I googled my dad yesterday, it being Fathers Day and all. I can’t think why I haven’t done it before now. And I was surprised. Surprised at so many old photos of him from back in the day when I used to watch him on the TV, or read about him in the paper. A retired Chief Superintendent, he’s had a case or two in his day – famous cases that are still resurrected every now and then, especially Shergar. The horse that was stolen. The horse that disappeared. The horse that the world will never let rest.
But reading the texts didn’t sit well with me. While remnants of the man they described peaked through, accounts of that case in particular made him out to be ‘the most richly comic copper since Inspector Clouseau’. Sure – he has a sense of humor but comic? mmmm. The rest of the articles made for depressing reading and I wondered at the innate cruelty of journalism, when ad hominem attacks are commonplace.
The New York Times reported the facts, just the facts – but that was back in 1983… am not so sure they’d do the same today. The Independent ran an article in February 2013, marking the 30-year anniversary of the disappearance with a picture of the hat my dad supposedly bought in a shop in Newbridge. It looks nothing like what he’d wear and I really can’t see him taking time out to go shopping – even on a good day. As for the UK papers – I won’t even go there.
I have vague recollections of a journalist coming to call and then later writing a book in which my dad featured heavily. I read the book years later. The dialogue is so far removed from how he talks that I laughed out loud and wondered where they’d gotten this character from. Even the smallest details we incorrect – like how far we lived from Newbridge, what his rank was, and how much he’d paid for the damn hat.
I meant to post this yesterday, but I got a tad involved in reading through the annals of history and then had to lie down. My heart goes out to children everywhere who have to read about their parents in the press. I can’t even begin to imagine what Trump Jnr is going through. I hope he has the good sense to steer clear of the media because it ain’t sweet. Me, I got off lightly.
That said, if those journalists ever actually met my dad and got to know him, they’d change their tune. The man lives by his principles. Words like honesty, integrity, and fairness come to mind. I remember playing poker with a chap in Alaska many lifetimes ago. My dad had put two of his uncles inside. He told me that they said that there was never a fairer cop in Dublin than the Jazzer. And if they had to go down, at least he was the one to do it. It was one of those mad evenings.
Bearing in mind that paper will take any print, I’m choosing to ignore the naysayers. I’m grateful that for the last 50 years, the Jazzer Murphy has been a steadfast part of my life, unfailing in his love and support. As dads go, I lucked out.