approach personality as a scientist. We, sorry. We approach life much of the scientist. Would we see what works? And we accept that. You see what doesn't work. We recreating hypothesis. We test them out. If they work, we will accept them if they don't, we want to have to scrap them or modify them until we see that they work. Speaker 0 00:48:22 So we effectively build our own personality assessments, his view. And I believe that in a sense, we are responsible for what we have become. Um, and it's quite a challenging thought it doesn't match particularly with other Freud or, uh, or, um, uh, it appeals to me and it's certainly true for show. And it was also true of Oscar Wilde and he creations, you know, as he said, uh, uh, obviously, uh, put my talents. Um, a lot of, I can't remember the phrase that he said, but basically it was, I said that he put his genius, uh, into his life, uh, that it was into his work. So he did create a film. And I think, I think it is true. Speaker 1 00:49:11 Cause it seems to me that it's like a part, a part, a part of a constant pattern in the, in the work that you've done has been, um, you've kind of embraced the dichotomy that you kind of live in and live it live in that gray area in between, in between to the, the artistic and the scientific or the, the, the English and the Irish and things like that. Speaker 0 00:49:27 That'd be fair to say. Yes. I think, I think that is, that is true. Um, it is interesting. The, um, the idea of the quintessential Irishman, I've just read the question you asked me, which I do my homework on. It occurred to me that a quintessential theatrical Irishman would be me holding that label who was not Irish at all. He created this persona for himself. Um, and I don't know if you know the story about me, but he's a fascinating character. And he, um, uh, one of, one of his things was a very famous, um, one man, they are show about Oscar Wilde called the importance of being Oscar. He took all over the world. Um, but he, uh, he became a native speaker, the adopted the, um, uh, the whole cultural thing so much so that in these four volumes of autobiography, he wrote them all in Irish, but then translates them into English. Speaker 0 00:50:33 So he became an embodiment of Irishness of a particular type. And there was also something about the, about the outsider. Um, typifying the, the, um, the, the culture that they, uh, that they either originate from or have adopted, uh, you know, I mean, it's always true with Napoleon. You know, the, the old school boy joke was, um, can tend to podium speak French. And the answer is Corsica. He was an outsider. Devon Leora was an outsider. His mother was Irish, but his father was, uh, a sugar plugs or Spanish origin. The outsider often, uh, can embody, um, um, the fundamentals of the, uh, of the other, um, of the nation represents the nation in that way. Speaker 1 00:51:26 I suppose, it's, we're coming to the end. Now. I just wanted to ask one last question, given all that in mind, given all that we've talked about and things like that, and it's been an absolute joy. What would you say that being a member of the RSD Asper has meant for you or, Speaker 0 00:51:41 Uh, gosh, it's very difficult to, uh, look at, uh, one thing. I mean, I, I think I've said earlier that I, I feel quite lucky, very lucky to have been Irish. Um, and, uh, um, no one has pride, not so much in one in one is because it's an accident of birth rather than what was done. Um, I, I think, I suppose by embodying some of the qualities of Irishness is freeing. Uh, it is as to, you know, I, when I was at, in developmental training, I used to say to people, you know, you want to behave as if you want to be particularly well organized, behave as if you are behaving as if you're good with words, I have a capacity for work, whether you have, or not, you will develop a capacity word. If you're behaving as if you are, you will use it, you would practice. Speaker 0 00:52:41 Um, so, um, there is that element that, uh, being, uh, being free to look at the, uh, the, kind of the characteristics, the admirable characteristics that are associated with the Irish to, to use them to, to, to be free with words, to be creative, with words to, uh, um, you know, I love quotations. I love, I love the language I love. Uh, I love talking. I love listening to it. Um, and that's, I think that is, is freeing, um, freeing in a sense, you know, behave as if, and when you behave as if you become, Speaker 2 00:53:28 You've been listening to the first two podcasts with me, I'm like a plastic pedestal King courtesy of John O'Donohue and music by Jack to find out more about gifs on www.plasticpodcast.com be supported using public funding.

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