February 14th 09
NO DICKET - NO DOAT.
This has been another really busy week. Monday and Tuesday at Stormont and in the constituency. Wednesday in Kilkenny. Thursday in Kerry. Friday in Limerick. And Saturday in Dublin. It would take too long to tell you all the twists and turns of the road as we voyaged from event to event. Suffice to say that everyone we met was angry at the daily revelations of chicanery and corruption in our financial institutions. The government, deservedly, is getting it in the neck for the way it is handling this particular can of worms. But that’s a blog for another day.
When I was in Kilkenny the good burghers of that fine city in that fine county presented me with a Kilkenny jersey. Gaels will know immediately that Kilkenny are the All Ireland Hurling champions of the world. THREE IN A ROW as my hosts reminded me. I was there in Croke Park last September when they did the treble and I must say I feel extremely privileged to have witnessed that master class in hurling. So I am delighted to have the geansaí.
I was also in Casement park in 1992 when Antrim beat Kilkenny. Wee Gerry McKeown was there that day also, in another part of the stadium. Gerry is an old friend of mine. A few months earlier he came to public attention when Gerry Anderson’s radio programme got a call from a listener asking about the cloakroom attendant who used to work a few decades or so before, at a Belfast dance hall, The Astor.
‘He was a funny wee man with a lisp. We called him No Dicket–No Doat. That’s what he told everyone rushing at the end of the night to get their coats from the cloakroom. ‘No dicket, no doat’ he would shout. He caused pandemonium for anyone who was waiting to leave a girl home’.
That call triggered a week or so of similar reminiscences from male and female callers. Apparently No Dicket-No Doat’s refusal to hand over items of apparel caused marriages or near marriages, as well as miraculous escapes from marriages and near marriages. The listening public were regaled with tales of romantic liaisons, and of No Dicket – No Doat’s role in these affairs.
Women rang in to tell how his refusal to hand over a coat led to them being left home by a different beau, and of how they are still married with fifteen children and thirty seven grandchildren.
‘And its all down to No Dicket-No Doat’.
No Dicket-No Doat, by the way, was a confirmed bachelor and would no doubt have denied any extramarital involvement in the conception of any of these offspring.
‘I dread what would have happened if I had married the girl I was supposed to leave home’ was the daily refrain of the numerous Romeos who phoned the Gerry Anderson Show.
Ditto for the Juliets.
‘When I think now of how I might have landed up if the other fellah had left me home I just thank God for No Dicket-No Doat.’
So the cry went up. ‘Where is No Dicket-No Doat? Is he living or dead?’
Eventually wee Gerry was outed as the by now legendary figure, the cloakroom attendant, maker of marriages, matchmaker par excellance, the famous No Dicket-No Doat and like an Andy Warhol character; he had his brief spell of fame.
Which brings me back to the Kilkenny jersey and Antrim’s victory against that illustrious county team. As the observant reader will have noted earlier I was there that day. Towards the end of the game, Antrim was in the lead when I got word that wee Gerry was very sick and that he had been taken to a changing room.
I went there immediately and found him stretched out on a physio table while Dr Pearse Donnelly tried to revive him. It was futile. Wee Gerry had suffered a huge heart attack and despite the good doctor's valiant efforts he died below the stand of Casement Park in the company of a few good friends. Minutes later the ref blew the final whistle and Antrim celebrated a famous victory. The Cats were defeated. But so was wee Gerry.
The next day was the beginning of another really busy week, I was on my way to Derry. It was a really beautiful morning. As was my wont I was listening to the Gerry Anderson Show. As our car sped across the Glenshane Pass he told his listeners that he had just received word of the death of No Dicket-No Doat. He then dedicated Sharon Shannon’s The Blackbird to his memory. I thought that was nice. Wee Gerry would have been delighted. For a man with a lisp he had a wonderful singing voice.
At his funeral later that week some wags connected the two events, Antrim’s victory and wee Gerry’s death.
‘It was the shock of us winning. His heart couldn’t stand the shock.’
I didn’t tell my friends in Kilkenny any of this or of how the presentation of their county jersey brought back these memories.
Instead I told them that Antrim is the sleeping giant of Gaelic games and that our hurlers will see them off again… some day.
Happy Valentine’s Day.