As far as I know, my old friend Eoghan Harris never wrote for Mills and Boon, but judging by his column in today’s Sindo, the Dublin organ’s gain is Mills and Boon’s loss. The editor of the Indo, Aengus Fanning, died recently. Some years back he married Anne Harris, who had been Eoghan’s wife. So Eoghan has written an appreciation of the man who edited the Indo and won his wife, and his bodice-ripper writing potential shows immediately. Check this for a final sentence: “So I will always cherish a memory of them sailing past me one Sunday morning, waving from a convertible with the hood slightly stuck, the left wheel wandering towards an empty bus lane, their blonde manes blowing in the breeze, heading for the distant dark blue of the Kerry Mountains”.
Woo-hoo, as they say. Give the man credit: he doesn’t hold a grudge in the ex-wife category.Or, I might add, in the lost-bet category.
But I did a small cheaty-thing back there – I left out the last part of the last sentence. Which was? After “the Kerry Mountains” Eoghan put the cherry so to say on his Mills and Boon cake with a final sixteen star-dusted words: “their labour of love selling well on the streets, spreading sweetness and light across the land”.
No, you haven’t gone mad and I didn’t make that up and yes, he is talking about the Indo. Sweetness and light. Across the land. In fact, earlier in the piece he explains what in part made the Indo a sweetness-and-light spreader: it was Fanning’s “unbending, unflinching, unwavering opposition to the IRA, which he sustained without stint for nearly 30 years, and which played a crucial part in ensuring they did not enter Irish democracy without giving up their guns”.
Didn’t make that bit up either. Swear I didn’t. Bet you were as surprised as me that it was the Indo Wot Won It, the ‘it’ in this case being decommissioning. Astonishing. Kind of astonishing as well that Eoghan didn’t add something about the Indo being anti-nationalist as well as anti-IRA. Remember the unbending, unflinching, unwavering attacks, wave after wave, that paper launched against John Hume for daring to have talks with Gerry Adams in the 1980s? Talks which led eventually to the Good Friday Agreement. But I suppose there isn’t room for everything in a column.
Besides, note how Eoghan forgot one final tribute that Fanning and the Indo might have claimed. Working with its fine journalists, Fanning’s newspaper was in no small measure responsible for convincing the south’s populace that the north was a nasty, vicious place which they should see as ‘up there’ and essentially foreign. Now there’s an achievement. But I suppose if Eoghan had included that, he might have had to scrap the blonde manes bit at the end. Which I for one wouldn’t have missed for anything. In fact, even as I type, I can feel my manly bosom start to heave. At least I think it’s my bosom. Could be my stomach.