2017 Grateful 27

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.







2013 Grateful 15

I’m not a great fan of social media. Part of me thinks that instead of bringing us closer together, it’s driving us further apart. I loathe the addictive behaviour that comes part and parcel with owning a smartphone. I abhor the idea of 24/7 availability and the expectations this creates. I detest the fact that all too often people in my company would now prefer to text others not present rather than fully engage with me. Perhaps I’m losing my touch.

I worry that Facebook has birthed a generation where envy is rampant, where peer comparison is the norm, and where we look at other people’s lives wondering what we’ve done (or not done) with our own.

While the writer in me admires the brevity of 140-character tweets, the raconteur in me mourns the loss of the colourful prose that used to lead to a final, often irrelevant, point. So keyed up and keyed in are we today, that we no longer have time for long-winded stories and in our  conciseness seem to be relegating swathes of anecdotes to the untold.

And yet, social media has its moments.

Me as a maid in My Fair Lady

Me (back right) as a maid in My Fair Lady

Some months ago, when I was home in Ireland, my mother mentioned that she’d given my email address to a classmate of mine who was one of a few organising our 30-year school reunion. I didn’t pay much attention at the time as I’d no intention of going. Thirty years is thirty years, no matter how you look at it. People move on. They go their separate ways. I’d forgotten the names of many and doubted very much if any would remember anything about me other than that my father had the misfortune to head the investigation into the disappearance of the racehorse Shergar – and I’d heard enough horse jokes to last me a lifetime.

When I saw the date and realised that I would be in Israel, I was relieved. Online one night, looking for some diversion, I searched for the group page on Facebook, curious to see the changes time had wrought. Old photos, old faces, old names popped up. And daily, the numbers interacting with the page grew, the stories started, and the past resurrected itself piece by piece. But alongside that came the updates – marriages, kids, homes, careers – and for the first time I saw the power that Facebook and its ilk has when it comes to reconnecting people.

The Debs... 1982

The Debs… 1982

Before social media, we’d have been communicating by written letters and phone calls – both of which are way too easy to ignore. I’d most likely have read the invitation, checked to see if the few I’ve remained in touch with were going, and if the answer was nay, then I’d have binned it. But with Facebook, the interaction is continuous, the conversations are in real time, and the thoughts of attending a 30-year reunion are now hugely appealing – but I’ll be in Israel. And I’m strangely disappointed.

This week, although I never thought I’d see the day when I’d admit to this in public, I’m grateful to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for facilitating the bringing together of so many people, for giving us a forum to reconnect, and for aiding and abetting in the publication of photos that have kept me amused all week. I’m particularly grateful though to the organising team; to those who decided to run with this and are doing such fantastic job of reconnecting so many. Nice job, lads.

Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out the post Grateful 52