At 80 years and 7 months I have a lousy short- term memory. I forget where I put my keys, my glasses, dentures and hearing aids, go to the bathroom and frequently forget why, and sometimes, when I do remember, forget to tidy my apparel. But I can clearly remember things that I saw. heard and felt 75 years ago.
I remember being taught during Catechism classes, to do the right thing because it is right. Not because other people will praise me for it. “Human respect” should count for nothing in my choice of behaviour.
A few years ago Fintan O’Toole told the world, or those of its people who read his column, how his mind was made up about abortion. He was approached on behalf of a 16 year pregnant girl who did not want to keep her baby. He made clear in his column that his first inclination to the suggestion of abortion was distaste. It would not be unfair to class that as “Yuck” – the natural reaction of a healthy human being. But Fintan had not the character to voice that reaction. He told us that he was afraid of being thought a prig. So he boasted how he had put the girl and her family in touch with those who arranged for an abortion in England.
O’Toole behaved like a complete prick.
Fintan is considered an authority on the theatre and also on its history in Ireland. One of his complaints about Ireland concerns the staging in Dublin of “The Rose Tattoo” by Tennessee Williams in 1957, a year before Fintan was born.
There was no theatre censorship in Dublin. Unlike in England, where no play could be publicly staged before the Lord Chamberlain’s Office had read its script in advance and deemed it acceptable.
But the Gardai were (badly) advised that the play outraged public morals, invaded the tiny theatre prosecuted its producer, Alan Simpson. The local District Court presided over by a jury-less solicitor, threw the case out and Simpson walked free. He didn’t seek asylum in an Embassy, or face extradition to Guantanamo. Two of Ireland’s leading thespians, Micheal MacLiammmoir and Hilton Edwards, (Londoners who had run the Gate Theatre in Dublin) lived together quite unbothered in Dublin as part of the Republican Establishment, when John Gielgud and other leading English actors were regularly harassed by Scotland Yard). The Abbey Theatre was state subsidised since the 1920s. The Gate was granted similar support when one of O’Toole’sBetes Noire, Charlie Haughey, became Minister for Finance. O’Toole made many baseless assertions about what was seen by the arresting Gardai on the stage.
Films in England sometimes were more stringently censored than in Ireland. I saw THE WILD ONE uncut in Dublin in 1954. It was about the original Hell’s Angels with Marlon Brando on a (British ) Triumph Motor Bike. Wild young men in Dublin couldn’t afford the like so it posed no threat to lawand order. In England, at the time there was full employment, and most people had never had it so good. So the film was not shown uncut there until 10 years later.
After many centuries of Theatre Censorship in England, the Lord Chamberlain’s role was abolished in 1968. And early in 1969 I accompanied about a dozen young ladies including one nun, graduates studying for Teaching Diplomas at the University of London, and staying in a Convent Hall of Residence, went to the Criterian Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue, for a PUBIC Performance of the musical Hair.
This was hailed at the time as “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius”
Man had not yet walked on the moon. Nor had Fintan O’Toole been let loose in the Realms of Brass.