In 2005 there came with my copy of the Irish Independent a special magazine titled '100 Years in the News 1905 - 2005'. It's a marvelous creation and I never tire of reading it. I often find myself turning there to research some item of yesterday's news or often simply for amusement or to marvel at the wonderful photographs.
Today I mention the publication because within its pages there's a wonderful and insightful story from the pen of the editor Dr Vincent Doyle. It reminds us that there were times (pre-Murdoch) when there was an almost innocent smoke-filled public house romance attached to journalism. The secret whispers were to be found within the racing pages.
Here, briefly, is Dr Doyle's story (the headline is mine) :
The vanity of prominent politicians
Over the years I have always been fascinated by a common trend linking prominent politicians - vanity. I remember one lunch given in the boardroom of this paper . . . by the late John Meagher . . .
Our guests were Charles Haughey . . . and several of his shadow cabinet. After the usual pleasantries he (John Meagher) turned to Charlie Haughey and said: "Now Deputy Haughey have you any questions you would like to ask us?"
. . . Haughey's mood visibly darkened.
The hooded eyes swivelled around in my direction and Haughey growled: "Yes, as a matter of fact I have a question."
"We have just come through a bruising four week election campaign and every time myself or the other fellow* were mentioned in the main headline he was always Garret and I was Haughey. Do you consider that fair and reasonable?"
. . . I explained . . . as the typography and layout . . . only allowed us to use seven to eight letters the name FitzGerald was impossible to fit whereas Haughey fitted just perfectly.
That, I said, is the explanation.
"Well that," thundered Haughey, "takes the f****** biscuit."
The lunch went downhill from there.