I have made various allusions here recently about Father Ted, a comedy series originally aired on Channel 4 in the late 1990s about three priests on an island off the Irish coast. Obviously I was too young to see it first time round but caught it during my teens around the time when I had a special interest about comedy and comedy writing. Ever since, I am still heard to quote it and there is a Ted quote swirling around my head at least once a day. I even once had two goldfish called Ted and Dougal. I wouldn’t have inflicted a goldfish called Father Jack into the mix, as the mantle of an alcoholic, lecherous priest is a lot for a fish to assume. There are certain places I can’t go without thinking of a quote: there is a certain inexpensive clothes shop in Glasgow city centre where you couldn’t get to the menswear bit without first navigating the seemingly massive lingerie section, much like the Ted episode ‘A Christmassy Ted’ where various priests have to find their way out of ‘Ireland’s biggest lingerie section, I understand’. Thankfully, ‘Scotland’s biggest lingerie section’ has been moved so buying clothes is now that bit less of an adventure.
Rather wonderfully, at most major protests in London, there is always one with a placard saying ‘Down With This Sort Of Thing’ and another just beside them with ‘Careful Now’, alluding to the Ted episode where Ted and Dougal are obliged to protest a blasphemous film showing at the local cinema and fail dismally.
The last time I was in Dublin, we stayed in a hotel just off Merrion Square, very close to the Irish parliament, the Oireachtas, so there were lots of TDs and Senators cutting about. Also in Merrion Square is the memorial to the actor Dermot Morgan, who played Father Ted, unveiled not long after his death to a heart attack in 1998 aged just 45. Every time I am in Dublin I go there just to pay homage, though I never sit on it as I have just enough good manners never to sit on monuments. It’s quite unusual, not like the other statues and memorials that dot every street corner and much of every street in Dublin, but I like it immensely, feeling it more in fitting with what the best humour does, bringing people in, where civic monuments tend to keep people at some sort of distance.
Down with this sort of thing.