24 OCTOBER 1958, Page 11




mucker in the The _Hostage. 'Is it a pan?' asked the rePorter from Time hopefully. Behan looked up rbegroachfully like a man disturbed in his bath a plumber. He sniffed, inflated his cheeks, cleared his throat with a terrifying rattle of Phlegm and shouted, `No, bigod, it's a smashin' cth. Where's the mucker from the New States- "Iati? Tell -him to get his finger out and start filing about me.' Then he slipped sideways from :•ne chair, swung himself round low like a man !IUri a discus and dived through the guests who 1141 come to celebrate his first volume of auto- biography.

Several hours later Brendan Behan had taken uP a commissionaire's stance by the only exit launched into a repertoire which began with .19,1"Y oh! Glory, oh! for the bold Fenian men.' "C'Se guests bold enough to attempt to leave ucuring these revolutionary arias were either play- „ullY pinched or punched, depending on their sex. 4everal hours later still, in the upstairs room in an Italian restaurant in Soho, the last remnants the party were staggered round a table littered ',"th Chianti bottles while Brendan Behan shadow- ucxed the ghosts of his past. With a scarlet shirt tihrIbuttoned to the navel and braces straining like :sers, he harangued his exhausted admirers ,atte the diners in other rooms flinched and saucldered.

k S°Ineone mentioned that Brendan's younger Lurother Dominic had also written a play, soon to _ua produced at the Arts Theatre. 'The little (Tucker's writing plays, is he now?' gargled Bren- 041, And I didn't know that he could write his ewn mucking name and that's the truth. Isn't it 2°118h with him singing the bread out of my outh? Have you heard me do "The Old k dangle?, Nfrtinic FIRST floor of The Enterprise in Long were Dominic Behan was singing 'Finnegan's Nalce' and 'Van Diemen's Land,' but not 'The Triangle,' for the members of Folk Songs It'valtrnited. He looked like a starved film star 1th a handsome Hollywood nose setting off his en famine cheeks. While he sang he acted kat the characters, hopping from side to side as `10e alternated male and female voices, and ending vv11.,a tender anguished note with his arms flung „. L'e so that bare belly came into view in the full that shirt and trousers. The audience was cuml, of men in drain-pipes, beards and fur- tjared jerkins and girls with curly mops and 4)urecl tights. They ioined the choruses and applauded excitedly at the end of each song.

Later, in the bar below, Dominic Behan wrapped himself round a pint and said he didn't care what they said about him as long as they didn't call him Brendan Behan's brother. 'I haven't seen Brendan in ten years and I wouldn't pass on if I didn't see him for another ten. He's a cruel, hard character in many ways. I've written a play about him called The Intellectual. That'll say all 1 want to say about that. I'm finished with all that professional Irishman caper. I like Cockney voices and Geordie voices and Birming- ham voices and even BBC voices. They've all got a life to them even if they were never in the IRA. Sure that's a holy Fascist army now where it used to be a cause worth fighting for in days gone by.'

The folk-singers drained their glasses and climbed the stairs for the second half of the pro- gramme. A shy young man with bushy hair and organ voice sang 'The Lambton Worm.' A cheer- ful cheer-leader in a bright blue sweater followed with 'Johnson's Motor Car.' The atmosphere was almost aggressively matey and companionable. 'Our father was Jesuit-trained,' whispered Dominic. 'My uncle wrote the Irish national anthem. Neither of us forget or forgive very easily. But there ought to be room for Brendan and Dominic Behan in a city like this. Have you heard "The Old Triangle"?'


UP THE PRECIPITOUS slope-.of the Royal Institu- tion theatre the matrons of the Establishment were massed rank upon rank. Tightly packed in wrappings of fur, topped by smart, sensible hats, they talked of military memoirs, top holidays and vacant curacies as they waited for the special meeting of the English-Speaking Union to begin. Among them, a few patrician gentlemen, dark- suited and severe, were sparsely scattered round the hall like blackberries in a poor season, while in the front row bloomed a pomposity of dis- possessed Balkan royalty. 'Your Majesty, your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen,' said the ex-Ambassador to Moscow, introducing the speaker. And thereupon ex-Princess Ileana of Rumania stepped forward to a splatter of genteel clapping.

She was wearing an off-grey evening dress redolent of past regality. With her fine, aristo- cratic features, keen, bright eyes and proud de- meanour, she looked much less than her fifty ,years. She was an accomplished speaker. Royally, but with a touch of democratic charm learned from eight years' practice in the United States, she delivered her speech.

First, she said, she would recount some of the horrors of Communism, as she had experi- enced them in Rumania. She carried with her the memory of a child who had pounced upon and eaten an apple-core she had thrown away. She had been made to take into her own home people placed there by the authorities. 'And,' she added, 'what to me seems worse, we had to share our bathrooms with them.' In 1948 she managed to get away to the United States with some jewellery. What counted in the States, she found, was to make a success—and, she was glad to say, she had been successful. There was some poverty in America, of course, but the poor were poor because they were shiftless. The ordinary people were generous and, this she must stress, they were not so declassed as we here sometimes thought. They were likeable people; it was the done thing to go to church on Sunday. Religion taught us that we should live together in peace. Should we not, therefore, live in harmony with the Americans to overcome the evil of Com- munism?

Afterwards nobody seemed to know who was financing the Princess's lecture tour. 'The English- Speaking Union,' announced an official categori- cally, 'is strictly non-political.'