“Bridging the gap to Ireland and England? Yeah. That’s a huge part of who I am.”
At first I wasn’t convinced.
After all, here’s a fella born in Dublin, writing about Dublin, looking to talk to me from Dublin. Not exactly Diaspora.
So why is a treasured part of The Plastic Podcasts? Let’s rewind a little
Patrick Osborne got in contact to see if I’d be up for talking about his debut novel “Baxter’s Boys” – the tale of a dissolute Sunday League football team in, you guessed it, Dublin – because he heard the St Patrick’s Day chat with Jack Byrne, also of this parish.
Great, thinks I to myself. Another novelist.
INSIGHT #1: Despite being 10 per cent of the UK population, it seems that not only is the Irish Diaspora a small community, every single one of us has a novel out or in the offing.
(Mine’s on its third draft, in case you’re interested. If you’re not, it’s still on its third bloody draft)
Anyway, I’d made a vow to myself not to turn The Plastic Podcasts into a book club.
But I’m nothing if not curious.
Take that as you will.
So, with not much in the way of conviction, I gave Patrick a shout to see if there as anything that could be done. The man was in his kitchen, just back from a day’s pruning or potting or whatever it is amenity horticulturalists do.
It didn’t take me long to get turned around.
The thing about Patrick Osborne is he’s one of those people you immediately get along with. A fella not just with a story (or several) to tell but who also draws the tales out from you.
INSIGHT #2: I have a code of ethics when it comes to editing. I’m not the story here. Be grateful. It means you’ve missed my rendition of Freddie Mercury’s “Barcelona”.
This man has that effect. Not unique but unusual. And definitely to be prized.
Then came the revelations – the level of back and forth across the Irish Sea of his family, the Army links on both sides of the water, the interconnectedness of his youth with British TV, particularly in that golden age of 70s sitcoms, and the tale at the heart of “Baxter’s Boys” – the community trying to bring its youth back from the brink of mass addition.
The power of sport. The promise of love.
And there’s something else too. A consideration not just of the Irish character but also of the British one (and here we do mean British rather than simply English) from the perspective of a man in his Dublin kitchen. Of how they rub along as well as rub against each other, and the possibilities of their combination.
Throughout these six series, it’s been a given that the Irish Diaspora have a foot in two countries but a home in neither. With Patrick Osborne, there is a third possibility. A world for all of us.
So I’ve dispensed with one of my vows.
Bring on your novelists, your poets and playwrights, your referees and horticulturalists, your nurses and locksmiths and bookies and dancers and activists and housewives and all. Bring all your stories.
Paddy Osborne’s got one about a pub team in Dublin. But I’ll let him tell you about it…