There was a beastly episode in the Long Haul on George Street

About three years ago, Neil Hannon and Duke Special, full-time musicians and part-time drama queens, decided they were going to have a feud. John Kelly, presenter for RTE, decided to enable them. Thus, an episode of The View was dedicated to a climactic feud, involving grand pianos, duetting, covering each other’s songs, being very ungentlemanly, getting kicked out of the Iveagh Gardens for sword fighting (‘We were just trying to kill each other!’), soloing, John Kelly’s best poker face (‘That’s a very bad attitude, Neil’), antique duelling pistols and Arklow Silver Band.

Incidental to the whole settling of the feud, it’s an excellent showcase for the talents of two exceedingly talented people.
They both tend toward epic gradiose settings for songs about the mundanities of life, love, teenagers, fidelity, infidelity and public transport. 

Neil Hannon’s Divine Comedy in their various incarnations supplied me with a chunk of my secondary school soundtrack. Duke Special supplied a chunk of my postgrad soundtrack. I haven’t seen Hannon live yet. I’ve seen Duke Special live lots, and it never stops being gloriously entertaining, mostly because anyone who has a one-man-band for a percussionist and does things like say ‘Look, I’m juggling apples!’, then fails completely to juggle the apples, gets someone in the front row in the head, apologises profusely and then tries again is the kind of person you want to spend an evening with no matter what the music is like. And the music is excellent.

Some kind soul put it up on youtube. Watch. 

They did not, in case you were worried, manage to finish each other.


Balrogs 1 : 0 Wizards

Quite some time ago, long enough that I wrote it in my diary and then completely forgot about it until I turned the page, my father rang me in a state of excitement and said ‘Lord of the Rings marathon! Waterfront! 40 foot screen! August!’ and I said yes. 

(What you have to understand about my father is that he is the man who once upon a time made a strangled penguin noise halfway through the Belfast Telegraph and piled three daughters into the car on a school night to go see the re-release of Star Wars; A New Hope. He sees things of great nerditude and makes a beeline. I did not lick it off the stones, in other words.)

So Saturday, I embarked upon my second marathon of the LOTR theatrical versions. The first was when Return of the King was released and oh dear god, I cannot believe I did that and went to class and a Christmas dinner and a formal without going to bed after. I have learned from this. Em and I went to Doorsteps and got sandwiches, we acquired caffeine before we went in, Daddy braved the queue and got water, we were prepared. Still ended up in immense pain by the end, of course, the Waterfront seats having not been designed with crazy people on twelve hour film-watching missions in mind. Similarly, the projectionist at the Waterfront had clearly not realised the full extent of the enterprise until they sat down to do it. The initial title cards went:

“Welcome to the Waterfront’s Lord Of The Rings Marathon”
“557 Minutes of Middle Earth”
“Good God” 

The title card for The Two Towers was “Balrogs 1 / Wizards 0”. Then they rickrolled us with the trailer for a Norwegian film about trolls. I am not even joking! This film exists. They’re showing it next week! The nice boys from Portadown beside us made an instant pact to come back for it. My sister and I are possibly maybe likely to do the same. We are clearly out of our minds.

The one for Return of the King was followed by the original Aliens trailer and drily announced:

“Welcome back to the Waterfront’s Lord Of The Rings marathon!”

I had forgotten how much of it makes me flail and squeak like a small child. The Nice Boys From Portadown were hugely entertained. Shelob’s bit was watched, I say watched, technically I think it’s hidden from, in my traditional scary biscuits manner, which is to hold my hoodie up over my face and look over my glasses at the top six inches of the screen until it looks like it might be safe again. This only works if you have similarly atrocious eyesight to me, mind you.

Each film got a round of wild applause. I don’t know if we were cheering ourselves, the staff or the films. I don’t care. It was awesome. There was much snark (‘That’s Glorfindel’s horse! Theif!’ ‘The Fabulous Camp Elf!’ ‘Kiss him’ etc), some lines chorused along (‘My Preciousssss!’), and collective sniggering at certain Frodo and Sam bits. There was a family with several small people, one under four, who sat entranced in the front row of B block through all three films. My sister theatrically slept on my shoulder for all of Mount Doom (she hates Sean Astin’s existence and has extended this to Elijah Wood on grounds of him being beside him, it’s hilarious). Someone behind us joined my mutterings of ‘Get on with it!’ during the fades to black of endlessness.

Everything has held up so well, too. The gorgeous colours, the design, the way everything looks like the Alan Lee illustrations in the big hardcover edition that I accidentally stole from my cousin when I was eleven. Faramir’s last charge with that lovely eerie song over it, everything about Eowyn, the sheer love and effort that went into it all. Andy Serkis and WETA should have had a Lifetime Achievement Award just for Gollum alone. The bit with Legolas and the Oliphant looks silly, but it looked silly at the time as well.


Proof, should proof be required, that the Waterfront staff are nerdier than them all:


Oh, I’m glad we went.